About me

Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie..

Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... Love reading books- sometimes i read 3books simultaneously, crazy about music- need it all around me, all the time and ofcourse, i totally am ga ga goo goo over my 7yr old naughty brat- Floppy!! errr, Prince Floppy!! :)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Skywatch Friday... Windmills

As we pulled out of the pick up point towards the highway and onwards to Yosemite National Park, these mountains and windmills was what we saw. They were all so majestic and beautiful in the morning sun. 
[Sorry for the blurry shots, clicked them through the bus window]

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Niagara Falls

E: So, are you heading towards New york?
Me: Yes, towards end of the trip and I fly back home from there.
E: Ah cool.. Wanna do a trip to Niagara?
Me: Ooh yes, was hoping to do a bus tour from NY or DC... 
E: Will put a plan together and we shall go one Sunday.
Me: Soopa, thanks!! 

This conversation happened within days of my landing in USA. And then after a few weeks, there were changes, there were debates, there were times when the plan was scrapped. E felt it would be too cold and misty, might not be able to withstand the cold, or see anything at Niagara. While the initial plan was for his entire family to join us, it finally came down to "Ok, I shall fly out and take you there, wont drag family , esp if its gonna be biting cold etc...". I said "Sure, makes sense" and got ready that Sunday morning for the flight to Buffalo. 

I land in Buffalo, get out of the airport and am hit by a blast of the coldest wind I have ever faced. I had a pair of woollen socks that became mittens of sorts and I huddled up in my jacket to deal with the chill. Hoped and prayed it settled down as time went by. Within minutes E calls to say they are pulling in, and asks me to come out. What do I see, a car full of people, yes his wife and twin boys had also made it.. Yay!! 

That was it, we had a blast the rest of the time. Drove down to Niagara [which is about an hour and a half from Buffalo], parked in the lot and made our way towards the falls. I was super excited. Well, I agree it is probably a very touristy thing to do, but then the falls are legendary and so a visit does go down in my list of "awesome places I visited"... 

In about half an hour, we were walking along the falls and it was cold... somehow it is always extra cold when you are near the water, ever noticed that? E kinda convinced us that doing the "Maid of the mist" boat tour might not be a good idea, considering how cold it was and that you would get drenched by the time you are done with the cruise.  We settled for spending time all along the way, up to the view point and getting as close to the falls as possible.. I was amazed at the sheer size of the falls.  Apparently the view from the Canadian side is better, you get to the see the entire Horse shoe falls and Bridal Veil falls, but this was no less.   

The Niagara is made up of three waterfalls -Horseshoe Falls [lies on the border of the United States and Canada], the American Falls[on the American side, separated by Goat Island] and the Bridal Veil Falls [also on the American side, separated from the other waterfalls by Luna Island].  The Niagara falls contains more than six million cubic feet (168,000 m3) of water falls over the crest line every minute in high flow, and almost four million cubic feet (110,000 m3) on average [approx]... Also heard that during peak winter, for the briefest of times the falls freezes completely. Breath taking indeed... 

After spending a few hours, a few coins in the view master trying to spot different things and elements, we finally made our way out of the place back to the parking lot. E mentioned this was probably the shortest but most fun trip he had made here.. Invariably it was with larger groups of family,   who would spend little time at the falls and want to go find a place to eat/shop etc... 

As we walked out of the view point area, could feel the cold water spray from the falls hit us for quite a distance... 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Skywatch Friday ... Mountains meet the sky

What a feast on the eyes right? This was clicked as we headed out from Yosemite after the hike to see them giant red Sequoia  trees towards the village.. There was a view point from where you could get a glimpse of the entire vista including the beautiful waterfalls. The place was packed with tourists, standing, lying down and doing all kinds of poses, it took me quite a while and a short trek to find a spot to click the vista without any heads bobbing into the frame!! :D 

The one thing that baffles me when I travel is the love people have for clicking pictures. I like to savour the place, enjoy the scene, take it all in before I pull out my camera and more often than not I forget to click a picture of me in the location.  Yes, we all want memories, but then dont you feel we lose the experience cos we are more focused on clicking the right picture, the right angle, the right color, making sure the sun is not around, etc etc...!! 

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Packing your bags.. the art!

I had earlier done a post on Travel light, travel fun, travel safe... Today decided to do one to help people pack for a long haul... I know packing can get daunting and for some it drives them mad. They end up spending hours, if not days ahead of the trip doing nothing but packing an repacking.. I for one have always been chill about it, takes me about half an hour and I typically do it the day am travelling...  

