Longwood Gardens – Flowers and beauty everywhere

Our visit to Longwood Gardens, and Dad’s tips for having a great time!

Advertisements

Image

Yesterday, Dad and his family went to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. Let me tell you this was one of the most fun I’ve had in such a long time!

Oh my the walking! I’m sure I filled my daily quota of 10K steps yesterday. Of course the 10K quota is an ongoing target for Dad in his futile attempt to lose weight by walking 10K steps each day!

I’ve been meaning to go to Longwood Gardens for such a long time and I was pleased that we finally went on Saturday. Of course everyone knows by now, I refuse to pay full price for admission to anything.

Dad’s Tip to save money: So the first thing in the morning, I scrambled through my mounds of emails and finally found a great deal on Groupon which saved me 50% off the admission ($18) for each person. Yea me! Of course as soon as we got there, we spent $50 for food that should have cost not more than $20 as a non-captive audience outside.

Oh well, such is the labors of saving money. One hand saves, the other hand gives..

Dad is not known to appreciate nature’s beauty, but the Conservatory, and the grounds that we walked truly were a sight to see. I’d like to come back again when we can see the night shows as well as the fireworks.

I won’t bore you with the amazing stuff I saw there, but I’ll give you my perspective on what I saw.

  • Tremendously helpful staff, and great layout! I had come here when I was a child and I really don’t remember this place being so well laid out and so beautiful! I think I was a teenager when I came here last and I remember the light shows in the water fountains! Spectacular!
  • The horticulture and the landscaping of this place is to die for. Thank god I don’t have to mow the grass here! The layout is conducive to walking and walking and walking. Plenty of places to sit along the way.
  • Luckily the weather was conducive to walking. Low humidity and a clear sunny day! I took so many pictures! I finally figured out how to (correctly) take panoramic pictures using my iPhone. Yes, that’s pretty pathetic, considering I’ve had this iPhone for a few years.. Once I got the hang of it.. I became panoramic picture happy.. Did you expect anything less?
  • Dad’s Tip to remain hydrated: Come in with a water bottle. Once you walk around, you WILL need it. Fortunately, there are quite a few well placed  (working) water fountains on the grounds. For the coldest water, go back to the main entrance, get your hand stamped and get water from here
  • The drive to Longwood Gardens from Central NJ (Middletown) is about 2 and 1/2 hours. If you follow your navigator from Google Maps.. 🙂 and don’t deviate no matter how many times you feel like. Of course, today I found out that I could have shortened my trip time, if  instead of taking local roads, I should have taken exit 4 from the New Jersey Turnpike and taken all highways!
  • Dad’s Tip: Arrive later in the day, so when there are night shows at the fountains, you can just lounge around and see the great fountain light show with music!

I’m finding that in order to have a great time, you really don’t have to spend a lot of money. Yet  Dad being so Frugal (many call me cheap) is always looking to cut corners with expenses and this causes paralysis by analysis before going on any journey!

Being of South Asian descent, I was also surprised at this: There were so many South Asian Families enjoying the same venue. From where I stood, there was at least a two to one ratio of South Asian visitors to others. I think this is great! So many extended families were there with their entire generational family members! I just wondered how the older family members managed to walk the amount of walking that had to be done!

Dad’s Tip: If you truly don’t want to walk, you can rent a 3 wheeled cart that you can take anywhere! Don’t think I wasn’t tempted, but these are truly meant for individuals with handicaps or have some kind of physical limitations on walking!

I tell you, the Water Lillies and the conservatory were the highlights of this visit, I could have spent the entire day in the conservatory just admiring the inside and how the beauty made you feel like you were not even indoor! Gotta go back here again and spend more time here.

Finally, Dad is doing things instead of just staying home and vegetating. Last week camping, this week Longwood Gardens!

If you have visited Longwood Gardens, what was the highlight of your visit? I’d sure like to hear from you!

Oh Canada!

Au Canda! Tips and observations of my Canada vacation!

I know I haven’t blogged in a few weeks! I have a good excuse, Dad and his taxi of life was en vacances in Canada this month!

Last week we took a road trip to Quebec and Montreal respectively. Feel free to comment if you have anything to add!

Driving to Canada takes about 8 hours, well actually 10 if you count the health and hunger breaks! This was the first time we didn’t rent a mini-van (to be a frugal dad). Our Camry was fine for the 4 of us. Everyone was happy. Well most of the time anyway!

I had never really visited Canada before last week (except for a Punjabi Wedding in Toronto about 20 years ago!, but that’s another story for another day!).

I could talk about what we did, but my readers don’t pay to be bored with that, so I’ll give Dad’s perspective on the trip!

We saw two totally different cities in Quebec and Montreal.

  • Quebec had amazing mountain ranges and outdoor activities, walking and lots and lots of history and culture. The Old Town area, the Gondola Ride, the amazing waterfalls, and the outstanding countryside scenes were truly breath taking. Of course I took lots of pics, but they are still on my iPhone and not published yet!
  • Montreal felt like NYC, except it was clean and the underground city, the Basillica of Notre dame, Olympic Park, the Biodome, Old Town, were just magnificent. I’ve decided that this will be another road trip next year here to truly get the impact of this city. Oh! I forgot the Metro trains! So efficient!

