Sometimes all one needs is a single opportunity to turn a simple holiday destination into a month-long, magical adventure. This week, You & I catches up with Dr Naila Fatima, a medical intern at the Gandhi Hospital, as she recounts her time in the United States, where she explored new cities, devoured delicious cuisine, admired breath-taking views, and so much more.
After several years of wanting and dreaming, my cousin’s wedding gave us the opportunity to finally visit the US. The wedding was in New York so our trip began from there. Accompanied by my father and aunt, we landed in the beautiful city while it was still in Halloween mode. The streets were decked and every house was decorated with pumpkins and all things spooky. The wedding was on November 5 and a week went by in the preparations, parties, and meeting up with a large chunk of my extended family. One of my best memories was when after a party, we got adventurous and decided to explore New York at two in the morning, while still in our wedding garb!
It was the most exhilarating experience ever. We went around the city and saw Times Square in all its glory, lit and bustling even at that hour of the night. Even though we were oddly dressed, not a soul bothered us – each one was lost in their own world with their loved ones.
Making the most of the occasion, I decided to check off Disneyland from my bucket list, which took us to Los Angeles. My aunt had a medical conference in Las Vegas and invited us there, so we thought, ‘why not?’ Thus, we ended up travelling from the west of the country, all the way to the east, taking in as much as we could.
We left for Las Vegas three days after the wedding. We rented a car there and spent the first day driving around the Vegas Strip. We made sure to visit every hotel and casino, because each one is built with a unique theme. Starting with the famed Bellagio, which houses a beautiful indoor conservatory with exotic flowers and the largest musical fountain show, we visited the remaining casinos the next day. The best of the lot, in my opinion, would have to be The Mirage, which has an indoor secret garden with a zoo for white lions and white tigers, and a dolphin exhibit too! Then came the casino built based on the theme of Venice, aptly named The Venetian, with indoor and outdoor canals offering gondola rides.
The next day we took a trip to the Grand Canyon and it was absolutely breath taking! The majestic canyon against the cloudy afternoon sky was something that had us all spellbound. We decided to walk along the canyon for three kilometres rather than taking a bus, which to me was the best way to experience the beauty of the canyon. We then took a four-hour drive to Los Angeles, followed by a walk down Hollywood Boulevard – The Walk of Fame.
The next destination on our list was Universal Studios, and no amount of description can do justice to this splendid place. It was a land of mechanical wonders, with rides that take your breath away and make you squeal with joy! Here we stepped into the world of magic at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. From places like Ollivander’s Wand Shop, the Three Broomsticks restaurant, and Zonkers Prank Shop, to the people inquiring whether we would like to pay with muggle paper (cash) or muggle plastic (card), the entire experience was a delight.
After spending close to 10 hours at Universal, we decided to take the next day slow and spent it at the Santa Monica Pier and beach. A carnival with rides and yummy funnel cakes was surely the best way to unwind in LA. And then before we knew it, it was time to visit Disneyland! I was as excited as a three-year old, and funnily enough so was my dad. Dubbed as a place where magic happens, everyone was transformed into a kid. We enjoyed carousel rides, ice cream sundaes, Disney character parades, and more. The highlight of the day was the closing fireworks at 10 pm, against Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, followed by a simulated snowfall. We left Disneyland after a mighty 12 hours, with our hearts filled with joy and a resolve to come back again.
As we neared the end of our trip, I realised that the one thing that surprised me the most was the people. We hear so much about people being racist and rude that I was convinced I would have at least one unpleasant experience. But fortunately for me everyone I met was nothing but polite and courteous. They were very helpful and never compromised on showing gratitude.
I had an amazing time exploring a country so vast and beautiful, filled with good people, and not to mention the huge servings of food. Pizza that can feed our entire family, soda cups which put ours to shame, and the amazing desserts! We definitely need Graeter’s handcrafted ice-cream in Hyderabad (laughs)! --- Dr Naila Fatima