I am a minimalist to the core. I believe in owning very little and this extends to everything else in my life as well, even travelling.  For my domestic trips,  I carry just about enough items that will help me get through the trip and maybe one extra set of clothes [ just in case] which will invariably come back unused. But now when I was planning my 1st ever long vacation to USA, it kinda had me in a fix. Should I pack as I do for my local trips or should I carry more? Having seen my uncle [who visits from USA] over the years, I know it is enough to pack just enough, but then he has quite a few sets of clothes to everything else here at home, so he does not need to lug as much from there.

But I was gonna be travelling within the country, staying with friends and others for a day or so, therefore thought I would need more stuff than what I would carry for a typical 3.5week trip. Boy oh boy, did I learn my lesson.  I brought back so many clothes and undergarments untouched and regretted carrying so much. But then we wont know till we do it once, right?

So here are a few tips on what to carry in your check-in baggage and what to pack in your hand baggage.. Let me know if you have any other add-ons to this.. 

 The cool checkin kiosks at all airports... 
This is by Jetblue, but almost all airlines have this facility 
Show your passport, then swipe your card to pay for the bag, choose your seat, print out your boarding pass and proceed to security check in area.. voila! Saves so much time and is quite easy to use... 

What I carried... a suitcase and a backpack 

 The Minion luggage tag

 A red gold ribbon along with the luggage tag for easy identification..I had the red gold ribbon on my backpack as well. :) 

 The TSA approved lock on the suitcase.. You can change number and set the lock..
The universal Charger that came in handy...

A bag that can be folded and tucked away into a small pouch, these are such space savers and are useful when you are going on short trips or shopping expeditions. These LOQI bags are so handy and can hold quite a bit [upto 20kgs]. I also carried another one similar to this with a zip for my 2day trip within USA 

The pouch with all the charging cables [except phone and laptop]

Check in bag

Typically airlines allow about 20-25kgs check in baggage [per item], but do check our airline rules for details on how much is allowed.   I flew Cathay Pacific and they allowed 2 bags of max 23kgs each. I had decided I was carrying one suitcase and a backpack for the trip only.

Since I was travelling to the USA, friends had advised me to pick up a suitcase with a TSA lock on it.  Otherwise, airport authorities might end up breaking the lock if they want to inspect the suitcase.  What I noticed was that my suitcase had been inspected but the kind folks had left a paper that said the suitcase had been inspected and they had repacked it to the best of their abilities along with an apology for any mess-ups.

If you see a cool/funky luggage tag make sure to grab it, will be easy to identify your bag if you have one of these on it... Check out my cool Minion tag [gift from a friend and he travelled with me all over USA]

What and how to pack

  • All your clothes, undergarments, towels, socks, extra footwear, accessories, cosmetics, toiletries, medication, extra books to read, gifts and other eatables you were carrying for the people you were visiting go into your suitcase.
  • If you are carrying a perfume bottle, make sure to pack it inside socks or wrap it in a stole/tshirt so it stays protected for the journey
  • If you are carrying lotions or creams, again wrap it well so there are no leaks, you can also cellotape the mouth to keep it shut.
  • Pickles, sauces, jams and others need to be packed in thick plastic covers, sealed with cellotape and wrapped in a tshirt or towel [ that you are ok to discard in case of any spillage]
  • Carry all basic medicines along with any specific ones you need.
  • Keep a copy of your passport and local address in your suitcase.
  • Roll up t-shirts, undergarments, and any other item that can be rolled. It helps in saving space and easy to identify and pull out as well.
  • Foldable bags [1-2] that you can carry for a short day trip or  stay over.
  • I always throw in 1-2 freshener sachets in the suitcase. It helps in fighting any kind of musty smell and feels nice every time I open the suitcase.
  • Carry one hand towel and one bath towel – I always carry light thin ones that I know will dry fast. 

