Monday, June 13, 2011

Niagara - Washington D.C. - Philadelphia

This was Maninder's idea, but a good one.


Day 1: Niagara Falls


We started early to took the PATH to reach WTC from which we took a cab to reach Bowery Street, China Town in New York. After a few minutes of wait the third musketeers, Amit joined us. We were guided to our bus which we would use for the next three days for our trip. The trip was booked through www.taketours.com.
We got our seats and was pretty happy with the placement. We began our journey around 8:30. At around 10:00 we made a halt to get our breakfast and around 13:00 we had our lunch, McDonalds : ). I took a nap as our guide told us that we would be reaching Niagara around 4:30 in the evening.
We reached Niagara around 4:45. After disembarking we went in and waited for our turn to get in. After about 25 minutes we were able to get in and had our first view of the famed Niagara Falls. It was a site to behold. We also saw the Rainbow Bridge, this bridge is unique as it connect nations the USA and Canada. The Maid of the Mist trip was waiting for us as we reached down on the elevator. Here were were provided disposable raincoats. The ride costs $13.50. (A tip here always be on the left side of the yacht as this is from where you get best views also if possible get a waterproof camera here.) The Canadian side was very visible and we learned that the philosophy of the two nations are different on Niagara. Canada has developed the Niagara region as a bonafide tourist attraction where as the US has tried to keep the natural beauty intact. Each has it own pros and cons where I am not going to discuss here. (By the way if you are taking the Maid of the Mist ride from the Canadian side it costs $16.50 CAD). We took a lot of pictures while we waited for our turn on the ride.
Extremely excited we made our way into the yacht and took up the best position available for the natural show we were about to witness. Firstly we saw the Bridal Veil falls and it was truly amazing. But knowing a little geography I knew this was all but a trailer of the main event that is going to be the Horseshoe falls. Its called the Horseshoe as its a shape is like a horseshoe. While we neared the falls The sight was something to behold, there were the falls all around us and pouring millions of gallons of water. It was basic elements of nature creating a spectacular view and was very very imposing as we looked at it from the base of the falls. I don't have pictures to do justice to the sights I have seen.It was getting difficult to keep the camera out as it was repeatedly getting wet and my camera was not waterproof. I tried to keep it dry and take a few pictures which I have shared. All in all it was a sight I shall never forget. I plan to bring my family here to see this amazing beauty of nature.
Lastly we took some great videos and pictures from the observation tower.
As we came out our guide asked us to have lunch in about 40 minutes after which we shall head to the other attraction, Goat Island from where you can see the approach of the Niagara River which creates the falls. I have always heard that the sight from the Canadian side is better, this is where I realized why. The Niagara River approaches from the US side of the falls so you are actually looking at the same direction the river is flowing whereas in the Canadian side you see the approach of the river from the opposite direction or head-on which give a far better view. Nonetheless the view was spectacular and we waited fro the laser works to begin, but we had too little time as we need. We enjoyed for the little time we had and made the most of it to see the views that were mesmerizing us.
Check the Pictures and Videos of Niagara here.

Around 21:30 we left Niagara and were headed towards Rochester, NY which was going to our night halt. We reached Rochester around 23:00. We got a Radisson Hotel in downtown Rochester. There was some miscommunication between the Travel Agents and the Hotel, this caused us to get the rooms late which was around 23:45. Once we got the room, we immediately hit the bed out of exhaustion.

Day 2: Corning Glass Museum & Washington DC

I am an natural early riser and so woke up pretty early around 5:30. After a nice warm bath I went down to and took a walk about in the Hotel vicinity. I took some pictures and got some facts about Rochester.
Around 8:30 we started and reached the Corning city around 10:45 which was renamed due to the Corning Glass Work's headquarters located there. The company employs' almost 80% of the population in Corning. Corning is also known as Crystal City due to the works of glass that happens there. We were given around 45 minutes in the Corning Glass Museum.
The museum had displays of glass from different countries as well as different ages dating back to prehistoric as well. There were glass works made by artists for display. One which was particularly striking was a Bridal Dress made by a young girl.
We were also give a live demonstration on how glass is made and shaped into a particular model. This was especially educative and informative.
Around 12:00 we started for Washington D.C. Being told it would take good part of five to five and half hours I decided to take a nap. We got late, very late we reached Washington around 20:30. Our final stop for the day was the Lincoln Memorial where the huge sitting statue of the sixteenth President of the United States and probably the most famous one is located. It was an awe inspiring and fascinating. The memorial is reminiscent of Greek architecture, like the Temple of Diana (the God not the Princess). The hands of Abraham Lincoln says A and L, his initials. Directly opposite from here the Washington Memorial can been observed with is a Monolith. There is a law in Washington DC which forbids any other structure to tower over the Washington Memorial. This makes the Washington Memorial the tallest structure in Washington DC as far as I have seen is visible almost from every other place of interest here.
After spending around 45 minutes at the Lincoln Memorial we headed back to our hotel which this time was a Sheraton Hotel. Too tired we hit the sack early.

