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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Our 5 year anniversary is coming up in a week and since we can’t travel the weekend of our anniversary, we decided to take a trip before the date of our actual anniversary. We had planned to go to Spain, but when that didn’t look like it was going to happen, we decided to go to Martha’s Vineyard (MV). We had both heard a lot of great things about MV and it seemed like a quaint, romantic place to go celebrate our 5th year of marriage.

We were staying at the Winnetu resort, a beach side resort in Edgartown. After driving for 5 hours and taking the ferry in to Vineyard Haven, we took the shuttle to the resort, had dinner at the resort restaurant and planned out the activities for our stay.

I am usually not an early morning person, but since the resort was on the south east side of MV, I decided to wake up early the next morning and go to the beach behind the resort to try and watch the sunrise. I have to say that even though I had to wake up at 6am after traveling for the most part of the previous day and I was very tired, the whole experience was so worth it! I have tried to capture the beauty of the sunrise in my photos as best as I could, but my photography skills do not do full justice to the stunning scenery.

Click on each pic to see a larger version.

Here is a pic of of the path that I had to cross behind the resort to get to the beach. The sun was not out yet, but the clouds were starting to turn orange and purple.

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I went and sat down by the ocean and looked up at the skies. The sun was just starting to rise,  but it was cloudy, so the sun’s rays were breaking through the clouds and it looked fantastic. A friend of mine said that when the sun’s rays break through the clouds like this, it’s called “God’s Fingers”.

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Here is a closer shot of the sun’s rays breaking through the clouds. The clouds started turning golden orange.

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This is my favorite capture from the trip. The sun started to come of the clouds and lit up the sand. It was great to just sit there and watch the scenery change slowly as the sun started rising.

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As the sun kept rising, the blue sky turned golden orange color.

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As I was taking pics, a seagull flew over my head and stood in front of me, almost as if it was watching the sunrise with me. I like this shot and the colors in it and how the rays shine through the clouds on to the ocean, making the water glisten.

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After taking some pics and sitting on the beach absorbing it all in, I headed back to the room to wake Sharmila up. We ate breakfast, got ready and decided to head out to visit Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. There was a wedding going on at the resort and I saw this car parked outside. The bride and groom probably used to it arrive at the resort. Love these kinds of old 60’s automobiles.

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We rented a car (never rent a  car from Budget Rental in MV – bad service, cobwebs in the car!) and drove out to Edgartown. Here is a pic of the Edgartown lighthouse. I like the way this pic turned out, especially the reflection in the lake.

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After walking around in Edgartown, we drove to Oak Bluffs, which is known for its Gingerbread houses. Some of these homes were built in the 1700’s! They were really small on the outside and very very colorful. Here is a pic of Sharmila standing on the porch of one of these tiny houses.

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Here is one of me sitting next to a bright purple one!

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After walking around Oak Bluffs, we drove west to Menemsha, which is a fishing villiage known for its spectacular sunsets. I took this shot of the fishing villiage with it’s rustic buildings and boats that I really like.

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We then drove to Gay Head and I got another shot of the lighthouse there. We also met a group of 3 ladies who were super friendly and chatted with us for 20 minutes and one of the ladies from Vermont even gave us her number and asked us to call her when we decide to go visit! Super nice people and it was fun meeting them.

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Ok, so I did not take this next picture, but I found it on Google images and decided to include it in my post for a reason. As we left the lighthouse to go to dinner, we saw a skunk right in front of us and had to change our course so as not to get sprayed. On our walk to our restaurant, we saw another skunk lurking by the roadside and saw yet another skunk  later on that night. Was it the same skunk following us around? It was just funny and I wish I had taken a picture of the actual skunk, but I wanted to put up this pic just to remind us of the skunk that would not leave us alone 🙂

The next day it poured all day due to a storm that hit the east coast, so we didn’t do much except have a relaxing breakfast, go back to our room and relax some more, pack and then head back home. It was a fun trip and a nice way to spend our 5 years of togetherness. 🙂

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Sharmila came to NYC this past weekend and 6 of us headed off to the Poconos for 2 days, where we had booked a cabin. The drive was a little over 2 hours, but we left late and by the time we got to our cabin, it was really late and quite dark. The cabin was in the boondocks and was surrounded by trees, making it quite spooky at night:

