Friday, July 08, 2005
Niagara Falls - 21 May 2005
We started at 11 30 am on that day. We stopped en route at a place where we could get a bird's eye view of the Niagara falls through a helicopter ride. They were charging 120$ which I thought was a bit too expensive, so I did not dare to take the ride. A few pictures taken there ...
Then we went to these wineyards where they grow grapes and manufacture wine. I tasted a bit of wine. It was so sweet. I really liked it. Couldn't dare to buy one. Sorry I do not have a picture of the wine store, it was so well organised and welcoming .
Then it was the turn of the orchards. The sides of the road where we were travelling had a few orchards which we were beautiful, very beautiful. We requested the driver to stope there , but we had a paucity of time because we had to reach the Niagara falls by 5 30 pm and there was a lot more to see en route too. How I yearned to get down at this place and just walk. If you go to Niagara falls next time , do make sure that you start early and walk in the orchards. The driver told us that this is the smallest church in the world ( or Ontario ? Do not remember ). A few other pictures taken there .... These pictures were taken from inside the vehicle. We could not even get down for a few minutes, parking was a problem too. I felt like having been caged.
Then we came to the whirpool where the water kind of flows from different directions and it was a good sight to see.
And then right at the stroke of 5 pm we reached the Niagara falls. The last boat which would take us on the "maid of the mist ride" was scheduled at 5 30 pm. Thank heavens we did not miss that. We took the ticket for 15$ and started climbing down the stairs, we were at an elevated place. And then we had to take a lift too which was embedded into the rocks. We were also given a rain coat kind of a thing which was supposed to protect us from the water when we go "into the horse shoe".
It was a very big boat which could accomodate at least 200 people on board and and the ride was supposed to be for a 15-20 minutes and we would be on the Niagara river, going towards the horse shoe , into it and back. It is the Niagara river which seperates the US state Buffalo and Canada, There was a huge bridge which connected these two across the Niagara.
The boat started and sent my heart racing. We were about to see one of the things which the world aspires to !!Quite sluggishly it started towards the other direction, and every body started shouting. It turned and we were at a distance of perhaps a kilometer or two from the horse shoe, just my guess. It was the water which falls from the US side which creates these falls.
Suddenly there was a gust of wind which sprinkled some water on us. As we went closer to the horse shoe the sprinkles of water increased and even the noise. It was noise but may I say it was like music. I had just bought the camera yesterday so I did not want to take it out while we were in the horse shoe. And anyway , any amount of my writing or pictures is not enough to describe it. I suggest folks who are in the US should visit it once from the Canadian side and take the maid of the mist ride, It IS worth those few dollars which you might spend on the visa and the travel. I leave you with a few more pictures of magic, pure magic.
Friday, June 03, 2005
The Journey from Bangalore to Toronto
You know what happens at Chennai... when I just step out the aircraft , a hot gust of wind as if sweeps me off my feet. Gosh it was so hot and sultry that day in Chennai, and we knew that we have to spend almost 5 hours at the airport waiting for the flight to Paris. So we quickly went to the cloak room dumped our luggage there and went out to try and see if we would get any thing to eat ... Na .. its such a "veeraan" place .. the area near the airport, and it was also almost 9 pm. There was a decent restaurant in the airport itself where we had a double tiffin, we never knew that, that was the food that we were going to survive with for the next 40 hours .. It was tough to kill the remaining time.
We went into the international airport at 12 am and found that there were no airfrance flights scheduled that day , oh .. wait . .it was an airfrance flight operated by delta airlines that we had to board....education for me .. the delta airlines staff grilled Suresh with so many questions but they dint ask me any questions and let me in ... There is a sea of difference between the check in areas of international and domestic airports in India. the international one was well maintained ..
We went to the duty free shop and found that any thing and every thing had a price tag which was double what it is outside. and then we sat at the departure gate waiting for the boarding call.
Finally it came .. the departure call .. we boarded the aircraft and it was not amazing , it was like those domestic aircrafts. only thing different was the navigation system which shows where the aircraft is and a 500km range map around it .. after almost 8 hours of travel, we were served some pooris, two small pooris .. and some curry .. uneatable but some how pushed it in .. Finally we reached paris.