Day 3: Washington D.C. and Philadelphia

The last day we started early. This was also Memorial Day and due to the Memorial Day Parades few of the roads were blocked. Our first stop was the Capitol Hill. This is the Seat of Power of the most Powerful Nation on Earth (both Militarily and Economically). It is a wonderful structure which stands up to its purpose. 


Next was the White House, we were allowed to see it from afar. There was a lot of security as expected of the the Most Powerful Man on Earth. It not as big as we see it in the Hollywood movies but decent in size nonetheless. An interesting fact the White House was never know as White House but as "President's House" but became more famous as the "White House" because of the Colour of the building. During the President-ship of James Monroe the White House was set ablaze by the British Army in 1814 during the War of 1812 in the Burning of Washington. I guess currently the British Army won't even reach the shores of United States let alone Burn Washington if a war is to break out between the two. They might be busy protecting the Buckingham Palace. 
President Thomas Jefferson's Memorial was next. Thomas Jefferson was the third President of the United States of America and one of the Founding Fathers. He was one of the five who drafted USA's declaration of Independence. The Architecture is of  Beaux-Arts tradition. The view of the Potomac River is breath taking from the memorial. The memorial itself has his words inscribed in it.
Next we took a cruise along the Potomac River and got a 360 degree view of Washington. We also saw Aircrafts taking off and landing on the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.  
Our Last stop in Washington DC was the Air and Space Museum. This is not to be missed by aircraft enthusiast. I shall let some of my pictures talk about the Museum. 
Pictures of Washington D.C is here.


After about ninety minutes in the museum we headed for Philadelphia and reached around 14:00 PM. Philadelphia had just one stop in the Independence Visitor Center. This is the place where Declaration of Independence was announced by the United States from Britain. This place also has the famous Liberty Bell.
You can check the pictures here.



Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lonely Trip to Staten Island

Hi,

This weekend 15 January 2011, is a long weekend due to Martin Luther King's Birthday on the 17 January. Was all alone at home so was looking for ideas to take a trip alone. Philadelphia or Atlantic City would have been great, I was already late for that. So took a trip to Staten Island via the Ferry.

Let home around 10 AM and reach the Ferry Terminal at around 10:35 and after a wait of around 20 minutes the ferry arrived. It was pretty cold day with the temperature hovering around 0 to -3C. The Ferry passes the Statue of Liberty so took quite a few snaps of it. It also gives you the opportunity to have a good view of the New York Skyline. The New York Harbor was also in full view. After around 20 minutes we reached Staten Island. You may like to print out the PDF they provide on the Staten Island Website. You can access it from here.

Staten Island has no tourism information desk at the ferry terminal. Luckily walking around in the St. George's area I found the New York State Library behind the Borough Council. There I took help of the librarians to find out what are the places of interest.
After looking around I found Tinsellville where there is the historic Richmond Town, which is like a preserve of the old way of living interesting. Also in my radar was the Greenbelt Conservancy. So I took bus no S74 and headed to Richmond. It looked like there was much more snow in Staten Island than mainland New York. It looked pretty all around if you ignore the slush that the snow caused. After around a 25 minute ride I reached the Richmond Historic Town. Well to be frank I was disappointed in the sense there was no visitor center even though there was a direction it was closed. What I must say the area looked splendid with all the snow around and the cottages that dotted the area. There were two churches in the vicinity but both were closed. I trekked around on my own look for sights to see. After moving around in circles for some time I found the mail town that was talked about. There was no one there but the town was beautifully decorated.

After walking in the sown a lot after around an hour, I started to feel tired. I wanted to go to the Greenbelt Conservancy but there was no available for direction, so I decided to head back to the St. George's area and explore it.

Returning to the St. George's area I trekked around for sometime. The chill has grown from the time I left home and I was also beginning to get tired. So I walked back to the ferry terminal to take the Ferry back to New York. I decided to come back in spring with more information in hand.

Standing in the front of the ferry the chill of the wind was hitting the face but the view was definitely worth it.

Back in New York, I walking passed the US Customs House by the Bowling Green and the Bull of New York. This building also houses the US Bankruptcy Court, which I guess must have been pretty busy in the last couple of years.

Reached home at around 3:45 PM. Download the pictures and started to play around with them. In the mean time Kaushik (my friend) invited me for dinner with Koraisutir Kochuri, very tempting. I had not had lunch till now so decided to have it before being picked up by Kaushik. After a small stopover at the Indian Street (don't actually know what is the name of the Street actually) reach Kaushiks home and played around with his two lovely kids. After a stuffing of Kouchuri left his home around 9:15, took the PATH to come back home and hit the bed. Not a bad way to spend the day.

Some pictures were taken. Click here to view them.
Saturday, January 8, 2011

View outside my window

Hi,

Came back from Delhi on 5th January 2011. Felt heavy at heart after leaving behind my Sweet Daughter and lovely wife and the rest of my family. I was welcomed with Snow outside my apartment. O was also fleeced off the airport. My mistake I should have checked the rates before boarding a private taxi.

