02.10.22 — Travel
After a few days in New York City, it was then time for me to head off to the last of the cities on my monthlong tour of Canada and the US: Buffalo! It’s not a conventional stop for people wandering around the States, but I was off to see two very special people: Kevin and James! I’ve known Kevin for a long time now and I met James when he came over to England back in the day and then again when he stopped over in Spain for a few days, but now it was time for me to see the two of them in their own place.
The flight over from New York was a quick one, and I was soon being picked up from the airport by Kevin. We nattered all the way back to their flat, where James had prepared a homemade meal of chicken, mac and cheese, greens, and corn bread. It was all absolutely delicious!
After eating, I unpacked and installed myself in their spare room before we headed into the centre of Buffalo and to a bar for some drinks. Me and Kevin got a bit tipsy off vodka cocktails and had a good sing and a bit of a boogie. We then headed back home, where me and Kevin indulged in our usual activity of chatting away into the early hours.
The next day we woke up somewhat groggy after just two cocktails, but we were soon on our feet and out the door to begin some explorations. We took the car down to the city centre, where we first headed into the impressively tall and ornamental city hall. The interior was then a complete surprise, with its gorgeous Art Deco architecture and artwork.
We then grabbed a lift and headed upstairs for the next surprise in the form of panoramic views over the city and Lake Erie. I took some photos and James pointed out some of the most important spots from our vantage point up in the clouds.
Leaving the city hall behind, we headed up the road and to hotel to grab some coffee. James and I had a nosey around some of the rooms of the hotel whilst Kevin bought drinks, and we reconvened at the car to head over to another part of the city.
We stopped along the way at a mural that James wanted to show me, where I took a photo to prove that I’d visited Buffalo, New York. If that’s confusing to you, it’s because New York City is in New York State, in which Buffalo is also situated. I don’t know about you, but I was never taught US geography, so I’ve learned all of this in just the past few years!
From there, we headed down to the docks, where we saw some of the important sights including a bunch of decommissioned military boats and submarines. I also had my photo taken with Shark Girl, a sculpture and local landmark, but I shan’t include the photo here as I look pretty terrible!
The sky began to darken as some dodgy looking grey clouds walked in, so we headed back to the safety of the car as we waited for the storm to break. We headed over to a supermarket I wanted to visit, stopping at Tim Horton’s (a Canadian coffee chain) for a bagel along the way as I was still living my bagel obsession after those I tried in New York.
The supermarket in question was Trader Joe’s, where I bought lots of supplies for my visit. We then headed over to Kevin and James’ preferred supermarket, which was nice and had some fabulous cookies, but was a bit too big and overwhelming for me as tends to be the case with supermarkets in the US. I did grab some root beer which I’d never had before, upon which I discovered that it tastes like sarsaparilla – I loved it!
On the way home, we stopped at an outlet, where I wanted to buy some new shoes but wound up grabbing some new jeans in an Old Navy. I was sure to take a photo of myself with the Old Navy bag and send it to Megan and friends back in Vermont – apparently they love the place!
We then stopped to grab some dinner: pizza and chicken wings. Buffalo is famous for both of these indulgent foods, so I was keen on trying them. The pizza was lovely but the stars of the show were definitely the wings. They were lightly spicy with a blue cheese sauce and were absolutely delicious!
The next day, Kevin and I headed over the Canadian border and into Toronto to pass the day, and I want to leave that for a separate blog post. You can read that here!
Back in Buffalo the next day, it was just me and James for the morning as Kevin had to work until the afternoon. The two of us hopped in the car and James showed me around some of Buffalo’s hidden architectural gems and other neighbourhoods of the city. It was a very interesting trip and it was great to have a a tour guide who knows the kinds of things I appreciate!
We then headed to the North Campus of the State University of New York at Buffalo (quite the mouthful) in order to pick Kevin up from work. Before we left the campus, we had a quick snoop around, as I was keen to check out an American university after having seen the high school in Burlington. It was very interesting but we were growing tired and hungry, so the sight of the aggressive campus geese was as good a sign as any to head off.
Lunch was at a spot called Rachael’s, where I grabbed a light lunch of chicken salad after my body was crying out for some greens after a good few days of absolutely indulgence in Buffalo, Toronto, and New York City. It was also a good idea to eat something healthy before we arrived at our next stop: we were off to the county fair!
After witnessing what for me was the first attraction of the fair, an argument in the car park between a parking attendant and a very cross man, we bought our tickets and headed inside. We saw some cows and other animals, but I think the main draw for me was just looking at the people in the fair. It’s times like this when I begin to understand anthropology – the study of people and human behaviour.
James then wanted to show me the bizarre section where prizes had been awarded for all sorts of bizarre things, from the packing and presentation of pickles to the best patriotic photography. Once back outside, I grabbed a fresh lemonade and we wandered into the part of the fair with the main event: the rides!