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To add to the eerie feeling, we noticed this truck parked right outside the cabin – why was it there? Was someone else lurking in the trees waiting for us? If you’ve watched the Hills Have Eyes movie, you know what I’m talking about 🙂

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All of a sudden, the girls gave out a gasp and I look around and we see this a few feet away in the woods:

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From far away, this statue of Mary and baby Jesus looked like someone standing and watching us. A few feet away, there was also a big status of Jesus in the woods.Why would you surround your cabin with religious statues?  A little weird……it definitely added to the spookiness.

It the outside wasn’t eerie enough, we walk in to the cabin and see crosses hanging from the wall and religious references all throughout the cabin:

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We were all thinking that someone would come in the dark of the night and perform sacrificial rituals around our bed or something!

The inside of the cabin was really nice:

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Fatema was trying to heat up some food and forgot to take it out in time – here is what a burnt piece of bread looks like – Fatema, please leave the cooking to the rest of us 😉

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The next morning, I decided to wake up and take some pics of our surroundings.  This was the view from our deck:

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I went exploring in the woods behind the cabin. Saw this really cool looking tree with moss growing on it:

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Here is the Jesus statue that I talked about earlier. In the daytime it hardly looked spooky, but nonetheless, it’s a bit odd being surrounded by these statues everywhere you turn:

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It was a hot summer day and the view from the woods was really nice:

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Looked down on the ground and saw this little guy being a “busy bee” 🙂

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Also saw this little guy – he froze when he saw me, allowing me to snap a quick picture:

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The next day, Sharmila and I went hiking in Bushkill falls:

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The main falls above were just ok…nothing super impressive, but as you climb down the stairs that you see in the picture above, you get to the bottom of the falls where there is a creek and the creek was really impressive – the combination of the water flowing, rock walls jutting out from the sides and the greenery made for a really pretty scene:

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A pic of Sharmila taken with her camera phone:

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On the last night, the 6 of us wanted to check out this show (it was visited by the travel channel and chosen to be the most haunted place in PA) where they do weird things like summon spirits, perform seances and bend spoons and pennies with their mind – if you know us, you know that both of us really like doing spooky things. So it was a perfect show for us 🙂 Apparently, the house is haunted since there were 3 deaths that took place there – Walter (who was killed by his), his wife (who committed suicide) and their daughter (who was electrocuted)! The place was also where Houdini performed many live shows, so they paid homage to Houdini all over the place:

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Look at those eyes:

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The show, for the most part, ended up being more theatrics and magic tricks and not enough spirits and ghosts. But we all got to participate in the show in some form or another.

Here’s Sid shuffling a deck of cards:

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And Fatema putting tape (lots of it!) on the poor guy’s face:

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This is what happens when you give rolls of tape to women and tell them to go wild on your face:

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The guy trying to predict the contents of the envelope while his eyes are taped shut.  He also guessed a few things about Sharmila….he called it mind reading:

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The part that was sort of cool was when he bent coins and forks without touching them:

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Shivani channeling her powers to help bend the fork 🙂

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Rohit is proud of his wife’s powers, as long as she doesn’t use it on him 🙂

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Sharmila, with a picture of Walter, the spirit that apparently haunts the building:

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A shot of the girls and the hostess outside the haunted building:

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After our Poconos trip, we came back to NJ and the next morning, headed out to NYC to see India’s Independence Day Parade. It was another hot day and the streets were lined with tons of Indian people walking around, eating food and watching the dancing on stage. Here is a shot of people sitting on the streets, having lunch:

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Lots and lots of people out on the streets:

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This guy was showing his patriotic side:

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Richie and Shalu happened to be in NYC as well so we met up with them at the parade:

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I noticed something very interesting as we walked the parade – I kid you not, every Indian guy walking the street had the same hairstyle! I don’t know what style it is, but the back of the head is spiky and every where I looked, all the guys were sporting it. As proof, I took shots of random guys who walked by me:

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Jay Sean, a UK based Indian singer who recently had a top 10 song on the U.S. charts and Shilpa Shetty, a Bollywood actress, were the guests of honor at the parade:

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After the parade, we went to Spice Market in the meat packing district for dinner.

