Welcome to Small Town America

Trip Start Jul 15, 2004
Trip End Apr 05, 2005

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Flag of United States  , New York
Monday, August 23, 2004

I always thought that New York was the home of Americas weird and kooky people, but I was wrong. Most people we met in New York were fairly normal. That is not the case anywhere else we have been, America appears to be populated by weirdos.

We left New York on Friday, a 7 hour train journey to Buffalo(home of the Buffalo Bills). The train was delayed by 11/2 hours, British trains are not that bad after all, so we did not arrive till just past eight in the evening. Friday night, eight o`clock, at time when bars are starting to fill up, music is pumping and town is starting to buzz. Everywhere, that is, except Buffalo. We got off the train to be greeted by the town of the dead. The station was just a concrete platform, in the middle of nowhere, and there was not a person to be seen. It was like walking on to the set of horror film. Any minute we expected an army of Zombies to come stumbling round the corner. I have never been anywhere as quiet as this before. After a 10 minute walk we found a tram stop, and got a free ride to our hostel(the tram is free in the centre of Buffalo).

The reason we came to Buffalo is that it is 25mins from Niagra Falls, which is where we went the next day. The view from the USA isn`t actually that good, so we walked to Canada where it was much better.

The American side is a bit like an old run down seaside town. The Canadian side is like a modern lively city. If you ever come, make sure you stay in Canada. Both side know how to squeeze every last penny out of us tourists. You can go for a boat ride under the falls, catch an elevator down to them, climb a viewing platform over them, take a balloon ride higher over them, or a helicopter even higher over them, all of which involves a "small" charge.

The hostel in Buffalo is very nice and well run. The manager there is one of those Americans who are just so nice. She really could not do enough to help. In fact it was impossible to walk past without her asking if you were ok and needed any help. She was super nice, which is the complete opposite of where we are now.

We have moved on to a place called Syracuse and are staying in a hostel run by voluntary workers. When we arrived we had to ring the doorbell as the door was locked. It was answered by a tired looking blond woman who said "can I help you" in a tone that said "what are you doing ringing my doorbell". We were stood there with our backpacks on outside the door of a hostel, what did she think we wanted?

After convincing her we had reservations, she grudgingly let us in. We had reserved a room over the phone the day before. She then proceeded to run through the rules of the hostel in fine military fashion. "No drinking, no smoking, you have to be up and out by 9.00am in the morning and if your not back by 10.00pm, your locked out. O.K."

We had arrived at an army camp, not a hostel.

Later that night, at 10.00pm we were watching the news in the tv room when the Sgt Major walked in and switched it off, saying we had to go to bed now as it was lights out!

Welcome to Small Town America.
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