Jun 13, 2011

Niagara Falls, Canada

The water, the mist and most importantly the falls = HAUNTINGLY HEAVENLY!

Not only did we get to see the falls from the Canada side, which gives a better view than the American side, but we also got to go on the maid of the mist, which was a boat which took us really close to the falls. It's at that point of time that one realizes how incredibly big the falls are.

We reached on Friday evening, just in time to catch the last maid of the mist of the day.

The maid of the mist
Inside the maid of the mist-wearing protective rain coats  to keep us from getting wet as we get closer to the waters

The American part of Niagara Falls

The Canadian Part of the Falls
Even though we were wearing raincoats while we were on the maid of the mist we still got pretty soaked. The mist which is formed due to the falling of water from such a height causes it to continuously rain near the falls!

Later in the night, we went to this great Chinese restaurant for dinner called Mandarin. It was the best place i have ever been to. It had a fake sky ( I thought only hotels with lots of money to waste have those). And it had this HUGE buffet (which we did not go to since our family was vegetarian and we kids were the only non vegetarians:most of the buffet was non vegetarian). But the food was great too, so we had a great deal of fun. We also had a very funny waiter, which always make it better!!!!

The Fake Sky at Mandarin

A fish pond, treated more as a wishing well in  Mandarin
My uncle drinks Chinese tea!

..while my cousin, brother and i fool around!

After dinner we also went to this place near our hotel which was a little complex in itself. It was walking distance from our hotel and had a casino, some restaurants, a mall and lots of fountains-and off course, a view of the falls!
We walked towards the falls to see the lights. They had this set up there of laser lights (i think they were laser lights) reflecting on the falls, making it seem like the water is coloured. Basically they had it all super-commercialized!

A fountain in the complex near our hotel
Another fountain nearby!
A water fountain shaped as a wine making factory!
Niagara at night

The next morning before heading back to US, we went to the falls again. This time we saw the part of the falls where the water was falling down. It was amazing! The kind of things that your eyes don't believe.
The water was so forceful! It would take anything with it. It was apparently pretty deep too.

The water goes over the edge and joins the falls of niagara

On the way back we stopped by a friend's place, who lives in Buffalo, New York. He happened to be the president of the state university there, so he showed us around!!

At Buffalo: Stating the obvious
My cousin entertains everyone at a friend's place
My cousin once again comes to the rescue by managing to get everyone in the  picture at Buffalo University  
That was the end of our trip to Niagara, not only did we have to leave Niagara, but we also had to say good bye to our family, who we spent the last 10 days with. That was the saddest part.
Missing them a lot already!

We now head towards NJ, from where we will also take frequent trips to NY. Hope the coming week (and the last one in US) is as good as the previous one. 

Jun 12, 2011

State College, Pennsylvania

After 10 days of nomadic travelling, it was time for us to go to our relative's place in State College. They had been with us in Washington, but we still had lots of catching up to do!

We expected a quiet time at State College with family! But there was an incredible lot to do there. And since we were with them, it was so much more fun than last week had been.
Our relative's place in state college

We spent about 4 days there, which rushed by. I would have done anything to stop time!

We reached there on Sunday night, and were big time impressed to see such a big and beautiful house. And it was so cozy too!
On top of that, my aunt was an amazing cook! She gave us different cuisines to eat each night.

My aunt Nilima, a 5 star chef!

On Monday, we went for a picnic to a lake nearby called Spring Creek and later got a guided tour of the penn state university by my uncle, who is a professor there. We just keep getting luckier and luckier!

Picnic at Spring Creek

My mom and aunt stand next to the lake

One of the classrooms at Penn State University
My cousin and I laze around at Smeal Business School, Penn State University

A classroom at the Smeal Business School
My dad and uncle in his office at the University

The Nittany Lion Shrine at Penn State University, which happens to be the University's mascot

Our 2nd day, tuesday, was spent shopping. My aunt was a pro at shopping and knew the right places to take us, so we managed to get some really amazing stuff! Later we went to a Chinese Restaurant for dinner. This was the first time we ate at a Chinese place in the US. It was really different from what we get in India, and pretty good too!

A shopping break: Lunch at Dino's:An ENORMOUS PIZZA

Dinner at a Chinese Restaurant

On Wednesday, we went to Penn's Caves. We went into the caves in a boat, since the caves weren't dry. It was pretty amazing. We saw all the kind of rocks which grew inside. The tour guide also showed us the kind of shapes and images that the rocks formed-like one of them looked like the statue of liberty, another looked like a chinese doll!
These caves also had a mythical tale behind them about Princess Nittany and her lover, who was trapped inside the caves by her seven brothers when they learnt about the two's affair and their plans to elope.

Our fourth and last day was more relaxed, we spent our time gadget shopping and bought an i-pad 2 and a kindle.

I loved staying at Penn State! It was such a cute town, a place where you really can live. And being with family was so much fun too! We met our cousin after a really long time, which made it even more fun.

The best part is, that they're travelling with us to Niagra Falls for the next 2-3 days. So although this was the end of Penn State, we still have them for a little longer!!

Jun 11, 2011

The Rich and the Poor

One day a father and his rich family took his young son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose to show him how poor people can be. They spent a day and a night in the farm of a very poor family. When they got back from their trip the father asked his son,

"How was the trip?" Very good, Dad!" "Did you see how poor people can be?" the father asked. "Yeah!" "And what did you learn?