Anyway here are some pictures and a small video of the view outside my window.

Dhriti
 
video
Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tennessee and Virginia

After a lot of researching it was Atul who picked this package tour.

Day 1: Shenandoah Caverns (Virginia) - November 25 2010

The morning was great and we were very excited about our trip. We started early, by the way here we means me, Hitesh, Atul, Namita and Deepa. We took the Path from grove Station to WTC, from there we took a cab to Bowye Street at the heart of China Town in New York where our bus was waiting for us. Our Guides were Jason and Joanna. We were traveling with LnL Travels. Our tickets were booked through www.gotobus.com
Around 8:00 AM we started and took the Holland tunnel to reach Flushing to pick up one more vacationer. It was a pleasant ride, we crossed from New York to New Jersey, New Jersey to Maryland and then from Maryland to Virginia The state for Presidents. We came to know as many as 8 US Presidents hailed from Virginia. Virginia is also known as State for Lovers.
We reached the Shenandoah Caverns around 1:00 PM. Shenandoah is an American Indian word, the closest meaning in English as told by our guide is "Daughter of the skies". I was very excited as I have only read about Stalactites and Stalagmites in school but never had the opportunity to actually see one for myself. Stalactites and Stalagmites are rock like formation formed by deposition of calcium carbonate. Stalactites are the ones hanging from the roof of a cavern and Stalagmites are the one that rises from the floor of a cavern. It takes about 100 years for a Stalactite or Stalagmite to grow an inch. Well that's enough scientific facts, let me try to describe the artistry of nature that I got to witness here today. There were various formations, like bacon, like a dangling curtain, like a waterfall and much more. Our guide was funny and witty to enhance the experience that we were having. The lighting in the caverns were done strategically and professionally to wow you with the sights on each and every turn. As we ventured deep into the cavern the lights were turned on one at a time to mesmerizing us with the spectacular sights that lay before us. Before I forget to mention, at the end there was a narrow cavern with Stalactites and a floor of stagnant water that was beautifully illuminated and the reflection on the water was a sight to behold. Check the view I had in the picture below.
 I really need to get a proper DSLR Camera to capture these fantastic views. There is a saying, which goes like this, if a drop of water falls on you from the ceiling of the cavern which is called a "cave kiss"; it brings you good luck. I got a drop on my cheek accidentally. So I was cave kisssed. Not too sure if it did bring me luck.
Full Album of Shenandoah Caverns is here.
The entry to Shenandoah is $22 for Adults, $20 for Senior Citizens, $10 for children between 6-14 years , below 5 is free. The site to check is www.shenandoahcaverns.com

If you are driving yourself, you might like to take the Shenandoah Skyline Drive, a toll road which gives you great views of the valley and you might meet some wildlife as well.

After effects:

After the exhilarating tour of the cavern we hit the road again. We took our  dinner at  Shoney's; An American buffet dinner. After dinner we reached our hotel, its was of Quality Inn chain. After freshening up we played some damsharats. This is also the time during which I came to know about the miming abilities of everyone in the our group. We hit the bed late on this day.



Day 2: Gatlinburg and Dixie Stampede (Tennessee) - November 26, 2010

The bus was to start by 7:30 AM so we woke up early and got ready. Breakfast was complimentary from the hotel. I had a big stuffing, eggs, cake, sausages, juices, fruits. 
Once the bus started we we got into the mood of the day. Atul, Namita, Hitesh and Deepa started to play damsharats on the bus itself. I decided to to take a quick nap. 
After two and a half hours we reached the Tennessee border. At the tourist information center where we took a small break. We also had some photo opportunities here. There was a striking Guitar shaped building.
About Tennessee, its the place where the Elvis Aaron Presley, the King of Rock and Roll grew up. More recently Miley Cyrus is also from Tennessee. On the darker side KKK also originated at Pulaski, Tennessee. 

Gatlinburg:

Further two hours of driving, took up to our next stop, Gatlinburg via Pegion Forge.  There was lot of traffic due to holidays which slowed our progress. Gatlinburg is like a Hill Resort. There is a lot of activity you can do at this town. The most popular is the the Cable Tram ride that you can take to the top of the mountain (this is the Appalachians Mountain Chain). Our guide had already bought the tickets for the whole group. Excited we boarded the cable car. The view from above was breath taking. Enjoying the surroundings we reach the top of the mountain in about 10 minutes. We had planned to do the sledge riding, but since it was drizzling the facility was closed. We settled for Ice skating instead. I had never done any Ice Skating. Before we entered the ring it was cleaned by Ice cleaning cart. Ice skating was fun, but I also had many a fall and also twisted my left keen during one of the many falls I had. Hitesh was the most experienced and had the best time. We had a time limit so we left the Ice Ring and headed down to the valley, again enjoying the great views the location had to offer. At the Gatlinburg town we thought we could have explored the town more instead of spending most of our time on the ring. All said and done the litle time we had we covered quite a lot of ground to see the town that is Gatlinburg. Along with the natural attraction there are many man made attractions around the town to enjoy and spend your time. We reached the Cable Car Departure area where our bus was waiting to take us to the next attraction, Dixie Stampede.
Gatlinburg Cable Car Ride: $9.5 for Adults and $6.5 for Children under 6.
To know more about Gatlinburg and its attractions go here www.gatlinburg.com
Dixie Stampede:
Dixie Stampede had been conceptualized by a Dolly Parton. Its a dinner in a large indore arena like facility where you get to witness incredible riding tricks and stunts, musical productions and more while haveing a sumputious dinner. Dixie Stampede is at Pigeon Forge.
Once our bus reached the Dixie Stampede we were welcomed by a friendly hostess. Our group photos were taken as well as individual photos. This was later packaged in a frame and offered for sale if you want. Before the main course there was light country music and food in a large eating area. Something I need to say something that happened here which I hope should never have happened. While taking a photo I fell down and in the process broke the only camera we had with two full days to go in our trip. Needless to say I was very disturbed.
After the curtain raiser we were escorted to the main arena and seated. We had great seats for the show. It was a competition as well as a musical of Christmas. Sorry no pictures are allowed in Dixie Stampede during the show as it has a copyright. This was one of the most interesting shows I have ever seen. The crowd was divided into two with one supporting the North Pole and one supporting the South Pole. It was a light hearted competition all in good fun. In between we saw musicals of toys came to life and the birth of Christ being played out in keeping with the upcoming Christmas spirit. The Dinner was great. It was a four course meal. Check the meal out here. For pictures of Gatlinburg and Dixie Stampede click here.
Dixie Stampede : $45 for Adults and $23 for Children (4-11)
For more information on Dixie Stampede check out their web site.
Around 10 we reached our hotel, and were told the next day we would leave by 6:30. We hit the bed early.

Day 3: Ruby Falls, Incline Railway, Rock City and The Lost Sea (Tennessee)

After breakfast we headed out to the Chattanooga area were three of the four attractions of Day 3 were located. It was nearly a 2 hour drive from the hotel.
Ruby Falls:
From the very beginning of the trip I had a feeling that the Ruby Falls would be the crown jewel of the whole trip, and am I glad to say that I was not disappointed.
Ruby Falls is located at the Lookout Mountain. In 1905 the due to the construction of a railroad which sealed the natural entrance to the Lookout Mountain. Around 1923 a local cave enthusiast, Leo Lambert wanted to reopen the cave to the public. We wanted an elevated to connect the surface to the caves in the Lookout Mountain. While excavating for this a void was located at about 260ft. The opening of the new cave was only 18 inches and Leo Lambert with his team crawled for 17 hours on a round trip to find the Jewel that is the Ruby Falls. Leo Lambert later took his wife to the falls and named it in her name Ruby. You can find more about Ruby Falls here.
Now no one has to crawl to the Ruby Falls after descending to the cave via the elevator. You can walk to the falls, albeit sometimes via very narrow passages.  In the passages you will see the art of nature. I am sorry that I didn't have a proper camera due to the mishap on Day 2 to show you about the thing I am saying. The trek to the Ruby Falls was worth it. You get to see the falls for 7 minutes after which the lights are switched off so that the next group can come in to enjoy the spectacle. I guess I don't have proper works to describe the sight, but as they say a picture can say a 1000 words so here is the best shot that I have of the falls. Enjoy. Below is a picture to appriciate Nature's sense of humour.
Enjoy the full album of Ruby Falls here.
Entry to Ruby Falls: Adults $16.95, Senior Citizen $15.95 and Children (3-12) $8.95

Incline Railway: 
Incline Railway is in the same Lookout Mountain Area of  Chattanooga National Military Park System. This is a mile long railroad that is takes you the top of the Mountain. This is railway is operated by ropes and not electric. The view when you either go up of come down is fabulous. The Lower Station is at St. Elmo. The view gets better at the top where you get a panoramic view of the full Chattanooga National Military Park Valley. Blow picture gives you an eye full.

For more information go on Incline Railway go here. For more pictures on Incline Railway click here.
Incline Railway fares: Adult $14 (round Trip), Senior Citizens and persons with disabilities $7 (round trip) & Children (6-12) $7 (round trip).

Rock City:
Rock City is a marvel of Rock Formation, Botanical Garden and also an Enchanted Garden of Lights. I shall try to explain here. Rock City is also in the same Chattanooga National Military Park System as Ruby Falls and Incline Railway. The Rock City was developed by Garnet Carter and the Fairy Land walk that exists in Rock City is a direct influence of his wife's interest in European Folklore. There is a very beautiful waterfall in Rock City and another view of the valley from the top (see the picture below). Rock City is also a place from where you can view 7 states. Overall its a great place to hang out and let you eyes soak in the view that lies in front of you. The Enchanted Garden of Lights trail is like you are being taken to a fairy land. There are models from almost every European Folklore.
For more information on Rock City go here. For Full album of Rock City click here.
Entry to Rock City: Adults $17.95 Children (3-12) $9.95. There is an option though to buy all the three Chattanooga area attraction in one ticket at a cheaper rate.

