New York City – Top Of The Rock

Photographs have been piling to high and I am knee deep in them. I have been going to a lot of places this year, and haven’t had a second to post about them.

Summer school is finally over and I am about to begin my last semester in college. I’m graduating!! This summer I went to New York City twice and a lot of photographs have piled up, so I decided to give each specie spot it’s due attention and post about different places in the city separately.

During my recent visit, a dear friend from my school days took the trip from Boston to come see for the weekend. We have been friends forever (actually, since we were 15). He is a medical student studying in Ankara, Turkey and we go a long way back. It is always exciting to see him, and I was ecstatic to explore the city with him! We went on top of the Rockafeller center for some amazing views of Manhattan, and here are some photographs!

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This is the view I went to the top for. The empire state looks absolutely gorgeous from the top balconies at any time of the day!

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A happy selfie with upper Manhattan in the background. The big green patch is Central Park!

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The observatory has an amazing view of upper Manhattan and Central Park!

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We took a lot of shameless selfies with the empire state building. I am only gonna post the ones we took with my DSLR here! HAHA!

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Sometimes I think our friendship has survived all this time because I like taking pictures and he likes posing for them!

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It was a beautiful day that ended very well. Top of the Rock is a must-visit!

Yes, we were absolutely shameless and shoved our way to the top photography spots to take selfies with my iPhone and DSLR. People who visit Top of The Rock share the same mentality, mind you! An older woman in a headscarf yelled at Mert for coming in her photograph. She even kept count. She started yelling at him in French first, and then she ranted in Arabic. It was quite funny. Eventually, I believe one of the security guards on the observatory saw how desperate we were to take good photos. He offered to take a couple of good photos of us cam whores (the one right above). We still chose to hang around though, cz hey, we weren’t just there for the photos! We liked the view too! ;)

Vienna, Austria

A lot of people flock to Europe throughout the year, especially during the summer time. Popular Europe destinations are Rome, Paris and Switzerland. However, in the midst of all the tourist fiasco, it is very easy to straight out ignore the existence of Vienna. My sister and I almost made the same mistake, allocating the least amount of time to the beauty of this Austrian capital. Believe it or not, we were there just for a day. Yes, A DAY. Obviously when we arrived there we regretted the decision to ignore the beautiful city from our travel highlights, but decided to make the best of the few hours we did have there. Vienna is one of the most charming, historic cities of Europe. With an extremely high living standard and streets that burst of history and music, it is hands down one of the best places to live and travel to. Here’s a couple of places we visited and adventures we had during our sweet time there.

1. Cafe Central

Viennese cuisine triumphs the world when it comes to pastry and baked goods. The best cakes, pastries, cookies and tarts will be found in Vienna, and don’t ever second guess that. While there are several other places in Vienna that promise orgasmic pastries, Cafe Central is an institution of it’s own and a must to visit. You will have to walk a significant amount to find it, as it is nestled in a maze of narrow, cobblestone streets. The architecture and the ambience is great and if your plan is to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee along with some authentic Viennese pastries, Cafe Central should be your first and foremost choice. All their selections are just to die for!

Having a Vienna moment.

Handcrafted goodness at Cafe Central.

2. Hofburg Palace

This place is like a step back in time. You will see people riding in buggies, with traditionally dressed women and men all around you. The place is just amazing for a breath of fresh air in the middle of a bustling city. We liked the environment so much, we actually visited it twice, but I am just going to share my daytime photo!

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Enjoying a beautiful breezy afternoon in historical magnificence!

3. Hotel Sacher

The Sacher torte is a Viennese legacy, the recipe kept secret for over a century! Nearly every bakery in the Austrian capital sells miniature or larger than life Sacher tortes but there is only one place in the city where you can taste the original – Hotel Sacher. This place too, is a little difficult to navigate to, but we made it there and stood 25 minutes in pouring rain and a not so friendly crowd to have a taste of Vienna’s best kept secret. The hotel, mind you is extremely pretentious, and the cake itself reminds me of sugar iced chocolate cakes back in Pakistan. If you think this piece of cake is the best thing you will eat in Vienna, you are in for a big surprise. The only reason to go to Hotel Sacher and have their iconic cake is purely to earn bragging rights, and you bet your ass we have earned them!

The Sacher torte with liquor coffee – a Viennese legacy!

4. St. Stephens Cathedral

I don’t know what to say about this place, except that it is absolutely gorgeous and we sat on the steps to hide away from the pouring rain outside. The interior is just beautiful and it is one of the most famous places to visit in Vienna. Even though I do not have a religion, cathedrals are iconic in most of Europe and carry a lot of historical significance, so you must visit! If you are strolling through the streets in central Vienna, you will notice this iconic landmark and the beautiful little eateries around it. It is just mesmerizing!

On a rainy day outside St. Stephens Cathedral, Vienna!

The beautiful, mesmerizing interior of St. Stephens Cathedral. The place is just gorgeous!

