Saturday, July 08, 2006

A magnificent statue and an awesome waterfalls

It was tough to get back to work in office after spending an awesome time with friends in awesome places. I’m just back from a trip to New York and Niagara.

The idea of this New York trip originated during our last Las Vegas trip. Even though we thought we will book the tickets & hotels well in advance, it never happened. Finally it boiled down to just one week before the trip. Then as always we rushed and in hurry tried to book air tickets. Even though it was little expensive, it wasn’t bad either. At some point, we almost dropped the idea of the trip seeing the prices. Somehow everything fell in place.

But this time, biggest villain was hotel! We literally struggled to get a decent hotel and when we finally booked a hotel at a surprisingly low price, we were elated. Not knowing what was waiting for us next.

When everything was fine, suddenly at my work place, there was some concern about me taking an off. Somehow I convinced them. Same thing happened with Suppi too.

Keeping aside all these initial hiccups, so finally we kick-started the trip from flying to New York. Only after landing in JFK Airport in New York, I and Suppi realized that still there are lots which we need to battle. Our plan of hiring the car from airport went for a toss as there was not even a single vehicle available in any rental agencies. After roaming frantically for 3 hours and after surfing on the spot, we managed to get a car from a rental agency which was 10 miles from JFK.

Mean while it was not going good for our friends who went to hotel to rest. The hotel would have been easily rated one of the worst. We were deceived by the hotel’s flashy website & the price carrot.

July 01, Saturday

Finally it was 10:30 on Saturday morning, when the same gang of Deepti, Archana, Supreeth & I met in Battery Park. Only addition was Ponamma. This was the place from where the ferry would take us to one of the most recognized monument in world, Statue of Liberty.

There was an intense security check, just like in airports, before we boarded the ferry. As the ferry moved nearer to Liberty Island, the famous statue was becoming more and more visible. It was a memorable moment to see the Statue of Liberty in person. After getting down on the island, we proceeded to the statue. Entry to the Statue requires tickets and thankfully I had booked it online.

As we entered the Statue, again there was one more round of security check, this time it had some puff test, which blew air on the body! Now we were in the Statue and the stairs led us to the exclusive exhibition about Statue of Liberty and its history.

Did you know this? Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor of Statue of Liberty was thinking of ways to provide the support from inside to the statue. He consulted Eiffel and Eiffel suggested that there should be a tower like structure which runs across the statue to support it. And that idea worked. By the way, Eiffel is the same guy after which the Paris’s famous tower is named.

It seems there is a path up till the lamp. But that route is no longer accessible.

So there we were at the feet of Statue of Liberty. The gigantic, green and magnificent statue, gifted by France to US, to mark the later’s independence. The Statue stood as a symbol of freedom, hope & liberty. It was the first sight any immigrant entering to US through New York would have seen during those days. One interesting thing to notice was that right feet of the statue was on toes, something like to ‘ready to go’ state. (Well, Archana cooked up some cock-bull reason why it was like that ! )

The view of Manhattan from Statue was amazing too. We took some funny pictures around Statue, had lunch and started back in the ferry to Battery Park.

According to plan, we left New York for Buffalo, a place 450 miles away. Our Plan was to visit Niagara and come back again to New York. Suppi started the driving from New York and drove till we were totally out of New York traffic. Then I took over and as always it was pleasure driving. Especially driving in the freeway is an experience. We got a good company of some 4-5 cars who consistently kept me competitive. After 4 hours, Suppi took over. It was 1:30 night when we reached the hotel in Buffalo. The hotel was too good compared to other in New York, thanks to our IDM manager !

Buffalo streets was full of Saturday night parties and energy level was quite visible-audible. But we badly needed rest and slipped into sleep.

July 02, Sunday

Tired with the journey we woke up pretty late and started towards Niagara, which was about 50 miles from Buffalo. By the time we reached the place and found car parking, it was already afternoon. Information Center informed us about the combo-trip package which covers the Niagara Falls extensively. We booked the tickets for that and tickets were available only for 4:30 trip.

Meanwhile it was time to attack the lunch at a near-by Punjabi restaurant (In fact the name was Punjabi dhabha which made us to run to it!).After a good buffet lunch, we were all set for the Niagara expedition.

Niagara Falls actually consists of three falls – American Falls, Bridal Vail Falls and Canadian Falls (Horse Shoe Falls).

