This past winter was harsh. When I say harsh, I mean golfball-sized hail in April. It was long and psychologically damaging. The summer is wonderful in Buffalo; locals would say it's the best time of year. But it's too short. In early August, I celebrated my three year anniversary with my company, and was gifted more vacation days. I decided to take five of them right away so I could enjoy Buffalo at its finest. I titled it my #buffalostaycation2014. Let's go!
The Hotel Lafayette is one of my absolute favorite buildings in Buffalo. Designed in the French renaissance style, the seven story building was designed by the first professional American female architect, Louise Blanchard Bethune. It has great terra cotta detail, beautiful woodwork, and murals. The hotel underwent $35 million renovation, completed in 2012, and the result is just spectacular. It's a lovely boutique hotel and to top it off, they have several restaurants and bars. I stopped at Butterwood Sweet & Savory with my friend Meghan to enjoy happy hour cocktails and wine. The bar is a former speakeasy, located in the basement of the hotel and I enjoyed soaking up the vibes of prohibition.
I was fortunate to be able to attend Sugar City's grand re-opening at their new location on Niagara Street. They are an art and venue space curated by fantastic local artists. Not only that, but Cages were playing and I have always wanted to see them. They're an experimental two-some. Incredibly haunting and beautiful. Much of their music is improvised and you can feel the unfiltered emotion from this pair. It's almost part band and part art installation.
I have wanted to visit Letchworth State Park for years. It's about an hour from Buffalo, so my friend Derek and I drove down on my first full day off. There are three large waterfalls, a massive gorge, and countless other small falls. We hiked a few of the trails that offered unique perspectives and even ran into a fox. Anyone who knows me can contest that I feel a deep affinity for animals and spotting a fox so close to us was an absolute joy. I almost cried after he escaped the trail, to be so close to a wild animal! It was a magical and beautiful day.
Boyhood was playing at the Dipson Amhert Theater, and it was so cool to see a movie that was filmed over the course of eleven years, as the main character grew from a child into a young adult. Directed by Richard Linklater, the bonds between the characters seemed almost more authentic considering these characters had been in each others' lives for a real period of time, an actual decade. The performances were fantastic and I liked the loose narrative and the seamless way that the characters aged. There was no "age 10" "age 11" et cetera. It focused on defining moments that families experience, and was convincing and real.
The North Park Theatre on Buffalo's Hertel Avenue had been closed for restoration for eight months, starting in 2013 and recently opened back up to the public. I had seen other films there. They generally play more independent or cult films. The single screen film house was opened in 1920 and I was so happy to see attention taken to the Art Nouveau ceiling mural dome. The theatre boasts a Flexflume marquis and neoclassical foyer and auditorium. It's simply stunning.
North Park was playing my favorite Miyazaki film, My Neighbor Totoro. It was so lovely to see both old and young people all together in this packed playhouse to view such a whimsical film. I do wish that they had played the subtitled version, and not the dubbed one, but I can understand how they would want to for the children in attendance. For those who do not know, Totoro is a Japanese animation film starring two young girls whose mother is ill, in the hospital. They move into a new house with their father and discover magical creatures that reside in the countryside.
Bennett Beach is one of my favorite beaches in the Buffalo area. About thirty minutes from downtown Buffalo, the drive to Bennett Beach is great because you pass by these beautiful mansions and estates along the way. Frank Lloyd Wright designed Graycliff, owned by Darwin Martin, is along the way, in fact. Bennett Beach has tall sand dunes and perfect light grained sand. The water is warm in the August sun and the rounded pebbles soon give way to a sandy soil sculpted to the rhythm of the waves.
Both days I went to Bennett beach were decidedly during the week. I wanted a quiet and peaceful environment that weekends do not always afford, with families, children, and large groups of beach-goers. Both trips were really successful and very meditative. I practiced being in the moment and really enjoying the sun, the waves, and the fortune I have had in my life to be able to have this time to relax.
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