Lost Sea: Sweetwater
The Lost Sea is a vast underground lake that has been used from the days of the Cherokee Indians. This is where you also find Cave Flowers, a type of rock formation that grows a centimeter in every 1000 years. Though the cave has a tiny natural opening but it opens to large chambers underground. It was a natural refrigerator for early settlers in  Tennessee. The cave maintains a constant temperature of 58F. There has been markings on the cave, the earliest carbon tested one is 1863. It was lost after the civil war until accidentally discovered by a 13 year old boy named Ben Sands. His description of his findings can be found here. In current knowledge the Lost sea is 800 ft Long by 220 ft wide. You get to have boat ride on the Lost Sea. Trouts were released in the lake to see if the fishes finds a way out but that did not happen, so the cave management feeds the fishes and also have illuminated the Lake, otherwise the fish would go blind. The Cave also give you a perfect darkness when the lights are turned off.
Find details about Lost Sea here. Click here for Lost Sea album.
Entry for Lost Sea: Adults $16.95, Children (5-12) $7.95.
After Lost Sea we boarded the bus to go back to our Hotel in Virginia, the same one we stayed on the first night. It was a 4 hour ride. In between we had a Chinese dinner in an authentic Chinese Restaurant. We were too tired on this day to do any more activity so the bed was the best resort for us.

Day 4: Lurray Caverns (Virginia)
The last day was a late start by the standards we had on the previous two days. We started around 7:45 AM after breakfast.
After around 3 hours drive we reached the Lurray Caverns. Luray Caverns was discovered on August 13, 1878 by five local men, including Andrew J. Campbell an tinsmith, his 13-year-old nephew Quint, and local photographer Benton Stebbins. Lurray Caverns is much bigger than Shenandoah Caverns. There are far more bigger and spectacular formations here. The tour here is self guided one where you are provided with Headsets which explains the various formations in the caverns if you punchin the number that is shown near the specific formation. The headphones and the equipment is given to you during entry and its returnable. Lurray Caverns also has the biggest Natural Stalactite and Stalagmite symphony that is created in a large chamber in the cavern. Previously in this chamber there used to be elaborate music and dances there but now that has stopped. In Lurray Caverns you also find the world famous fried egg formation. See for yourself. There is a wishing well where you can throw a coin and make a wish. These coins goes for charity.
Information about Lurray Cavern is here. Check out my full album in Lurray Cavern. I had to take the pictures on a 1MP mobile camera with no flash, so they are not the best that you can get, but its all I have for now.
Outside the Cavern there is a museum of old cars and carriages. These are very well kept and definitely worth a see. There is also a maze which we missed due to shortage of time. All this is included in the Cavern Entry Fee.Check the Vintage Car Album here. More information here.
Lurray Cavern Entry: Adult $22, Children (6-12) $11.
All done, with a fulfillment in heart we started our journey back to New York at around 12:00 PM. In between we had lunch in a Chinese Buffet. It was almost a 60-70 course buffet and I took advantage to the fullest. All done we headed home when Great Colourful Memories of our tip. Around 9:00 PM we were dropped at Grove Street ending our vacation and ready to face the new week.
Lastly here are some miscellaneous photos of the trip.
Saturday, September 11, 2010

Greek Peak - Green abode in Finger Lakes Region

This was decided and arranged few days in advance by my friends Anamika (mostly) and Bulet.

Friday, 3 September 2010,

After office went to Queens side to Anamika & Bulet's home via the F Train and then Q36. Met with them after a long time and spent the evening in a Starbucks cafe chatting away. I also met Minm the darling daughter of my friends. Anamika works late and came home after midnight. After dinner we hit our beds very excited for the next three days ahead of us.

Saturday, 4 September 2010,

I am normally an early riser , thus was up by 7:00 AM and was complete with morning chores. The rest were late. Anamika  works in shifts and due to the late night shift she required the much needed rest as she was going to drive the whole way. We were 10 people (2 toddlers) in 2 SUVs. After a few false starts we were on our way at around 10:45 AM. We took the Gorge Washington Bridge and were immediately greeted with a big vacationers' traffic.  After being out of sync for around the first 25 miles both the cars were on track for Greek Peak.

Roads in US are great and the scenery that you may come across while driving are breath taking. We crossed quite a few such moments of breathlessness during our journey.

