Traveller’s Log: Yosemite

What an interesting shape for a mountain..looks like an eagle to me but they call it the “half dome”. It’s one of the peaks at the Yosemite National Park in California.
So how did I reach there…well it was a pretty sunny weekend and I have a friend who had already been there 3 times before and still wouldn’t mind going again :-). So she and I started on the Saturday morning. Reached that place after having Garlic Icecream on the way – yes you read it right – it is garlic! There’s this place called Gilroy on the way which you can smell from far off due to it’s garlic farms. My friend had passed several times from there and was fascinated by the boards with Garlic Icecream written on them but had never tried it. So we stopped there for a while and had the garlic-vanila icecream – which was not that bad but I don’t think either of us is going to have it ever again :-).

We continued on the way and I saw an interesting waterbody on the way. Don’t know what it was. Here’s a picture.
We also crossed a lot of fields, orchards on the way. I even saw Pistachio orchards along with Strawberry and cherry farms! But didn’t have the time to stop and admire all that. May be some other time.

After all this, I started feeling sleepy while my friend was still as alert and fresh as ever! I think she can earn some bucks by endorsing some energy drink (Though she is of the opinion that she might have been a driver by profession in her previous birth and it has nothing to do with any energy drink)
So in this way – me half asleep and she driving while listening to some music, we reached Yosemite. This time we’d reached that entrance, which she had exited from in her previous trips. So to explore from that side was a new thing for her as well.

We paid the entrance charges, got the map and then after dilly-dallying about seeing a point of interest there, finally decided to go ahead and see the other points. So armed with the map and her previous experiences, we started towards the Glacier Point from the Pioneer Yosemite History Center. It was a beautiful way and we got to see a lot of waterfalls (the snow was melting!) and also unmelted snow at some places in June!

We stopped of course, in between for photo opportunities and one place is speacially memorable because we sat there with our feet in the chilled water from the stream, having some sandwiches that D had brought along.
So with a lot of scenic views and a few adventures, we completed our journey of Yosemite and headed back home. Since we hadn’t had a proper lunch and didn’t have time either for a proper dinner due to it being quite late (the restaurants getting closed at 8:30 to 9:00 PM), so D got some chinese food “to go” at a city en-route. While I had mine in the car itself (noodles), poor girl kept on driving as it was getting late and she had to report for work the next day (yes, even on a Sunday!).
Thus came our journey to an end, with she dropping me at my hotel and then going to her home. But the memories that we make don’t usually come to an end – do they? So with nice memories and some pics as proof, my first Yosemite trip is stacked, to be revisited whenever I feel like remembering that cool summer Saturday of 2010.

Update – 27/08/2015

Submitting it today after 5 years, in response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Today Was a Good Day.”


From India to Pacific Ocean via South China Sea

Sometimes it isn’t easy to know whether while you are busy admiring so many things around you, there are some very weird things going on in the background.
So while I was travelling and enjoying the view outside the Hong Kong airport during the transit, how was I to know that when I would reach the final destination, I would see the items inside my bag soaked in water?
Was the checked-in bag dipped in the South China Sea during transit – for may be some “ablutions”? Or was it simply tossed carelessly in some area with water? I have no clue!

On reaching the hotel after almost 24 hours of journey, 1.5 hrs of standing in the immigration checks queue, and 45 minutes of cab ride, all I wanted to do was get some sleep and is that what I was doing – no sir – I was busy drying out stuff – with the sunlight coming in through the window, the blow dryer and the iron!
Sounds like a cinderella story – isn’t it – with the airlines playing the role of the cruel stepmother ?

And the weirdest thing is that the airlines was not some low cost carrier – it’s a supposedly five star airlines!
I wonder how the stars are granted and who gives them!
Also, one more weird thing – they don’t assign an incident number when you raise the complaint on their website! Cool – huh?

San Francisco – Other nearby places

It’s been some time since my promise of writing about the remaining trip of the Bay Area. But better late than never..isn’t it?
Now, where to begin with -oh yes, I remember now. The Friday was pretty nice but the weekend was predicted to be wet. So my friend was not very optimistic about us being able to see too many things there. Now as you would remember from my previous post, I had an invitation to a baby’s first birthday for Saturday and I didn’t know what places I would visit if the weather was not dry. And in the next post I also mentioned that the weather opened up at around 11 am on Friday and so I could make it to the birthday party, gave my gift and then started out with my friend on the adventure. Don’t worry, you will know in a few lines why I am calling it an adventure.
Now the baby’s mom suggested that we could go to the Mystery spot. So on coming out of the b’day party, I told this friend of mine and he agreed to drive me there. We reached the place without any problems and it turned out to be a beautiful place, alebit a bit cold.

