SJ Mobilità Travel Diaries

January 18, 2021

One hell of an adventure in United States of America

Filed under: Travel,Visa — jani @ 9:21 am

About USA: The U.S. is a country of 50 states covering a vast swath of North America, with Alaska in the northwest and Hawaii extending the nation’s presence into the Pacific Ocean. Major Atlantic Coast cities are New York, a global finance and culture center, and capital Washington, DC. Midwestern metropolis Chicago is known for influential architecture and on the west coast, Los Angeles’ Hollywood is famed for filmmaking.

I could never forget my first trip to US, which was almost a decade back. I was a novice to International travel and I was not prepared and had very limited information in hand. So when one of my previous employers asked me to visit the US office for official work, I was happy to go and also was little worried as I was too scared to travel solo. But this turned to be a challenging and one hell of a solo adventure trip and it was also a great lesson.

Visa:

You have to fill up the online form as mentioned below, take the appointment and then attend the interview in person. First there was bio metrics to be done at VFS office (Currently it’s OFC) and then you need to go to the consulate directly in Chennai (as per the jurisdiction). Since you cannot carry anything in hand while visiting consulate for interview, be prepared to visit only with the consular documents and then also getting fried under scorching sun outside the consulate as there are longer queues.

My interview went smooth and I was very excited when the officer said, your application is approved. Finally I was relieved once I received the visa. I received my visa within 3 days of my interview and I was ready to fly.

https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/

Travel itinerary:

Day 1: I was booked in Emirates and I fell in love with their service and was glad I flew that. After enjoying their hospitality, we landed in Dubai. Then we boarded a bigger and better flight from Dubai to New York and I didn’t know how quickly the time passed. Even before I realized, we landed in Newark Airport. Even though I flew longer flight for the first time, had a comfortable one because of Emirates. Since I was very paranoid travelling alone I ensured the cabs were prebooked so that I don’t get lost as my phone didn’t have any network. Landed in Newark Airport, got my taxi, drove for almost an hour to New Jersey and checked in to Best Western. The hotel was great. Had a smooth checkin and ordered the food from outside since hotel didn’t have one. When the food came I realized, the portion size of US was huge. So that was lesson number one to order as minimal as possible so that you don’t waste food. Enjoyed the delicious food and crashed for the night.

Day 2: After the breakfast, I asked the hotel staff for help in reaching my office. The reception lady said my office was on a walkable distance, so I decided to walk. When I stepped out, I realized that I failed to note down the address of my company in a notepad as I didn’t have wifi to check the address/map online. So after walking for almost 15 minutes, I had to come back to the hotel, get the address and walk back as I hardly found anyone to ask for directions. That was lesson number two. I did find difficult to locate the building as I didn’t find the company signboard outside. Somehow, I went inside the building after making sure the address is correct, verified with the reception lady and she guided me to our office. I was only relieved when I met my colleague. I was busy for the whole day with official meetings and discussions, then came back from work, had my dinner and crashed for the night.

Day 3: After a great breakfast (loved their omelette, one of the best omelettes I have ever tasted), went to the office and then I had to travel to the client location in NJ where most of our employees were based out of. I spent the whole day in answering their work permit related queries to our expat employees. After a fruitful day, came back to the hotel and crashed for the night.

Day 4: After breakfast, headed to office. After training and paperwork, returned in the evening, met an attorney, went for dinner in another Indian restaurant which they wanted me to try and got dropped to the hotel and and crashed for the night.

Day 5: After the delicious breakfast, we went to the office and then had to travel to New York as we had an appointment with one of the travel partners. We finished the meeting and went to the café for a nice coffee. Since I love coffee, she wanted me to try espresso and I didn’t enjoy it. I realized I was more of Cappuccino fan than Espresso. We then went to Anjappar Restaurant (Indian Restaurant) for lunch, even though I told my colleagues, we try local, they wanted to try Indian. So I went along and it was really great. We then walked around the NY Street and my colleague became my city guide and she was explaining me to the important buildings around. Also I saw a small park which had Tulip flowers and I loved it. Then went to Times Square and I was disappointed as I was expecting some monument, then walked around near Empire State building. Then we had our early dinner in NY and went for a nice pizza for dinner which was recommended by my colleague. That was one of the yummiest pizzas I have tasted with lots of lots of cheese. After that I was dropped back to the hotel and I crashed for the night.

