Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Stormy Blast

If it was always this pretty, I might not complain (oops, I forgot, I promised not to complain).
Though the rain may fall and the wind be blowing,

and cold and chill is the wintry blast;

Though the cloudy sky is still cloudier growing,

and the dead leaves tell that the summer has passed;

My face I hold to the stormy heaven,

My heart is as calm as the summer sea,

Glad to receive what my God has given,

Whate'er it be.

When I feel the cold, I can say, "He sends it,"
And His winds blow blessing, I surely know;
For I've never a want but that He attends it;
And my heart beats warm,
though the winds may blow.
(Streams in the Desert: Mrs. Charles E, Cowan, November 19)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Glitz and Schmaltz

DOTH (daughter of the house) recently celebrated her 40th birthday. She didn't want a big deal made of it, so her friends were merciful. Instead of the traditional "over the hill" type gifts and gags they gave her a weekend for two in a beautiful hotel across the border on the outskirts of Buffalo. And guess what? She invited mom to be her guest! We had actually already planned to do some Christmas shopping in Buffalo so this worked out perfectly.

We'd not heard of Salvatore's Garden Place Hotel in Williamsville, but it came highly recommended, and at the U.S./Canadian border, when we gave Salvatore's as the reason we were crossing into the U.S., the customs officer told us he and his wife had spent their honeymoon there and absolutely loved it -- so we were in great anticipation of what was to come.

But nothing could have prepared us for this: There's much to grab one's attention before even entering the hotel. Some of the most unusual art, sculptures and statues in the courtyard.....
Including this one. Here is the sign giving the explanation:
I think I must have been missing something, as I couldn't really grasp the significance of the relationship between this and Salvatore's Hotel. Actually, none of it made much sense, yet it was interesting. But the outside of the hotel was nothing compared to the interior. Talk about glitz and schmaltz. This is a 'web' description of the hotel:
A very unique boutique type hotel- very rich in decor and outside grounds, a 20 ft chandelier in lobby, a 1000 gallon aquarium, and 140 jacuzzi understatement, indeed!
The couple on the balcony to the right are Madame Tussuad's-style wax, very life-like, characters which are all over the hotel. This is the indoor courtyard where we had breakfast.
And the stairs coming down to the courtyard from where our room was located:
The photos really don't do the place justice. There were flowers, vines, floral displays, trees, angels, cherubs, chandeliers, lanterns, little twinkling lights, marble, glass, wrought iron furniture, white pillars, columns and balconies -- everywhere!
Our room was lovely...

What more could one ask for, after a long day of Christmas shopping, than a Jacuzzi and a king-sized bed?!

The Salvatore brothers also own the Italian Gardens Restaurant, and our evening meal came with the package. There was a shuttle bus to take us there and we had been told it was 'formal dining,' so we were expecting more glitz and schmaltz and we weren't disappointed! (By the way, one definition of 'schmaltz' is, anything that is overly sentimental, often to the point of being nauseating. We weren't nauseated, but quite overwhelmed, at times!)

Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera to the restaurant and I can't find a photo of it anywhere on the web...but it was much of the same thing. The meal was impeccable -- both service and food; so much so that we gave one of our largest tips ever (well, that wasn't so hard to do, since we weren't paying for the meal, but I think the waitress was quite pleased).

Funny thing about the hotel and restaurant; when you read the reviews on the web it's very plain to see that you either love it -- or absolutely hate it.

We loved it!

And the Christmas shopping? It was great, but the best part was that when we declared our purchases at the border, we were waved on through without having to pay any duty. All-in-all a great birthday gift for DOTH!