Are you wondering what’s mysterious about that place? Well, it was like any other hilly area with lots of trees, except for the fact that it had everything tilted! The hut was tilted at an angle of 20 degrees! Everything inside the hut was also weird. A simple pendulum that went to different lengths in both the sides and if you stood on a table, you could tilt forward but not fall! The trees outside the hut were also tilting inwards!

It was nice and even nicer was our guide who made us practice “ooh’s and aah’s” before starting the tour so that we could exclaim when she would show us the wonders of that place ;-)..

Now once we were done with the tour, we decided to go towards the Santa Cruz beach which was nearby. But what happened next was not mentioned in the tour of the mystery spot. We were “mystified” as to which direction should we go as the GPS had stopped working!! Now that was inexplicable. We came out of that place and I told my friend that may be we could follow the road signs. But he was a little apprehensive as he had an experience of once being lost without the GPS (he calls himself “blind” without the helpful voice of the GPS!). Nonetheless, we moved and decided to stop at some restaurant until the GPS started catching satellite signals again. But we didn’t need to do that as after a while it started working.

So we continued towards our destination with the trees dancing around us.(By the way we were in the right direction guided by the road signs which my friend was reluctant to trust!)Anyways, so without any more adventure, we reached the beautiful Santa Cruz beach.
The sun was on again and people had begun to come out but it was thankfully not crowded and we found a boulevard wherein to walk and look at the beautiful ocean. We saw people just walking and enjoying the wind, fishing, enjoying the food, kids playing and the best of all – some birds just posing there – and they were not the least bit camera shy!
Here – you can see for yourself. I went very close to them and did a portolio shoot 🙂 but yes, I was careful to switch off the flash, lest that is scary to them. So after the photoshoot, we decided to go to the real beach to walk on the sand (we also saw some people carrying their surfboards but didn’t actually see anyone surfing). We took off our shoes and rolled the jeans up and walked towards the water (which my friend had already warned me about it being reeeallly cold!). And yes it was cold but it felt nice at the same time :-).
After the nice walk at the beach (during which my friend received a phone call that kept him occupied for a major part), we thought of having something to eat. We came out of the beach and walked looking for what we could possibly eat.Found a shop that sold falafels – which I had never eaten before. My friend said he had had it earlier and that he liked it – so we went in. It was a mama-papa kind of shop and felt cozy inside. We ordered our falafels in a sandwich and some coffee. It was nice and very filling but I think I would like the smoother variety more than the chunky ones that were served there. Thereafter, we decided to call it a day and returned.Thanks so much to my friend for showing me all those beautiful places and making my trip wonderful! Until next, have a great weekend :-)..

Washington DC

Now that I am back in India and vacationing, I have some time to update the blog with the events of the last few days.

I was at DC last weekend. I decided to go for this journey as I have a family friend there, to whom I refer to as Bhai (elder brother). They very graciously invited me to visit their home. So I checked out of the hotel on the morning of Saturday to board the train of Amtrak railways at the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. Now I had a lot of luggage and there was no trolley in sight at the train station. Upon checking with a cop, I got to know that there is a free service called Red Cap inside the station. So after settling my bill with the cab driver and calling the Red Cap guy outside (the desk is inside – that is a little inconvenient – it would be helpful if the desk is near the entrance), we brought in my luggage and he asked me to be at his desk at 7 am for the train which was to leave at 7:10 am.

So I had a tea with a croissant while I waited. Then at 7:00 the Red Cap guy took the trolley with another couple’s luggage along with mine, downstairs to the platform. The coach was pretty empty and we settled in for the journey. The train left on time and after that it was pretty scenery – interestingly enough, on the way I didn’t see any woods or plain land but cities with homes with remanant snow and sidewalks with snow piled on them. May be the route of this train was through the cities. In two hours I was at the union station of Washington DC. Now the trouble again of bringing down the luggage and carrying it to the exit. There was no help in sight. I called up Bhai and he said that he was on his way and would take about 15 minutes to reach.

So somehow I kept one small luggage on top of the other big one and tugged it to reach upstairs at least. Suddenly I saw a porter with a trolley and it felt like heaven-sent as my luggage was too heavy to even pull (isn’t it ironic that the “weaker” sex usually has more luggage?)! So he helped me reach the exit(/entrance) upstairs and then I waited for my friend outside. It was bright and sunny but cold! So I put on my gloves while waiting and clicking some pictures.

Then once Bhai arrived we left and he had planned to show me around while on the way home. His wife had very thoughtfully sent some breakfast for me as they knew that I’d have left the hotel too early to have eaten anything! I was really touched.

Then began our journey and the photo-shoots :-). We went to the United States Botanic Garden first which was close to the capitol. It had a lovely collection of orchids, begonias, cactii and lilies.

