Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Happy Birthday Central Park !

I am writing this post a day after Central park turned 161 years young and beautiful. With every passing year this place I believe turns more green and more beautiful. 

Amidst the dizzying height of skyscrapers donning the skyline, the fast paced life of the people in the city, the homes of the rich and famous celebs, the multi national banks, international fashion brands, the cosmopolitan population and all .. exists 843 acres of well maintained greenery in the heart of Manhattan. That is NYC for you.

We took a Ric ride around most of central park before we headed back to our hotel, we were glad we could make sometime to get around this enormous beautiful park as it happened to be the last place we visited in NYC before we took our flight back to India the same night.

After our no so good experience of taking a Ric ride around Times Square, more about it in my next post. We were a bit sceptical to hire a Ric to go around Central park. However, our Ric driver convinced us into taking one with his fixed rate for the ride.

 He was a very jovial guy from Nigeria who had come to NY in search of a job and has since then been doing odd jobs to survive and make ends meet. He spoke a lot - about how wonderful NYC is, he showed us the various high rises which were homes to celebrities, he showed us the various locations were many Hollywood movies were filmed in Central park, he spoke about his life, his family and the place he stays in NYC - Bronx.  

He told us that there is another side to NYC and that can be seen in Bronx and how he learnt about life from his friends in Bronx. We were glad we took the Ric ride and only wish we had more time to spend more time in Central park. Despite the cold weather and chill breeze, his warmth made it for a pleasant 2 hours in Central park.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Boston - New England - Fall Foliage

After touring the south central part of USA and the west coast, we landed in the east coast to experience the Fall foliage in the outskirts of Boston and experience the most populous, happening NYC.

First things first, Boston was the first city to welcome us in the East coast, it was a very cold welcome in every sense. Right from the weather at 12 degree Celsius - **I am a Chennaite and 12 degree C is very cold for us**, to the airport pick up shuttle from our hotel which was delayed and the creepy guy who was waiting next to the bus stop at the airport who followed us to our hotel in the hotel shuttle and then went on his own way. Phew ! thankfully he did.

We were more than glad when we reached our hotel  - Country Inn and Suites, Brockton. The hotel was over flowing with travellers from around the world. The rooms were neat, clean, spacious and the service - not bad.

We rested a bit and headed to the nearest train station to take a train to Quincy market. This market's history dates back to 1822, it is lined with shops selling all kind of knick knacks, souvenirs, food, clothing, art work and what not.. Did I forget to mention, that we devoured some yummy donuts from Dunkin' Donut before walking around Quincy market.

Donuts from Dunkin' Donuts

It was a great place to sink in to the local culture, people watch, eat some local food and enjoy the street shows. like the locals do.Our stint with Quincy market came to an end late evening when we decided to head back to our hotel. We decided on crashing early that day as we had planned to take a fall foliage tour the next morning :) Fall, was yet another reason for the hotel being so crowded.

People watching at Quincy Market

Street performer - He was awesome !

He made walking around the place musical with his drum beats.

For those of them who know me, will vouch for my abilities to sleep under any circumstance and oh so peacefully!, this only adds to my advantage when the weather is cold - I get to my hibernate mode. This can go on for hours or days. This is what happened to me the two days I was in Boston.

Next morning after our breakfast at the hotel, we began our fall foliage tour through Boston, New England, New Hampshire etc.

Fall colors were beautiful, met other travellers from various countries during the tour, relished pumpkin delicacies in family run restaurants by the country side, fell in love with bright coloured flowers. It was a beautiful day !

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Lake Tahoe and Reno

It was a day long road trip from San Jose ->  Lake Tahoe -> Reno where we decided to bunk for the night and start back from Reno -> San Jose the next day late morning.

The plan to visit Reno came as a surprise from my uncle and aunt, I was more than thrilled with the plan considering the fact - while we flew from Houston to San Jose we transited through Las Vegas and I was unable to try my hand at the slot machines in the airport as we were running short of time.

It was one of a kind trip..

Our destinations for the day - Lake Tahoe and Reno

Mid way through the journey we lunched at the Kaveri Madras restaurant, which was so aptly located enroute to Lake Tahoe. Good south Indian food ! Yummy Idli, vada, pongal, parotta et all.

When every small thing  happens to be the way you like them to be, you just happen to fall in love with the place even more and that is exactly what happened to me with California.

After a sumptuous meal and quenching our crave for soul food we continued our drive to Lake Tahoe. The drive along the hilly region around Lake Tahoe is beautiful with tall pine trees lined along the stretch. First peek of the blue water and I was completely dumb struck. I can sit right there and look at the vast expanse of the blue water for hours together. It was gorgeous !

First glimpse of Lake Tahoe
Avenue of pine trees bordering our drive to Lake Tahoe

We spent the rest of the evening lazing around by the lake, before starting our drive to Reno. We drove along the Sierra Nevada range as the sunset between the mountains. We stayed at The Grand Sierra - Hotel and Casino, wonderful place with large rooms. I was told Reno was a mini version of Vegas.. So let what happened in Reno stay in Reno ! ;)

Before heading back to San Jose, we went back to Lake Tahoe, didn't I just mention that I will never get enough of the vast expanse of the picturesque scenery.

Lake Tahoe in our background
Our next destination was Boston. It was good bye to sunny days, clear skies and the warmth of our extended family who hosted us in Houston and San Jose, it was time to go around on our own and experience fall in Boston.