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Happy New Year 2019!

Sitting here on the final day of 2018, I’d like to wish all my regular and irregular readers a Happy New Year 2019. Keeping with my long tradition, here’s my life in review post for 2018. Do you agree with Dilbert’s view on resolutions? I know I’ve barely kept mine from last year.

Dilbert
Source: Dilbert

Work

Work takes up a significant portion of our lives, mine included. 2018 was a long year for me at work including a tonne of projects, long hours and quite a bit of travel.

Life

2018 involved quite a bit of travelling for Ashwina and me.

India

We started the year with our annual trip to India. India was slightly different this time around. Since both Dad and Arun were in town, Ashwina and I booked a long stay at the ITC Maratha in Mumbai. Our stay turned out to be fabulous with excellent service, good food and we both got lovely gifts from the hospitality team there.

My work station in our room at the ITC Maratha

After Mumbai, we headed off to Mangalore. The first time for me after over 30 years! We toured quite a bit especially visiting a few churches.

Pune followed Mangalore where I managed to get some rest. We also met with Rhea for dinner on one day and Saby on another.

We headed back to Mumbai for a day and then returned to London getting Mom back with us for a few months.

Ashwina, Mom and me at Quilon
Ashwina, Mom and me at Quilon
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Ashwina and I pausing to take a selfie

The Brooklyn Bridge

If you’re in New York, especially for the first time, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge should definitely be on your to-do list. It was on ours and we parked it for the last day. I had started the day by meeting an old friend at One World Trade Center. After this, Ashwina and I set out. On our way there, we stopped by a really expensive Greek restaurant which appeared to be well rated. I keep thinking that Manhattan has a separate standard when it comes to food and the expensiveness of said food.

We saved our energy for the Brooklyn Bridge, so we took the subway to Brooklyn Bridge City Hall station. Finding the bridge turned out to be rather easy: follow the crowds and few signboards. It really amused me to see that the bridge had a good number of hawkers selling souvenirs and water.

Brooklyn Bridge City Hall

Brooklyn Bridge City Hall

The Brooklyn Bridge is a little less than 2km in total length which makes it quite a good walk. Thankfully, the weather was really good and we were able to walk the bridge without a drop of rain or the need for a jacket!

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Top of the Rock red carpet

New York – Views from the Top

I’m back in London and the week has been busier than busy catching up on work. It’s Saturday, so trying to find a time to finish this blog post. My New York diaries continued with meeting Sneha after nearly 10 years. She took me and Ashwina to ABC Kitchen which turned out to have some really good food in well-sized portions. Remains the best food I ate in New York.

After the failed attempt to view New York from Top of the Rock, we decided to try again. It seems like many others also had the same idea as we only got tickets for little over an hour later. We figured out getting some other things out of the way to kill time. Primarily taking a walk down 6th avenue to find our way to Grand Central Station.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

The hustle and bustle of Grand Central Station, New York

At Grand Central Station, New York

The hustle and bustle of Grand Central Station, New York

The hustle and bustle of Grand Central Station, New York

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Me and Lady Liberty

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

If you’ve been following the last few blog posts, you’ll know that Ashwina and I are in New York and wandered around Times Square at the start of the week. It goes without saying that most tourists have the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on the top of their places to see. And so did we. Let me tell you about our fun visit to see Lady Liberty.

Planning our trip

I spent a good deal of time researching where to buy the tickets – or more like what would get us the best sightseeing deal. We looked at the New York Pass which allows you access to several attractions, but the numbers just didn’t stack up. So, I decided to buy the tickets directly from Statue Cruises, who are the only authorized official provider of tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I realised that they were also the cheapest because I bought the Pedestal Reserve Ticket which gave us access to the pedestal on which the Statue sits.

We got lucky as there was no availability for these tickets for several days except Tuesday! Unfortunately, the Crown Reserve Ticket was sold out. People book these several months in advance.

It’s also recommended to do one of the earliest slots of the day as they tend to be less busy. We booked ours at 10 am, which is the time we needed to enter the Screening Facility. Battery Park is just a short walk from our apartment, so we set out around 9.30 am and found our way to the screening facility well ahead of schedule.

The screening facility is airport-style which means travelling right and light is recommended. We carried only bare essentials knowing that we could buy water on the island. The process went smoothly and we then queued in a completely unorderly fashion for the next ferry to take us to Liberty Island.

We picked the upper deck to get a seat and an open view of the water as well as the Manhattan skyline which was fully covered in fog. The upper deck also tends to be quite full with eager standing tourists during the short ride to Liberty Island. The best way to get your first photographs of The Statue of Liberty.

The Manhattan skyline covered in fog

The Manhattan skyline covered in fog

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty

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Me at the Isle of Skye

Happy New Year 2018!

As most good things come to an end, so must 2017. Browsing through my list of posts for the past two years, I realised that I completely missed out a Happy New Year post for 2017. Can’t miss that two years in a row now, can we?

Happy New Year 2018

Source: xkcd

2017 – A Year in Review

Life…

I began 2017 in India, more specifically being ill in Bangalore where I (as did Ashwina) spent a good portion of the holiday in bed recovering from bad allergy attacks. Apparently I can’t handle the pollen and pollution anymore!

At least it got better when I got back to Mumbai where we were soon well enough to attend a small extended family wedding before heading back to London. Life continued to be fun in February 2017 when Ashwina and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary by visiting a lovely National Trust cottage near Wadebridge, Cornwall called Overhaven.

Overhaven National Trust Cottage

Overhaven National Trust Cottage

The cottage turned out to be beautiful located in a place that was equally pristine. We managed to go for a nice long hike around the countryside in glorious sunshine despite being February.

In the glorious February sunshine in Cornwall

2017 was also the first year when we (and by we, I mean Ashwina) decided to go watch something that wasn’t a movie. So, we went to the Royal Albert Hall to watch The Piano Guys. Most people I know haven’t heard of the Piano Guys, but I’d seen their videos on Facebook and completely enjoyed watching them perform.

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