bhargavkesavan

Travelogue, Nostalgic memories and more…


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Watkins Glen State Park – Gorge Trail


My wife and I decided to visit Watkins Glen State Park. We decided to make it as a one day trip & started from Parsippany after having our favorite Bagel from Wawa for breakfast. We started around 9:30 AM and reached by 2:45 PM. It’s a 230 mile drive. We stopped twice in between, first stop to make call to our parents and next stop to have lunch.

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My wife had prepared lunch for our trip this way we can have lunch at our convenient location, we’d lunch in a beautiful spot, spent some time there and headed to the Watkins Glen, New York. Since it’s fall the trees and the mountains still had the majestic colors and it was very beautiful to witness the colors.

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My wife did research and identified the trail for our hiking. We reached our destination at 2:45 noon. We took a glimpse of the trail map & started hiking immediately. We entered from the southern entrance as the main entrance was closed for renovation. As we entered the bridge at the entrance to the trail, we could hear the sound of water gushing & a lot of people hiking the different trails. People looked very tiny as the bridge at the entrance was at the peak of the trail.

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We took the Gorge trail as the Indian trail almost covers the same path as the other trail. The gorge trail has 19 falls and several caves. As we moved on the we started exploring the beauty of the park. The fall color throughout trail & the slight drizzle made the place most beautiful. It was a great workout climbing the steps before entering the central cascade & later near the Jacob’s ladder. The rock steps were built in the year 1908!

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We enjoyed the rainbow falls and couldn’t move away from the pool at central cascade as it was so beautiful. We spent a lot of time near this spot and then proceeded with the trail. They even call a small water flowing rocks too as a water falls 😀

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One of the main agenda in this hiking is to take photos of the water falls. I’d ordered a 55mm ND filter in Amazon as a expedited delivery but amazon failed to deliver it in a day as promised even after charging a $6. I have called them on Friday night which is when it was supposed to get delivered but they didn’t had any info and told me that I might get it the next day. I was very disappointed and sad that I won’t be able to take the photos I’d imagined in my mind.

I’ve seen photos like these a lot & always wanted to take it by myself. Without having a ND filter I thought it’s not possible to take, I remembered reading a blog about taking long exposure at day time without filters and gave a try & yes, it worked out very well.

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We breathed heavily by the time we finished climbing Jacobs ladder a 180 stone steps which marked the end of the Gorge trail. Huff!!! It started raining heavily but we had the shuttle service luckily to head back to the southern entrance. It was 5:30 when we completed the trail and took the shuttle back to main entrance. The shuttle driver was very kind and explained a lot about Watkins Glen & the Finger Lakes. I was very surprised and amazed to know that the lake was 700 feet and extends to 38 miles. Wow!
He stopped near the Elk farm and we saw few Elks wandering in the park which is raised by Germans. He also said that the main entrance is being uplifted by a $6 million renovation.

By the time we reached the southern entrance the entire parking lot was almost empty! We had fun time playing swing & it was a relaxation after the hiking 😀

We sure will visit Watkins Glen State Park again to explore more.

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Islands of Adventures – An amazing experience! – The Beginning


Universal Studios – Islands of Adventures! I’d no idea I’ll ever visit this place. On June 2nd, I’d visited Universal Studio’s Island of Adventure park in Orlando, Florida with Anu and my friends (Prem, Priya). It’s high budget & extremely adventurous Ramoji Film City of USA.

Two days before our trip, My wife and I visited the official Universal’s website to get an idea and pick the rides. We checked the names of ride and watched the videos in Youtube. After watching close to 10 videos, we felt like completing a virtual tour!

Two days later we reached Orlando. On our day 1 we started to the Park in our rental car Dodge Grand Caravan from the villa we stayed with rest of our group. While the other group were getting ready to their Disney park, we started to Islands Of Adventure.

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Anu & Bhargav (me! me!)

Since the park opens at 9 AM, we left the villa at 8 AM, since its going to be an all day activity we took food for lunch with us. Before reaching the park, we’d our favorite bagel and hot chocolate drink for breakfast from Wawa. My friends had their wishlist for the day and we’d ours. On the way to the park we four decided from which activity to begin our day. Prem did ground work already by visiting undercover tourist website and took printout of the maps already. It made very easy to plan the activities. Anu made a list of todo rides & not to do (Dragon coaster) list as well 😀

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Getting ready to leave villa!