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It serves “street style food” from Asia. The ambiance was nice, but more importantly, the food was really good. Everything we ordered was excellent. Here is the inside of the restaurant:

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We ordered the Chef’s tasting menu, which was a 5 course meal. We started with some shaved tuna with chilli tapioca and avocado salad with tempura onions, before moving on to char grilled chicken and beef skewers with ginger fried rice. We also had spiced chicken samosas, which were excellent. Dessert was Ovaltine kulfi with caramelized bananas and pop corn!

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After dinner, we headed out to see  Amar and Neeta who live in Harlem. On the way back, we stopped by and took this picture of the Empire State building, which was lit up in the colors of the Indian Flag in honor of India’s Independence Day:

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The next 2 days,we took a bus tour of uptown and midtown NYC as well as Brooklyn. I had bought the tickets as part of a package including the helicopter tour that we did a few months back on Sharmila’s birthday weekend, but when we went to the ticket counter to collect our tickets, they would’nt give them to us due to some confusion in their system. After spending 3 hours with them, we finally got out tickets and set out on our bus tour of NYC.

We did the Brooklyn tour first. It was a HOT summer day and we were sitting on top of the bus which had no shade (there was no lower level seating). I actually had an umbrella for a good part of the ride to give me some relief from the heat. I don’t know how the others on the bus managed to stay on for the ride with the sun beating down on them – it was 96 degrees!

These kids on the street were playing around in the water gushing out of the fire hydrant. When they saw us coming they mischievously directed the water at us and we all got soaked! I guess it’s a tradition for them during the hottest days of the summer:

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The rest of what you see here are random shots that I took as the bus went through Brooklyn and NYC – some of the images are funny, some quirky, but that’s what I was trying to capture – all the cool things that you can see only on the streets of NY.

A cool shot of one of NY’s bravest:

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A funny poster behind a bus:

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Times Square in the evening:

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Anyone that has been to Times Square might know about the Naked Cowboy. He stands on the streets in his tight shorts, guitar in hand, and entertains the crowd. Get this – he has decided to run for mayor of NYC and apparently, he is 2nd in the polls! I couldn’t believe it! Remains to be seen if he wins or not, but I captured these 2 images that I thought were funny – him playing on the streets:

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This funny poster:

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We drove through South Street Seaport:

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We also went through China Town – took a shot of this funny store sign:

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The Brooklyn Bridge:

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A cool sign outside a building in Brooklyn:

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I saw this grungy looking building and thought it was really cool and added character to the streets:

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Ok, this next picture is a bit revolting, but somewhere during the tour (which is a hop-on, hop-off tour, meaning you can get on and off anytime you want), this guy gets on and sits down in front of me. He is one of the hairiest guys I’ve ever seen in my life and I could not resist taking this next shot:

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Love this shot of  the mailman in his colorful turban and headphones going about his day:

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Another cool wall with grafitti on it:

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It was a really hectic, but fun few days which we ended with celebrating Sid’s birthday!  We were on the move a lot and didn’t really get to relax since we did so much, but it makes for fun memories. Both of us now need a few days to nap and recover 🙂

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Sunset in Laguna Beach

After work, I drove around Laguna and Newport beach right around sunset to try and take some pictures. Newport and Laguna are two of the most affluent areas in Orange County and it definitely shows. The houses that line the shores of these 2 beaches are amazing. Here are some pictures of the beaches The warm color of the sun looked great against the blue skies and water:

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There were so many amazing looking homes right on the beach. Here is a massive house on a cliff overlooking the beach – what does this guy do for a living?! 🙂

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As I happened to be walking around, I noticed a rather young looking girl in a bride’s outfit. However, there was no groom in sight. An older looking Mexican woman (who was her mother) was standing nearby as a photographer was taking pictures. I asked her if her daughter was getting married and she said that her daughter was only 15 and that in Mexico, they celebrate in a big way when a young girl turns 15 and that’s what they were doing. The transition from childhood to womanhood is a significant passage for adolescent girls in almost all cultures. In Mexico, it is marked with the celebration of the Quinceañera, or 15th Birthday. From a north-of-the-border viewpoint, it may be seen as a cross between Sweet Sixteen and a debutante’s coming out party. The celebration is a way to acknowledge that a young woman has reached sexual maturity and is thus of a marriageable age. I took a quick picture and moved on…

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By now, the sun was setting and I was losing light rapidly. I took a few pics as the sun set and the sky turned a mixture of colors.

