Memorable San Francisco.

Our last stop in US was San Francisco, famous for its cool summers, fog and landmarks such as Twin Peaks, The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Warf, Cable cars and Chinatown. It also happens to be the financial center of California. This very densely populated city was established in 1776 when people from Spain arrived. Then the Gold rush happened leading the city to develop at a fast pace.

On way to San Francisco, from Las Vegas we drove through Pebble Beach, what is known as 17 mile drive along the Pacific coast line. It was quite a highlight of our tour driving through beautiful country roads, Golf Courses and Bird Rock. Normal traffic is not allowed to pass through, you have to pay a fee to be able to do that.

IMG_2820
Streets of San Fransisco.
IMG_2825
A ship in San Fransisco bay.
IMG_2858
Golden Gate Bridge.
IMG_2905
San Fransisco as seen from the bay.
IMG_2889
Alcatraz.

It is a gated community with a toll road going through it. Among the attractions here is the Lone Cypress at the Cypress Point. This is a famous tree which has been used in movies and TV shows.  Under the tree are some of the most dangerous surfing locations. This tree is also the official symbol of Pebble Beach.

IMG_2795
Bird Rock.
IMG_2963
A San Fransisco. city tram.
IMG_3000
San Fransisco as seen from Twin Peaks.
20160430_151647
Lone Cypress.

Next morning we flew home via Amsterdam after a very interesting and memorable US holiday with a promise to come back soon.

 

 

 

 

World’s Largest Thermometer, California.

The World’s largest Thermometer, all 134 foot, is a brain child of Willis Herron,  who wanted to build the largest thermometer in US for the past 25 years.

The number 134 represents the highest temperature recorded in the Death Valley in 1913, 134 degrees Fahrenheit.

2016-04-28 10
World’s largest Thermometer (picture taken from a moving bus).

The thermometer is in a small town, Baker, near the Nevada border, California and is made up of 33 tons of steel and has about 5000 lamps lighting it.

After Herron’s death in 2007, the thermometer stopped working in 2012 and was put up for sale. However, in 2014 Herron’s daughter repurchased it. They have established a gift shop, called “Temp134” which sells signed and numbered light bulbs from the original thermometer.

 

Two days in Los Angeles

Our bus ride to Los Angeles from Las Vegas took us a little over 6 hours, with two stops en route, i.e. Barstow, where we stopped for lunch and Tanger Oulets, where some people on our Tour wanted to shop.

Barstow, is of very strategic importance for transportation as several major highways converge in this town of over 22 thousands residents. There is a big Food Court at the Barstow station where all tourist buses running between Las Vegas and LA stop.

2016-04-28 12.33.23 2016-04-28 12.34.25 2016-04-28 13.33.58

Tanger Factory Outlets Center is a real estate company that own these outlets not far from Barstow town. It is very popular with tourists traveling between Vegas and LA due to presence of some major International Brands, such as GAP, Banana Republic, Samsonite, Polo Ralph, Reebok, Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, Abercrombie & Fitch and Nike etc.

We reached LA in the evening and were met with our local guide, who took us around.  Los Angeles is the second largest city in US known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity and entertainment industry. It was a part of Mexico following the Mexican War of Independence. In 1848, it was however, purchased as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and it then became a part of United States. After the discovery of oil the city grew rapidly. It is beautiful and has something or the other for everyone.

IMG_2608 IMG_2611 IMG_2625 IMG_2629 IMG_2635

We also did a tour of Universal Studios in San Fernando Valley. It is one of the oldest and most famous Hollywood film studios still busy in producing movies. The tour includes explaining various techniques involved in film making, stunts and couple of shows. Overall it was very well spent day.

20160429_183531 20160429_155022

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

Changing of the Guards.

Of the many military traditions, Changing of the Guards is probably the most popular. If you have visited Wagah Border, you would know what I am talking about, as there, it has been turned into more of a public ceremony, where nationalism & Patriotism are always on the high.

IMG_3063 IMG_3067 IMG_3068 IMG_3081

 

In our own Rashtrapati Bhavan, residence of the President of India, this ceremony started in 2012. After Pranab Mukherjee, the current President, took over the whole ceremony has been revamped.

IMG_3084 IMG_3091 IMG_3093 IMG_3109 IMG_3110 IMG_3116 IMG_3146

The President’s Body Guard, senior most Regiment of the Indian Army guard, the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Every Saturday at sharp 8.00 am in summers and at 10.00 am in winters, the guard change ceremony takes place in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The ceremony lasts about 40 minutes, involving an equestrian display and foot drill supported by a military band. The ceremony concludes with the National Anthem.

General public can watch it after they gain access to the forecourt, via Gate No 2, with a valid Government issued ID.

Strangely, though both the ceremony and the access to the Rajpath leading to the Rashtrapati Bhavan start at 8 am. If you going in summers, it is quite a task for many to dash from the bottom of Vijay Chowk to the forecourt.

 

 

 

 

The Astounding Grand Canyon

We were picked up from our Hotel really early for our Tour to Grand Canyon. It was a 3 hour drive, passing through Joshua trees, Mojave Desert, Hoover Dam and beautiful Lake Mead.  We also saw a village with the market on our way.

IMG_2531
Terrain while driving to Grand Canyon.
IMG_2534
Hoover Dam.
IMG_2535
Hoover Dam.
IMG_2539
Colorado river.
IMG_2540
Native American Village before the Grand Canyon.
IMG_2542
Native American Village before the Grand Canyon.
IMG_2543
Native American Village before the Grand Canyon.
IMG_2544
Way to a Native American Village before the Grand Canyon.
IMG_2547
Native American Village School.
IMG_2580
Grand Canyon.
IMG_2590
Grand Canyon.
IMG_2593
Hualapai Ranch.
IMG_2594
Hualapai Ranch
20160427_112521
Eagle Point.
20160427_132144
Hualapai Ranch.
20160427_132220
Hualapai Ranch.