While I checked the parking for Islands of Adventure, its a common parking lot for both the parks Universal Studios and for Islands of Adventures. I read some blog about parking which helped in choosing the parking. Yes, there are two kind of parking, regular & prime parking. Prime parking is close to the park while the regular parking is slightly far. But there are lot of moving walkways to make our walk easy to enter the park.

We took the prime parking ticket for $30 and reached the parking lot. They made it easy to remember the parking lot number by prefixing the number to movies like E.T, Spider Man, Cat in the Hat etc… It took just 5 mins to walk through the walkways, there was a security check in between and it was a moving crowd. We entered the park at 10:15 AM!

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Few people were issuing American Express credit cards to by pass the regular queue and get to the Express Pass for free! So here is the thing, there are two lines for every ride, regular line & express line. Just like dharma darisanam and 30 Rupees queue in Thirupathi temple, except that there is no dharma rides in Universal Park!

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After scanning our tickets and thumb print (over hype!) we entered the Universal Studios – Islands Of Adventure Park!

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Our day just started for the excitement! (To be continued… The rides we experienced, interesting photos & a short video)

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Islands of Adventure

Grace-ful Ice: Safari

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It’s the time of year where Live Ice Carvings are performed at the Grace building.

The artists from Okamoto Studio show their talents in giving a shape to the just plain big rectangle ice bars to a stunning animals (2016), the dinosaur (2015), microcosmos (2014) etc.

Here are the photos taken during this event on 12th December 2016 at Grace building, New York City. Because of the good weather these crafts are still good in shape unlike last year where it melted the very day because of high temperature.

If you’re in the city & reading this now, you still have time left to see these beautiful Ice animals before it melts down.

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Deers – Crafting in progress

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Lion King – Crafting in progress

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Zebra – Crafting in progress

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Crafting the details…

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Crafting the details…

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Small birds – Crafting in progress

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Oh!!! Not in the eyes!!!

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Crafting the details…

After the final shape…

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Some moments that I found very funny when this crafting was in progress! View it in full size to see if you can find it fun 🙂

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The New York Times reported that Mr & Mrs Bhargav witnessed this event at Grace plaza on 12/12/16

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Anu cheering heyyy woww at the end of ice crafting 😉

Thank you for visiting 🙂


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Manhattanhenge, New York’s Stonehenge


I have seen photos of Manhattanhange (without knowing the name then!) several years ago. I was not aware of such event until last year when I discovered something like this happens twice a year. One in May & another during July. The dates are May 29 & July 12, also a day before the above dates as well.

When I was reading newspaper last year (2015) I saw the Sunset photo and the news referred it as Manhattanhenge, I then googled about it & got to know I’d just missed it by two days or so. The disappointment level will be very high when you realize you could have witnessed something that happens in the very street you walk every single day & it’s historic which happens just twice a year.

Immediately I checked the dates for 2016  Manhattanhenge, it was May 28, 29 & July 11, 12. After a year, on May 29th I’d visited New York to see this, unfortunately everyone was disappointed as it was cloudy! The crowd waited until the sunset but it happened behind the clouds! May be the sun was shy to look everyone as hundreds of people were looking at it at the same time after an year!

The last time of the year to witness this came! I totally forgot about it on 11th, on 12th I remembered it after I boarded bus to New Jersey! I couldn’t stop bus as they won’t stop it once it’s started from departure until the first stop arrives. I waited until the first stop & crossed the road & waited for the next bus to New York.

Arrived at Times Square at 7:50, the streets were already crowded. Both sides of road were crowded and none crossed the road for the walk sign! Some taxi’s lowered the window and asked what are people looking at? Some people got down from Taxis after knowing about it. Cops were on the fly & ensured people are not blocking the traffic, as center of the road is best spot to see.

Everyday there is sunrise and sunset, but how many days are we looking at it? When was the last time you saw the sunrise & sunset by standing in a position just to look at it? But there is a point here, it’s not just a sunset, it’s a sunset that aligns in center of the street. Just like the Stonehenge in England which was constructed somewhere around 3000 BC to 2000 BC.

At 8:10, like the curtain opens before play, Sun came out with glittering rays from behind the building it was hiding. It was so beautiful to see the Golden sun surrounded with reddish ring and orange and golden glittering rays! At this evening, Nature was the celebrity! People shouted out of happiness and I kept smiling 🙂 It was the moment everyone was so happy and some even clapped for the nature 🙂 I asked someone to take a picture of me instead of just taking a selfie, what’s the use of having hundreds of people when we don’t talk to them.

