“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world”
Hello Folks, After receiving a lot of response on my first post(https://kaleleblogs.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/into-the-tranquility-a-trip-to-dandeli-ganeshgudi/), I decided to log one of the most memorable travels of my life, my trip to The United States of America in the summer of 2014. I toured with my parents. The experience that it was, the US of A, seemed like an impossible task to put in words, especially considering my naivety in the field of blogging/writing. Pictures speak more than a thousand words, hence, I decided to post a couple of decent pictures and a brief narration for all the destinations I visited. Also, when I first decided to make a blog, I had intended images to be a fundamental element in my posts. So with that said, I will cover my tour in a chronological order.
#1-Niagara Falls(Buffalo, NY)
We landed in buffalo, the land of ‘the original buffalo chicken wings’ to begin our tour. From there, we proceeded to the city of Niagara Falls. The laid back and relaxing small town was a perfect place for us to unwind and recover from our jet-lag. The town is beautiful to say the least. We could hear the rumbling noise of the waterfall in our rooms. With the falls at walking distance from our Inn, meant that we would visit it twice daily, for the two days that we were there. Unlike the Canadian side of the falls which seems like an entertainment destination, the Americans chose to develop their side to preserve the tranquillity of the location. They have developed a National Park and erected a flag honouring the veterans, which I thought was a very nice gesture. I vividly remember the experience aboard the Maid of the Mist which took us right beneath the horseshoe falls. The chilly water falling from the falls washed our faces and the wind was ferocious. It was the first of many memorable experiences in store for us.
On our way to New York City, we stopped briefly at the Corning Glass factory, which manufactures the famous Gorilla Glass. It was a great learning experience to see how it is made.
#2-The Big Apple-NYC
With iconic attractions such as The Statue of Liberty, Empire state building, times square, to name a few, not to mention the numerous shows and movies it has featured in, New York City was the one destination I was looking forward to the most. And the city left me spellbound in just 10 odd hours that I spent there. New York has a charm of its own, like every other mega-city in the world. It also made me wonder if our very own Mumbai would ever grow to be like NYC in terms of infrastructure, planing, transit and functioning.
Though all of the tourist attractions were worth visiting. The highlight of the city tour was without a doubt, Times square. The first view of the place dazzled me. The images of the vivid advertising displays and the hustle bustle occasionally flashes in my mind. After experiencing NYC, overwhelming as it was, I was anticipating the remainder of the trip to be a downfall. It proved to be otherwise.
My journey to Washington DC was pretty exciting. The American Freeways promised a comfortable ride. They seemed to have considerably more traffic than highways back in India. Now I know why Uncle Sam is possessive about the Gulf. They are one freakin’ fuel guzzling nation, owing to the number of auto-mobiles on the roads. We passed through the city of Baltimore, and before DC, took a slight detour to visit Luray Caverns. The Virginia country side which we drove through en-route was a pretty sight.
We spent just half a day in Washington D.C. I was in the capital of the most powerful economy in the world. And it didn’t fail to impress me. The National air and space museum(Smithsonian’s) was surprisingly awesome and it is by far the best museum I have ever walked into.
After a prompt city tour and a refreshing overnight stay at the Crystal City Marriott, we headed towards the west coast, to LA- the entertainment capital of the world! As I walked down the jet way at Dulles Intl., realizing that half the tour was over saddened me a little. I was nevertheless excited!
#4- LA- The City of Angels
The first impression of this city was a little disappointing. Compared to the prosperous north-east, LA at first seemed a little different. The roads were in bad conditions, there were traffic jams and the localities hinted at poor living conditions(comparatively of course). On visiting the posh areas of Beverly hills and Rodeo drive the following day, it proved to be a misconception. LA is home to quite a few of the richest and most glorified Hollywood personalities. I learnt that AR Rahman and Ustad Zakir Hussain are the only two Indian celebrities to own property there. Universal Studios, where I spend one whole day was the best theme park experience of my life, and describing which doesn’t fit the best of my writing ability.
After picking up a couple of sandwiches for ‘en-route hogging’ from Burger King, we proceeded to Las Vegas by coach and the journey proved to be fun. Eerie as they may seem, deserts look amazing to the eyes(from an AC coach of course), especially during sun down. Then within the pitch black no man’s land, I saw glimmering lights, which grew intense as we neared them. And within no time, the outside became as bright as daylight. We were driving through one of the most well known streets of the world, The Strip, situated on which was the famous ‘Planet Hollywood’ hotel and casino which we checked into. Next day we saw the Grand Canyon from a plane. Later, ventured through few of the most renowned casinos, the likes of Bellagio, Ceasar’s Palace, The Venetian(which was my favourite) to name a few. The interior of some of these were overwhelming to look at. It sure must have cost millions of dollars to build these humongous entertainment centres. We took an aerial tour of the city and the hoover dam. Las Vegas provides a mesmerising aerial view, especially at dusk. The Sin city proved to be a unique experience. Be it strolling through the mind blowing casinos or shopping malls, sipping a frozen margarita or the strip shows in the casinos at night, it gave me a different cultural perspective. The obsession for gambling was visible everywhere, they even have slot machines at the airport! I tried my luck only to loose about $10. This was the cleanest one could ever come out of the Sin City, as clean as a saint. Well, almost 😉
I could go on and on about San Francisco. Out of the seven odd cities I visited, this was by far my favourite city in the US. The weather was heavenly, especially after the scorching Nevada heat. The city tour was amazing, the highlight of which was the ferry ride off fisherman’s wharf, which took us near the world famous Golden Gate bridge, and the island of Alcatraz prison. The crisp, cool pacific winds hitting our faces felt amazing! We later took a tram ride to walk down the famous Lombard street, a.k.a. the crooked street. Our hotel, situated in San Mateo, facing the bay, was a perfect place to unwind after a rather happening day.
After a boring 5 hour flight from SFO to the east coast, we reached The city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. My Uncle has a house in an adjoining town. I lived there after the tour, for over a month, in a cordial and relaxing atmosphere. My uncle and aunt were very hospitable. A month’s stay gave me a slight insight into the lives of people in one of the most developed nations. I was amazed the most, by the behaviour of the people at various instances. Be it passer-bys smiling at you, the help they would offer, or the attitude while driving, these are small behavioural habits which we can inculcate in ourselves to make our country a better place. Little things that made day to day activities smooth amused me. I could now figure out why The US is an immigrant’s favourite destination!
I also became more open minded towards various cultural taboos. Be it the LGBT community in San Francisco, or the prostitution and burlesque shows in Vegas, I realised that my values and morals don’t necessarily give me the right to judge a person, community or country.
All that is good has to end. And so did my trip. Clichéd line, I know. Flying in via London, me and my grand mother got a free upgrade to business class on our second leg(LHR-BOM), which added to the long list of memorable experiences. I had lived a month I am going to cherish all my life.
IF you’ve made it this far, I would like to thank you for reading my blog post. As always, I would love to read your feedbacks, so try to leave a reply. Also feel free to click on the share button at the bottom. I will try to post more frequently in the future. That’s it for this time.
Kalele signing off.