I'm a Goan woman, working in Mumbai as the founder of a studio called Totem Creative. I try to make the world happier, safer and more meaningful. I believe education, knowledge and awareness, art, writing and creating Social Impact are my means to achieve that end.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Travel Journal - Egypt Vienna - Day 3

day 3
4th June 2012
Egypt - Vienna

After an amazing breakfast this morning, we saw the Pyramids of Giza from the inside! Kiosk's, and his two sons' pyramids too. I forgot their names, they are so hard to remember! When you look at them from afar they really don't look that big; probably as tall as a ordinary skyscraper - but they're HUGE when you come close! The largest one was made of 3 million slabs of rock, and each weighs about 3-5 tonnes. It took 300 men to move each slab at the time, and the first pyramid of king Kiosk took 20 years to complete with the workers working for 3 months in a year.

Anyway, the one we went inside was the queen's pyramid - there are 3 of those next to the smallest one. It was super fun to get into! I thought it would be huge and hollow inside but it had one room - one chamber only! And there the tomb was kept with all the jewels. The way to enter it is getting down a slope about 10 metres, and another of 5 meters. The toughest one to get into was the other queen's pyramid, where you would have to climb 60 metres down, 30 metres up, 60 metres down again, and then the slope. Kiosk's pyramid had an entry fee of 100 Egyptian Pounds (1 Egyptian Pound=10 INR), so we dropped the idea. Our awesome and sweet guide Sherif also told us that it's basically the same thing, but instead of one chamber, it has 3, out of which 2 are for the jewels and the treasures to be taken and used by the king in his afterlife. Nice huh?

So that was that. From there we went to the papyrus making place where we saw how the ancient Egyptians made papyrus. It's kinda like Sugarcane, but it has a triangular stem. The inside of this stem is sliced in strips and soaked in water for 6 days, after which it is pressed and dried. The paper is immortal! It's strong, it doesn't tear, and it's flexible. The salesman there was very persuasive on making us buy one of the paintings, but they looked nowhere as beautiful as the originals where they'd used natural dyes instead of the metallic paints we saw. After a lot of debate we bought two empty sheets. We reached the hotel, relaxed, charged batteries and left left for the Airport. The van driver (from Eygpt Airways) was almost begging us for a tip. 'Nothing for me?' he said. Here's a helpful tip about Egyptians - they are inborn conmen! They trick you and needlessly beg for tips. At the pyramids the camel riders begged you to take a photo of them (Pls take photo, I say cheese) and then asked for money for the photo, even if you're not even in it. They sell you artifacts worth 5 Egyptian Pounds for 25 Pounds! So don't trust anyone about their prices! Be firm, and say no. Walk awayyy......

Here's another tip - do not travel to any country via Egypt - travel via Quwait or Dubai. They don't stall, they don't cancel flights, and they don't have shabby unmanaged service. Egypt Air takes forever for Transit passengers - they hold your passport until the next flight and sometimes a lot of flights get canned. So this time it got canned after all the halting-in-Egypt-for-a-day and we travelled in Austrain Airways. Their service was fast and efficient. We were dying to have lunch in the plane! The flight took what seemed like almost forever to reach (3 hours). It got delayed by 30 mninds thanks to 'turbulent weather' and we couldn't land. we kept circling Vienna with our seatbelts on. Finally we reached the airport!

The Vienna airport is full of characters. I was dying to sketch, but we were in such a rush to collect our luggage. People of different shape, sizes, colors, hairstyles, walk cycles and clothing buzzed arounf. Then we had to take the subway outta the Airport. The ticket thing is a rather tricky business for someone who hasn't travelled a lot  - and everything was in German/Autrian. We sat in the train without Validating the ticket. Luckily there was no TC guy to throw us outta the subway. The ride took a long time, enough for me to notice that Vienna is so so beautiful. It has a lot of greens, and the city is well planned with seperate lanes for buses, air buses, cars, cycles and pedestrians. The subway sides have grafitti all over and the architecture of the city is very minimalistic and modern. We had to walk a while to the youth hostel after reaching. It's a rather tricky business navigating in a country where noone speaks English! :( Vienna at 7.00PM is as dead as India at 5AM. The shops and restaurants close and very few cars zoom around. The roads were wet thanks to the 'turbulent weather', so the whole city has a gloomy wet washed look.

The hostel is nice. The lobby was full of cheerful people playing Uno, Billiards, Solitaire and browsing the free Wifi. We've got sandwiches for dinner. (It's the first time I've used a vending machine!) I'm starving but I wanna bathe first. I feel like someone threw me in an oily gutter and stomped all over me. That's all for today. We'll eat and get all the rest we've needed.

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