People kept looking at the spot for a while even after the sun was set. More than hundreds including may not get another chance to see it next year or in future! Next time when you’re in New York City around May or July, do not miss this! It’s for this 10 minutes I waited an year! 

Checkout the video below!

 


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Cycling at Central – Spring 2016


Since the winter is officially over and Spring has has begun! I was waiting for a day to ride cycle in Central Park again!

Since friends schedule (:D :P) didn’t match, I went alone on April 24th to Central Park. I was well prepared for the day and my goal for the day was very clear, it’s just a day for me and to enjoy the day well by cycling!

Carried a fully charged power bank, sunglass, Cap, wallet, a juice bottle and a box with apple slices for the day. Made sure my rope bag is as light as possible (which I usually do!) so that I’ll feel comfortable the whole day & the energy won’t be wasted in carrying the bag with unnecessary weight & won’t reduce the time to ride bicycle.

As I reached the rental shop, there were few people but no cycle! Yeah.. I was late already & the shop was almost empty, but there were cycles left for me. They seem to have changed the cycles & almost all cycles were new. Last year the cycles were silver color and this year the new ones were black color.

Rented a cycle and since there were no locks left & I was asked to wait until someone returns the cycle to get a lock for me, I didn’t spend time waiting for anyone, I just left saying I’ll collect it later if I need.

Left the rental shop just the same way I use to leave the rental shop in my childhood paying 1 Rupees for 1 hour 🙂 As I entered the park, I was among one of the thousands! And the rest were almost same as last year.

Here are the pics and video taken this year.

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This flower adds beauty to this post!

 

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Relaxing after completing first lap!

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ohhh… you too relaxing??

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End of lap 1.

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End of the day! After 5 laps.

As usual enjoyed my cycling & had fun with my friends Sriram and Kalai who joined me at evening after seeing the photos I’d posted in our whatsapp group!

Watch the short video that I took while cycling!

As I say in all posts, leave your comment below, when I revisit this post after several years, I could read your comment. Comments in whatsapp and FB will be long gone after few years! Thank you for reading!


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Dinosaurs – Graceful Ice 2015


You may very well remember Ice Sculpture – Microcosmos photos that I’ve shared last year. This year the theme was Dinosaurs! Jurassic Park movie is what I could recall when I looked at the notice last week.

The sad part about the Ice carving this year is the weather 😦 Last year the weather was so cold that the ice carvings lasted for two nights! But this year due to warm weather, the ice carvings melted overnight and many people couldn’t see the carvings!

The Okamoto Studio artists did a great job as they did last year! Here are the photos of the Dinosaurs, people were so happy about this event and I could see from the way people showed eagerness to watch this event that age doesn’t have a limit to enjoy watching the Dinosaurs and to get excitement!

These pics were taken using my mobile, so keep the expectations low and enjoy the pics & a short video too 🙂

Click on images to view in full screen 🙂

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View from top!

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Day 2 night! The last one that stood still!


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A weekend at New York City with Friends


New York City never makes you feel bored. Though I travel to the city daily, everyday, everything looks new. Especially the Times Square at the 42nd street & 7th avenue intersection never make you feel lonely. This is the street where people across the world gathers and enjoys their time. It is referred to as he Crossroads of the World, The Center of the Universe,The heart of The Great White Way, and the “heart of the world”. While writing this blog post I got to know this is the world’s busiest pedestrian intersection.

As it ‘s a long weekend, it’s time to get together especially when my best buddies are in close by states. Praveen had visited Vignesh’s house at Philadelphia from Richmond, VA, together they came to NYC & I’d started from NJ while Sriram had started from Connecticut he had asked me to keep his visit as surprise and for the first time without giving any hint or anything I’d kept it secret until Sriram himself had showed up to the city 🙂

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It was a great feel to be with best buddies especially in front of my office 🙂 Just when we went to order food, praveen realized that he had lost the parking ticket 😐 He searched everywhere and couldn’t find it, later Vignesh & I thought to go back to the parking building to check with the attendant on what to do for the lost parking ticket and Praveen was planning to walk back in the same path he went from parking to Bryant park. We were little worried what if someone else picks it and pick the car! When Vignesh and I almost reached the parking building, Praveen had called me & Vignesh, we went back to see what he had found & it is our parking ticket!! What a miracle! In a busiest city, we dropped a parking ticket & it was luckily not picked by anyone! He checked the ticket printed time and the call history to check the time he had called me and made sure that’s our ticket! 😀

haha… finally after picking the ticket, We’ll had the yummy veggie biriyani from the cart at 44th street & 6th avenue. After food we spent time at Bryant park and after a while we started walking to Central park. Wrapping my hands on friends shoulders I walked in the 6th avenue like never before. After a good time at central park, Ejas and his parents came to meet us at the central park and that moment was like a mini family function with all the friends and their family.

