East Coast Trip – Day 5 (Niagara Falls)

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5-Oct-2016 : Today we were heading north wards to Niagara falls. En route the bus was to stop at Corning glass museum to have a tour which we had decided to skip. Just adjacent to the hotel we had stayed at night, there was a Baskin Robbins and we picked a bag full of hot yummy donuts and coffee and started towards the bus. The route is beautiful, especially this time of the year .The fall had just started and you could see the nature at its best. Its hard to put in words, but the different colors of tree leaves, some on the tree and many more fallen on ground is a sight to cherish. We were lucky to be travelling here at this time of the year to experience this which you don’t see in California. Also you cross or pass along many rivers and streams, surrounded by forest and fields. Its indeed a beautiful countryside.

Today we had started bit late at 7:00 am, yes that is late for the routine :). We reached Corning around 11:00 pm. Its a small tony town with the famous factory at its center.  We were not going to do the factory tour, so went straight to the food court. There were many options, but we again went for some more pizza :),  veg for us, cheese for Ar and more coffee :). Yeah, medicine for my sour throat ;). After spending some time there, we had  look at their store which had some nice piece of glass work, though we didn’t buy any.  They also have local apple produce and we picked some which were bit sour, bit sweet, Perfect! On the entry point they had made an art work of pumpkins which was nice and Ar liked it. Along the way they had a small demo workshop to showcase how glass is made and it was interesting to see.

We were again on the bus on our way towards Niagara falls. The continuous travel had started getting to us, especially G. I enjoy the journey as much as the sightseeing, but due to bad health it was getting to me too. On this route also we saw fall colors in its splendor which made for the long travel. The total distance from our hotel to Niagara falls was around 500+ miles and this was one of the long stretch ride. We reached our destination around 3:00 pm and headed straight towards the falls.

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After having the view of falls from the Niagara vista bridge, we went for the famous maid of the mist cruise. You descent through lift at the river level and stand in queue for your number. This was my second time and G and Ar’s first. After wearing the customary rain coats, we boarded the boat which would take us right in front of Canadian falls after passing past the American falls. First you see the American falls which on your left and smaller one of two. Then as you head on you reach Canadian falls which are bigger, taller and a sight to behold. This is one of the best cruises I have had and this time too we enjoyed it. It’s an adventurous cruise and as you approach the falls its very windy and the water which splashes at you due to the wind is just like being under heavy rain. So much water fall down at that spot and from such height that the area around is continuously covered in mist.The moments we spent there we would remember for a long time to come.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to cover Caves of the wind, as we were on rush, no surprises here 🙂 Next stop for the tour was historic Niagara fort which i personally thought would be quite a bore. After some drama (we reached the fort after it had closed), guide used his persuasion skills best to sneer us in. It turned out to be a quite well built, maintained and interesting fort and gave me opportunity to see an American fort. Now that was something ! Also the fort has a very picturesque background, with it facing the ocean and lush green lawn inside. There was a local guide there who was wearing an attire of a soldier (with a gun to add to authenticity :)) similar to have been worn when this fort was built and in use 200 years ago. He also explained the forts history and then he started explaining how the gun was loaded and aimed at etc and and then he pulled the trigger. Nothing happened and we thought that it was all antics. Then he aimed again and pulled the trigger and it fired making a load noise and Ar got scared. It was a memorable experience.

Then we took a stop at whirlpool point where the Niagara river make a whirlpool. This is the point where falls were many millions of  years ago which now due to erosion has moved 7 miles back where it is now and it is still falling back as I write.

Next stop was food mall just opposite Niagara falls park. There were many options including  Indian food. We had veg thali, a burrito and then completed the meal with hot chai :).  We  then went outside at the designated spot but the bus was nowhere to be seen. We waited there outside shivering for good half an hour when the bus finally showed up and we were on our way to the hotel. Once reaching the hotel went through the daily rigor to get the keys and called the day.

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East Coast Trip – Day 4 (Philadelphia & Washington DC)

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4-Oct-2015 : Today was a jam-packed day. We were to head out of New York and go to Philadelphia first and then onto Washington DC where we would be anchoring for the night. The day started again at 6:00 am and we had some breakfast at the hotel and boarded the bus. The route to Philadelphia is beautiful and scenic. From New Jersey to Philadelphia it is around 60 miles and 2 hours journey. We reached there by 8:15 am. We stopped around the Freedom square and on the way we saw many historic places like Benjamin Franklin’s house etc.

Freedom square is one of the historic places of US and has many landmarks. It has the Freedom building where the Declaration of Independence was signed. It also has the Washington’s house which was the first President’s house and the historic Liberty bell. Its such a amazing being there and getting soaked in history. At least I was waiting to be here in person since childhood. We walked around the square and clicked some pics. There was a hotel across the street and we got coffee there, which was soothing to throat in this cold weather. We already had our breakfast in the bus en route. It was a small stopover here and we had to start towards our next destination DC. Next time we would like to spend a lot more time here. But this is the issue when you go on trips with a group, there is paucity of time.

Journey from Philadelphia to Washington DC is around 3 hours covering more than 150 miles. En route there are some major industrial cities and towns. The first thing you see once you reach close to DC is the famous Washington memorial tower. It’s the tallest structure there and you can see it from far of distances. We pulled up at the central square which has many historic and important buildings.

