Experiencing Niagara Falls with the Maid of the Mist

The massive volume of swirling, gushing water at Niagara Falls would immediately captivate any onlooker’s attention.

It sure captured the imagination of Annie Taylor, a 63-year-old American schoolteacher and, of all things, an amateur daredevil stunter who became inspired to secure her notoriety by being the first person to ever go over the Falls. As if that wasn’t enough, she was to do it riding inside a wooden barrel.

Racing towards the cliffs at high speed, water exiting the Niagara River tumbles off the crestline, covering 10 metres in a second and creating a heavy mist towards the end of its’ downward trip into the gorge. Niagara Falls, a series of three waterfalls (Horseshoe, American and Bridal Veil) that sit between the border of New York, United States and Ontario, Canada, is approximately 50 meters in height, allowing the water just about five seconds to hit the bottom. (For comparison, the Washington Monument is 555 meters.) Continue reading

How Does A Traveller Define Home?

“No celebrations as there is little meaning without you and Xx around. I miss the family togetherness every once in a while maybe because I am getting on in age.”

One thing you should know about my dad. He never says things like that. Not in print; and definitely not in person. Even on the rare occasion that he did say “love you,” it was because one of us said it first.

So when I read this line in his email awhile back, I gulped with guilt. Here I was, blissfully involved in my own world here in the D.C. area. Nary a thought for my dad’s feelings. Still, I stuffed away his words into the deepest crevice of my mind and carried on. Moved in with the (then) boyfriend. Attended socials, birthday parties and weddings of friends. Travelled. Adopted a cat. Broke up with boyfriend. Started a new job.

Recently, a post on the International Herald Tribune’s Rendezvous blog, which was titled, “Dark Side of the Expat Life” made me think of his email again. Continue reading

Warner Theater Walk of Fame in Penn Quarter

IMG_2355The Warner Theatre, a historic District landmark that once screened movies, is situated along Thirteenth Street in Penn Quarter, and is now a live performance venue that has hosted internationally famous celebs like Frank Sinatra, Sting, Jay-Z and David Copperfield. According to people who’ve been there, the interior is decorated in a grand red-and gold. On the outside, the theatre looks unassuming. Occasionally I’ll see someone grab an IPhone snapshot of the theatre’s awning on which the names of acts are displayed in simple black lettering, but during the day, the theatre is devoid of activity. Most people walk by without so much as a glance, and they certainly wouldn’t think to look on the ground as they pass the theatre.

If they did, they’d have a pleasant surprise. Continue reading

The Legendary Peacock Room in Freer Gallery

Photo: Neil Greentree. Click to see more of the room.

The hallway leading to the Peacock Room in the Freer Gallery is dimly lit, just enough for you to see where you’re heading. This only heightens the anticipation of walking into a magnificent room first built in 1800s London, displayed in a museum, then sold to a 1900s Detroit homeowner before being gifted to the Gallery around 1919.  Visitors that came sauntering into the Peacock Room spoke in hushed tones, eyes full of curiosity and wonder as they approached the room. For good reason.  Continue reading

Discovering America’s History at Independence Hall


In the years before July 4, 1776, people living in American colonies were becoming weary of being at war and paying high taxes to the Empire. They wanted more control over legislation of their land, and not be entirely at the mercy of the British Parliament. When a Petition to the King was sent to King George III, it was met with indifference. Soon, the idea of gaining independence from Great Britain took hold. Led by John Adams, a committee of five (Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Robert R. Livingston, Ben Sherman and Adams) were tasked by Congress to draft a declaration. The document, titled “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America,” was signed and approved on July 4, 1776 in Independence Hall, Philadelphia. (This document is now simply known as the Declaration of Independence.)

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The Jefferson Memorial at the Tidal Basin


Visiting the Jefferson Memorial requires a bit of an extra hike around the Tidal Basin and for this reason, I’ve never been there. After a long day of taking visitors all over the city to see other monuments and museums, we’ve usually ended it with a stroll near the water and catching a faraway glimpse of  the memorial. Even from a distance, the memorial’s best feature — those magnificent, towering Ionic pillars made of white marble — stand out proudly.

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Burial Site of F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The movie release of the Great Gatsby has heaped fresh interest on the burial site of the book’s author, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Along with the mound of old articles that’ve been written about his final resting place alongside wife Zelda Sayre, a pile of new ones have popped up. All of them point out the incongruity of the location. An early 20th century writer known for his penchant for alcohol and glamorous world capitals, interred in a suburban Rockville graveyard, surrounded by concrete buildings and situated right next to the intersection of busy highways? How absurdly mundane!

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Weekday Serenity at Brookside Gardens

Brookside Gardens

Droplets of rain were just beginning to fall out of the sky when I arrived at Brookside Gardens on Thursday afternoon. Luckily, the visitor center provided refuge. The last time I was at this beautiful public garden in Wheaton, Md. was to visit their dahlia flower sale, but I also ran into plenty of joggers, power walkers and adults with prams and a rambunctious five-year-old (or two.) I’m not a curmudgeon by any means, but there are times when you just want to enjoy a lovely green space and all its lovely plants without squealing kids or neon orange running shorts competing for my attention. Going to Brookside, late afternoon on a weekday was a genius move on my part! Why did I not think of this sooner? Continue reading

Inauguration Day in Washington D.C.

Riding into the city on the morning of Inauguration Day, I could tell which of my fellow Red Line passengers were headed in to join the celebrations — the ones who were dressed like they were going on a ski trip. Clad in wool hats, thick gloves, heavy shoes, and North Face jackets, they were also armed with maps, bottled water, additional blankets and consumer friendly DSLR cameras. Snippets of chatter overheard were about getting to the vast lawns of the 146-acred National Mall as quickly as they could. “We’re almost there, get your Metro cards out. Don’t be fumblin’ for em at the turnstile,” said one mother to her two kids. “Metro Center is gonna be slammed. Let’s get out at Farragut North. The lines won’t be as long,” said a bearded man in a black furry hat to his friends. Continue reading