You know those times in life when you're so excited about something that you worry it can't possibly live up to your expectations?
It's my last day in India. It's just after 5am. In about 20 minutes, my driver and guide are picking me up for a sunrise tour of the Taj Mahal. Which I have pretty much always wanted to see.
I mean, technically, I already saw it yesterday. See the picture? There it is, off in the distance, across the Yamuna river. That was taken just after my arrival in Agra yesterday, from the ramparts of the already-pretty-insanely-spectacular Agra Fort (or Red Fort).
I landed in Delhi late morning, and was immediately picked up and driven to Agra, about three hours' drive away. As we pulled up alongside the river, my driver Sunil casually pointed off to the left, "And there is the Taj Mahal."
I gasped. Even from far away. Just because it's there, and it's instantly recognizable, and suddenly this thing that you've always wanted to see and have always admired in pictures and heard about actually exists and you can see it, and now it's real.
I've been lucky to travel quite a bit in my life, but have only had a handful of moments like this, where that first moment of laying eyes on a place stands out in my memory. Angkor Wat. The Pyramids of Giza. The Potala Palace in Tibet. The Grand Canyon. The Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland. All of these I remember gasping at.
And now there's one more.
Time to go take a closer look, and see if it lives up to expectations.