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The whole area of Newport and Laguna is just amazing with its beaches and parks and architecture (not to mention great weather). Makes one definitely want to consider moving out to the west coast. Oh well, time to go pack and get up for my 6:45am flight tomorrow.

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Costa Mesa, CA

I’m in Costa Mesa, CA today for work. In the evening, I visited Vipin and Gautami and we decided to head out to the beach. I brought my camera along so that I could take some sunset pictures. I checked in to the Marriott upon arrival and they upgraded me for free to the lake view room:

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Vipin and Gautami picked me up from the hotel and Vipin said that we should head out to Balboa island. He had never been there, so he entered the address in to his GPS and off we went. After taking us in to the general area, all of a sudden the GPS goes “make a left and board the ferry” ! I had never heard a GPS tell me to board a ferry before, so it was funny. I guess it was set to “shortest route” and it felt that taking the ferry was the best way to get there! 🙂 I had to take a picture of the actual sign before we took the car in to the auto ferry:

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I guess in CA, the sun sets really early (like 4:30pm) in the winter! So we didn’t really have much time to walk around since the sun was almost setting and the wind had picked up quite a bit. Here are a few pictures that I quickly managed to take:

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Here is a shot of Vipin and Gautami by the pier on Balboa island:

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It was too windy and dark to walk around much more and so we headed to dinner (BJ’s pizza) and called it a day.

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Panorama From Le Chateau Fontenac

This is a panoramic view from behind the Le Chateau Fontenac hotel. Due to file size issues, I’m posting a smaller version of the picture. Click on this small version to see a larger version of the pic. Just as I was about to take this panorama, the clouds came in and it became really dark, so I had to play with camera exposure and ISO to try and capture some detail in the small buildings in the far off island. (i was happy that I captured a bird flying as I took the shot).

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Montreal – Day 4 (Last Day)

On our last day, after packing up and getting ready to leave, we walked the grounds of another hotel that we stayed in the night before. The weather turned out to be the best since we had driven in to Montreal (go figure!) and so we took a few shots in the back of the hotel which was on the lake with massive grounds. Overall, it was a fun trip and Montreal and Quebec are beautiful cities with a great old world European feel.

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Quebec City – Day 3

Quebec city is apparently North America’s oldest city. They just celebrated 400 years and since it was a 3 hour drive from Montreal, we decided to take a day trip out there for our last full day in Canada. Last night, we stayed at this B&B with an old couple. The husband did not speak a word of English, but the wife spoke some, so that was helpful. After having breakfast with them and packing our bags, we drove out to Quebec city. Along the scenic route that we took, we happened to drive by this field of cows. We stopped by to see them and I took these pictures (the cows were hilarious – if you have never seen a cow urinate, it can be quite an amusing sight!)

I managed to lean over the electric fence, come close to this good looking guy and take a quick picture:

Sharmila was adamant that she wanted a picture of this white cow just by itself, so she finally managed to get this shot below (I like this shot a lot for some reason – well done Mrs. Photographer!).

This is the Parliament building. Just a magnificent building!

Sharmila took this shot below.

We saw a statue of Gandhi in the middle of the town. They honored him for his work and principles.

This hotel below is Le Chateau Fontenac. It is a beautiful hotel perched on a hill overlooking St. Lawrence river.

Here is another shot of the same hotel from the inside of the complex – just massive!

Don’t ask why, but there were all these fake sheep outside this balcony area.

Halfway through our walk, it started to rain. Instead of waiting for the rain to stop, we decided to buy these funny looking garbage bag type rain coats for $3 and decided to walk around. As luck would have it, the rain stopped a few minutes after! Sharmila looked cute in the designer outfit, so I took a few shots of her.

(I’ll post the rest of the pics later – there is more to come, so check back later)

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