Sweet Home Alabama

         

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

         A few years ago, my sister was an exchange student in Alabama. We plan to visit her old host parents in the near future. She has told me a lot of good things about it. It will be fun to add another state to the list of states I have visited. We plan to go to Noccalula Falls Park. It is a 90-foot waterfall with trails winding through Black Creek Gorge. Apparently it also has an aboriginal fort, an abandoned dam, pioneer homestead, and Civil War carvings. It was listed in the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. Kayaking there would be fun if that is offered. It would be also fun to go to Adventure Island which is an amusement park. It has go-karts, bumper boats, laser tag, & an erupting volcano display, lots of fun looking stuff! It would be cool to see how erupting volcano replica looks like.

I’ve always seen space rockets on television and in movies, but I never got a chance to see any in person. I’ve heard about the U.S Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. It would be cool to learn about space programs and how rockets work through the science exhibits which the center does. It has Space Shuttle and Army rocketry and aircraft too, lots of cool things to take pictures of.

Though our primary reason of travel is to visit my sister’s old host parents, hopefully we can get our time to go off and do these things. We also plan to eat local foods and experience what we can in our short time there. Alabama is a beautiful, and most importantly warm, state with a lot to offer. I know we will have a good trip!

Advertisements

Ride to the clouds..

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

        Hot air balloon rides and attending the hot air balloon festivals is one of the things in my wishlist. I was so close to doing in this year but sadly, I missed it as I saw the timing wrong. I was it pm instead of am. I was hyped up for that day until I double checked the time as realized that I already missed it as it was the last day of the 3 day events also. But it is definitely something I would love to do. Being with the loved ones and enjoying the view and having good time.

     It would be beautiful to be up in the air and seeing things from above. I think the view of other hot air balloons up in the air along with your one during sunset or sunrise time is the most beautiful view and feeling that one can have. Although, it can be nerve wrecking too when the basket shakes in wind, knowing you are up so high and you can fall. I didn’t think about it before but now that I think of it . It makes sense that weather plays a big factor for such festival especially wind.

    This is definitely something I’m looking forward to doing so, although I’m scared of height but the beautiful of such experience motivates me to do so. I would encourage, you guys to do so and see if it’s something for you.

Perspective of flyers

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

   People travel for so many reasons. Some people travel as their job requires it, some travel for luxury, some travel to explore, and some travel for vacation. But one thing I found common is that for everyone, the environment changes, the people change, as you travel from place to place, airport to airport. Some people like the thrill of change, some people are afraid of it. The unknown can be a scary thing, for sure!

For me, it feels like I am standing in one place and things around me are changing. Other times I feel like as if I’m walking from one room to another. Imagine, look at your bedroom and the furniture there are different than the ones in your living room. My experiences back home in Bangladesh is like my bedroom, and my experiences here are like my living room. I can picture them both individually, but few things overlap between the two and I can travel from one to the other. Maybe it doesn’t make so much sense, but it is how my brain makes sense of it.

      I love travel and I think it would be so nice to have a job that involved travel. However, I have heard that many people who travel so much for work barely get to enjoy the awesome places they visit. It would be such a shame having to take a taxi from work to the airport and see all the awesome sights and experiences that you will miss out on.

Good Times..

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

   During my year as an exchange student in high school, I was lucky enough to go to San Diego, California for a conference. San Diego is a beautiful hilly area. I was surprised by seeing how tall the palm trees were. I loved the sunny weather there. People say it rains a lot in California but during my one week there, it didn’t really rain. I guess we were lucky.

   We also got to go on a dinner cruise. A dinner cruise is basically where you have dinner on a boat or small ship while it sails around the city. It was beautiful seeing the sunset. There was a DJ inside the boat too and he played all upbeat songs for us high school kids which I enjoyed. During that conference, I got to know all of the exchange students who are also international students from all around the world. It was pretty cool experience.

   Another time, we had all kinds of pizza for dinner using paper plates and shared our exchange year experiences at the tables around the pool. Some even relaxed in the pool while others enjoyed the jokes and silly experiences. After we finished eating food, we decided to clean up after ourselves and throw other paper plates that some other exchange students didn’t clean up after themselves. But we ended up making a mess anyway, as what we thought was a trash can was a container for pool towels. It was too late when we realized it. So, we went to our rooms before we get in trouble. Next day, we got to go to Sea World and see the shows and enjoy the rides.