It was exactly the opposite in Paris to what happened in Chennai .. as soon as we got out of the aircraft a cold gust of wind as if swept me off my feet. It was really cold .. could be any where between 12-15 C...pleasantly surprising...We had to go to this Terminal 2F.. I was expecting that it would take hardly five minutes after boarding the bus , but it took almost half an hour for us to reach the terminal 2F. And I am sure we would have travelled at least 20km in that half an hour. Aircrafts were parked like buses are parked in Imlibun/Majestic. No .. Even Majestic/Imlibun would not have so many buses. That was the Charles-De-Gaulle airport..the CDG as they call it .. I was hoping to see the Eiffel Tower while the aircraft was landing but .. alas.. I could not .. In the CDG - 2F we found so many duty freeshops andevery thing was sooo expensive, I found a few french perfumes which were good. I thought I am anyway going to come back to the CDG so i wil postpone it. We were dying to have some coffee at least .. But we had indian rupees and USD , I know USD would be accepted , but we had 100$ bills and we did not know whether it would be a good thing to change 100$ for a coffee .. then we roamed around in the terminal 2F and Suresh took some pictures in his camera.
We boarded the Airfrance aircraft to Toronto after 4 hours of landing at Paris. There was a senior citizens conference or some thing in Paris for which many people came from Canada. All of them senior citizens, a senior is 60-70 years of age. Could have been better .. :-( .. do not want to say any thing more than that ! ! The flight that we boarded was supposd to take us to Toronto in 8 hours and all of it was Day Journey, There was personal TV and stereo but none of the programs were of my choice. And we were HUNGRY... and you know what, he was about to serve us .. a non veg meal. we said it was better to stay hungry than eat non veg. But he did give a few loaves of bread and jam .. Since I had slept well in the flight from Chennai to Paris, I was not even getting sleep.
Here it is , Toronto... after 8 hours of non stop travel we reached Toronto. I was expecting it to be easy at the immigration and customs. But I was concerned about whether my baggage would arrive or not... As expected, the immigration guy asked me two simple questions , and let me go off , Then I stood at the baggage claim area praying that my baggage should arrive. It did arrive. Then it was the customs woman's turn.. she grilled me with so many questions whether i brought any food, how long i was going to stay, where i was going to stay .. which languages i spoke.. whether I brought any business related material for selling in Toronto ?? and so on .. After satifactorily answering all her questions, I went out .. Suresh was already waiting there .,. he was not asked any questions.
I was sure that Sivaram would come to pick us up at the airport...I picked up the phone and talked to him on his mobile.. mama.. vacchava leda ? vacchanu mama terminal 3c deggara unnanu . .that was where even i was .. we walked almost more than a kilometer to go to his car .. an intrepid .. chevy i think ?? It took us 45 minutes to reach the hotel..." Staybridge suites " Sivaram was amazed to see the room ... but i was not .. he said we could go to a temple. Wow !! a temple .. what a way to start the stay in Toronto !! I jumped and said yes, I did have to plan how to go to the office on sunday but that could be done by suresh and even if not , i though I could do it later myself.
Had a good bath and we went to the temple. The temple had many "templets" if i am allowed to call them that ! went to each of them and .. now .. the most important thing .. food !! HUNGRY .. I said I dont care how uch it costs i want to go to indian restaurant and eat well.. by the time we left the temple it was 8 30. Siv I think was sure that we would not get any thing Indian , or even canadian for that matter at that point in time, 8 30 on a sunday night. But he could not say that to a hungry man .. So he drove me around quite a bit. we did find and indian restaurant but it was closed. So we went to into another restaurant, looked like a very posh and expensive one, "Swiss Chalet" was its name. The menu card had nothing interesting except for some fries, I ordered fries, he ate chicken , we had a chocolate drink at the of it, bill was just 25 .. He dropped me back at the hotel and left ..
That was the journey from the HAL Airport, Bangalore to the Staybridge suites , Toronto.