Hand baggage

Note: This can either be a backpack or a backpack plus a hand bag. But remember the flights have restriction on size and weight for this as well, so do not attempt to carry another ginormous stroller as a hand baggage. Also, in case you have a few hours transit, you will have to be lugging them around, so keep it light and small. 
  • Important documents- Have a pouch of sorts to store your passport, foreign currency and other important documents that you have to carry. Keep them all in one place so it is easy to pull out at the airport during check in and security checks.  Remember to keep your wallet also along with this so you can pull out your ID card whenever needed. 
  • Laptop – If you are carrying your laptop make sure to carry a backpack that has provision for the same. Best way to keep it from getting scratched or damaged. Remember to pack the charger as well.
  • Camera – I carried my DSLR in my backpack with just one lens. If you are the kind to carry all lenses, best would be to carry a camera bag.  Again remember to carry the charger and extra memory cards as well
  • Other chargers & cables  - if you carry an ipod/mp3 player, phone, other devices that require charging, remember to put them all in a pouch and have them in your backpack. This extends for power banks as well.
  • Hand sanitizer and wet wipes – carry a bottle/a packet. Flights are known to be the largest germ carriers, so best to use these.
  • Hand lotion – our skin tends to dry out in flight, as the air is quite dry, so use the lotion liberally.
  • Lip balm – For the 1st few days after landing in LA I had the toughest time as the area around my lips had dried up and was hurting like crazy. A Vaseline based lip balm was what came to my rescue and helped fade the pain an dryness away. I would advise you use this in flight as well.
  • Tissues – Use them to wipe your hands, face, or just about anything but always keep a packet handy. Infact this time I carried around a tissue  roll through the length of the journey [what if the public loo I visited had run out of tissues...egads..]
  • Eats – Carry oatmeal bars/granola bars, chocolates, biscuits, small bottle of juice and ofcourse water when you travel. It does not matter if it is for a flight or when exploring a new town. These are life savers!  Also remember to pack in some chewing gum or mint.
  • A set of clothes & a hand towel-   Always carry a set of clothes in your back pack. You never know when it would come in handy. Just a T-shirt, pants, and a set of undergarments would do. Same holds true for a towel.
  • Medication – If you are on any special medication, remember to carry that in a pouch in your back pack.  It could be to help you with motion sickness or a pre existing condition, but don’t forget.
  • Address and phone number – Yes these days we all whip out our phones for details. It wouldn’t hurt to carry a notebook in your backpack with address and phone number of those you are visiting/staying with.
  • Book to read/write – If you are in the habit of reading, carry one book for the flight and similarly if you are into journals, do carry one along with a good pen.
  • Headphones – Oh yes, always carry good noise cancelling headphones. Most airlines will give you a pair of headphones, but having your own gives the freedom to listen to music while you are exploring a town as well.
  • Universal Charger – If you are travelling to a different country, best to carry one of these as it comes with provisions for different charging styles. Do some research and figure out what that country uses and make sure to carry an adaptor/charger that will work.
  • Disposable bag - in case you want to trash something or to carry a wet towel, it is best to pack it separately so it does not soil other items in the bag

I was travelling for 3.5weeks and what I did was pack in about 10 tops/tshirts/shirts/blouses along with a pair of jeans and 3 other pants [palazzos, printed pants and a black workout pant of sorts]. As for undergarments I took enough to last me a year [cos I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do laundry].

I should have just gone with my intuition and packed as I would for a local trip. Lesson learnt! NO more lugging more than I need, plus most homes had washer-dryer I was able to wash clothes and I repeated them. J

Bottom line- If you have your passport, some money, local address details and a set of clothes, rest can be purchased [ incase your check in bag goes missing or takes longer to arrive]. So don't panic or worry unnecessarily, all you need to focus on is the holiday and the experience... :D

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Skywatch Friday ... The clouds below

The first flight had me slightly anxious, but thereon I became a domestic flight ninja of sorts. I knew where to go, what to ask or what to look for when walking through the security lines. Infact, towards the end of my trip, it became a game with myself to see how many seconds it took me to put on my shoes after the security check. :-) I started spending lot more time walking around the airport, exploring the shops and not being too worried about departure time or how far the gate was...

 Here are a few photographs I captured when up in air...  The sight below was breathtaking.. Sometimes it was water, other times it was nothing but long stretches of mountains and once i saw snow capped mountains as well.. :-) Reasons why I love the window seat so much... 

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday

Friday, June 2, 2017

Universal Studios, LA

I had a plan in my head when I booked my tickets to USA. But then it kept changing every few hours, until finally I took a few places off my list and added few others.. One of them that I gave few extra hours to was UniversalStudios.

I was gonna be back from my Vegas- Grand Canyon trip [yes yes am yet to write about it], and had given myself 2 extra days in LA.. My uncle and aunt were gonna be away, so I had their place to myself and make the most of the two days. On the 1st day, I decided to head to Universal Studios and second day was set for Getty Center, Ikea and spend the rest of the evening with uncle- aunt before packing my bags for the early morning flight that awaited me thereon.

I was up bright and early, went for a short walk around the neighborhood, showered, made myself a yumm breakfast of French toast, a glass of orange juice and bowl of berries :D [I drool as I am writing this now..sigh]

I walked up the stairs towards the entrance, heart was beating fast and adrenalin was rushing to the head, that is how excited I was... They have these kiosks that help you do away with long lines, picked up a ticket [mine was $80- includes all rides and shows] and entered the place.. That was it.. I do not remember how it was 6hours when I left the place towards the exit gates... the only breaks i took was to grab something to eat/drink- churros, coke, a salad and a pretzel...

Wheee…. WOWWIEEEEEEEEEE……….OhMyGawddddd…….*Grins* -- These were the only sounds I made while walking around the place… lolz…

Here is a photo tour of how my day at Universal Studios was…