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After getting out of the bus, we had a good look at the Washington memorial and then started towards the Capitol building. This is the central place of the worlds oldest democracy. It was great being there. The central square is a large garden island in between the streets and flanked by it are all the historic buildings. We went near the Capitol and took some snaps. There is a water fountain near by which Ar liked as lot. Our guide advised all of us to cover the National Aeronautics museum which I was not much interested in as I thought it wont be that much interesting, which would have been a big mistake. We decided to just peek around and ended up spending all afternoon there :).

As you enter the museum, you see these old WW2 planes hanging above you and this is just the beginning. The building houses the moon craft which had landed on moon, astronaut suits, space capsule, cruise missile, WW1, WW2 stuff etc. There is also the model of Wright brothers first aircraft. It has all things related to aeronautics. I could have spent the whole day there and some. Ar also enjoyed it a lot. Now we were running behind schedule but I wanted to see the WW2 airforce section which was near the last wing of the museum. I wanted to have a look at B2 bombers etc, which when we reached there did not see but we still got to peek at some spitfires. We were completely out of time and we had to have lunch and catch the bus. We went to the Mac D in the museum campus only and had pizza and coffee. Our next stop was going to be Lincoln memorial.

Another iconic memorial to an iconic president of America. You need to climb a long stairway to reach there. It’s a large memorial, with a big statue of Abraham Lincon in middle. Its was amazing being there. Just opposite to it is the Washington tower and in between these two buildings there is a long water way. What a view! Ar also liked it a lot.

Our next stop was Ptolmec river crusie. Washington DC is built around this river. The cruise ride gives you a complete view of DC and you see many historic places like old quarters, Titanic statue and also at some distance you can see the Pentagon. It’s a city where you can spend whole week and still would not be able explore half of it. But we still covered lot in a day.

What a day at a historic place. We then went to the hotel, which was far from the city in Maryland, but it was a good place. We had dinner at hotel only. By now I was doing  really bad and though I was quite excited for the remainder of the trip I also started having feeling of going back to home :(. I was running high fever. I took crocin and went to sleep.

PS: One intersting routine we had, every time we reached a hotel was to rush to take the keys from the guide at the front desk. I used to take the bags quickly from the bus and run to get in the line and was normally in the first 5. Mostly Ar used to fall asleep by then and G used to wait on the side with Ar on her shoulder. We used to be so tired that getting the keys as fast as possible and taking to bed was our only priority.

East Coast Trip – Day 3 (New York)

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3-OCT-2015 : Day started with I not feeling well. I did not want to get out of the bed, but today we were going with the group and were leaving early. So we woke up and got ready quickly and were in the lobby. We had some packed snacks with us,  but as the hotel had complimentary breakfast, I went and brought coffee and some bakery stuff for all. Before we could finish it bus had arrived and after boarding we were on our way towards New York. Today’s 1st stop was Wall street.

Our guide was a friendly but impatient named Easan. He gave a long introduction about himself and his rules and was going to be with us for the remainder of this trip. After a long commute we reached NYC and pulled up close to Wall street and the guide took us along to the tour of NYSE and other iconic landmarks of this area. It was great being there again and we also got to see the bull which I had missed the first time I had been there. We took some quick pics with the bull, with everyone fighting to get their share of it and quickly boarded the bus as it was quite cold outside. Today being weekend, it was quite calm and empty, one could imagine the rush on weekdays.

Next stop was another iconic landmark of the city, Empire states building and we were to go to the 86th floor observation deck. This building is such a iconic place, being in many  movies and was built over 100 years ago. At the time it was built it was the tallest tower in the world and today even after loosing that status it still towers over this city. The lift as with these tall buildings zoomed through the floors. When we reached at the observatory deck, it had started raining again and was very chilly. We got a good 360 degree view of NYC from the top along with view of harbor and other important landmarks. Ar and G liked it a lot. We would have liked to spend more time there, but it was very cold and so we went in and took the lift to the ground floor.

It was around 11:00 am, and we were very hungry. We saw a Mac D on the opposite side of the street and decided to go there. We had veg sandwich and coke. The bus was ready to leave by now and so we  boarded it and next stop was Statue of Liberty. We had been there just yesterday and had planned to skip this one, but Ar and G had liked it so much and they wanted to go again. This was to be a different ferry and it only goes around the SOL and does a round of NYC harbor. It was great again being there and we had a great view from the front deck and as we already had our share of pics yesterday,  we were soaking in the moment. Its a place one can go again and again and again. Breathtaking!

We were now near central park and the plan was to go over few museums there. We had opted in for Metropolitan museum of arts. After they pulled over at some distance, the guide didn’t tell us anything and got out and we checked with few co travelers and they were not sure where we are going and so in the confusion we thought they are covering some other museum. So we stayed in the bus only and I got some well needed nap. My cough was getting bad now. After the people came back we realized they had been to the Metropolitan museum. We had some heated exchange with the guide an he was quite un remorseful about his miscommunication.

Next stop was Madam Tussaud’s , but as I have been here before on earlier trip to NYC and G and Ar had seen the Hollywood one, so decided to skip this one and headed for the dinner. Now after yesterday’s fiasco, we were even more determined to find the Indian restaurant we had seen our first day, closer to Time Square. Finally found it! The dinner was ok, for all our efforts in locating it, though mango lassi was good. We we getting bit late and had to rush back. Times square was packed and there was no place to walk, literally :). We were back to our bus just in time. It was end of NYC leg of the tour.

We were back to hotel by 9:30 pm and took to bed immediately.