 

As We Travel

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

          A while back, I got to visit the state capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin. The interior of the building is just phenomenal. It is the tallest building in Madison. It’s hard to explain how big and beautiful it is. There is lots of restaurants and shops around it.

      We also got to visit Cave of the Mounds, a wonder far below our feet, located just outside of Madison. It is a natural landmark discovered during a quarry blast. It was completely hidden to the outside world until 1939 when the quarry blast happened. It is a really big cave jam-packed with interesting formations. It’s about 300 feet long, 30 foot ceiling, 30 feet wide.

        They give a tour around the cave and it’s pretty cool. I’ve never been to a cave before so it was pretty cool. Apparently, people get married there too. Caves change very slowly. It’s about 2 million years old. Above that cave, they have Nature Center, nature trails and biking trails too. Those of you who like to travel and enjoy nature. I would suggest to take a tour to Cave of the Mounds, you will really enjoy it.

 

Land of Magic

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Those of you who have been to Walt Disney in Florida or in Disney in general knows what that magic feels like that Disney always talks about. You probably heard this line so many times already by now that Disney is a place for everyone of all ages, but how many of you actually felt it. If you haven’t yet, I recommend that you go there. It is really beautiful, fun and, thrilling!

           During my year as an exchange student in high school, I was lucky enough to go to Walt Disney in Florida. That was one of the best and most magical experiences I ever had! There are all kinds of roller coasters and thrill rides. They have musical shows too, if you enjoy watching shows. My favorite ride was Soaring. It made me feeling like I have wings and I’m flying all over the place. It’s hard to explain how it feels but I would recommend people to try that one. They have fast-passes, which give you access to lines with less people. I think you can get one at a time. So, while you wait in line for a ride or enjoy one roller coaster, you can get a fast pass for another one.

              Every night they do fireworks and it’s the most beautiful and amazing thing I’ve ever seen! I was amazed by the fact that they do this every night in all their parks. The most beautiful ones that I got to enjoy was Epcot Globe and Cinderella Castle. It shows how technology is being used to a whole new level to create magic. We had 3 days there but still didn’t have enough time to enjoy all the rides in every park. Our flights got cancelled on the 4th day to go back to South Carolina from Florida and I’ve never been happy about flights getting cancelled until then as our tickets were for 4 days but our conference was for 3 days. Due to our flights cancelled, we got to enjoy another day in Disney! That’s one of the places that will stay very dear to me and I would recommend others to go at least once to feel the magic!

Life Cruiser

        cruiseToBahamas 

           I have mostly been writing about my travel experiences through flights or flying to different cities. Have you ever traveled through sea to enjoy vacation? This trip story is from a while ago when I was in high school. I was living in South Carolina with my host family. We drove down to Florida and got on a ship. Not just any ship, it was a cruise ship to the Bahamas! If you have not enjoyed a cruise, I would recommend it, as I really enjoyed it!

 
       It was a four day trip and honestly once you get inside, you will never get bored. They have all kinds of foods, and things like mini golf to play with your friends. I played that with my other exchange student friends. Also, there is a pool inside but it’s always busy. I could never imagine a pool inside a ship until I saw that! It was pretty fancy, I must say. There is an elevator that goes up and down the floors, theaters where people perform and do shows, chairs to lay around and enjoy the sun.

 
           Honestly, it feels like a hotel rather than a ship, except there is more fun stuff to do for all ages. Kids have ‘Kids Clubs’ to hangout with other kids, dance to music, and video games to play together. There is also bar area for the adults. Also, room service people make cute animal shapes out of towels and put them on the bed which is pretty cool. We took the Carnival Cruise ship but you can also see other ships around you too, especially when stopped at Bahamas. I remember seeing the Disney Cruise ship right next to ours. I didn’t get into that one so I can’t tell you what it feels but I’m guessing more magical Disney stuff.

 

           Once the ship stops at the Bahamas for few hours, you can go to the beach, look at shops, and do what you like until it is time to get back into the ship again. We walked around couple of shops and saw some pretty cool stuff, then went to the beach. They do snorkeling and hot air balloon rides there. I tried snorkeling but don’t try it if you are not a good swimmer. I tried and almost died! But if you like doing things like that then you will enjoy it! This was very cool experience overall and I would suggest to go with friends or family. It’s always fun to go and travel with loved ones.