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We had dinner st Bryant park & thought to spend time at times square, just when we were crossing road, Sriram found out that he had missed his Ray ban sunglass! Half the way through the road & we ran back to the table where we were sitting, not even a minute, and the glass is gone! Paavam! His brother gave him the sunglass & he was very sad that he lost it! Who won’t be sad?! Morning the parking ticket was still left in the street for more than 45 minutes! And now not even a minute and it’s gone! So if you loose any paper in road, you can be sure that you will get it if you follow the same path provided wind blow is less 😀

Vikky and his family started back to PA and Ejas and his family started back, Sriram, Praveen and I had roamed a while post 10 PM and enjoyed the Godiva ice cream from Godiva showroom at 50th street at RockeFeller center, as our car moved through the streets of Times Square like a snail visit to the city on day 1 got over & we reached my home at 23:45

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Day 2 started with visit to the icon of Wall street, Wall Street Bull through the Subway of New York in which Praveen was very eager to travel from the time he had arrived. We took the number 2 train from the Times Square 42nd street station after spending sometime at Times Square and reached Wall Street shortly after boarding. To my surprise the Bull looked like Bullsh*t 😀 The color was faded out as comparing to my previous visit. Only the face of bull had it’s bronze color and rest were of multiple fade colors.

We’d noticed a pizza shop while having donut at Dunkin Donut & had lunch at the pizza shop just to fill up stomach as our next visit would take few hours at the next place we were about to visit, bought a water bottle from a cart for $2 (!!!) which was $1.5 at the pizza shop, I thought the shop is selling it with more price as it use to be $1 in the carts near my office at Times Square, but the carts near ferry terminal sells it for more price. We then started walking to Staten Island ferry white hall Terminal to catch ferry to Statue of Liberty. As we were waiting to cross the road a M15 bus that crossed us reminded Praveen about the M15 bus that goes from Mylapore to Pallikkaranai in Chennai 🙂

Think it as 1983! (If it was me, I would say think it as 1988!)

Talk to friends & think it as 1983! (If it was me, I would say think it as 1988!)

As we crossed the road there was a guy who showed his ID and asked us if he can help us to plan our visit to SoL & few other places. There was two ferries, one was water taxi & other was a private cruise (Hornblower). As I’ve seen several deals & coupons for a lesser price than he had said I was not sure whether to go with this guy or not and I’d called Ejas and checked with him about how he had visited the previous day. I’d shown my mobile to that person and said see it’s $17 and not $31. He said ‘OK go ahead and book that… I’m sure you’re going to get trouble (smiles!!) 😀 Sriram and Praveen were sitting on a bench and were looking at me. We were discussing whether to go for this guys ticket or.. or nothing as we didn’t have other plan ready yet! Silently I’d noticed that the deal I showed to that guy was not available 😀 😀 also realized that Sriram too had mentioned it to me when I showed the mobile to him.

He came to us again and said ‘See man I can give you offer up to $25 (!!) but if you have decided to go with your mobile thing, I’m sure you’re going to get trouble getting the tickets’ etc… We thought he would come down with price again but he didn’t come back for a while, then we’d decided to get in to the terminal and get tickets on our own & started walking, he said alright see you 😀 As Praveen and Sriram are kind heart person and this guy looked paavam (innocent) we planned to get the tickets from him. He then took us to someone and charged $5 more for something he said must be service charge or something. He gave the tickets and showed a place which was 0.7 miles from there… haha 😀 we were little worried whether the ticket was valid!! I could recognize the boarding place (Hornblower Cruises) as I’ve already been in the same Cruise on New Year night. Only difference it is that the ticket price was $120 on New Year night (with unlimited food & drinks) and it was $25 this time.

