Monday, October 18, 2004

Trip to Agra

So, I have made my journey from Pune to Agra. It has been... long, to say the least.

5:00 pm
I'm in our hotel in Pune, trying to check out. It takes a long-ass time for me to check out, let alone my traveling companions. We eventually get out of the hotel at 5:30.

6:00 pm
Our train leaves, with us just getting on it four minutes prior. We sit around and chat, eating bread and chocolate we bought earlier that day in Koreagon Park. When we think we should get out, a friendly fellow passenger told us that it actually wasn't the right station; Dadar station was another two stops. This is all confused by the fact that NO ONE MAKES ANNOUNCEMENTS.

My traveling companions: Anna (left) and Andrea (bread). Not the most flattering picture, but it fits the mood.

We get out at Dadar, Mumbai at around 9, and we are accosted by taxi drivers wanting to take us to God-knows-where. We get past them, and head down the road a wee bit till we arrive at a nice all-veg cafe. We get seated in the way way back, and we order tons of snacks for very little money. Notable was the 'Dynamite Pizza', which had jalapenos! The cheese dosa was quite good as well.

11:30 pm
We hop onto our train to Agra, the 'Amritsar Express'. Don't let the name fool you, folks, this was no express. It was a 26 hour train ride. We were served a meal ('lunch', as the meal guy who spoke little English described it), eschewing the other two meals ('omelette' and 'dinner'). I slept a lot, I read a lot, and I did very little else. In some ways it was relaxing, but in others it was unnerving, because we didn't know if the conductor or train personnel would inform us of our stop. We did meet some people: a banker from the south (who spoke Telegu), and a German guy on a whirlwind trip of the world. He was really cool, actually, and had been to places in the States that I have never been to. His favorite place on the trip: New Orleans.

This was our home for 26 hours.

1:30 am, the next day
We stumble out of the train into the station, greeted by many porters ("Porter service?" "No thank you." "Porter service?" "NO!"), and some guy offered to drive us to our hotel for Rs. 200, a service we took him up on. We drove really fast through a bunch of empty streets, till we reached the hotel, which had a locked gate. I rang the doorbell, and eventually a dude with a raspy voice showed us to a room, and then showed me to my room. The guy in the car had bought an Aquafina bottle's worth of gas (or 'petrol') on the way, and his car wasn't working after we got out. At least we got to the hotel safe.

I'm gonna go sleep some more, even though it's been most of what I've been doing on this 33 hour trek. The hotel's kinda shitty, but then again it's pretty amazing for the five bucks it costs (private bath! yeah! no toilet paper, boo)


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