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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Blissful Escapes ; Mary Kunz Goldman's Romantic Weekend Getaways

Jun 29, 07:46 AM

Let's be honest: I don't get away much. I'm married to a guy who gets uneasy outside our ZIP code, let alone our area code. Plus, I'm pretty devoted to house and garden, not to mention those fine trattorias on Hertel Avenue.
For all intents and purposes, I'm married to Buffalo.

But I can dream. And if I were ever going to go on a weekend getaway, this is what I'd enjoy. (Don't worry: Even in dreamland, I won't forget this is 2006, with money tight, time scarce and gas prices higher than Paris Hilton on a Saturday night.)
A vacation is, after all, a state of mind. Two for the road doesn't have to mean 200 miles. Want romance? Want escape? These places will do just fine.

> Southern Tier Special

A century ago, you'd have to plan this in advance. People used to flock to Chautauqua Lake. The lake, wide and blue, as pretty as anything in Europe, was full of steamboats named for the towns the tourists came from. The City of Cincinnati. The City of Jamestown. The City of Buffalo.
There was also something in the air, something spiritual that nourished and rejuvenated people. Protestant groups used to hold mass baptisms on the shores of Chautauqua Lake. The Chautauqua Institution played host to musicians and ministers.
The crowds are returning. The tiny town of Bemus Point, for instance, is being gentrified; sleepy taverns are giving way to upscale fern restaurants, and a Marriott is said to be in the offing. But there's still time to enjoy a little relative peace. Go to Bemus Point. Stay at the Hotel Lenhart (386-2715), which, besides the Athanaeum in the Chautauqua Institution, is the last of the grand old lakeside summer hotels. Your meals will be taken care of; it goes by the American Plan. And unlike the nearby, teetotaling Chautauqua Institution, you can have wine with dinner.
A side trip to the Institution is suggested; this month, they're putting on Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro," perhaps the best opera ever written and certainly the most sensuous.
You can also find other nearby amenities: miniature golf, antique sales, boat trips on the lake, concerts on the floating stage at Bemus Point, where the Southern Tier Symphony performs, free. You didn't know there was a Southern Tier Symphony? Stick with me, kid.
Or just relax on the porch of the Lenhart, sitting on one of a hundred brightly colored rockers, watching kids play on the wide lawn, looking out over the lake and drinking the house drink, the Rocker. Inside there's a lounge, a spinet piano, board games. If they'd just take away that TV, it would be perfect.


For more information on Chautauqua Lake Real Estate & Living visit: www.chautauqualakehomes.com

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