Ahh, Buffalo. I’ve heard so much about you… Fires, snow, dirt, dilapidated, boring.
Sure I have driven through Buffalo on my way to New York city, even stayed in Grand Island as a kid, but as an adult I have never had the opportunity to spend time there… Until this past long weekend, and I can tell you none of the above are true.
I found Buffalo to be relatively clean, the people friendly (not the drivers! They are angry, and aggressive and I think flipping the middle finger out is a requirement for learning to drive there), sure there was snow but the streets were salted / sanded and clean (pay attention City of Toronto!) and yes there were parts of the city which should be bulldozed because boarded up buildings are an eyesore and grass should be put down so people can play.
But all in all, we had a wonderful time there – my wife, myself and our 3 kids, ages 5, 3 and 3 months.
Here are some of the highlights;
- This was out first family driving trip with the 5 of us. We have a 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid and squeezing 3 kids across in the middle row was challenging since we have a car seat installed, and a bucket seat installed, with my oldest squeezing his booster seat into the middle. That part was the most frustrating!
- Stupidly we left our house at 3:30pm on a friday – so rush hour in TO, and ended up stopping in Winona at 5:30pm because the boys had to pee (RIGHT NOW!). We went into this tiny boutique after peeing in the stone parking lot beside the car, and bought a packet of pumpkin seeds while my wife fed the baby.
- At 6pm we stopped again for “dinner”. That meant Tim Horton’s Wendy’s and KFC.
- Crossed the border at had the border guard snicker at me when he asked me where we were going. “Buffalo”, I said. “Why?” he asked. “Sightseeing”, I replied. Then he snickered.
- 8pm we entered the Homewood Suites in Buffalo. Really, really nice! Staff were awesome friendly, there was coffee always on, and it was really clean and quiet. The breakfasts were a little on the say, greasy and unhealthy side, but there was variety for everyone.
- We dropped our goods and headed over to Wegman’s Grocery… Odd place… Lots of organic foods, way too much prepared food (means lots of sodium), very little produce!, 3 aisles of soda, 3 aisles of alcohol and you can buy a “ton of chocolate for $7.77”. Why?!?
- By 9pm the kids were on the bed in their sleeping bags (it’s what they wanted) – and remember their bedtime is 7-7:15pm at home. So by 9:05 they were fighting. Back to sleep at 9:45, fighting at 9:50. By 10pm, my wife was sleeping between them… Within seconds my 3 year old was out cold. We got the baby to sleep at 10:15.
- We watched the Olympic opening ceremonies and were asleep by 11pm.
- We woke up and headed to the Buffalo aquarium. It was fantastic! Spent a lot of time there and could have stayed longer.
- Had a hard time getting lunch for the boys… The Denny’s didn’t have enough staff and the manager was not there. Idiot… On a long weekend!
- Target, hotel, outlet mall, bath for all three and bed
- Woke up Sunday – Valentine’s Day. Went to the Galleria mall. Kids bought mummy chocolates. She loves dark chocolate with orange. She got way more than she could ever want. Realized you can but 10 Lindt chocolate bars for $12… Why?!?
- Found some high-end stores clearing out trendy baby clothes, like cool sweaters which were $65, selling for $12. Also in every store we entered, my 5-year-old would find money. He left with $26 cents after the afternoon, most found near the cash. LOL. Bought a Paderna bracelet for my honey for V-day at the Paderna store.
- Found that a Tim Horton’s Large double, double in the US is WAY bigger than the large double double here. The XL there is massive. Why?!?
- Monday – drove to this tiny little town, East Aurora, I believe to this kids museum and should have come there earlier. There was a lot for the kids to do there.
- On the way home we stupidly let the GPS take us to the bridge and it took us to the last bridge and the 2 hour wait. After 2 plus hours, we were 6 cars from the border when some asshole hit us from behind. He got out and said, “I didn’t do it”. He woke up all 3 kids and gave us quiet a scare. The car beside us rolled down their window to tell us that he did hit us (seriously folks, it was bumper to bumper for 2 miles. There was only one car that could have hit us and it was the guy beside us. I told the border guard hoping he would detain them.
- Crossed, pee’d, drove home.
- Arrived back home at 1am.
- Went to work the next day.
Can’t wait for a summer driving trip!