Thereafter we spent sometime driving around and seeing the places like the Washington Memorial, the Capitol, White House, Lincoln Memorial etc before crossing the bridge on Potomac to enter Virginia state. Bhai was not interested in the museums. He said for that I should be alone to explore them at my own pace :-). But he said we could go and see the aerospace museum on Sunday at Fairfax.

However that did not materialise as the museum was closed 😦 on Sunday.
Upon reaching his home, I was greeted by his wife and two year old son who was very happy to see a new face in his home :-). I had a lot of fun with them. In the evening, we went to buy some things and on Sunday, we went to see a local shopping area.

Evening was the time for the flight back home. (It was surprising that in the US, one has to pay for the trolley at the airport which is a free service in India). I called up my friends before leaving and got to know that another friend was staying close to Bhai’s place and had I called earlier, we could have met. May be some other time :-).

(The return flight had some adventures too – like first being refused and then allowed to run for the connecting flight at London, as the bus service was delayed at the terminal for the flight arriving from DC. But I reached home in one piece so all is well 🙂 ).
Until next….

Finding Nemo

By Friday evening, I was in the panic mode regarding what would I do over the weekend.I didn’t want to sit in the hotel room. So I started rummaging through all my contacts list on orkut, facebook, official contacts – everywhere – just to get a hint of someone whom I can spend the weekend with. Wanted to see NewYork and found two friends whose status said that they were in NY. But on mailing them, I got to know that both of them were out of town. Then from the official contacts, found two people who were in Philly but they too had some other plans. Then finally I found one of my cousins whose status mentioned that she was in Philly! Why didn’t I look I tried contacting her via mail but didn’t know that she wasn’t using that ID anymore!!Left a scrap on orkut in the hope that she’d see that but missed here there too!

Then on Saturday morning, I got the brainwave that I’d ask my parents to get her phone number from her parents! By the time I returned from late breakfast, my dad had sent me her number via mail.Am I lucky or what to be living in this world connected as never before! Then I called them up and God! was I happy listening to familiar voices! Then we planned to meet at my hotel. She and my five year old nephew decided to roam in the mall (as it was freezing cold outside) while her husband very graciously took me along to see the downtown on my insistence.
So we went to the Liberty Bell and the Independence Hall. The queue was long and it was freezing.

It was good to see the place where began the history of the US of A! But we were late so couldn’t go to see any other point of interest. May be some other time and some other day would take me to those places as well..but until then, I am happy that I found a family to spend my time with instead of being confined in that hotel room! Until next – wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day :-)..

Destiny’s child

I know I should be updating the blog but by the time I reach the hotel from office, I don’t feel like doing anything..(don’t know why I am still getting up at 3 AM and basically having kind of broken sleep!). Nonetheless, I thought I’d just write a bit – not the whole story of my SFO trip but about the regular “all in a day’s work” kind of thing.

Yesterday after I reached back the hotel, I thought of walking out a little bit. So I dumped my bag in the room and headed out. Now to reach the place that I was going to, I could have taken a shortcut but I went as per the directions mentioned in the google maps.

On the way, I saw a shop and was in two minds about whether to go inside then or check it while returning. But finally I went in. Saw the stuff and came out as I didn’t find anything that I needed. Now I was at the traffic signal and after waiting for a long time, the signal turned white for pedestrians. While crossing the street, I saw on the other side that a visually impaired lady was trying to cross the street but went in the wrong direction instead. By the time I reached the other side, the signal had again turned red. I asked her if she needed help and she said yes. So I again came back to this side of the street helping her along, after of course the signal went white again. Then again waited for signal on this side as I my destination was on the other side! Confused? Well in simple words – I crossed the same street thrice in about10 minutes :-).

It felt really good to be able to help.It was the first time in my life that I had a chance to help a blind person cross the street! But it’s interesting how things have a way of happening – if I’d taken that shortcut or if I had not stopped at this shop, this would not have happened. Seems like it was supposed to happen that way – that she needed my help and I was supposed to be there at the right time.

I’ll update the blog with more stuff later. Until next – take care :-).

Traveller’s Log: USA – Day 1

Reached Palo Alto (San Francisco) yesterday evening after almost 24 hours of travel. Surprisingly, there was no signs of sleepiness when I reached here (could be coz of having slept a lot during the flight).
Luckily I have a friend staying nearby and therefore we went for dinner. Slept thereafter, but somehow woke up at 5 AM. Watched a movie to pass time – Thank God for the TV!
Today it looks like a good day from the balcony. Now I am one of those who don’t like staying in the hotel room when its bright and sunny outside, with a chill in the air.
So let’s see what all I can accomplish to see out, after of course my friend arrives.
There’s one thing that I miss here as compared to Europe – the public transport. May be I should get myself a driving license so that the next time I am abroad, I can drive. Oh so now I have something on the “To Do” list for 2010.
Let’s see then how the day unfolds itself :-). Until next, have fun.