The son answered, "I saw that we have a dog at home, and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden, they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lamps in the garden, they have the stars. Our patio reaches to the front yard, they have a whole horizon. When the little boy was finishing, his father was speechless.

His son added, "Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are!" 

Isn't it true that it all depends on the way you look at things? If you have love, friends, family, health, good humor and a positive attitude toward life, you've got everything!You can't buy any of these things. You can have all the material possessions you can imagine, provisions for the future, etc., but if you are poor of spirit, you have nothing!

Source : http://www.onesmartclick.com/entertainment/inspirational-stories.html

Jun 9, 2011

The Human Camera

Stephen Wiltshire was found to be an autistic child at the age of 3.

He uttered his first words at the age of 5- "I want Pencil and Paper."

At the age of 8, he started drawing cityscapes.

Now, as a 27 year old, Stephen Wiltshire has drawn sketches of cities to the smallest of details, with just one look at them. Even the windows on each of the buildings in his paintings match the real ones in the city.

Among the cities drawn are Tokyo, Rome, London, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Madrid, Dubai and Jeruselam.
Each of them are drawn on giant canvases.

Take a look

Washington DC - All of monuments and museums!

The Capital of the Country-where all the power lies-Washington DC!!!!

The capital of USA- where all the power lies-Washington DC!!!

Our 2 days at Washington DC consisted of nothing but monuments and Museums. And pretty good ones too!
I visited more of these in 2 days than i had ever visited in my entire life!

We went to the Lincoln Memorial, The Washington Monument, The Air and Space Museum, The National Gallery of Art, The Natural History Museum, The White House and the Newseum!
Lots of commas, isn't it?!

The Lincoln Memorial was a memorial of Abraham Lincoln, one of the presidents of USA. His role play in the civil war (that of an anti-slavery figure) led to his assassination.
Apart from a HUGE statue in the center of the memorial, there was also two of his famous speeches, the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Speech inscribed on the walls.

Statue of Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial

The World War 2 memorial is a memorial dedicated to the people who sacrificed or lost their lives in the war. It contains 56 pillars (which had the name of the then 48 states and other american provinces inscribed on the them) and a pair of arches (which had the Atlantic and the Pacific inscribed on it).

A view of some of the pillars and one of the arches circling a fountain at Lincoln Memorial
  The Washington Monument was a tall pillar built in honor of George Washington, the first president of USA, and a very active military and political leader in the American Revolution.

The Washington Monument, the tallest monument in Washington (555 feet) and also the tallest in the world until the Eiffel Tower was built 5 years later

The Air and Space Museum was as the name suggests, an astronaut's and pilot's paradise. It contained models of space crafts and air crafts and their history.

A model of an aircraft carrier-a ship used as a runway for planes

Next to the Wright Brothers

Inside a space ship

A spacecraft whose fate was to stay on earth-The Eagle

An Armillary Sphere-used by astronomers for centuries  in olden times to study the sky
The National Gallery of Art was an art museum with all kinds of paintings and sculptures-portraits, landscapes, statues, head sculptures. But it was so big that we couldn't see much of it. There were a couple of paintings I could catch though. 

The Dancing Couple, by Jan Steen
Picture interpreted as  one of the wedding of a mismatched couple, a well dressed girl and a country lad.

Daniel in the Lion's Den by Sir Peter Paul Rubins
Based on story of Daniel, who was unfairly driven  to  a cave of lions

The Museum of Natural History was the biggest museum I've ever seen. It had so many sections. There were sections like evolution, the ocean life, the different continents, other species(just to name a few). But again we couldn't spend much time there. So although we couldn't see all the sections, we spent a whole lot of time in the ones we could.

A silver tree 

An optically illusions house. Changes shape and dimensions depending on the angle you see it from.

Handprints on the caves of early man

My aunt and uncle sit in front of a statue of a hard working Neanderthal (ancestors of homo sapiens) while another little visitor of the museum decides to pose for the picture!!

This family is not afraid of being run over by elephants!

In the African section- a peace of their tradition 
The Burial of a Neanderthal (notice the body lying over the brown fur on the ground) 

By the time we finished these places the day was close to an end, so we left the White House and the Newseum to the next day. 

The White House was beautiful . But  I was partly dissapointed having gone expecting something much grander. But one thing that i really liked was that there were people who were standing in front of the white house with signs like 'peace' and 'we don't want terrorism'. Although there were just like 3 people besides the signs, they still meant a lot!

White and Simple- the White House

If there's a photo being taken, we're right here!

A citizen asks for peace in front of the white house

We find cycle rikshaws nearby-*suddenly homesick!*

The Newseum, which was the most recent museum of washington DC, was awesome. I could have spent all month there. It was based on famous news headlines over the past years and journalism in general. There was also a lot about media. 
Part of the Berlin Wall (The Newseum had a part of the same as an exhibit)

Touching the Berlin Wall

My brother poses with journalist detectives

An old fashioned printer! The TYPEWRITER!

The first issue of time magazine in 1923

A piece of the antenna of the twin towers which suffered on 9/11

A view of the Capital hill from the terrace of the Newseum
Another great thing at the newseum was this thing called 'Be a TV Reporter'. They had sets there, and we could choose to report a story of our choice! Here is my video!!

With that, the Washington sightseeing came to an end. I never thought that there could be so much to see in Washington. And we hadn't even seen everything, we had only seen a part of it. 

The Newseum was undoubtedly my favourite part. 

Well now its time to head to the next city!! Goodbye Washington DC!