On the way we stopped for some snacks. We ordered pizza from a small local Italian restaurant, the cheese was melting and so was the pizza in out mouth, in one word heavenly. The rest of the journey was pretty event less except

After a long drive, of which that last 25 were on hilly roads we reached Greek Peak - Hope Lake Lodge around 5:30 PM. The area is called Courtland. Our lodge was a nice big wooden structure with cheerful and helpful attendants. The lobby area was packed with local wildlife in stuffed state along with a nice and cozy fire place. The temperature was around 23 to 27 C. We checked in to our rooms or shall I say room; it was  actually three rooms all joined with passage doors. On the sides were two bed rooms with three queen size beds. One of the bed rooms' and the dining room also had sofa-cum-beds. The middle room was the living, dining room with a kitchen. I should not forget to mention all three rooms had good bathrooms. A special  mention of the keys that were provided; all of us occupying the rooms were provided with a type of wristband cum identity card which was tripled as the key. This meant all of us had a key to the rooms. We were told not to take it off (the only way was to cut it, once you put it on), otherwise all the ten of us would have to change the identity-cum-key again.

After we  settled down, the food was unpacked which we brought with us. Sadly we forgot the rice grains, Raja-da (Anamika's cousin brother) had to drive around 20 miles back to get a rice pack.

In the mean time we made good use of our time and went to visit the indoor water park of the resort all dressed in swimming gear. The park was great, it  was  complete with artificial waves, rapids, jacuzzi, swimming pool, a kiddies pool, a basket ball pool and also a overhead tank that got emptied every 15 minutes for the patrons to get drenched. The best part of the pool is, the lowest point it was just 6 ft deep, which helps if you don't know how to swim and still want to enjoy the water park. Moreover there were several lifeguards posted at every point. The kids were supplied with a life jacket to help them float. There were ample tubes to lie and laze on while on water.

After enjoying the tank and the waves, me and Bulet went for the rapids, it was unadulterated fun. The jacuzzi was the last and the most refreshing. In between  I took time to capture the beautiful sunset that was happening behind the mountains. with the camera. In the meantime Raja-da was back and we all enjoyed with renewed vigour. At around 9:30 we called it a "night" and went back to our rooms where we had a nice dinner before hitting the bed.




Sunday, 5 September 2010,

I was up early as usual and decided to take a hike along the perimeter of Hope Lake. I took some small detours with paths leading to other trails around the area. The Lake has fishing, boating, swimming facilities. Also there is a beach to the lake. The area was very well maintained. Back at the lodge we had a great breakfast stuffed with great sandwich's that Mou-di made.



Around 11:00 AM we set out for the go carting arena. The temperature was around 20 C, so a lot of us decided to get a jacket before we go there. What better place to buy cheap, decent stuff than Walmart in US, so Walmart is were we went. to After jacket, people were in mood for exotic food, but I shall keep that part for later narration.

We reached the go-karting arena after numerous wrong turns. During one of these wrong turns we came across a small ice-cream shop which produces its ice cream in house.  All of us had this tasty ice cream to savor.  After getting numerous direction we managed to reach the go-kartingkarting. It was great fun with Raja-da & Babi (Anamika's brother) trying to outdo each other. Anamika did a lot of blocking. All in all it was great enjoyment.

We reached the hotel around 4:00 PM, a bit too late for lunch.  As I had mentioned before we bought Lobster and Shark after buying the jackets  was over , from Price Chopper. Babi made the lobster, great taste, also this was my first time. Rani (Anamika's cousin sister) prepared the shark, which was fantastic as well (my first time for this one as well). Add to this I also had two great dishes made by Mou-di, mutton and egg.

Lunch done, everyone hit the beds for an hour before the evening sojourn  to the water park. I decided to give the water park a miss and became the photographer. I took a lot of pictures and enjoyed the view of the surroundings in general.

Most called it a night at 9:00 PM but me and Bulet stayed on. The sportsman in Bulet took over, he went into the basketball pool and tried to do a Michael Jordan and I tried my had at sports photography.

Around 10:00 PM we went to our rooms, had dinner and hit the bed.

Monday, 6 September 2010

I was a bit late getting up today, but was ready by 8:30. Raja-da, Rani, Abhisa (Raja-da, Mou-di's darling daughter and Kaki (Anamika's mother)) went for fishing in Hope Lake. We - me, Bulet, Anamika and Nim were out a little later and walked to the Lake. On the way Bulet got very excited with apple trees.

Reaching the lake we took a paddle boat to enjoy the lake and were in the water for about 45 minutes. All done we trekked back to our hotel room and checkout out. After the final settlement we went to the a Chinese buffet and had a sumptuous lunch.

Horse Riding was next in the agenda, we reached Maybury Brook Stables for the same. Bulet got the biggest horse of all,a Persian-Belgian breed. Everyone except me and Nim went for the ride. We chatted with Bob the owner of the ranch. He explained that he had been here all along and met his wife here as well. He had an extended family and all works out fine. Almost every domestic animal was present in the ranch; cows, goats, sheeps, hens, ducks, dogs, cats, rabbits and ofcourse horses. I also learned that the family did some type of farming as well. Looked pretty self sufficient to me.

Once the goodbyes were done we started on our way to New York. Anamika was kind enough to drop me off at my hotel around 11:00 PM after a lot of searching for the same.

All in all it was a very enjoyable trip with a lot of activities.

