Category Archives: United States

Wrapping up New York with Anily

She is the travel buddy I’ve been looking for in my dreams.  Spirited.  Adventurous.   One who can walk miles.   Bubbly.   No whiner.   A culture buff.  A museum buff.

Yes, like me.  And one who can laugh at my jokes, because I easily laugh at someone else’s jokes, too!

Meet Anily, my friend from Upstate New York.  We met each other three years ago through my website.  We clicked straight away as we discovered that we talk  the same dialect, we both worked in the Middle East, we share the same passion in photography, the arts, music, and of course, travel.

We were net friends, never met eye to eye, until I went to the U.S. last month, particularly New York.  She insisted that we should meet.  And I adjusted my flight just so we could meet.  And boy, what a ball we had!  How awesome it is to explore a place with your alter ego!  Before we even met, I’ve already done  four days  in the Big Apple, experienced grandiose things with my family and friends,  but there are still things left uncrossed in my bucket list and I’m leaving the next day!  Thank goodness, with Anily, I got more than what I expected!

Here’s what we did:

We took the subway not only once but thrice, and I love it!

We walked the Brooklyn Bridge!

I remember our guide on the Big Bus Tour telling us that the Brooklyn Bridge Walk is a must-do when in New York so I told Anily that we just had to do it!  Luckily, she has this penchant for crossing bridges and the sound of 1,825-meter crossing did not bat her eyelid!  It was glorious seeing the view   of Manhattan, the Hudson river, the distant Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn side and bits of New Jersey from the bridge.

We had to put this Brooklyn Bridge crossing experience on a frame so here we are.

  Manhattan above, the car lanes below and the pedestrian walkway where I am standing.

Back on ground level, we started our exploration.  Here is one of the many street food kiosks scattered in the City.

She took me to the long and very interesting Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village.
Lots of shops selling interesting things out here, this chess shop is one of them.

 They sell chess sets of every kind!

Archangels  pitting against each other

At the corner is a theatrical-looking fortune-telling shop

At the corner of Bleecker and Perry streets, I noticed a  tree-lined bucolic-feel block with elegant brownstone apartments with their iconic steps.  They call them “stoops”,  Anily whispered behind.  Those same steps reminded me of where Meg Ryan lived in the film, “You’ve Got Mail!”

Indeed, Perry Street has been the setting of many films and tv series.

A couple of tourists are posing infront of the stoops when I noticed a particular one that is chained.  This is blog-material, I thought.  The owner of this apartment must be so annoyed with all those people constantly going up their steps to take  photos hence, the chains.  It was only back home when I  started googling  that I discovered I actually photographed Carrie Bradshaw’s (of Sex and the City) famous apartment steps!  Well done to myself!



Moving on, this magazine shop caught my eye…

I have this itchy habit of peering through shop glass doors and it always pays!  Look at the enormous selection of magazines!

Time for lunch, I met a local lady at Bleecker park who recommended that we go to Whitehorse Tavern for a very New Yorkais dining atmosphere.  Glad I listened, and also glad that we had cash because they only accept dollars, not cards.

The lady in the park was right.  This place has a “New York 19th century” feel besides being legendary.  Writers and artists used to frequent the place including the Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas who, legend says,  drank so heavily that he fell ill and died a few days later.  Richard Farina,  Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan were among the famous patrons.

We initially ordered appetizers as we were not that hungry, deciding to eat a more substantial meal somewhere else later,  but lo and behold, the serving was more than we could take – but we enjoyed it!


After the meal, we went searching for another “very New Yorkais” Coffee Shop
for a fix of  caffeine and pastry and we kept seeing  cupcake shops. There’s a lot of them in the City!

But the most queued-up of them all is this one – The Magnolia Bakery – made famous by, again,  Sex and the City.

Gracing a corner of the shop is a framed photo of Carrie and Miranda sitting outside the bakery. On that scene, Carrie (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) was talking about her crush to Miranda while scoffing a pink-frosted cupcake. That SATC episode catapulted Magnolia to new cupcake heights and for a cupcake crazed America, their business shot up through the roof!  They now have several branches in and out of America.

And since we’re right on their doorstep, we had to try their signature dish : the buttercream-topped cupcake!

