Published: February 23rd 2007February 22nd 2007
February 4th-7th 2007
Okay…so after a busy two months, I got the chance to take a break. Though it was more of necessity [My friends and I were going to Vancouver, Canada to renew our F1 visas], it turned out to be a beautiful trip…one where we sampled food in some awesome restaurants and also got to explore a little bit of British Columbia. The only sad part is that Karthik and Anitha could not accompany me
Sriram and Saumitra, our neighbors and close friends in Nashville, TN came with me as they had to get their visas renewed too.
Normally when you leave for a trip you end up doing research deciding where to go and what to sight see, in our case it was what documents to take and how to get to the Consulate and back. We really were not in a mind frame to think of anything else, as we were anxious to get our visas renewed and get back into the States, and did not want to have any problems.
So after taking all our documents and preparing for the interview we left Nashville, early Sunday morning, the 4th at
6:00 am. Saumitra & I flew together on Delta and Sri came on United. Sri & I had frequent flier miles saved up that we used to fly into Seattle..in the process deciding Saumitra’s travel itinerary. We were all flying into Seattle and were going to take a car to drive into Vancouver, which was about 3 hours away. We left Seattle at 3 pm and began driving. My memories of Seattle are from 2005 when I came there for IEEE Nuclear Space and Radiation Effects Conference
. It was rainy and misty then and it was the same now. I was thinking to myself it would be fun if the sun came out even once during our time there. The scenery throughout was really amazing but the mist made visibility poor. We even caught sight of Mt.Rainier I think
. We wanted to eat at Denny’s specifically as we don’t have it in the east coast and I have heard so much about it that I wanted to try it when I was here. After about an hour’s drive we came to a Denny’s where we stopped. We were really hungry and had a sumptuous lunch/dinner of omelettes, bread and
pancakes topped with coffee. I found Dennys to be a pricer IHOP with more vegetarian choices.
From there we kept going and reached the US/Canadian border pretty quickly. After being questioned to ‘Why we were here?’, ‘Why 3 days in Canada?’, ‘Where do you go to school?’
etc. etc. by a stern faced guard whose probably sole purpose in life is to freak entrants like us, we were finally asked to go to immigration. There we were greeted by a really good looking guy
, only not too smart
. He checked all our documents and asked us for some forms we had never heard of. Apparently he had been out of office too long and was not familiar with the new immigration documents. Finally, we entered Vancover and continued to drive to our hotel
. By then it was quite dark, but our directions were good and we reached without any trouble. We checked it only to find out we had to pay for internet [which really pissed me off, ’cause I had specifically checked before booking the hotel..but you always have these hidden costs]. Our room was a business suite on the 13th floor overlooking Vancouver downtown so
it was not too bad. We then drove to the consulate and found out where we could eat breakfast and also where we could park. On accomplishing that we were just tired and nervous and went to bed after checking all our documents.
Next day we woke early but there was nothing bright about mornings in Vancouver..it was the same dull dreary feeling..morning, noon or night
. After we got ready, we parked opposite to the US consulate. Oh, by the way..Vancouver is like New York in terms of really pricy parking. We even had to pay to park in the hotel where we stayed
.We had breakfast at Starbucks and then went to wait in the line. Our appointment was at 9:00 am, and they had already placed placards for the first three time slots of 8:00, 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. We took our spot in the line and pretty soon the consulate opened and the first batch was called in. After that the time moved pretty swiftly and we were called in right at 9. Once in, they checked us and our documents and we went up. Once we paid the processing fee (non-refundable $100), we were
given a token and waited in line to be called for the interview. I saw everyone in front of me get their visas so my confidence soared. Finally “Mera number aa gaya”
and I went up to another really good looking guy, who was also smart BTW
and he chit-chatted for about 5 min on what I was working on in my Ph.D., what my plans were after I graduated, what my husband was doing, etc. etc., and then he said the magic words “Your passport and visa will be ready for pickup at 3 pm tomorrow!”
. So it was done and over with. I went down to meet Sriram who had already cleared his interview. We waited together at Starbucks for Saumitra also who came shortly thereafter and we all rejoiced at the fact that this process was over and we could all return back safely to complete our education. All that was left for us was to sight-see Vancouver a bit and then return to Seattle and then back home to Nashville.