5. Mariahilfer Straße

This is Vienna’s biggest, most popular shopping district. There are rows upon rows of high end, luxury brands with stunning views of the cathedral and the Imperial palace. Most of the shops sell things out of reach of the regular Joe’s pocket. Mind you, Vienna has a very high standard of living. Nobody drives a Toyota there (thankfully!) and as a result, everything is very expensive, including the shopping (of course). However, even if you don’t intend on buying anything, a regular stroll through the shopping district will just warm up your day and give a peak in to the local culture there. Take a break and have a cup of coffee, or visit the huge Swarovski store and be bedazzled by the beautiful crystal inventions Vienna is so famous for!

Vienna’s biggest shopping district – Mariahilfer Straße at sunset!

6. Spanish Riding School

Yes, believe it or not there is a horse riding school smack in the middle of the city. After roaming around central Vienna and sampling amazing desserts from all the little bakeries, we decided it was time to sit down and let our gut process all the sugary goodness. We sat and gorged on some croissants and apricot cookies, while enjoying a view of the traditionally dressed horsemen riding their beautiful horses around the concrete circle. The day ended with us dancing in the beautiful drizzle – one of the most beautiful memories I have of this iconic city!

Dancing in the drizzle outside Spanish Riding School. Vienna, we love you!

Why Budapest

Now that I am finally done with my academic life, I couldn’t just wait to get back to my true love – blogging. Of course, I also can’t wait to share my Europe diary with ya’ll!

I went on a short and beautiful trip of central Europe during Spring Break. Forgive me for breaking this to ya’ll after SUCH a big delay, but hey in addition to trying to explore places I also happen to be a full time aerospace engineering student. Life can be rough when in school. The consoling thing is that soon (and I mean like a matter of months), I will be a rocket scientist! And then of course I will move on in my life and be something else, and something else. Life is all about challenging yourself :)! Now about Europe – today I am going to be sharing some wonderful things about Budapest – other than it being the capital of Hungary!

Hungary is known for it's paprika. Markets are full of bundles of dried, freshly harvested peppers that vendors will grind on the spot for you!

Hungary is known for it’s paprika. Markets are full of bundles of dried, freshly harvested peppers that vendors will grind on the spot for you!

1. The people are unpretentious. 

Let’s face it! When you think of Budapest, you don’t think of the Eiffel Tower, the dream vacation or even the kind of place you want to go to some day. Well, it turns out that this exact fact might just act in your favor. Europeans in general tend to be stuck up, racist and rude people – no offense to them, but I call it as I say it. Budapest is a charming, beautiful city – practically in the middle of nowhere. And what makes your travels easier? When the people make you feel welcomed. Hungarians live in a world of their own – they have their own language, their own little bubble, and they are very hospitable. They will smile at you, try and talk to you, and just be themselves. Sometimes, that’s all that matters.

Shoes on the Danube Promenade - sitting along the river in the cool breeze is what a lot of Hungarian youth do in Budapest.

Shoes on the Danube Promenade – sitting along the river in the cool breeze is what a lot of Hungarian youth do in Budapest.

Fisherman's Bastion is a beautiful architectural masterpiece on Castle hill, offering beautiful views of the city!

Fisherman’s Bastion is an architectural masterpiece on Castle hill, offering beautiful views of the city!

2. The food is awesome

All that paprika has to go somewhere! It turns out it is! Hungarian food is decadent, heavy and just loaded with goodies. Fried breads, stews, schnitzel and paprika sauces, sweets and sour cream – Oh the place is a dream come true for foodies. If you are visiting, head over to central market place. It is the melting pot for food. Fat chubby old women have stalls on the 2nd floor of the huge market, selling plates of home made paprika stew, fried breads and other Hungarian treats. Of course, don’t forget to grab a long tall glass of local beer or red wine while you are at it. 30 Forints (about 13 cents) gets you a large glass that you can drink to your hearts delight! It is really quite remarkable.

Hungarian Goulash with paprika served over small pasta made of potato starch.

Hungarian Goulash with paprika served over small pasta made of potato starch.

Hungarian Fried bread - known as langos are often topped with sour cream and local cheese. They make for a great meal with a huge glass of beer.

Hungarian Fried bread – known as langos are often topped with sour cream and local cheese. They make for a great meal with a huge glass of beer.

3. The architecture is beautiful

Yes, the architecture is beautiful. You must go hang out at the Parliament, and walk down the multiple bridges. Views along the Danube are beautiful, especially at night when the breeze is blowing. Go to the beautiful little markets, buys some fresh cut chicken or sausages, or a bag of freshly ground paprika. Oh and don’t forget the local Hungarian red wine! Fisherman’s Bastion is up Castle hill, offering a long row of trendy shops, coffee houses and little eateries. The steps down the castle offer an amazing view of the parliament, and of the city as a whole. The Bastion is so beautiful on it’s own, you can’t help but disappear in it’s charm.