You can check out the photos of the trip here.
Sunday, August 29, 2010

American Museum of Natural History - New York

Saturday, 21 August, 2010

It was a late start and we (me, Anisha & Neha - colleagues) reached the American Museum of Natural History around 13:00 PM. We took the C train from 42nd Street, (Times Square, Port Authority) subway station. We got down at the 81st street station which let us directly to the ticket counter at the museum. Our official id were good enough to get us in the museum.

We took the chart and went straight to the fourth floor to the Saurischian Dinosaurs displays and were greeted with the huge skeletons of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Allosaurus (both carnivorous) and a Apatosaurus a huge huge plant eating dinosaur. There were other smaller exhibits as well.

We moved in through the Ornithischian Dinosaurs hall to the Primitive Mammals hall then to the hall of Advanced Mammals. I was amazed with the displays and also how well kept they are.

On the third floor the Sanford Hall of North American Birds and the Akeley Hall of African Mammals were fantastic. We also saw the various exhibits of the American Indians, Asian Peoples and African Peoples.

On the second floor we took time to see the Big Bang Theater which was a history of time itself and beyond. The walk on the Helibrunn Cosmic Pathway was a walk through the history of time where each step equaled 45 million years of history. Human history is like less than a second in this space time equation. I felt less than microscopic to be in a small planet to a small start in a fringe of a mid sized galaxy. The Gas Pillars of the Trifid Nebula is scaled at one million light year in size. Hard to imagine that type of a distance and I rather leave that to your imagination.

Around 5:15 we were tired and decided to call it a day. There are lots in the museum still to explore and would return there soon.

Back home I was satisfied with my small outing.

Check the pictures I took here. Please note the pictures are nothing special as they were taken with a mobile phone. I shall update when i get a better camera.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nainital and Vicinity


It was planned 2 weeks in advance and we booked rooms with KMVN. After much discussion, we decided on KMVN Bhimtal Rest House. It is easy to book as KMVN allows you to book over the net and the prices are reasonable with good facilities. www.kmvn.org is the place to go and book your rooms. We took a normal room, which was charged as Rs.800 per night.


Thursday, 25 December
We, my & my wife, started out at 5:15AM, woke up our poor car repairing guy at early Delhi morning, got our fan checked and started out by 5:30AM. We took NH24. As Delhi winter morning are it was very foggy and no car was ready to lead. Therefore, it was taken in turns as we drove through the fog. We were cruising at around 7:30AM at a comfortable speed. The journey was uneventful until we reached Garhmukteshwar. There was a huge traffic jam and we were stranded for around three hours moving barely half a kilometer. This was because of heavy traffic and narrow roads. However, there were rumors that a truck laden with goods had overturned but when we were able to move again we did not find a trace of that. We took a wrong turn at Moradabad and instead of getting on the Moradabad Bypass; we went through the city and lost more time. We nearly averted an accident in Moradabad with the front bumper of our car as casualty. Thing got worse at Haldwani were we had to go through SH37 which was at best can be called a road from the primitive ages and I would say we were lucky enough to get through that road without further damage to our car. Therefore, after driving for over thirteen hours we reached Bhimtal KMVN Rest House exhausted. The scenic beauty of the location lifted our spirits, as the Rest house was located on a sublime place just above a hill over looking Lake Bhimtal. The rooms were quite big and bathrooms clean. The only drawback was there was no arrangement of running water in the evening. So we requested a bucket of water freshened ourselves up took dinner and hit the bed early.

Friday, 26 December

After breakfast, we headed out to Nainital. Nainital is around 22KM from Bhimtal. It goes via Bhowali a small hill town. It is very congested. At Nainital to enter the Mall Road you have to pay Rs.25 per entry. Therefore, after paying the toll tax we entered Nainital.
The Lake looked serene with Bluish-green tinge. The forestry around the lake made the area look spell bounding. We drove through the Mall road and the parked our car in one of the public car parking areas that was available. 26th December is also my wife’s Birthday. Therefore, we headed to a bakery and ordered a small cake to celebrate. It was a private, brief but joyful.
Thereafter we headed for a trip via horseback to the few points that are there in Nainital. The deal was finalized at Rs.700 for two of us. After a small drive, we got on our horses (Rocky & Suraj). Rocky, the horse I was on was highly trained and understood whatever our guide was telling it; Suraj though was handled little more firmly. The road was made during British India time.The first stop was Land’s End point were the as you have guessed the road ends and a great view starts. From here, you can see the Lake Khurpatal which is much smaller than any of the lakes in the vicinity but has a great surroundings. The next or last stop was Tiffin Top from were you get a panoramic view of the city of Nainital & its vicinity with the entire natural splendor it has to offer. After this, we were dropped off near the lake and paid our guide. We trekked down to the Mall. Here as we were walking through the market we decided to take a boat ride on the lake. It ticket was Rs.125. The lake looked even better when you are on it and the scenery looked awesome. We sighted a few very colourful birds of which one I recognized as a kingfisher. We asked the boatman to drop us at the Naina Devi temple, where my wife wanted to offer her prayers. The story behind this temple as like lots of other Devi temples in India is that to stop Lord Shiva from destroying the Earth with his Tandav Nritya when Devi Sati died of insult from her father, Lord Vishnu cur her body into 78 pieces to cool Shiva down. It has been said that one of the eyes of Devi Sati fell in Nainital. Thus the name Naina when means Eye.
After the temple visit, we wanted to visit the Snow View top, which can be reached, via the ropeway. We found that all the tickets for the day were booked and only next days tickets were available; therefore, we decided to buy the next day’s ticket for a 1:00 PM.