Day 6: Since It was a weekend, my colleague offered me to tag along with her while she was taking them for their weekend football practices. So I booked a cab and I ended up getting a limousine. I made sure I was not charged extra and then I realized I was lucky since no cars were available that weekend, they had to sent the limousine and I got a free upgrade from a small car to that. I enjoyed the drive and I couldn’t complain for the upgrade. I met my friend, her spouse and kids and then went for a shopping with them, then had our lunch at one of the shopping mall. It was a great place for shopping as I loved the quality of the clothes. Then I got dropped at the hotel. Towards evening, I took a little bit of courage, just to walk around alone and it was great. As it was getting darker, I rushed back to the hotel and crashed for the night.

Day 7: After an amazing breakfast, I checked out and then headed to the airport for San Diego, California. Landed after more than 6 hours of flight. It was a beautiful city. Checked in to Holiday Inn Express and crashed for the night.

Day 8: After enjoying the breakfast, my colleague had picked me up to go to office. Met the colleagues, was busy with back-to-back meetings for the whole day. Came back to the hotel and crashed for the night.

Day 9: After enjoying the breakfast headed to office, had meetings for the whole day. This office had a food court outside with various options for food, which was great. Then returned to the hotel and crashed for the night.

Day 10: After breakfast, went for a half day sightseeing to the city. I had booked with one of the local travel agents. The driver was our guide and we were three of us, a senior couple from Canada and myself. We went to Hotel del Coronado, also known as The Del and Hotel Del, which is a historic beachfront hotel in the city of Coronado, just across the San Diego Bay from San Diego, California. Then headed to USS Midway Museum is a historical naval aircraft carrier museum located in downtown San Diego, California at Navy Pier. The museum consists of the aircraft carrier Midway. The ship houses an extensive collection of aircraft, many of which were built in Southern California. There is a famous statue of sailor kissing a lady, which everyone was attracted to. Then we headed to San Diego Bay which is a natural harbor and deep-water port located in San Diego County, California near the U.S.–Mexico border. We had a picture with the whole group, spent a little time and then headed to the Balboa Park. Balboa Park (Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre historic urban cultural park in San Diego, California, United States. In addition to open space areas, natural vegetation zones, green belts, gardens, and walking paths, it contains museums, several theatres, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo). Since we didn’t have much time, we did a quick tour and went to see the garden, orchid glass house which I was most interested. Then headed to La Jolla Cave (La Jolla Cove is a small, picturesque cove and beach that is surrounded by cliffs in La Jolla, San Diego, California. California sea lions can be found in the waters of the Cove and hauling out, temporarily leaving the water to rest on its beaches, cliffs, and bluffs. So we did go to the beach to see the Sea Gulls and Sea lions. That was really awesome experience. As we drove, we also came across few streets with the most beautiful house, each one was made in a very different architecture. That was a great experience and a quick half day tour to the city. Then I had to rush back to the airport to go to Dallas. After 2+ hours of flight landed in Dallas and checked in to holiday Inn Express and crashed for the night.

Day 11: After the breakfast went for meeting with the attorneys and then headed for lunch. After lunch, one of the attorneys dropped me back to our office. When I went there the office was closed. I didn’t realize the person who had the key was working from home that day and I was lost as I didn’t have phone to connect and didn’t know how to go back to the hotel. So I waited outside the office building for taxis and no one stopped. I waited for half an hour and I was growing restless. Finally I found a gentleman who was returning from a factory. I asked his help to use his phone, however when I told the hotel name, he said, I better walk, since they wouldn’t be able to reach me without a phone. So I started walking. He was there for half a distance then I had to take a right turn and he had to go straight. I thanked him and I left. I was still scared and nervous, walking alone. After 15 minutes of walk I found the hotel sign and I was relieved. Once I reached the hotel, was chatting with the reception lady for a while, had a quick dinner and crashed for the night.

Day 12: After breakfast, went to meet one of the employees, he took me around to meet his family. I was offered a tender coconut juice and I felt I was drinking a toddy. Then went to a good steak restaurant. Had a great time and then his wife decided to take me around for a shopping close by and then they dropped me back to the hotel and I crashed for the night

Day 13: After breakfast, had to say check out of the hotel and headed to the airport to board my return flight. Enjoyed the Emirates hospitality and reached Bangalore and this experience that I will never forget and it also taught me to be prepared for the next international trips.

I had a lovely time, inspite of me not having a phone network throughout the trip. This country has to be explored more as it has lot of things to offer.

Will see you soon….Until then stay safe all of you….

 

 

 

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