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TRAVEL JOURNAL INDEX > Surprise, Surprise!

Buffalo, NY   06/08/06 (Day 44)
Surprise, Surprise!

Truth be told, Buffalo has never been at the top of our list of cities to visit before we die, but the place turns out to be full of (pleasant) surprises. The first is the Albright-Knox Art Gallery which features contemporary art of all types. Tip: it’s free between 4 and 5 pm (normally $10 per person) and an hour is plenty of time to see and absorb this compact but enjoyable collection. Also, be sure to stop and engage the security guard working in the wing with the giant table and chairs in conversation. We did and he was a font of knowledge about “his” art (i.e., the pieces he watches over all day). His insights about materials used, techniques employed and artistic inspirations added a lot to our enjoyment of the sculptures and paintings around him.

That night we check into The Mansion on Delaware Avenue which is, indeed, a mansion and is, indeed, on Delaware Avenue. The hotel was built as a residence in the 1800s and has had a storied and somewhat checkered past. One theory has it that the building operated as a brothel for a while, complete with a discrete tunnel connecting it to one of Buffalo’s most distinguished men’s clubs (read Karen's full review of The Mansion on Delaware Avenue for iTraveliShop.com).

In 2001, after millions in renovations, the place opened as a 28 room luxury hotel. After our time at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, we particularly enjoy the hotel’s collection of modern art which is just one example of how the place manages to marry its 200 year-old old heritage with modern day hip.

Around dinnertime we call on one of the hotel’s butlers (every staff member is trained to act as a butler/concierge) to see where we should go for the city’s signature Buffalo chicken wings. Of course the Anchor Bar is a must as they claim to have invented the things. But we want to conduct a head-to-head taste test. So, on the advice or our butler, we head to Gabriel’s Gate after sucking sauce off our fingers at Anchor Bar. Our totally unscientific verdict? Gabriel’s certainly has more space and a more restaurant-like atmosphere complete with a very relaxing backyard while Anchor Bar is, well, a bar with a restaurant area. But if it’s the food that matters most to you, head to Anchor where the wings were bigger, meatier, juicier and more tender than what we were served at Gabriel’s. Sometimes the original really is still the best.

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