So we started out with just walking in downtown, sampling Vancouver’s Rodeo drive. After walking all around we decided to eat lunch at “Flavors
Two way Roads
The lights on top change so the same lane is used one way during the morning, and the reverse during evening based on traffic :)
- a chain of three restaurants on the same street. We were the first customers in the restaurants as soon as they opened the doors ?. We had a good punjabi meal consisting of paneer pakoras, shahi paneer, paneer butter masala, roti, paratha and Saumitra has 2 lamb dishes. We packed up more than we ate and then left to go to our hotel.
We decided to visit the Whistler Mountains
that afternoon. It was supposed to be a really scenic drive up there. So after we changed and took directions, we started driving. Our mood was very exuberant but that did nothing to change the weather which was just still misty and gloomy! The drive through the SeatoSky Highway was truly unbelievable. So aptly named it was indeed impossible to fathom where the Sea ended and where the Sky started. We did not find good spots to take pictures mostly due to the excessive construction going on for 2010 Winter Olympics there. We thoroughly enjoyed the drive though which was a good hour and a half due to reduced speed limits and single lane traffic. Just 10-15 kms out of Whistler we were held up due to
an accident further ahead. There was a huge line of cars and on enquiry we found out that the mess would not be cleared until 6 pm and it was just 4:45 pm then. The only thing we would miss if we turned back was seeing the Ski town and shops, and since we were not planning any skiing anyway we opted to turn back and drive. The return journey was just as nice and we reached our hotel sooner than when we drove to Whistler.
Next on the agenda was to find a good restaurant for dinner and since we had a North Indian meal for lunch we wanted something of a south Indian flavor. We found this Chettinaad style restaurant called Chutney Villa
, but realized they were closing in about 15 mins time when we called. We decided to not give up and walked fast and then ran about 1-2 kms to reach just in time
. We ordered a thali which consisted of great sambar, rasam, poriyal, appalam, urukka, raita, vada, pachadi, veg kurma and payasam. The owner was Sinhalese..which I recognized from her dialect thanks to the movie “Kannathil Muthamittal”. After a sumptuous meal,
we slowly walked the 3-4 kms back to our hotel and after watching some TV went to bed.
We woke up late on Tuesday as we had nothing much to do. We checked out of the hotel by 11:30 am and then decided to eat at this restaurant Maurya
as it had free parking and the website was impressive! We were not disappointed and truly amazed by the décor inside. It looked like a 5 star restaurant and was very eclectic. We opted to go for the buffet. The owner was very friendly in a total business like manner and said he had invested about a million dollars on this restaurant and will soon supply food for British Airways and such. We took some pictures and then left to the Consulate to pick up our passports. There we went briefly to the waterfront which was right by the consulate and saw the grand hotels and the fleet of yachts docked there. At 3, we picked up our passports, checked all our docs and then decided to drive back to Seattle so we could meet Sriram’s cousin Karthik.
It was a painful 45 min drive before we left the
city due to peak rush hour traffic. Once on the interstate it got better. This time immigration was a breeze totally American about its organization and efficiency and we were out in a jiffy! Once we crossed the border we made excited phone calls to our family and friends to tell them we were back in the US. An uneventful drive later we picked up Karthik and his roommate Sushant from T-mobile, where they work, and took them home. I then left to meet my friend Nirupama from BITS & her husband Pradeep. I was seeing her after about 4 years and was excited about the fact that she just lived down the street from Karthik’s house. I was greeted not only by Niru and her husband but also beautiful Zorro, their friend’s dog whom they were watching. We took an immediate liking to each other and I was constantly petting and cuddling him
I ended up spending just about 45 min at their place as I had to return back to go to “Bamboo Garden”
-an Indo Chinese restaurant that Karthik had picked for dinner. It was very nice to see Niru and Pradeep, even if it was for
a short while. We quickly went to the restaurant and Karthik took the lead and ordered for the whole lot as he had been there many times. Again another sumptuous meal of Lat mei Paneer, Corn coins in soy sauce, Veg coins in Manchurian sauce, Devil’s vegetables and Noodles we returned back to his apartment.
Next morning I decided to take some time to meet Santh, who had landed there previous night as he was going to work at Expeditors
there. After circling around with wrong directions for 15 min, I finally met him and we both drove to Starbucks. Santh- Karthik’s ex-roommate from Arlington has over the years become one of my closest friends. He was slightly depressed as he was missing friends and familiarity from his 5 years in Arlington. It felt good to meet him and I like to think I cheered him up a bit, he might tend to disagree
Now all that was left was for us to get back to Nashville. So that’s what we did and we are back to our everyday over-worked, underpaid graduate lives
I can’t believe I renewed my visa to get back to this…Ciao!
There are more photos below