Category Archives: United States of America

New York

The city has been beckoning me to visit since a very long time. The few times I have been in the United States, it’s only ever been to the west coast. After a close friend who moved to this city has generously agreed to host me, I had no choice but to visit. Cheap tickets and spring weather made it easier. A 14-hour flight later I was there.

A first timer’s trip to NYC is incomplete without a visit to Rockefeller for the views of Empire State. The price I paid to go up top and the additional sunset view surcharge only to notice the lack of any sun or sky, made me chuckle.

As the light faded, the city started to light up, from hundreds of thousands of homes sprawling across Manhattan, making me wonder if this city had just started to wake up.

On other days, I mostly experienced similar perspectives repeatedly from the streets down below. After living in the Netherlands for a few years, a country with mostly flat land and small buildings, the sight of real tall buildings crowding the streets was novel and a strangely belittling experience.

The visit coinciding with the September 11th anniversary ensued Americana on display everywhere.

I couldn’t stop admiring the iconic Yellow cabs all around, contrasting against the rustic colours of the buildings.

Residential areas wore relatively more vibrant shades. Perhaps “vibrant” is a strong word considering there was nothing particularly dynamic about the colours. Rustic pastels seem to suit the feel.

The sprawling subway system was surreal. It seemed a different world existed underground, defying the borders encased by the rivers, the coast, as well as the tall buildings and their foundations.

Of course, what is New York without fashion

or the perpetual seepage of steam from the underworld onto the streets. 

Five days and 100 kilometres of walking later, half of it constant rain, it just seemed that there was no end to the fantastic sights that NYC had to offer. Every one of them seemed un-missable, especially Times Square,

The Statue of Liberty

the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, plus a view of the bridge from the Dumbo area of Brooklyn. This particular view managed to trigger the strange feeling of “jamais vu” despite it being the first time I was seeing it in person.

Death Valley, California

Desert plains and scorching sun; Endless hills and reddish glum; Dried up shrubs and flowing sand; Hundreds of miles and no waters in sight. Death Valley almost lives up to its name, and it ultimately misses on expressing the incredible beauty that’s hidden behind the veils of prejudice set by itself.

For almost half a decade, I have been yearning to visit Death Valley, ever since somebody that I used to know planted that idea. It now feels like life has come a full circle. The visit through the valley was part of a much larger road trip beginning in San Francisco, through Sequoia National Park, Death Valley, Las Vegas and ultimately culminating at the Grand Canyon.

Following a visit to Sequoia National Park, I made a stopover at in a little town called Inyokern in California. The motel owner suggested two routes towards Death Valley, one through the well maintained Hw-395 and another more dangerous route via Hw-178. Of course, I ended up taking the later. It was desolated, deserted and deathly and I loved it.

At the first sign of gas station, I made a pitstop for refuelling. There was not going to be any more of such stops for the next several hundreds of miles.

Some ice cream to beat the heat.

I stared at the road, and the road stared back at me. How the distance passed and the time flew was lost on me. I think my mind was numb and lost in the beauty that was racing against me.

Apocalyptically appearing dead trees marked the approach towards the great Mesquite Sand Dunes.

No sonner than I reached, I took off hiking into the sand dunes, with camera gear under the blazing sun. After a never ending trek through the valleys of the dunes and over the sand tops, I waited to take some pictures

A few unsettling moments of Deja Vu later, I concluded that perhaps this is what Arrakis looks like.

On the road again

Gazing at the sprawling lands with sparsely spaced shrubs and lit under blue-yellow sky, from hill-top view points was amazing.

Artist’s Palette, a natural and colourful hill formation, resulting due to the occurrence of various mineral deposits in the valley. I was quite amused to hear fellow tourists tout amongst themselves that it was due to elements such as mercury.

Watching two travellers camp up with portable chairs was envied by many including me.

As the sun began setting, I began making my way out

Not before stopping near Badwater Basin to make long exposures and some classic desert shots

Glimpses of Seattle

Everything I imagined and knew about the US, from past experiences in the US, has been around the Bay Area. As such, I was unprepared to experience the more laid back vibe in the city. It was and felt much different. A happy surprise.

Missing luggage is how my trip to the US began. Security on my way out of baggage area was eyeing me curiously and then proceeded to stop and ask as to why I only had a carry-on. Once I got out, I went and bought a shirt, checked in, ate some food and headed straight to work, which was just a block away. My colleagues offered to take me to Kerry park, which was another two blocks away from the workplace, for a break. The views were spectacular.

Later after work, few other friends were going to see the cherry blossoms in the Washington State University grounds. As I just missed out the cherry-blossoms in Amsterdam at Kersenbloesempark, I was more than happy to go check it out.

View of Mt Reiner from the WSU area

At night, jetlagged and luggage-less, I went and sat down in one of the cafes, to do some people watching on the street. I was truly “Sleepless in Seattle.”



The next day evening, colleagues invited me to hang out with them at a bar near a marina. I fail to remember the name, but I would certainly love to go back there and take the float plane from the club situated there.

The weekend arrived, and I met up with a good friend who showed me around Seattle. Starting with the iconic gum wall, which I never knew existed. It was as gross as it was good-looking.

The next day after I parted with my friend, I went around exploring to the edge of the city. I was on my way to rent a car to drive out to the countryside. The way sunlight lit up, and casted shadows couldn’t help me but attempt to capture them.

I got back at night and went to Kerry park yet again for getting some night shots of the city view.

The two weeks ended and before I realised, I was already on my way back to Amsterdam