I failed to convince Kevin and James to hop on the Wild Mouse or the Dodgems with me, so I’d to settle for a ride on the Ferris Wheel. This turned out to be a pleasant surprise, as it provided some great views over the sprawling fair from up in the air.
I then spent the remaining tickets on a spinning monstrosity called a Zero Gravity which I’d always wanted to try since seeing them online. These menacing things take the form of a circle in which you stand facing the centre with your back to the wall, which I did diligently with just four other small children for company – not a good sign.
The rickety metal ride then began to spin at increasingly higher speeds, pushing me against the wall with the g-forces generated. Then came the vertigo-inducing part of the experience, as the whole thing began to tilt until we were basically being spun upside down as if we were in a washing machine. All of this whilst being held in place by nothing but the centrifugal force generated by the spinning!
The sensation of having my organs moved around for what felt like an eternity wasn’t the most pleasant one, but I got off with a big smile on my face and sat down for a moment while I caught my breath and balance. From there, we headed off to look for “I Got It”, James’ favourite fairground game.
“I Got It” was loads of fun! We’d to throw small rubber balls from a bench into a box with a 5 × 5 grid, where they’d settle in one of the 25 squares. The objective was basically the same as in bingo, we’d to shout “I got it!” if we managed to land a horizontal or diagonal line of five balls.
I can’t stress how addictive this game was, we sat playing until we’d all spent all the physical dollars that we had on us! We didn’t win anything more than one free game at one point, but it was well worth the splurge as it was loads of fun – and hey, I was going to have to spend my dollars at some point before leaving!
Money spent, we wound up in a hall which was a bit creepy and full of pushy vendors, but at least it had some AC to cool us off. On the way out we ran into a parade of horses on our way to grab a county fair staple: fried Oreos. These decadent snacks take the form of Oreos which have been fried in a doughnut-like batter. I wasn’t the biggest fan, and opted to grab myself some sweet and salty kettle popcorn instead – it was fresh and delicious!
We then snooped around some RVs, where I was rather appalled at the excess of people having what is basically a second home sat empty and parked on their driveways. I did, however, enjoy the drink I grabbed afterwards, which was like a root beer but even stronger – I’m mad at myself because I’ve completely forgotten what it was called!
It was then getting rather late and rather warm, so we headed back to the car and back home. James then had to head off to work, so Kevin and I pottered down to the local metro station to head into the city together to spend my last evening in the Americas.
The metro was quite dodgy looking but I wasn’t too shocked at this point: the US is really terrible at public transport. The train was clean and punctual, though, so I can’t complain. It left us near the docks that we’d visited a few days before, from where we pottered down to a bierhaus for some German food and beer!
We grabbed what I would describe as a maß after my experiences at the local beer festivals in Herzogenaurach, which are basically big steins of beer. Although we accompanied these with a selection of bratwurst sausages, the beer soon had us tipsily chatting with the waitress and I began to sing along to some of the German songs that I knew thanks to Luisa and my two visits to her hometown in Germany!
James eventually came and picked the me and Kevin up, and not before time as we were quite tipsily away. James was exhausted after work so headed home, dropping me and Kevin off at the bar we’d all gone to together on my first night in Buffalo. We grabbed some gin and tonics there, where things got a little out of hand and we wound up ending the night at Jim’s Stakeout for fried chicken sandwiches!
After grabbing a taxi home, I then awoke the next day with an absolute monster of a hangover and the panic that I had to somehow pack my suitcase and be out of the door by midday in order to catch my flight back to Europe. I somehow managed to power through all of this, but I began to seriously wilt as we headed to the airport in the car.
There was a pretty big queue of cars at Canadian immigration, where the heat began to beat down on us and I began to regret ever drinking a sip of alcohol as we waited in line to have our passports checked. I did survive, though, and had to say my goodbyes to Kevin and James at Toronto airport as a torrential rainstorm began to lash down.
From there I’d then to endure the nightmare of a flight back to Madrid, which included a four-hour layover in Lisbon. I was so groggy and my stomach was awful on the entire flight back over the Atlantic, which wasn’t helped by the baby crying in the row in front of me and the fact that I was sandwiched in between two other people with very little legroom. To add insult to injury, I’d then to make a manual flight transfer in Lisbon airport, involving passing through immigration, picking up my suitcase, and then checking it back in. Nightmare!
I can’t let this rather unpleasant trip back to my home continent of Europe mar the amazing memories I made in Buffalo with Kevin and James. From exploring Buffalo to highlights such as the country fair and all of the delicious food that we ate, I can’t thank Kevin and James enough for taking me in and showing me their lovely city. It was a great way to end my trip across the Americas, but more than anything it was just lovely to be reunited with the two of them so we could spend plenty of time together.
Now back in Madrid, I nearly fell asleep in the taxi back home, where I arrived to discover that the two plants I’d left in the flat with an automatic watering system had survived their month alone. I jumped straight in bed for a nap, after which I unpacked and settled down for a chilled evening of watching Legally Blonde: The Musical in bed.
What a trip!