Some Dad’s Taxi Observations/Tips:

  • Canada is truly breathtaking and worth the trip. The immigration into Canada is a lot faster (minutes) as opposed to the return to US (over an hour). If anything the return delay coming to US was the only negative thing I experienced during this trip.

 

  • The natives are just amazing with their hospitality and their kindness. Even if you don’t speak French (I speak high school level of course!), you are not at a disadvantage!
  • Take along a credit card that doesn’t charge international fees! American Express or debit cards just don’t cut it. Be prepared to be hit with conversion and fees! Boo! I’d recommend you take cash.. and try to find places with minimal or no currency exchange fees.
    • Canadian $1 and $2 coins, are the norm.. so be prepared to jingle your way through Canada with your spare change..
    • The US Dollar is accepted everywhere! Since it’s only a few pennies difference, many establishments will give you a one-to-one conversion. Try giving Canadian currency anywhere in the US and see what happens!
  • Be prepared to spend, spend and shop! The artisans, the tours, and the things to do in both Quebec and Montreal is endless! Now I know why they say Oh Canada!
  • In Quebec, you quickly learn that “Demi Tour” means U-Turn and “Arret” means Stop.
  • You quickly realize that when the speed limit says 90 it does not mean 90 MPH. that’s 90 Kilometers per Hour (about 55 mph).
  • Do not leave home without your GPS! We lived on our GPS, as Quebec is all french when it comes to road signs (Nord is North, Sud is South, Est is East, what’s west again?)
  • We even saw our first “one day strike” in Montreal at our hotel! Oh gosh can they be loud!
  • Don’t take the Grey Line bus tour where you don’t hop-on, hop-off. The bus only tour (which we took) is a total waste of time and money! Hop-on and Hop-off double decker (like NYC) is the way to go..
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes, because you will be walking everywhere! We averaged about 5 miles of walking per day!
  • Make sure your iPhone is “Juiced”, you will take many, many pictures!
  • Wireless and/or internet is NOT free and available everywhere. Be prepared for some frustration here. In Montreal, our room was wired not wireless. Of course they had plenty of free computers in the lobby, so that took away this pain.
  • Plan, plan, Plan your trip. Trip Advisor is the way to go if you want to plan your trip.
  • Be prepared for delays on return to US, if you are going through customs/immigration. Please do take back the same children you bring into the country. Our immigration officer at the border didn’t think my younger daughter was mine, and wasted quite a few minutes of looking at her “NEW PASSPORT” and her to ensure, I didn’t trade bring back the wrong 13 year old! Perhaps she was kidding?

Well that’s all for now, I’m sure I’ll think of more Dadism’s to add..

I could go on.. as many know, I love to ramble!

Au Revoir mon amis! Je suis fatigue maintenant!

Le Dad..

 

 

 

 

Where I’ve been

Having fun and doing charity work gives new meaning to the word enjoyment and giving back! Try it!

It’g been a pretty crazy few weeks. Every time I decide I need to write a post, something comes up to distract me. Life continues to keep me in the fast lane, that even a seat belt wouldn’t have slowed me down. With doing double duty at work and spending time with the kids at home, I’ve wanted to put on the brakes to stop, but have not been able to do so! So here is a summary of where I’ve been over the past few weeks. Pictures to follow!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve attended multiple marrow drives for a friend nephew and went to NYC this weekend for St. Patrick’s day Parade and festivities. My first parade in NYC! Gotta admit this was truly the highlight of this year for me.

We must have walked over 5 miles in NYC! You know when you are getting old when a 5 mile walk stays with you for days. Oops, forgot the few hours of tennis.. I could remember the ancient days when I could do this and be ready to go at it the next day.. oh well such is life..

Have you ever been to Georgetown Cupcakes and Chelsea Piers! Gotta admit, eating cupcakes and hitting Golf balls was never this fun! Walking in NYC and seeing the throngs of people is just uplifting and shows what life is and how fast it moves.. Just look around if you are in NYC!

We of course went to the happiest place on Earth (of course it’s the Apple store anywhere, but this one is in historic Grand Central Station!), is such a treat! Of course this place is not so happy when your iPhone gets smashed and you have to shell out money to replace it the next day.. that’s what happened to my daughter.. oh well, such is life..

I have to admit that the Marrow drives were the most rewarding! It’s the first time I felt that I gave back to the community and am now thinking of other ways I can do more of this. If you ever want to save a life, this is one great way to do it. If you are between the age of 21 – 61 this is an excellent opportunity!

It’s been a pretty hectic few weeks and I could write pages and pages on each of the activities above as everyone know’s Dad is never one to be word shy…

Spring starts on Tuesday Morning at 1:41 AM… Ready for it?

Trip Log Delhi – April 3, 2010

Vacation Journal summary from India for March 2010 tour of India by Dad’s taxi and his family.