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The Hungarian Parliament from Fisherman’s Bastion

A beautiful evening stroll somewhere along Castle Hill.

A beautiful evening stroll somewhere along Castle Hill.

Chain Bridge is an important landmark of Budapest. Walking down this bridge offers great views of the city. Several tram lines and buses run down the bridge. It is particularly beautiful at night!

Chain Bridge is an important landmark of Budapest. Walking down this bridge offers great views of the city. Several tram lines and buses run down the bridge. It is particularly beautiful at night!

4. It is FUCKING CHEAP

Let’s face it – the Hungarians haven’t converted to the Euro yet, which makes Budapest easier on the pocket. You can buy more in the city than you can, in say, Paris? The public transport is great, and goes most places you would want to explore. However, watch out for being short changed! Always take time to get familiar with the local currency. I caught myself being short changed twice there, once by a cab driver and the other time by a guy selling beer. I suppose this holds for all European cities, though!

What can I say… I just hope to go back again some day :)!

Silent Freak-Out

I always try and stay calm but there are some days when the background noise in my brain is just beyond the powers of my masking. It has been a long time since I developed a very “DO” attitude. You know, just not think about – DO it. There are days like today though, on which I sit down and feel like plucking my hair out in pure insanity because the volume of the things that need me is beyond comprehension. Every day I wonder if maybe, if I start doing homework the day it is assigned, I’ll probably do better in a class, or maybe if I leave my wallet at home everyday, I’ll begin to realize the importance of “saving”. Then I wonder when my bills are due. Why, I don’t want a delinquent account. Delinquent accounts are no good, they hurt your credit. Can’t hurt your credit, need to keep applying for loans the next two semesters. No loans means no fee payments, leads to no education, no end to the battle I picked. Maybe I should pay my bills in class, but what about lecture. I can’t take my ears off lecture. Yeah but what about the official stuff at the University Office, resolving my exam time conflicts – I need to take those letters to my instructors. But when? I get out at 5:30 pm – offices are closed. Well, let’s miss class, Can’t miss class. Chris Fugger keeps giving homework from class notes. Why does he do that, I don’t know – he just does. What about recitation quizzes. Can’t miss out on those. Tuesday Thursday are booked. Counselors are only free on Monday Wednesday and Friday. I called. I checked. What about Friday. You have an hour free from 2:30-3:30. No I gotta print my homework plots in that hour. My friends need me. Ditch the friends. Can’t do that. Won’t ditch my friends. They always have my back, can’t abandon them. What about your health. What’re you gonna eat tonight. Don’t know. I want to cook something. You have no time. Gonna take a nap after class today. Can’t, have online homework due at 10pm. Why don’t you finish homework early. Great, I’ll do that. But what about my meeting. They’re waiting. Should I ditch them? What about the Arabic vocabulary. I never memorize it. Then I emerge strong after exams. It seems like I don’t give a shit about that class. Need to stop stacking 80% in the quizzes. Gota do better Reema, Andrew has a 100 on all of his. He’s taking the A, don’t let the A go away. You need the A, you need all the A’s. You gotta have something to show. Those A’s look good. But where are those A’s. They’re disappearing. Why. Because you sleep those four hours in the day. You take a day off every two weeks – you went out with your friend(s). Stop doing it? No I can’t. I’m human. I can’t stop sleeping, eating, relaxing. What am I gonna do. I have 19 credits. I have five aero courses. I have a language class getting harder by the day. Is there anything else I can do. I don’t know. I’m trying to survive. I wanna do well. What does it mean to do well. Maybe you should stop being so fucking calm. Maybe you should freak the fuck out every instant you can. There, is that helping? IS THAT HELPING? freak out!!! No it’s not helping. I think I’m doing the best I can.

Yeah.

I am. 

A Very Windy Chicago Weekend

What can I say, going to Chicago is almost like a natural instinct now. My dear friend Munirah and I ventured out to the windy city for a vacation. Instead we were greeted by mounds of snow in a silent, white city. Nevertheless, we trolled bravely through the bad weather and managed a few photographs. More on their way!

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Winter So Far

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Experimenting with my Minolta lens.

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At an Italian restaurant in Detroit. I don’t like red wine, a couple of men at the bar kept buying my friend and I glasses of random alcohol.

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Christmas Cooking – No bake cheesecake (my own personal recipe)

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Christmas dinner hosted by my dear friend Mercy and I…

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People say my cheesecake is “to die for” ;)!

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Holiday lights outside a restaurant in Detroit. I visited the city a few weeks ago.

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Rosary on my friend’s car. Literally “Jesus take the wheel!” :)

 

 

A Wrap Up On Fall

The colors have vanished from the trees and it’s Thanksgiving break! My chicken’s brining in the fridge, the buttermilk is ready to do it’s job and the cheddar is all grated for the biscuits. I suppose it’s a good time to wrap up on some amazing colors of the season I so deeply adore.

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