Hole in the Donut

             

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

              This is for travelers who love cities and for those that live outside of city noise or chaos but like to explore things a little sometimes to spice things up. I’m a city girl or at least have grown up in a city. Things like seeing high-rise buildings, lots of people walking around, crossing streets and lots of food places remind me of home. There are good and bad things about city life though. One good part is that there is always something happening. Imagine looking out through your window in a big city versus in the suburbs. The city is full of energy while the suburbs are more likely to be calm. Again, I might be biased about it but some people like the energy while some prefer the calmness, trees, and the chirp of the birds. A bad part about the city is traffic sucks! Although, it depends where you are.

                 A friend, my two sisters, and I went to Chicago for the weekend recently. We noticed that Chicago has a parking problem too. Also, Illinois has a road tax while some other states don’t. So, this means every time you pass toll road, you’ve pay or you can buy a pass instead of stopping multiple times. So, living there can be costly. Perhaps, that’s why bigger city jobs pay higher rates, to accommodate the cost of living.

             Just because you don’t live there, doesn’t mean you can’t go there. If you do choose to go, there are lot of things to visit. There’s a lot of see around and also not everything cost money. For example, you can walk around in Millennium park for free. So there are lots of opportunities that don’t cost money. A lot of times, people perform there too! Unfortunately they did not have anyone performing anything at the time we were there. Everything is mostly in downtown. For international travelers, I would suggest to stay in hotel that’s outside downtown as staying in downtown can be expensive. Besides, downtown is little over an hour away so it’s not that bad and you can always use bus to travel places. The “Cloud Gate” sculpture also known as bean acts as fun-mirror where tourists or people can take pictures. People say you can get 360 reflection of the city there.

                We also visited a place called Devon Street. Devon Street is in a very diverse area and is a sort of China-town area but with many different cultures. I loved food there. We went to an Indian buffet. The hot tea was perfect, and prepared like back home! What I liked about that place is I saw more diversity and people doing their own thing in their traditional dresses. It’s normal life not dressing up for any event really. Wearing what defines their culture or shows part of it, I guess and being comfortable. Not trying to change to fit in! You can hear all kinds of languages there,English, Hindi, other languages are spoken there. You see all kinds of posters, signs in shops written in many different languages. That’s what I picture, when I think of USA, as a melting pot. Although, sadly you don’t see it around everywhere.

            If you like doing indoor stuff, then I would say visit Aquarium. There you will see cool fishes including sharks and the like. Also, Cheese Cake Factory has yummy cheese cakes. Movie theaters play all kinds of movies, including international films too! We went to watch “Jackie: The Foreigner” movie. I’m a big fan of Jackie! He is really good actor and that movie was good. If you like action movies then you will like it or if you are Jackie fan then you know it already! The movie shows more of British and Ireland relationship in the story when Jackie plays a role solving the problem, desperate from losing his family. That’s a little overview of the movie. I’ve never seen such fancy movie theater before where there are these fancy “Dream Lounger” chairs and where you feel like you are watching movie from home. It was really cool experience in the AMC theater. So, I would suggest you to go. Some people bring blankets to get extra cozy! It’s really cool experience, I must say. So, I hope this helps you decide or help you plan a trip to Chicago!

Runaway…

           

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

           Last winter my sister and I were lucky enough to be invited by my landlord to her mother’s place in Phoenix, Arizona. It was really nice of her to invite us to visit their place. There couldn’t have been any better time either. The trip happened in December, so we were so ready to escape the snow of Wisconsin and go to warm Arizona. Even though the weather is cold in winter and people are warm in Wisconsin. But it’s too cold for us tropical girls who loves the sunshine. So, every now and then we like to escape it when we get the chance.

