Wikipedia says, "Syracuse is the largest U.S. city with the name Syracuse." Thank you, Wikipedia. As much as such a name promises metropolitan liveliness, there are actually parts of Syracuse that are not quite so party hard, and that was where my father picked our hotel. on the first night we arrived in Syracuse, we young ones wanted to go for a drink and enjoy some cheap American beer. Sadly, the only thing around our hotel (located in the airport district) were other hotels, which for some reason had no bars, despite what you might expect from Douglas Coupland novels about the sort of people who hang around airports. there appeared to be a happenin' wedding happenin' at the Ruby Tuesdays Restaurant full of the sort of people who go to weddings at Ruby Tuesdays, and we thought about wedding crashing at the last minute, but they must have foreseen our plans and the wedding party shut down as we approached. we were forced to seek consolation at the convenience store in the Marriott Courtyard, which was selling Canadian beer at mini-bar prices. we took our pricey homeland brew back to our hotel room and watched a reality TV show about prison inmates. alas. my kingdom for a drink.
No matter. we all knew the important purpose of our trip, and that was shopping at the Waterloo Premium Outlets. The next morning was hot and humid, weather i would be tempted to call "too sunny", but we set off for the shops, determined to acquire new booty at labour day weekend prices.
a couple hundred dollars later, we had sweated right through our clothes from our shopping efforts, so we went back to the hotel to change right into the new outfits we had bought (handy!). then we went out for dinner in downtown Syracuse. my friends had suggested various places. i had my eye set on Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, mainly because it had the words "dinosaur" and "barbecue", but also because i saw moms feeding their babies what looked like bottles of beer - turned out it was just root beer. but in the end we decided to check out a pasta place called Pastabilities, located in the heart of the historic Armoury Square. This was a lovely unpretentious restaurant with a very creative pasta menu. the men ordered the special Oktoberfest brew of Sam Adams beer, and I got myself what was essentially a meeting of mexico and italy: a lasgna made of black beans, jalapeno peppers, corn, sour cream...
we took a stroll around downtown. Despite it being a Saturday evening, Syracuse was curiously deserted - presumably all the cool kids were out at the Fair. at Clinton Square, we only saw a handful of small children running past the "No Swimming" sign to cool off and wade in the big fountain on the hot muggy day. we were a little disappointed that downtown was not very lively yet, although we did get some entertainment when the children started throwing rocks at cars in traffic, prompting a bunch of cop cars to show up in a kindergarten version of a "COPS" show takedown. Syracuse cops have to keep busy, even if there's no one around.
still in search for some Syracuse action, we tried out the Carousel Center, which, surprisingly or unsurprisingly, turned out to be a lot busier. What is there to do at the Carousel Center, you may ask? Well, there's obviously the carousel.
despite the fact that there are all sorts of magical things at the Carousel Centre, like a carousel, it seemed to have a pretty strict anti-youth policy. after 4PM, minors are not allowed to hang out at the mall unless accompanied by an adult. but if you don't want kids to hang around, why would you keep a magical merry-go-round in your mall?
the Carousel Centre was clearly was all the action was; that's where we learned that the city was on fire. sometimes literally. students hanging out at the mall were casually discussing how the Life Sciences building was burning down right now, according to the latest text messsage, and what a bummer that's gonna be when class starts in a few days.
there was also a security truck on fire outside.
there was also an arcade at the mall, which seems like another terrible tactic for keeping troublemaking teens from loitering at the mall. my sister and her boyfriend immediately re-enacted a Scott Pilgrim scene, blowing everyone's minds at Dance Dance Revolution
and then the next day we went to the Great New York State Fair, which was basically confirmation that it's a zoo everywhere in Syracuse except downtown.
the ferris wheel was absolutely terrifying. i'm not very good at heights, especially when moving slowly. i start instinctively naming all the personal injury law firms that i know.
there were parts of the fair that i really enjoyed. we checked out all the livestock exhibitions. in the dairy barn, they were showing a video presentation of a cow giving birth, and all the children watching were completely fascinated. Rob also had a bonding moment with a goat.
we enjoyed watching part of the cow show. Milk, beef, and veal all come from cows. Know what else comes from cows? BUTTER SCULPTURES.
what was really the highlight for me, however, was the food vendors at the fair. it was pure American culinary culture. homefoods that you'd think would be familiar and fried enough already, but then the vendors turned it up one more level to make it all that much more fatteningly awesome. like jack daniels pulled pork. chicken finger subs. bacon wrapped deep fried mars bars. and whatever hell-spawned concoction this thing is:
this may explain why i am considered to be a size zero in Americaland. I am constantly astonished at the food portions, and even the size of the soft drink containers. needless to say, this wasn't one of those trips where i lost weight. the two dollar Pabst beers didn't help either.