Finally we’d boarded the cruise and directly went to terrace of the cruise by the time we reached the terrace the chairs have been occupied. But that wasn’t necessary for us, we stood at rear side of the terrace and it was a good view. The cruise started at 3:40 which was supposed to start at 3:30, in a 10-15 mins our cruise went near the Statue of Liberty, it was gigantic and standing tall! I was glad I’d visited it the same way I’d imagined! We didn’t choose a visit to get down at the Liberty Island as that would take us several hours since it was a long weekend!

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After a stop near  Statue of Liberty the cruise went the same way back and went near the Brooklyn bridge, which we could see very well while waiting in the queue to board the cruise, just a small difference that we went little closer and were able to see the view from beneath the bridge. 😀 😀 And… yeah and that it!!! It’s not even 1 hour, it was just a 35-40 mins and the cruise came back to shore, the guy who sold ticket said it’s a 1 hour ride & it’s not even 1 full hour including the time we stood in queue to on board & off-board from the cruise! Since we’d visited the SoL & Brooklyn bridge and had few other places to visit, we didn’t take it seriously and didn’t think about it much later. (May be this is how all tourists are being cheated?!!)

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We then had planned to visit 9/11 memorial and One World Observatory (Which I’d been planning since May when it was opened). We walked for 15 minutes to the 9/11 memorial which was the convenient way to commute from Pier 15, as we reached we could see a huge crowd. We spent few minutes near the fountain and then moved to the observatory. As I couldn’t find any coupon or deal for the ticket, we got the tickets with actual price $31 and entered the building.

As we entered the building there was a usual way of security check and then a queue to enter the building. It didn’t take more than 15 minutes to enter the lift that carries us to the 102nd floor. As the lift was closed, the walls of lift is a high definition display that had a great video as the lift started from ground floor and reached the 102nd floor. As the lift started the experience was like the lift started from beneath a river and as the lift goes up, a time-lapse was played which showed the transformation of New York city from the olden days till 2015. And when we were about to reach the 102nd floor, I felt like the lift is going in  sideways in a construction building we have seen in many movies including the main scenes in ‘Cube’ movie.

Just discovered that there is a different video for Night view

We got out of the lift and were eager to see the view of New York from the Tallest building in Northern Hemisphere. There was a presentation video over the walls of 102nd floor in a panoramic view, post presentation the card board screen was scrolled up and the view of the outside was shown! Wow! It was great that moment! Immediately it was closed and were asked to enter another room which they call Observatory hall, as we enter there we were asked to move a level down which is 100th floor, not sure where did 101 go!! Never seen a place which you visit thinking tallest building and they send us a few floors down??!!

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As we walked down people used escalator to go down, since it’s summer and the sun sets very late, being at the top the sun glare was very high as it was reflected by the Hudson river water. Without a sunglass it would be very tough to enjoy the outside view. As it’s a closed top (not like Empire State Building & other tallest building in New York) and covered by glass, we could see the view with others prints of the world(??!)… yeah! All the finger prints of the visitors were on the glass that covers the 100th floor, it wasn’t clean! The glass wasn’t anti glare, there is a big gap in 102nd floor (which is design!!!) through which you can see the 100th floor, people might accidentally drop camera, mobile or any valuables.

There was a Sky portal where people can step on to a 14-foot wide disc that delivers real-time HD footage of the streets which was utter waste! Not clean and not anti glare, due to sun rays nothing was visible (it should look like the one in the image below, but nothing was visible when we were there!) Spent sometime there and took pictures, which didn’t look like taken from a tallest building at all 😀 While coming down in lift there was another video that was played and it was good, the bad was the thick line that spoils the display!!!

A 4 Billion building and don’t know why can’t they make a frameless display! From a few decades ago there are large displays that are used just for advertisement and bill boards in Times Square, they could have used it! I felt Empire State Building was the best!  Came down and rested for few mins near 9/11 memorial again and boarded a subway to go back to uptown. Finished the day with a good dinner at Chennai garden, walked till bus terminal and visited Grand central station and then & headed back home & Sriram had started back home. Reached home at 00:15 by Lakeland bus!

Started back to NYC on day 3 (today) as Praveen has to catch train at 3 PM, we reached NYC for lunch and bought veggie biriyani from the cart on same street that we had on day 1 & had lunch at Bryant park. Praveen started to Richmond from Penn station and I’d headed back to bus stand to catch my 3:30 bus after he boarded train! Now back home and cherishing the moments while I’m writing this (smiling)!

Look out for next post if you’d liked this!