Honestly I had never imagined I would ever land up in the great US of A! Neither was I really inclined towards visiting the country nor did I think i’d save up enough to bear its high expenses and of course who’d go through the scary visa interview process.
But land I did, totally unexpected just a week into a new job in an American company (landing the job in an industry unknown too was unexpected!). I was sent for a conference in Washington DC and from there on I covered other cities in the radar. Let’s proceed chronologically. As always, there’d be stunners and bummers ahead.
The capital city of America is where I set foot first. Headed straight to the hotel in Capitol Hill in a cab which ran the meter to $75! Like any middle class Indian I quickly converted the sum into rupees in my head and gasped in fear. There were two weeks ahead of me! Well those dollars were just the start.
Then we got a taste of American hospitality when the 5 star hotel didn’t even offer to help with the heavy luggage of two ladies (me and my colleague) who’d just arrived from a long painful 22 hour journey from India.
The whether was pretty pleasant slightly on the colder side in November as we made our way to the conference venue on foot fearing losing those precious dollars again to a cab. Good we did as the city is a pleasure to walk around with its immaculately clean and wide roads and pretty surroundings.
The conference was going along well but guess what, we got to see a Hollywood stalwart, James Cameron! He was a special guest to talk on environmental sustainability.
A nice Italian dinner by our boss for our Indian team softened me a but towards ‘American hospitality’.
Now the ‘White House’ of the American president then the residence of Barack Obama was a bit of a bummer. We joked this house is smaller than those of the wealthy ‘Malhotras’ and ‘Oberois’ of our Bollywood movies.
Just to save our dollars more, we ate at the underground restaurants of Union station, walked everywhere on foot till as far as it was humanly possible and never ever ordered in the hotel (extra dollars for getting your meal to the room). Craving for some desi Chinese, head to China Town!
Do not rely on public transport. Make sure you have Uber and GPS handy!
We reached Philly by bus from DC and checked in to our pretty Airbnb house in a lovely quaint colourful locality.
Our host was very sweet and welcoming but appeared more like a failed scientist who has not been getting his due from the world despite a marvellous invention he’s created. And now all that he does is experiment all day and night quietly in his attic no one has access to where probably there are mini flying saucers hovering around. The house which also has his wife and two young kids is full of all things halloween with the perfect eerie lighting in the evening to complement it! I feared venturing out of the room late into the night for his kids might just be sailing in the air on brooms.
Coming back to the city, we of course visited the ‘Rocky Steps’ where we climbed up and posed Rocky style.
View of the city was a quiet a lovely one from the top.
Also in case you’re always on a look out for cuisines from far away lands, do visit one of the Ethiopian restaurants out there. Quite close to Indian fare.
Do head out for a drive or walk to soak in the pretty city scene.
A small sleepy town in Connecticut where all we did was eat and made merry. Thanks to my sister who lived there and some great shopping of brands you wouldn’t (or couldn’t) otherwise buy in India.
And yes just FYI Connecticut is where most American horror flicks are based! 😉
New York City
NYC is the best! The best there could be! Here are a few things that I did:
The Cruise: Take one of the cruise trips lasting about two and half hours for a river eye view of NYC.
- Manhattan View: The view was straight out of high definition google images you search for and the one SRK is looking at in the opening scene of Kal Ho Na Ho!
- Statue of Liberty: While you’re on it the cruise will give you an up close and personal look at it. If you do not wish to get down on the Ellis island, this is a great way to see this iconic structure that America is identified with.
- Brooklyn Bridge: Another view that you’ll love from the water as your cruise goes past under this massive bridge and gives you a look at it from different angles.
- Priyank Chopra: And yes I even spotted our very own desi girl Priyanka Chopra featured on a large bill board for Quantico! Felt so proud as a fellow Indian desi and bollywood fanatic!
World Trade Centre: The One World observatory will give you a view to die for. Well for me watching New York from high up at 100th floor was almost surreal. You can spot all the top NYC landmarks from here and the city from literally a bird’s eye view. I was lucky to have reached at just the ideal time and got to see New York 360 degrees from day light to shimmering city lights after sunset. Simply spectacular!
Times Square: Second to One World observatory, this was my favourite check list in NYC. How much I wanted to be at this spot and never imagined I could be. Super buzzing and lively. Those never dimming electric hoardings, flashbulbs, glimmer and glow. Wow I didn’t want to leave this city!
Central Park: This landmark of a part in NYC is so huge over 800 acres that you’d take days to explore it fully on foot. So we decided to take a cycle rickshaw and take a ride across this beautiful park.
The rickshaw rider will act as your guide and tell you all about its nook and corners and also the celebrities who live in the houses we see across.
Grand Central Station: This station was recommended by a colleague and I thought what could there be in a train station but trust me, this historic landmark was literally grand and gorgeous! Go stroll around and have a bite even if you’re not catching a train.
The High Line Park: This is a perfect example of repurposing disused spaces for public. The High Line was a dis-functioning railway track turned into a park with a walking track. Quite an interesting place to stroll around. Read the signages to know more on the history.
Wall Street: If you’ve got time in hand don’t miss the raging bull at the famous NYC wall street the pretty much dictates the world’s economy.
More to Do: Take a walk the brooklyn bridge to soak in the city views from above the water, walk into one of the several parks like the ‘Bryant Park’ to catch some interesting activities and flea markets and yes also the ‘Empire State Building’ from below on the street. Quite pretty it is!
Read Bewitching Sights! NYC section for more on the city.
Watch Shades of USA shot and edited by me on the places I visited in East Coast.