Summer Trip 2016: United States of America

This year, we didn’t go on our family’s original summer trip to Ooty. Instead, we decided to go the USA instead!

And I must say, the trip was one adventure!!

Well, my dad works in the Bay Area and the two closest airports are San Jose and San Francisco. My vacations began about two weeks before my mother’s and ended a week later so we decided that I will fly alone and will be staying for 6 weeks while my mother and brother will fly a week later and stay for 4 weeks.

The Main Flights:

Now, I’m a fifteen year old with lots of time and even more energy. Who wants to book a direct ticket? 😉
Well, one stop round trip fares from Bangalore to San Francisco were about $1100. But, fares between Bangalore and New York on Etihad were only about $800!
Now there were two choices on the outbound, I could fly to Abu Dhabi, suffer a 15 hour layover and fly on the A380 to JFK. Or, I could fly to Chennai on Jet Airways, then fly to AUH, and then onto JFK on the A380 with a simple 2-3 hour layover at both points. Obviously, I chose the latter!

We booked a roundtrip award ticket using my dad’s Delta Skymiles from JFK to San Jose with a layover at Los Angeles for 12,500 miles and $5.60 in taxes and fees. Brilliant!

We timed the flights so that the Etihad flight landed at 9:40 AM and the Delta flight departed at 3:40 PM. 6 Hours at JFK? No Prob! 🙂

Luckily, as both flights were from Terminal 4 and Etihad flights are US Precleared, I didn’t even have to re-clear security. I had only one backpack and no checked bags, so I was able to check in on the Delta app and have a hearty lunch and good snooze in the gate area!

The return was a tad bit simpler as it was a direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Bangalore. Only catch, my flight from LAX landed in the morning at JFK and the flight to AUH departed in the evening. And, I had a 7 hour layover at AUH. A day to spend in New York? 7 hours in Abu Dhabi? No Prob!

Finally, my journey looked as such:
BLR-MAA-AUH-JFK-LAX-SJC and SJC-LAX-JFK-AUH-BLR
map-2.gif

What a trip!!

For my brother and mother’s ticket, we booked two stop flights on Air France and Delta in order to stay loyal to our favorite airline 😉
They flew Bangalore-Paris-Los Angeles-San Fransisco on the outbound and Salt Lake City-Seattle-Paris-Bangalore on the return.
map-1.gif

The Smaller Flights:

We flew to Buffalo for a weekend and flew back from New York. While by dad took the direct flight from JFK to SFO, we returned a day later to SJC via LAX. We also flew to Salt Lake City. While my dad and I flew back to SJC, my mom and brother continued to India. In the end, our internal flights looked like this:
map-4.gif

The Weekends:

Almost every weekend, we went to a different place.

Week 1: We explored the Bay Area.
Week 2: We drove to Los Angeles.
Week 3: We visited Buffalo and New York.
Week 4: We visited a convention in the Bay Area.
Week 5: We flew to Salt Lake City.
Week 6: We visited museums in the Bay Area.

Week 1: Museums

My dad and I were alone for the first week so we didn’t do much. We stayed at his apartment in Sunnyvale. I went to the library or watched movies in the weekdays while my dad went to work. During the weekend, we went to the Golden Gate Bridge, Cable Car Museum and Fire Department Museum.

Week 2: Los Angeles

During the second week, my mom and brother came as well. We stayed at my dad’s friends apartment in Cupertino. So, we went shopping and to the libraries in the weekdays and on the weekend, we drove to Los Angeles. We stayed at a relative’s house in Irvine and visited Disneyland and Huntington Beach.

Week 3: New York State

The weekdays were as usual and we moved to a friends house in San Ramon. We used to live in Buffalo and Rochester so this seemed to be a good time to catch up with old friends. We flew to Buffalo from San Jose via Atlanta and drove to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls on the same day. We stayed there for the night and came back to Buffalo in the morning. After meeting some friends, we drove to Rochester and met some more. That night we began driving to New York and stayed at the Radisson Hotel, Utica. We resumed our drive the next morning and went directly to New Jersey. From there, we visited Ellis Island and drove to our the Raddison Hotel near JFK. The next day, my dad flew back while we explored downtown Manhattan and visited the Museum of Natural History and Central Park. We flew back home the following day.

Week 4: Bay Area

The weekdays were mostly spent in the parks around San Ramon or shopping. In the weekend, my dad and I attended a convention in Santa Clara.

Week 5: Salt Lake City

We flew to Salt Lake City in the weekend and then drove to Zion National Park, Utah. We caught up with some more friends there and enjoyed the beauty of the park. We stayed at a Comfort Inn and drove back to SLC the next day. We visited the Mormon Temple and the Salt Lake and finally stayed the night at Doubletree Inn, Salt Lake City Airport. The next day, my dad took the early flight to San Jose. My mom and brother took their flight to Seattle and I took my late flight to San Jose.

Week 6: Bay Area

For most of the week, I travelled solo through the Bay Area on public transport and tried to cover as many museums and possible. I visited the Hiller Aviation Museum, Railway Museum and Nasa AMES Research Centre. I tried visiting the Intel Museum, but it was closed. At the end of the week, I flew to New York City. There I dropped my checked bags at the luggage storage facility in Terminal 4. As it was Memorial Day, not many museums or libraries were open and I was only able to visit the World Trade Centre Memorial. I flew back to India later that day.

Conclusion:

Overall, I felt that it was an amazing trip and I was able to visit a lot of interesting places and travel a lot independently. I’ll surely do it again!

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