Category Archives: Buffalo

USA Travel Diary 28/3/18 (feat. Canada)

Ok, I’m getting lazier with these. But I’m here now, everything is alright.

Day 11
When I last checked in, I had just got to Buffalo, so it made sense that my first stop would be the one thing in the Buffalo area: Niagara Falls.
The Canadian side is supposed to be much nicer, but I didn’t want to add an extra border crossing to my week, no point complicating things. The American side was still quite spectacular, though not as loud as I expected.

The rest of the night is a blur, because the only thing to do in Buffalo at this time of the year is drink. And, since it was actually St Patrick’s Day, it was certainly the day for it.

Day 12
For some reason, the St Patrick’s Day Parade is held the day after St Patrick’s Day, so today was a continuation of the previous night’s drinking, though somewhat more cautious than the night before. Not much to report travel-wise, Buffalo might be full of great people, but it’s not much for the sights.

Day 13
Time for another travel day, crossing over into the Great White North, Canada. Of course, I didn’t see a bit of snow the whole time I was there, which was quite a nice change from New York state (and London the week before).
I spent the rest of the afternoon recovering from Buffalo.

Lake Ontario
You can see why they call them the Great Lakes.

Day 14
Another day, another bucket list item (I will get around to updating the list, maybe today even?). This time it was the one-time tallest building in the world, the CN Tower.
The view from the main viewing area (in that middle bubble part) is pretty spectacular, especially over Lake Ontario. The elevator windows certainly make the trip up to that section much more exciting than other tall towers.
However, the topmost viewing area is a little… Underwhelming. The windows are small, it’s cramped and covered in graffiti.
In hindsight, I probably could have done a diary that afternoon, since I spent it chilling out at the hostel, which was a pretty cool little place called The Only Backpacker’s Hostel.

Day 15
You know what I love? Dinosaurs. Because I’ll never stop being a five year old. So a trip to the Royal Ontario Museum was in order. It’s more of a catch-all museum than the places I had visited in New York, or London, so it had quite a collection of artifacts from multiple cultures, in addition to a nice collection of dinosaur bones.

Day 16
Fun fact, it took longer for me to pass US Customs at the Canadian border than it did coming in at JFK.

Massive travel day to Chicago, via Detroit, so I basically got to the hostel and crashed.

Day 17
Both the CN Tower and the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower claim to be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The CN Tower is taller, but a lot of sources don’t count the spire. Even so, One World Trade Center is taller than the Willis Tower.
I think this is my last tall building for a while, because I don’t much feel like paying for a view. The view of Chicago is nice enough, and the weather was clearer, so looking out over Lake Michigan was nicer than looking out over Lake Ontario. Apparently on a very clear day, you can see into four states. Unfortunately, they don’t exactly mark the borders on the ground, so I can’t confirm or deny.

I continued channeling my inner Cameron from Ferris Bueller and made my way over to the Art Institute of Chicago to look at some paintings. Sidenote: The CityPass is 100% worth it if you have a few days. I actually used everything in it this time.

I also managed to go to the former Public Library, which is now a Cultural center, though the beautiful entrance hall and upper halls are fully intact and quite stunning.

Sue the T-Rex
This was very nearly the feature image.

Day 18
Today I, uh, went to see some dinosaurs. But not just any dinosaurs. A dinosaur celebrity. The one. The only. The largest, most complete and best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex. The gender-neutral pronoun-using Twitter personality, Sue the T-Rex.
The museum are actually in the process of moving them into a new room, to make way for a massive Titanosaur in their main hall, but they know Sue is the main draw, so you can see the progress being made in reconstructing their skeleton.
There’s a heap of other cool stuff at the Field Museum, including the famous man-eating Tsavo Lions. But I just really like dinosaurs y’all.

Day 19
Since it was on my CityPass, I headed over to the Chicago Science and Industry museum, which is definitely aimed at kids. But I’m a child at heart, so it was a pretty cool day. I didn’t learn much, but they also had a three-storey smoke vortex. And some trains. And a bunch of cool anatomy samples.

Day 20
Folks, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of checking your travel dates. Otherwise you do things like end up in heavily ‘Irish’ cities on St Patrick’s Day when you hate crowds. Or go to Aquariums on the first day of Spring Break.

I have a lot of friends who are teachers, and I don’t know how they deal with kids all day long. Same goes for parents. Honestly, the Shedd Aquarium is pretty cool as far as aquariums go, but it’s a nightmare when it’s packed with kids. I got to see a beluga whale, so it was a pretty cool day.

I also had an afternoon to kill, so I went to the movies. Y’all should go see A Wrinkle In Time if it’s still out.

And thus began the longest travel day I’ve had since that very first flight out of Australia.

Day 21
Trains are my favourite way to travel. But I’m cheap, and bought a seat instead of a sleeper ticket. And the water was high in the Mississippi, so a spillway was opened, which means the City of New Orleans service from Chicago to New Orleans was a bus service from Jackson, Mississippi. Which landed me in New Orleans two hours later than planned.
But I survived, met some nice folks at the hostel, and had a nice night drinking.

Old Absinthe House
Pictured: Absinthe and Bourbon. Which could be chapter titles in my memoir.

Day 22
Hey y’all, the French Quarter kind of smells like a toilet. It’s not so bad if you get a couple of blocks away from Bourbon Street. But it’s pretty bad.
I love the old buildings, but underneath that, Bourbon Street just looks like the main street in any town known for tourists and getting drunk. I did check out the Museum of Death and the Voodoo Museum, which were kind of cool. I even made a wish in the Wishing Stump.
Which brings us to now. I promise the next one will be sooner than this. Maybe in Vegas?