After this we left Nainital and started our journey back to Bhimtal. On arriving at Bhimtal we strolled around the side of the Lake and marveled at its beauty till sunset (by the way the boat rids in Bhimtal is Rs.150). After this, we decided to call it a day and retired to our rooms after dinner.



Saturday, 27 December
We headed out for Nainital in the morning and decided to visit the Nainital Zoo. The road to the zoo was so steep and narrow I had a harrowing time driving and even got my car scratched. The zoo was worth it, especially the Snow Leopard. Its facial features looked exactly like the Tai Lung in the Hollywood Blockbuster movie Kung-fu Panda. We also saw a Siberian Tiger with its humongous torso. Leopards and the Himalayan Black Bear along with various Deers were other attractions. We also saw an owl; I cannot remember the exact name.
Thereafter we parked our car and went to make good use of the tickets we bought yesterday for the ropeway ride to Snow view Point. After a 15 minutes wait we got our chance to make the trip. The journey up was breathtakingly beautiful. The view made Nainital look really majestic and gorgeous. I clicked many pictures. At the top, we went up the hills and looked marveled at the snow-capped Himalayas; it brought to our mind
songs from the film Hirak Rajar Deshe by Satyajit Ray. It spent some time in silence looking at the view, but as normally in any tourist spots in India seeking silence is futile as everyone was chattering weather required or not. So after spending around 45 minutes at Snow Top we headed down again by the ropeway and was yet again fascinated by the view.
Once down we were hungry and looked for a restaurant named Machaan, it’s a very recommended restaurant in Nainital and there always seems to be a waiting time. We wanted Tibetan food but had to settle for Chinese. The food was delicious and reasonable. Lunch over we headed to market by the Cricket Ground and my wife bought a pair of gloves for Rs.40 which surprising was a great deal due to the quality of the material. Happy we headed back towards Bhimtal.
We were having a disagreement on weather to visit Nukuchiatal or Sattal. At the end I won and we visited Sattal and my wife later said it was a good decision as Sattal had a wild and unspoilt look and was hardly crowded. Sattal is made up of seven lakes; thus the name Sattal. Currently five lakes are joined and form a huge lake. They are Hanuman-tal, Ram-tal, Sita-tal, Lakshman-tal and Bharat-tal. The other two are a little off from the main area and they are Garuda-tal which can be seen while coming towards the main Sattal area and has a very ghostly look to it. The last and the smallest one is the Nal-Daimanti-Tal. 





We were fascinated by the scenery in front of us and decided to take a boat ride on the main lake (which actually is 5 lakes). It costs Rs.175. The boatman was very informative and answered all our questions and told us a lot of stories and events about the lakes. Here we also learned that at the Nal-Daimanti-Tal you can feed the fish there. So after alighting from the boat we purchased some biscuits and started for Nal-Daimanti-Tal which is about 3.5 KM from the main Lakes. This lake has lost its natural banks and now has man-made ones. It is very shallow with the maximum depth of about 10 feet. There were lots and lots of fish and they were eager to eat the biscuits we threw in the water. We enjoyed the feeding and as its we getting dark we decided to head back to our hotel.
We got our things packed for an early start tomorrow with our journey from Delhi still ripe in our memory & hit the bed.


Sunday, 28 December
In the morning we decided to have Maggie (actually it was Ching’s Secret) which we brought along with us. We asked the hotel cook to prepare it with eggs. After Breakfast and settlement of the bill we started our journey back to Delhi. It was 8:30AM then. This time though we decided to go through Nainital as we came to know from our visits there is another better road that has come up around two years ago. We found it was an extension of NH87. The road was far better and less congested. We reached the plains around 10AM and was immediately welcomed with a road through the Jim Corbett National Park. I put the car on cruise control and enjoyed the greenery. This time we came to know while coming we missed the Moradabad bypass and found that it would have made our journey much shorter and comfortable. We kept moving at a pretty brisk pace till we reached Garhmukteshwar again and was held up for around 20 minutes. After that it was pretty uneventful. We did miss the Hapur bypass and lost around 30 minutes in the fray. After Hapur it was pretty smooth and we were home by 4:30 PM; which we great taking into consideration the amount of time it took us for our journey to Bhimtal. Home felt nice and after quick dinner we hit the bed to wash away all our exhaustion.

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