Grand Canyon: Grandest of All

A trip to Las Vegas wouldn’t be complete without making a short detour to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The south rim of the canyon is a mere 4 hour ride from Las Vegas. There are a lot of tour buses that can take you on a day trip to the Grand Canyon should one prefer not to drive. We searched online and found several tour buses, of which we chose Canyon Tours for 85 usd each including lunch and a tour to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

“In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.”Franklin D Roosevelt

The pick up spot for the Canyon Tours is at the rotunda of the Excalibur Hotel. Pick up time is 7 am.

Inside the bus

The bus ride was comfortable and entertaining, its always nice to see new places on the way. What you will be seeing are flat deserts and desert mountains. Green mountain are very rare and the greens that you will be seeing are cacti and desert bushes.

We got off for lunch at this joint. From here, its gonna be a quick drive to the canyon.

The line of cars going to the Grand Canyon

And this

Seeing it with my own eyes is something I would reminisce every day of my life. Seeing this reminds me that there is a greater being much more powerful than we are. It’s very humbling but also overwhelming.
Mather Point. This was our first stop and they said that this point has the nicest view of the sunrise.
Bright Angel Trailhead was the second and last stop.

Going back, we realized how lucky we are for having the chance to see this wonder.- after all, the Grand Canyon is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. 6 more to go for us!

Living Las Vegas

We visited Las Vegas this summer to do a sort of ocular survey and to visit a sick relative. By ocular survey meaning, we’d like to know how it feels to live here. An aunt has been urging us to relocate into this city as taxes are low and real estate is cheaper compared to NYC. They call it the Sin City because of its grand casinos, rampant drunk tourists and several men’s club. We saw these things when we were there but we also saw how vast and lively yet peaceful the city is. There was peace despite the chaos it portrays in movies. We got to see how it is outside the famous Las Vegas Strip and made as consider relocating here in the distant future.

Bellagio Fountain

Las Vegas is a five hour flight from NYC. Time difference between 2 states is 3 hours with Las Vegas being behind 3 hours from NYC. Being on a plane to Las Vegas is very atypical. People were already ordering drinks as precedent to the fun that would await them in the sin city. Jetblue was fully equipped with their liquor menu. I was a bit surprised nut then again people go to Vegas to have fun is the most common notion. Me and my husband wallowed ourselves with in board entertainment though (boring!)

The view of the Desert Mountains from above is absolutely stunning and refreshing!

Almost touchdown! Mostly are flat buildings and vast desert.

Going to the hotel was without hassle as we just have to take UBER.

The UBER got us free snacks and water in the car. During our stay there, we noticed the drivers would offer you water maybe due to the heat. No New York Uber driver would do this. haha

We stayed at the Springhill Suites by Marriot, a mere 15 min ride from the airport. We opted for this as it is cheaper than the hotels in the strip. The place is off the strip and we stayed for 5 days here for approximately 600 usd. Not bad right? They have free breakfast and a swimming pool and a gym at the 24th floor. I remember we also stay in Springhill Suites when we were in Florida.

Morning View of Las Vegas. 8 am but the sun’s heat feels like it’s 12 noon
During our stay here, we made it a point to enjoy the pool early morning when everyone was still sleeping and hungover. lol

Our first day in Vegas was spent visiting relatives, doing grocery shopping and swimming under the scorching heat.

Beer shopping.lol

Day 1 in Vegas was like how it is for us should we relocate here. We did grocery, went to TJ Max and visited a sick uncle in the hospital. Residential areas here are very close to the Strip which means when you feel like going out on a normal day, you can always do that. The streets are very wide that I told myself that I could even drive here. It’s actually a sustainable place for us to live. We are very open to the idea of relocating here. And mind you, time runs slow here unlike New York. lol

Oh but I forgot to tell you how hot it was. 95 degrees under the scorching sun. Summers here are mostly heatwaves but humidity is very low, the air is dry. You might wonder even with 105 degrees you still wont be sweating which is nice right?

