Lantana, a common tropical flower that blooms year-around, is one of my favourite flowers. It is colorful and vibrant attracting many butterflies and hummingbirds while it thrives in neglect, full sun, and lots of heat. Growing up in India, I loved the heat, the humidity, being sun-drenched, and of course, a chill nimbu pani (lemonade) to accompany me. After almost forgetting about the existence of clusters of ice crystals that fall from the sky called “snow”, I arrived here in Buffalo, western New York, USA. I had come for my undergraduate followed by graduate studies, to a supposedly a winter wonderland with a lot of snowstorms and blizzards. Little did I know that I was falling in love with Buffalo season by season, and year after another.
Although my love for Buffalo is great, I am not denying that the lake effect snow can take you up by a surprise. You might get up in the morning to Elsa knocking on the door to shovel well over 100 centimeters (>3 ft.) of snow. Or you might find yourself fighting against the winter chill winds, or your car battling potholes on the road that form due to the natural freezing/thawing process of the winter season.
A friend once told me that Buffalo had two season, one – a winter season, and latter, a construction season. I laughed as it was a funny comment, but after having lived in Buffalo for over 6 years, I could not disagree more. From my experience, I think Buffalo has many seasons: a food truck season, hiking season, gardening season, Bills (football team) season, carrying-around portable-folding-chair season, barbeque season, snuggie season, and not to mention, all-year-around Buffalo Wings season. Buffalo is a wonderful place to be in if you know how to embrace what it brings despite its long winter months.
Here are some of the reasons why I have come to love Buffalo.
- Kind, humorous, loving and loyal people–During Halloween, I saw that one of my neighbours had put up a skeleton decoration with a note that quotes, “Waiting for the Bills to win the game”. You can’t get more humorous and loyal than that. People in Buffalo are tough with snow but soft, gentle, and welcoming towards one another. Not only is Buffalo a proud refugee resettlement city, but also houses many colleges that attract international students from all around the world making it a diverse, youthful, and attractive place to be living in.
- Punctual people – Everyone’s on time despite the snow storm – Incredible!
- Everything within driving distance – You can get to just about anywhere in under 30 minutes by drive to anything and everything ranging from parks, lake beaches, shopping malls, various entertainment, downtown, airport, museums, city hall, zoo, skater rink, football stadium, including Niagara Falls, one of the breathtaking geological wonder of the world.
- Summer –There’s a saying “live like there’s no tomorrow”. Well, perhaps because of our long, brutal winter, people here in Buffalo know how to enjoy each summer to the fullest, truly enjoying summer like there is none tomorrow. Summer days can be filled with various cultural and food festivals, local ice-cream and milkshake stores that embrace you, and waterfront Canalside where you can enjoy a free concert or a yoga class.
- Chicken wing – Here in Buffalo, we don’t call it a “Buffalo wing”, we called it “the Wings”. Yes, it’s true that the Buffalo wing was invented here in Buffalo. Feasting wings with some celery sticks, fries, and blue cheese with your good group of friends is why I scream “TGIF!”. Few places that I recommend are Anchor Bar (the birthplace of wings), Elmo’s Bar & Restaurant, Duff’s Famous Wings, and Bar-Bill Tavern. Also, if you happen to be a wing-lover, there is a National Buffalo Wing Festival held annually here in Buffalo!
- Beef-on-weck sandwich–Buffalo is also known for its popular beef-on-weck – a carved roast beef sandwich served on a unique, salty kimmelweck bread roll. Restaurants that I recommend are Charlie the Butcher’s Kitchen and Schwabls Restaurant.
- Wegmans Foods Market–Wegmans is not just any ordinary grocery store, it’s an “experience”. Buffalo has around 9 Wegmans stores around in which one of the sites include special departments like floral, cooking school, beer, complements gift shop, kosher deli, and patisserie. We love our Wegmans, and my favorite is definitely the mixed fruit tart.
- Beautiful waterfalls around Buffalo –Besides the three great waterfalls namely Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls, collectively called the well-known Niagara Falls of the USA, there are also other scenic falls worth checking out in and around Buffalo. Some of them are Glen Falls, Whirlpool State Park, Zoar Valley waterfalls, Emery Park Falls, Akron Falls Park, Middle Falls of Letchworth State Park, Rainbow Falls of Watkins Glen State Park, and Falls at Whirlpool State Park.
- More outdoor recreations – Silo City, Buffalo Riverworks, Botanical Garden, Buffalo pedal tours, Tifft Nature Preserve, Bird Island Pier, Stiglmeier Park, Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve, Delaware Park, Japanese Garden, Woodlawn Beech… List can go on.
- Close proximity to Canada–You wanna get away to another country for few hours? Come to Buffalo. You wanna get away to a big city like Toronto for a day or two? Come to Buffalo.
- Honorable mentions –I am not much of a drinker but the Hamburg Brewing Company is worth visiting for a nice cold beer with friends in the mid-Fall. There are also various wineries to enjoy wine tasting in Buffalo.
Don’t get me wrong. I still love the sun. Lantanas are planted in spring once the threat of cold weather and frost have ceased, so it might be safe for me to say that I may never be able to witness all-year-around Lantana here in Buffalo. I guess that is something that I ought to bear, but without much regret.
To sum up, I must confess that I am able to handle and embrace the cold temperature of Buffalo winter season, not because the cold never bothered me anyway but because this wonderful city and its people have so much to offer that I am no longer bothered by the cold.
The writer of this guest blog is Misol Kwon. I met Misol at Kodaikanal International School when I changed schools after 10th grade. A school with over thousands of students from everywhere, it was intimidating just to think about how I would fit in. Luckily for me there were a few smiling faces and kind hearts around that just made it easier and needless to say formed friendships that have lasted for 15 years now! Misol Kwon is a morning lark who loves to travel, explore new places, and play sports. Born in South Korea, she moved to Bombay during her elementary school years due to her father’s occupation as a metallurgical engineer. She attended Delhi Public School and Kodai International was her home for 10 years. She then went on to pursue her under graduate studies in nursing from University of Buffalo. As a licensed Registered Nurse from New York and South Korea, she worked caring for patients for some time after which she decided to become a nurse researcher. She is currently a PhD candidate at University of Buffalo School of Nursing where her research focuses on behavioral sleep among adolescents and also teaches a sleep research course for undergrad students. Yep, she is the lady with the beauty and the brains!
She has travelled to Bhutan, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong-Kong, India, Mexico, Netherlands, South Korea, Turkey, USA and enjoys swimming, working out, exploring parks, learning new things and is also an ant-watching enthusiast!
- Always have a phone charger or an extra battery to carry along
- Read little bit about the history and culture of the place before you visit
- Try and enjoy the local dishes