But it would be more civilized, Ithought, to munch a cupcake sitting down so I asked the bakery staff where are the tables and chairs and she directed us to a green park in the corner.  Holy cupcake!  Almost everyone in the park were munching  Magnolia!

The highlight of our day was the visit to the  Metropolitan Museum of Art commonly known as the MET.

The MET houses more than 2 million collections and antiquities from around the world.  It’s  the second most visited museum after the Louvre in Paris, France and with its vast size of 2 million sq.ft, one day is not enough to make a comprehensive tour and we had only two hours to spare.  Thanks to Anily who had been there a few times, she practically whizzed me through various rooms till we reached the European Galleries.

Having been to a lot of European museums myself, why the interest in European Galleries in America?  Because I want to see more of the works of the European masters that are now scattered around the world.  Luckily, photography is allowed hence, I am so happy to share them with you:

One of my favorite painters, Johann Vermeer!

Young Woman with a Water Pitcher, 1662, Oil on Canvas,
Johann Vermeer, Dutch (1632 – 1675)


Self-Portrait, 1660, Oil on Canvas
The Toilet of Bathsheba, 1643, Oil on Wood
All by Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn), Dutch (1606 – 1669)

Anily delighting in the works of Rembrandt

The Thinker, 1910, Bronze sculpture, Auguste Rodin, French (1840 – 1917)

Numerous casts of The Thinker exist worldwide.  They came out of the mold that was designed by Rodin.
I’ve seen the colossal version in the gardens of Musèe Rodin and I’ve been hooked  ever since.

Cupid and Psyche, 1893, Marble, Auguste Rodin, French (1840 – 1917)

The Siesta, 1892-94, Oil on Canvas
Two Women, 1901/1902, Oil on Canvas
Three Tahitian Women, 1896, Oil on Canvas
Still Life with Teapot and Fruit, 1896, Oil on Canvas
All by Paul Gauguin, French (1848 – 1903)

Odalisque with Gray Trousers, 1927, Oil on Canvas
Nasturtiums with the Painting “Dance”, 1912, Oil on Canvas
All by Henry Matisse, French (1869 – 1954)

Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies, 1899, Oil on Canvas
The MannePorte (Etretat), 1883, Oil on Canvas
Haystacks (Effect of Snow and Sun), 1894, Oil on Canvas
Rouen Cathedral, The Portal (Sunlight) , 1894, Oil on Canvas
All by Claude Monet, French (1840 – 1926)

The House with the Cracked Walls, 1892 – 1894
Dish of Apples, ca. 1875–77
Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1902 – 6
Antoine Dominique Sauveur Aubert (born 1817), the Artist’s Uncle, as a Monk, 1866
All by Paul Cézanne, French (1839 – 1906)

 The Daughters of Catulle Mendès, Huguette (1871 – 1964, Claudine (1876 – 1937) and Helyonne (1879 – 1955), 1888, Oil on Canvas
By the Seashore, 1883, Oil on Canvas
In the Meadow, 1888 – 1992, Oil on Canvas
Eugène Murer (Hyacinthe-Eugène Meunier (1841-1906), 1877, Oil on Canvas
All by Auguste Renoir, French (1841 – 1919)

 La Coiffure, 1906, Oil on Canvas
The Actor, 1904 – 1905, Oil on Canvas
Woman in White, 1923, Oil on Canvas
All by Pablo Picasso, Spanish (1881 – 1973)

Dancer, ca. 1880
Pastel and charcoal on dark blue-gray wove paper, now faded to dark gray
Edgar Degas, French (1834 – 1917)


Sunflowers, 1887, Oil on Canvas
Oleanders, 1888, Oil on Canvas
Irises, 1890, Oil on Canvas
First steps, after Millet, 1890, Oil on Canvas
All by Vincent van Gogh, Dutch (1853 – 1890)

Three hats, two women and Van Gogh, 2015

And to cap off “my-last-day-in-the-Big Apple” adventure with Anily, we took a short rest in a quintessential New York icon that is the Central Park.  I’d love  to walk the entire expanse of this place but  it is so huge and time is not on our side so all we could do was to sit in one of its  9,000 benches, breathe deeply and luxuriate in this oasis of greenery and peace in the middle of a concrete jungle.