Day 2 we were supposed to visit Grand Canyon but the bus company rescheduled it the next day due to mechanical problems. So we scheduled the trip to The Strip during this day but then something happened and we made a little detour to the Emergency Room. My daughter was having diarrhea and vomiting a couple of times that we decided to bring her to the ER for fear of dehydration.

Good thing it wasn’t that serious, she was given an antiemetic and they had to observe her for at least an hour.

And she’s back to being a tourist again

Paris, Las Vegas
New York, Las Vegas
Luxor Hotel
MGM Grand
Mandalay Bay
Excalibur Hotel
The Strip at Night
Brooklyn Bridge, Las Vegas
Bellagio

Day 3 was when we went to Grand Canyon in Arizona from Las Vegas. I’ll be writing about it on a different post. Day 4 was my hubby’s birthday and we spent it walking at the Venetian watching tourists in their gondolas, eating gelato. We went to a Catholic Church near the strip and was surprised and happy that it was full. It’s not a sin city after all. We had a nice birthday lunch for hubby at Galpao Gaucho- a Brazilian Steakhouse near the Venetian Hotel.

We also did a little gambling at the arcade. haha

Bye for now Las Vegas!

Chicago Walking Tour

We had a chance to explore the city for a few hours and we got tons of photos as the city is so vibrant and full of life. In addition, it is so windy hence it’s called The Windy City. lol

Tall, historic buildings of Chicago
Trump Tower
Chicago Theatre
Chicago Riverwalk.
Navy Pier
Chicago Skyline
The Bean

Experiencing the Amish Way of Life

I remember the first time I saw an Amish couple. We were in Port Authority Terminal waiting for the bus that would take us to Niagara Falls. They looked pretty normal, black clothes paired with hats yet they remind me of milkmaids, of anything that was old and traditional. They on the other hand didn’t use phones as most of us do while waiting in the terminal, which I later found out that they don’t really own one.

We got the chance to visit the biggest and oldest Amish community in the country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We availed of the tour to the farmhouse and the Village for 12 USD. Here, one will learn through a tour guide how the Amish people live day by day. W were inside a typical Amish house.

The Amish community practice the virtues of simplicity, family, community and humility. They keep themselves out of the limelight.

Amish kitchen. They live by simplicity which means they don’t use electricity. At night, they would use make shift gas lamps.
Amish bedroom. On the right you see children clothes which are made and sewn by the females. Their clothes style and color are made based on status just like a male’s beard and mustache determine his status in the community.

They raise their own livestock and make their own food.

And they have their own school which teaches fundamental education and Dutch, German and English languages.

The tour was very informative which made me admire their resilience to stick to traditions despite the fast changing society. Being there was like going back to basics.

Clearwater Beach and Universal Studios

So after the fun rides and attractions in Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, our next itinerary is to experience the sun in the sunshine state. The closest beach from Disney World is Clearwater Beach which is only 45 mins- 1 hour drive from Orlando. We didn’t have a car so we took Uber which was a breeze.

Clearwater Beach, Florida

I didn’t expect the place to be huge with hotels and buildings. We met a couple of friends who relocated to Florida from New York City.

We actually swam and enjoyed the warm water until someone from another group though he/she saw a shark making us vanish rapidly from the water. lol (Sharks are actually common sighting in Florida waters). We spent the day strolling along the shores and looking for good restaurants. We found a lot of them actually.

The next day we were supposed to go home but due to a typhoon in NYC, our flight was cancelled and rebooked. A blessing in disguise indeed as we booked a day trip to Universal Studios in Orlando.

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

Who would have thought right? Unplanned vacations are the best!

Some attractionsin Universal Studios they don’t allow phones or they would just ask you to leave belongings to lockers. We went to The Mummy which was scary! We rode the bus in the Fast and The Furious and we went inside the vault of the Gringotts Bank in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Diagon Alley at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The Transformers simulator was also a blast.

And we get to watch Universal Studios’ parade of stars. lol