First of the trip was called ‘Maid of the Mist’. This is the trip where the cruise passes near the American Falls and takes right into the Horse-Shoe falls. Before boarding the cruise, we were given blue colored plastic gowns and as the cruise moved towards the falls, we realized why the gown was required. The entire atmosphere was misty and there was a strong wind blowing, making water droplets flying in all directions.

The American falls sight was magnificent and the sun rays and the water drop had created a big rainbow across the falls. American falls was 1060 feet in width and had a 180 ft height. When we were still enjoying the American falls, at a near distance we heard the thundering noise of water thrusting. The boat took a slight turn and slowly the Horse-Shoe Falls appeared. In next few moments, we were in the middle of Horse-Shoe falls. To the left, to the right & to the center, it was water in majestic form. It was jumping as if it has broken all shackles attached to it, as if there was no tomorrow...

Imagine a waterfall which is 2600 feet in width and 173 feet height and water jumping in full form. It was an absolutely stunning experience. When the announcement in the ship went “Ladies & Gentleman, THIS is Niagara Falls”, automatically all the hands in the ship clapped in unison with loud cheering. Truly, it was a moment to cherish.

We couldn’t stop talking about the view of Niagara after we came out of that ‘Maid of the Mist’ trip. Next on our list was ‘Cave of the Winds’ tour. This time the queue was extremely long and before entering we were given the yellow plastic gowns and water slippers.

There was a small pathway, which lead to the falls and when the path ended, we were right below the falls. Now we knew why water slippers were given. As we climbed nearer to the falls, the water was splashing on us from every side. As wind blew, it carried a barrage of water droplets and sprinkled on us. We stood right below the falls with water falling with massive force and what a force it has. Thanks to the gown, clothes were dry, but couldn’t resist getting the head wet thoroughly.

Up close to the falls was an awesome experience. We could have continued like that forever. It was getting dark and slowly the lights were coming on. We came out of the ‘Cave of the Winds’.

The powerful light sources on the Canadian border were projecting the colors on the falls. The water falls was taking new colors and in the night it was another different world. It was such a myriad image to see the falls in blue, green, red and in many other eye-catching colors. It was around 10 in night now and the fireworks started on Canadian border. It was excellent show but got curtailed due to rain.

We returned back to our car with Niagara running in our minds and the images constantly lingering in eyes. Time for dinner and we went to one more Indian restaurant. There the owner of the hotel and a Desi had picked up the fight and arguing stupidly. We carried with our dinner and before dinner got over, we could see the hotel owner trying to be nice with that Desi customer by calling him ‘Beta’ and hugging. It was hilarious!

After refueling the car, it was 1 in the night when we started our journey back. I started the innings with me being in driver’s seat. After roaming for the whole day, folks were feeling sleepy and soon Archana & Ponamma slipped into sleep. We made Suppi to sleep so that he can take over from me. Deepti tried giving company to me by continuing her request show and talking to me. Finally she also slipped into sleep.

Meanwhile the drive was extremely cool, as always started with 65-70 mph and slowly ramped up to 80-85 mph. This time there was no company to chase or play with on the freeway. Archana, I think got worried twice when the car swayed at few turns. Ponamma was sleeping sound as if she was sleeping in a nice cozy bed. Finally it was 4:30 when I handed over the wheel to Suppi and I slipped into sleep for some 2 hours.

We were on our way back to The Big Apple..

Coming up next...Ground Zero, Empire State building, Time Square and many New York attractions


Hiren said...

A picture is worth a thousand words. If only you could have added one of the falls that you have described so comprehsensively.

mavinayanasa said...

good narration of ups and downs of picnic. i was thinking that only in India, one will face hiccup of booking hotel, getting cheated, not getting cabs etc etc. now, felt happy that US is no excuse :P

i saw pics too. if you see pic and read the blog - it is wonderful to visualise. waiting for ground zero!

Shiv said...

Long time no see !

That hiccups of hotel booking & other travel related will be there everywhere irrespective of any place in this world !

Post on Ground Zero is already up..

mouna said...

i heard that niagara falls is really interesting.....(courtesy my cousin)!! matte chennagi enjoy maadadri....

btw..naanu koodA india noDiddini...ya the taj mahal is desolate...the outer wall is so dirty...when i went there....idu aa world famous monumentaa antha of the best managed places is is so beautiful.....and the pace is managed so well gotte....we had to travel in cng that the paintings do not get harmed...and that was 5 years back...

but what can one do....ondu hottu ooTakke illa....beautifying places.....apart from the insects that do our world.