This is a park so immense that when I saw it earlier from the top of Rockefeller Center,  surrounded by skyscrapers, I thought it could well fit hundreds more of high rise buildings!  Luckily, this green lung of the city  is a protected space hence,  there won’t be any construction of high rises within it.

Time to leave New York.  Goodbye America.  And thank you, my friend, Anily, for this wonderful last day journey.  Hope we do a repeat of this adventure, next time, in Europe,  the continent of your dreams.

America Tour, Day 8 – Visit to the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio

We flew to Ohio just to visit the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, but I tell you, it’s all worth it!  One day was not enough to take in all the information about aircrafts, missiles and the history of wars that America played a part of.

Aircraft display outside the Museum

Miniature model of the first plane invented by the Wright Brothers of Dayton, Ohio

One of the planes used by Kamikaze pilots. Kamikazes are the suicide attacks by military aviators of the Japanese Empire

Captured German aircraft that served in the Luftwaffe (aerial bombing of cities) in World War 2

Codenamed the Fat Man, that yellow thing is a replica of the atomic bomb that bombed Nagasaki which ended World War 2


The plane that dropped the atomic bomb over Nagasaki

Considered as a national aviation treasure and widely recognized as a symbol of American bravery and heroism during World War II, the “Memphis Belle” is the first aircraft to complete 25 successful bombing missions in Europe with all of its crew-members intact.

A Soviet surface-to-air missile used in shooting down USAF aircrafts


Guided bombs. The one in the middle, GBU-8 Electro-Optical Guided Bomb (EOGB), was first used during the Vietnam war.
It has a composite of a 2,000 pound bomb and a Television Guidance and Control Kit.


And below are parts of the Exhibit honoring the Airmen who defended the Bataan Peninsula against the Japanese and who later suffered in the Bataan Death March during World War II.

America Tour, Day 5 – Chattanooga, Tennessee

From Washington DC, we flew to Atlanta (Georgia) where we were picked up from the airport by my cousin and her husband to take us to their home in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

It’s a 2.5 hours drive to Chattanooga and boy, the traffic was bumper to bumper.

The evidence of Atlanta being the site of the Olympic Games in 1996 just sits along the highway.  

Atlanta is eternally proud of its sporting past

Atlanta’s skyrise

Whoah, for the first time I am seeing a real State Trooper!  (This is no TV and nor movie image.)

  Chattanooga National Cemetery


Houses by the Chattanooga lake

I am having a fascination in photographing plate numbers!

Another banner that caught our attention is this.  Google headquarters is relocating to Bridgeport, Tennessee!

A flowered cemetery – interesting!

America Tour, Day 4 – Washington DC


Must be a pre-wedding photoshoot for these lovers at the foot of Capitol Hill

 Dome of the Capitol building covered with scaffolding


Jefferson Memorial

Pentagon City

America’s most-loved president, Franklin D Roosevelt designed his own wheelchair.
With the aid of reporters and photographers, he managed to keep his disability secret to the world.

Guess which building is that!

The White House up close

Abraham Lincoln Memorial

Statue infront of Capitol Hill

Washington DC Public Library


Lincoln Memorial

The Pentagon Building

Statue at the Korean War Memorial

Washington Memorial

You can sit at Albert Einstein’s lap at the National Academy of Sciences

The Great Depression bread line at the Roosevelt Memorial

Steps of the Capitol Building

Where US dollar bills are printed

There are three airports around Washington DC so its skies are busy with flying aircraft every few minutes…

Skyline of Arlington, Virginia as seen from Washington DC

Encounter with a squirrel

Arlington Cemetery. Located in Virginia but only across the Potomac river from DC..

Tour America, Day 3 – Off to Washington DC

Security police at a train station we passed by

Taking an American legend, the Amtrak.
From New York, it only takes 3.5 hours to reach Washington DC crossing through New Jersey, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

The grandiose interior of Union Station (1907) – Washington DC’s main train terminal.

You can put your best foot forward at the most-talked about Union Station Shoe Shine.

Union Station’s front arcade – I thought I was in Italy!

Washington DC Post Office’s engraved verse about the men and women of the postal service.

Ladies on a night out

We noticed a proliferation of security people in the city, wearing different outfits according to the agency they come from.


Did I tell you that there’s a lot of Kim Kardashians here?

Chinatown district

National Portrait Gallery

a very cool restaurant menu….