 

Our Tour also included a ride to West Rim, visit to Hualapai Ranch, Eagle point but the highlight was a walk on a glass bottomed Grand Canyon skywalk.

On the border of Nevada and Arizona. on the Colorado River is a dam called Hoover Dam. This dam named after President Herbert Hoover was built to control floods, provide water for irrigation and also produce power. Ever since it was built it has become a major tourist attraction, with nearly one million people visiting it each year.

We returned to Las Vegas late in the evening after spending an entire day at the magnificent Grand Canyon.

 

 

 

 

The mystical Las Vegas.

Our flight to Las Vegas from Buffalo was really early so we reached the Airport 3 hours before the flight. It was raining anyway so there was little point in staying in the hotel lobby. As soon as we entered the airport, we realised that we had taken a wise decision. The queue at the Security counter was really long and by the time we got out, boarding was announced. So we had to wait for our breakfast, till we landed in Minneapolis. However, the wait was worth it as we enjoyed our breakfast at Chick-Fil-A, at the Minneapolis Airport.

For our next 3 hour flight to Las Vegas it was siesta time. At the Las Vegas Airport our Hotel Planet Hollywood & Resorts had sent us a big SUV and we reached our hotel in 15 minutes. Since the check in time at Planet Hollywood, our hotel was at 4pm, we left our luggage with the Concierge and went to explore the Miracle Mile Shops inside our Hotel. Planet Hollywood also has a Casino inside its complex where fun never stops.

IMG_2405
Miracle Mile Shops, Planet Hollywood.
IMG_2408
Miracle Mile Shops, Planet Hollywood.
IMG_2410
Miracle Mile Shops, Planet Hollywood.
IMG_2416
Miracle Mile Shops, Planet Hollywood.
IMG_2418
Miracle Mile Shops, Planet Hollywood.
IMG_2422
Planet Hollywood Resorts and Casino.

The Miracle Mile Shops is a covered area with lots of shops, some even offering good discounts. The place is heaven for shopaholics. We returned in an hour to check in and later that evening we went for a Tour of Las Vegas.

IMG_2526
Night tour of Las Vegas Strip.
IMG_2519
Night tour of Las Vegas Strip.
IMG_2518
Our Big Bus – Night tour of Las Vegas Strip.
IMG_2484
Spandex Nation live @Fremont Street Experience.
IMG_2501
Golden Gate Hotel, Las Vegas.
IMG_2499
Downtown Las Vegas.
IMG_2472
Fremont Street Experience.
IMG_2470
Fremont Street Experience.
IMG_2457
Night Tour, Las Vegas Strip.
IMG_2464
Night Tour, Las Vegas Strip.
IMG_2451
Night Tour, Las Vegas Strip.
IMG_2462
Stratosphere Casino Hotel & Tower, Las Vegas.
IMG_2448
Night Tour, Las Vegas Strip.
IMG_2446
Night Tour – Las Vegas Strip.

 

Las Vegas, is the most populous city in Nevada and is also known as the entertainment capital of the world. You will definitely find something which interests you, bars, shows, casinos, shopping, fine dining etc. It is no wonder that it is the 3rd most visited city in the world.

We also went to the Freemont Street,  downtown Las Vegas, for fireworks, in an open deck bus.  That night, Spandex Nation, was also performing. It was truly an incredible experience. No wonder it is the second most famous street in the city after the Las Vegas strip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Niagara Falls up close.

In the evening, we drove to Buffalo, the second most populous city in the state of New York from Corning. We stayed for the night at Sheraton, which is walking distance from the Niagara Falls.

IMG_2337
Niagara Sheraton, Buffalo.
IMG_2351
Niagara Falls by night.

The Niagara Falls look absolutely magical in the night. We were fortunate to be there on a day when weather GOD was in a good mood and we spent an entire late evening admiring the beauty of the falls.

In the morning we took another trip to the Falls when we got on Tour on Maid of Mist, a boat which takes you up close to the falls (see the video).

We spent rest of the morning in Niagara Falls State Park, one of the oldest National Park in United States. We also got a chance to go under the Bridal Veil Falls and touch the falls. It was simply an awesome experience.

There are actually three falls, the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls, between the International Border between US and Canada and together they form the Niagara Falls.

The 1st fall, Horseshoe is on the Canada side, the 2nd American, as the name suggests is on the US side. The Bridal Veil Fall is also on US side. They are on the Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, falling with a vertical drop of more than 55m (180 feet).

IMG_2376
Rainbow Bridge, connects US and Canada.
IMG_2370
Niagara Falls.
IMG_2387
Niagara Falls, really up close.
2016-04-25 21.06.16
Common Tern.
IMG_2401
Tram ride in Niagara Falls State Park.
2016-04-25 13.43.27
Beautiful Niagara Falls State Park.
IMG_2402
Nikola Tesla, inventor.
IMG_2403
Adam’s Arch re erected in 1966 to commemorate the contribution of Adam’s Arch to the world civilasation. The original arch was built in 1895 when World’s 1st Hydroelectric plant opened in Niagara.

In The Niagara Falls State Park you can take a ride in the tram or walk or go bird watching. Birds such as Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Black Crowned Night Heron, Great Egret, and Swans are found there but we only saw Ring Billed Gull and Common Tern.

It is quite difficult to describe the beauty of the falls, in words. Sufficient is to say that these are an absolutely must see before one dies.