I visited US this year on a business trip for 3 months. I was put up in Morristown, NJ which is also Honeywell's Head Quarter. I took this as an opportunity to explore some of the famous tourist spots during my stay in US. Since I was on a critical project, I usually ended up doing some research or presentation work in weekends as well. However, once the project was on track, I visited Niagara falls and Corning Glass Museum via a road trip.
I & my sister booked our tickets via gotobus.com website and based on some of the comments we heard from folks staying the same hotel as I did. Unfortunate we didn't know it was a Chinese tour operator. Nothing wrong joining Chinese tour operator, except the issue with food. Every place they stopped was either Chinese or hardly had any option for vegetarian food.
We started our journey on June 11, 2010. We booked a cab which dropped us till Top Quality Food Market in Morristown (precisely speaking - Parsippany, NJ). It was a Chinese super market from where the bus was supposed to pick us up. The pickup time was 8:30 AM in the morning, however the bus got delayed and picked us @ 10:30 AM. Well, yes it sucked! Can't help it, we already paid in advance!!!
The reason of choosing 11th June as a date of travel was specific. 11th was Friday. I took a day's off and then followed the week end. The tour was supposed to be a 2 day tour. Hence we should reach Morristown by Saturday Night. Sunday could be a rest and I can resume job on Monday. A friend of mine witnessed consequences of not returning in time. One of his travel partner's missed his flight back to Chicago due to stress and almost missed the production release!
We boarded the bus and we were on our way towards Niagara. The bus took a halt for lunch at one Chinese restaurant and it was as good as making us starve as we hardly had anything to eat there! Thankfully, I did carry some dry-fruit bars and other snacks and stocked it enough. So although we didn't have proper food we were able to survive with what we carried. I also carried some cookies - 3/4 packs I guess which helped a lot.
Once done with the lunch, we were back on track to Niagara. I and my sister - both of us were quite excited as this was the first time we were visiting Niagara Falls. There was a traffic jam condition due to some accident which chocked up the road for hours. The distance could have otherwise been easily covered in 10-15 mins, however due to the jam, it took an hour and a half for the bus.
The schedule was to reach Niagara by 4:30 or 5:00 PM and catch the "Maid of the Mist" - The boat that ferries tourists closer to the waterfalls. However, that was not possible, hence all the visitors were requested to explore "Cave of the winds", which is Niagara Fall on American side. The other part (horse shoe fall and Bridal Veil Falls) is in Canada. Raincoats are provided to visitors when they visit Cave of the winds, which can later on be discarded.
It was a wonderful experience visiting Niagara. Cave of the winds has wooden bridge that could be used to go up towards the falls and enjoy the scenic beauty of the falls. Once done with Cave of the winds, we waited for the fireworks. Normally, on fridays fireworks take place at Niagara, this was one more reason why we decided to visit Niagara on Friday. The firework was quite nice - made me remember Diwali :)
Anyways, that was the only activity for the day. We left for the hotel. Our accommodation was fixed in a nice hotel in Buffalo downtown (The Adam's Mark Hotel). After having a cozy night stay @ the hotel, we started early in the morning back to Niagara. The first activity for the day was to take a ride on "Maid of the Mist". It drove us all the way from American falls, to Horse shoe falls and Bridal falls as well. Although I had my camera with me, it was becoming difficult to take snaps with the risk of water to the camera. I still managed to take some limited number of snaps. Once done with our maid of the mist ride, we had an option again to visit American side falls and we did go to some extent again. Took a lot of snaps and finally were ready to move towards our next destination - Corning Glass Museum. I did purchase a souvenir before we left the premises though.
We faced again the same issue - Food. The bus operator took a halt at another Chinese restaurant for lunch. For us, it was virtually impossible to even enter the premises as we were not accustomed to such a strong non-veg food smell. Had I stayed in for more than a minute, sure shot - I'd have puked :D
Anyhow, we found another small place wherein we can get some vegetarian stuff to eat. Don't exactly remember now, what was it that I had, however, it helped! Yes, it indeed help, although I didn't really appreciate the taste.
Alright - Next halt was "Corning Glass Museum". I must appreciate, the museum indeed was beautiful and it was worth the $$$ spent per head towards the ticket. If I remember correctly, they charged us 18 bucks per head, not quite sure though.
We saw couple of shows that highlighted the art of making glass and breaking glass as well ;)
It's pretty interesting to understand how delicate piece of glass is converted into a beautiful design that adorns the home and office.
It was time to move back to Parsippany. We started the return journey, couple of folks were transferred to another bus - for those who were enrolled for a 3 day tour which also involved Washington DC. For us, it was a ride back to hotel. We reached back to Parsippany by 6:30 pm and called the cab. It took the cab driver around 30 mins to pick us up and we reached back to our hotel by 7:30 pm.
We ordered a pizza for the dinner and I took a fine rest on Sunday before getting back to work on Monday.