So this is the last day of  our vacation in India.. The kids and wife are in Mumbai and I’m in New Delhi awaiting my trip back to the US tomorrow morning.

We all started early this morning from Kochin after our 5 day drip to the great state of Kerala. We had a total blast on the houseboat, the hill station in Munnar and the shopping in Kochin.

We are all weary from this long trip as we have traversed across India to see the beauty, culture and lands. We have truly seen the beautiful land that is today’s India.  No doubt, the wealth of India is in it’s people. The economics of change and the growing wealth is visible everywhere with the amount of money that is flowing in this country. Regardless of where you go,  Indians are the most friendly and enthusiastic citizens I have seen. Regardless of what they do for a living or their socio-economic status, they are all happy. From the taxi driver to business man, they are pursuing their dreams for the good life and success.

I did not meet anyone in my 3 weeks that I could say was bitter or mean spirited (Of course I exclude myself from this formula).

The wealth that is in India is amazing. Money is everywhere and there is money to be made everywhere.  It’s just a matter of where you look and how you utilize the opportunity that you are presented with.

To me this whole trip was eye opening.. Life without a doubt is different from my life in New Jersey. People do struggle no doubt about it. Yet from all my relatives that I met and all the people from the service industry (travel and tourism) that I interacted with, everyone is striving for a better life. You do not see unhappiness.

Perhaps I’m looking through rainbow colored sunglasses, but what I see is a wealthy nation that’s strength is it’s people. Technology is driving the wealth across the country. The spirit of the Entrepenneur is alive and thriving here.

I will go out on a limb and say this: Within the next 2 to 5 years, India will surpass all countries with their technological advances. The infrastructure to support this technology is a work in process across the country as you will witness the road construction going on everywhere in the country.

The problems that India continues to face is: Corruption at all levels, and population growth that continues to grow unabated.

From the places I visited this time,  below is my ranking of places that I  find to be the best places in Incredible India!

  • Munnar (Hill Station Retreat)
  • Kochin (the Houseboats tour)
  • Goa (Beach Resorts)
  • New Delhi (Tourism)
  • Pune (Visiting Relatives)
  • Mumbai (Shopping/Food)

I have yet to see all of what India presents, but I plan to do so over the next few years, as Dad’s taxi continues to explore the country that he is proud to say is in his DNA.

As I’m fully recovered (thank god) from the bout of food poisioning,  I realize that what I love the most (food) is the true reason for any ailments that befall me when I come to India.

After my return, I’ll go back and update my travels with additional thoughts on my visit.

TravelLog – 3/15/10-New Delhi

My last day in New Delhi..

So we’ve been here for a few days now and tonite we leave for Mumbai. This is my new favorite city to visit.. I’m totally impressed with New Delhi and this is city  which you can sped days and days seeing it from it from end to end. As a capital city, you can see that the cleanup of the city in preparation for the commonwealth games is almost done. Construction is everywhere.

Road construction is everywhere. New “flyover” are being built.. and this is truly a “Rich” city. Rich not just with culture and politics, but with the wealth that is apparent everywhere you look.

Yesterday, we visited a family friend and he we were talking about New Delhi and he presented an interesting perspective.. He indicated that New Delhi is being cleaned up to “hide” the true poverty that exists.  The beggers have been thrown either in jail or pushed out of the city,  so they are not visible to the visitors of the capital.. I was surprised to see this but perhaps that’s why I saw so few beggers during my few days here.

Outside New Delhi city limits, you will see the poverty and how the lower class lives.. they work hard to make ends meet.

It seems in this city the middle class is the wealthiest.  From what I have heard the gap between the lower-middle-upper classes is growing wider.. I know this is true for Mumbai but I can’t say I agree/disagree with this as I really am a newbie to the city.

Yesteday was so much fun.. We cancelled Agra as the kids had no interest.. they are more interested in hanging out with their cousins. They are having an absolute blast..

Our relatives took the kids and me on long drive yesterday to this place called “Karnal Haveli” about 125 miles outside Delhi.  This place was so much fun for the kids (Magic Shows, go carts, bhangra dancing, great food!). M

Tonite we leave for Mumbai.. We had a blast in New Delhi.. now onwards to Mumbai! I’ll upload my pics on my Facebook account..

Right now, I’m just soaking up New Delhi.. I truly misjudged this city. Even though the traffic is unbearable.. the City is truly a treat for the eye and everything in between.

India Links

India Links Site launched on Dad’s Taxi

India

India Links on Dad’s Taxi

Today, I launched a sub-site for all things India Related.  Now you are probably asking why did I do this?

A few days ago, I was planning my trip to India I started researching sites which would help in planning this trip. Of course being the way I am, I quickly realized that this was going to be  a huge task and I wanted to develop a centralized location for all India related sites.  This quickly led to  information overload..

So today I created a site which will provide links for sites that will provide sites that I will utilize to plan my trip. Additionally, the sites I list on this page are excellent sites for anyone that wants to learn more about India.

Hope you find my finding useful.