This weekend my husband and I made a getaway we consider just right for seniors. It was away, in another country in fact, but not too far away.
Our children, adults now, smiled indulgently, marvelling, no doubt at how older people can actually enjoy visiting a quiet out-of-the-way city, not that far from home. Little did they know-
We set out Saturday morning from our home near Niagara Falls, Canada, for a weekend in the city of Batavia, New York, about an hour’s drive from Buffalo.
The excursion didn’t start off well. Ten o’clock on a beautiful Saturday morning in April found long lines of travellers lined up at the U.S. Custom’s inspection booths on the Peace Bridge. Since the American and Canadian dollars have been at par or close to it, the cross-border shoppers have lunged into high gear. At every opportunity, they invade American border cities like swarms of hungry locusts, anxious to purchase items available in wider selections and at cheaper prices than at home.
On this day, the border guards seemed to being taking extra care. They interviewed the occupants of each vehicle for about five minutes, and carefully scanned birth certificates and one piece of picture identification for each. Perhaps because Pope Benedict was in the country, they were being extra careful. They seemed to be doing a thorough inspection. I certainly wouldn’t want to confront them if I were a terrorist on the prowl!
Because of the line-ups, it took us about forty-five minutes to pass customs. Another hour’s scenic drive south on the New York State Thruway brought us to our destination: the city of Batavia, home to about 30,000 people. It is a delightful municipality, small enough to be friendly and welcoming, yet large enough to contain all the stores, restaurants and entertainment that one could wish for.
When we found a “Tim Horton’s” coffee shop, we felt even more at home. We lunched on a bowl of steaming chili, a whole wheat bun, a doughnut and coffee. The food tasted just the same as at Tim’s in Canada- delicious. With the trip behind us, and full stomachs, we began to look around for the Ramada Inn where we had booked a room for two nights.
The hotel was comfortable. I especially appreciated the big, soft bed pillows, the comfortable mattress and the in-room coffee maker. The elevator was old, tiny and a little scary, but at only $50 a night, who felt like complaining?
My hubby kept humming the theme from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “Charade”. Apparently Audrey Hepburn rode a similar elevator in that production. After learning that, the creaking conveyance seemed almost elegant. The power of suggestion can be a potent force.
After a rest to revive our ageing bones, we made the trip down the road to Batavia Downs. The racing season hasn’t yet begun, but there is a small, charming casino, where they actually let you win at times. Most of the machines are geared for bets of only a penny or two, so you can play for hours without doing much damage to your finances . Actually, when we finished the evening about 1:00 A.M., we were ahead a thousand dollars!
Sunday morning, we were up and mobile by 10:00. We drove to Denny’s for their famous “Grand Slam” breakfast: two eggs, two strips of bacon, two sausages and two pieces of toast, cooked to perfection for a reasonable price. We relaxed over the local paper and enjoyed two cups of steaming, flavorful coffee. No one tried to hurry us, and that was very much appreciated.
It was nearing noon when we proceeded to Wal-Mart, where we made a few purchases. If you’re out of Canada for forty-eight hours, you can bring two hundred dollars worth of merchandise home duty-free. Since everything in the stores in Batavia was so reasonably priced, we didn’t even approach our limit.
Then, anxious for another memorable winning streak, we returned to the casino. We gambled and enjoyed ourselves tremendously, as afternoon stretched relentlessly into evening. Time really does fly when you’re having fun.
We had planned to go to Appleby’s for dinner, but one or the other would be playing a lucky machine and we were never ready to leave at the same time. Consequently, we grabbed a hamburger at the snack bar during the evening and ended up staying out too late like a couple of incorrigible teenagers. Appleby’s will just have to wait until our next visit.
And, there will be another visit soon. We lost most of our big winnings, but we did return home with three hundred dollars more than what we started with.
Early Monday morning we set out for home, returning to reality and the normal day-to-day life of retired seniors. But every now and then, I catch a twinkle my hubby’s eye and he murmurs “Batavia!”. I send him an understanding nod and grin, whereupon he totters off to the den to check the balance in the bank account. Ah yes, I have no doubts that there will indeed be another visit soon. The youngsters don’t know what they’re missing.