           My sister and I had never been to Phoenix, Arizona before. Travelling with our landlord Mary, was super fun too. She is a funny and loving person. When we flew down there and saw the sunshine, we couldn’t believe that it was really still winter time. We fell in love with that place. When we saw all the buildings, shops around, Arizona didn’t feel like a desert at all. Although it is one! My sister was super happy to see “Chick-Fil-A” there. My sister is a foodie, and that is one of her favorites! Travel without food is incomplete for her. As for me, travel without sightseeing is incomplete. There are lots of cacti and hilly areas. That was my first time seeing a cactus in person. I’ve seen it in books, TV, and such, but never in person before. We wanted to go to Grand Canyon but apparently winter is not good time to go there and Mary was unwilling. That’s what we heard. Home structures are much different than in Wisconsin. I’ve never seen so much yellow, orangish houses before. Although it looks pretty down there.

            You have to drink lots of water and stay hydrated there, otherwise it is easy to get a headache from dehydration. It is hot during daytime with beautiful sunshine! Later at night, it gets cold as the heat of the sun goes away. So, if you travel there..be prepared for that! But if you are from up north then you should be fine as it definitely doesn’t snow there or at least, it didn’t when I was there.

                 I was also lucky to hear “Simply Three” play live down there. They are amazing musicians! We also got to see lots of red mountains in Sedona as well as Chapel of Holy cross there. We also got to visit Desert Botanical Garden. There are all very pleasing to see for sure! I’ve shared some those pictures here for you to see and decide, if it is something worth seeing for you.

Someday This Day..

         ALLEGHENY COUNTY AIRPORT AUTHORITY PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

            Have you ever just grabbed your bags and went to travel, just because you felt like doing it? Or maybe to see your bestie or friend that you have not seen for a while? Travelling with friends is always fun. I never had a chance to do it until college, and I enjoyed it very much. It is a thrill to see a city that you and your friend have never been to. You both get to enjoy the excitement of exploring and the best part is the great company. This year, my summer was filled with adventure.

          My friend Bohye, is from South Korea. I met her through International Club and she was peer mentor to one of my friends. We became friends and soon enough we became roommates. She became both my roommate and my best buddy. How could she not, with such kind heart and caring personality. It’s not always the case for roommates as I know that from my experience living off-campus. If you find a friend or roommate as good as her, you better consider yourself lucky. You are the luckiest person on Earth. Because of Bohye, our off-campus living place felt like a home with people you love and care about.

       Later, my sister moved in to the same house and they got along just as well. Like I said before, Bohye is one of the nicest people I have ever met. We still Skype once or twice a month. After she graduated, she moved to West Virginia for work. I still remember that day when I came home after dropping her off to the airport. The house didn’t feel the same without her. I cried my heart out that night. That’s when I first realized how my parents felt when I came to study in USA. Saying goodbye is not easy. But I made sure that it’s not our last goodbye.

            Things change over time; communication, people, friendships. But I’ve been lucky. Our friendship didn’t change. Bohye and I lived as roommates for a year and have been friends for more than 2 years now. One day, my sisters and I decided to go visit her for the weekend. That weekend seemed to be the best time for everyone! We planned to meet each other halfway as otherwise the whole weekend would be just travelling through planes and bus as none of us have a car. Bohye took a bus to Pittsburgh, PA and we flew down there from Wisconsin. Even writing about it, I can feel it how I felt back then to see her smile face and waving at us as excitedly shouting, “Anniikkaaaaa!”

               One downside of travelling without plans is it is hard to see local landmarks. But  I did see everything else that weekend. Happiness, laughter, being with my bestie and my sisters. We laughed that night so much that our cheeks were hurting. We slept late night at the hotel. Luckily, the hotel had a shuttle back and forth from the airport and also provided free breakfast. That was the first time, I heard about ‘Grubhub’. Grubhub, in short, is a service where you pay somebody to get food from restaurant and deliver it to you. That seemed like a good choice for hungry, broke, international college kids who didn’t have a car to get it ourselves.

             This weekend trip was the first time my youngest sister met Bohye and they too got along super well. Honestly, I am not surprised. My sisters were content with the trip as they finally got to eat “Chik-Fil-A”. I was happy to see my bestie and have a cheerful time with her and my sisters. We went to malls, took an Uber for the first time. Uber gives first time users a free ride. All 4 of us had never used it before, so we all downloaded the app and got four free rides.

           I suggest that you try and just travel. You don’t have to have a reason, just enjoy yourself and you won’t regret a thing. Creating cheerful memories and stories to share is what it’s all about!