USA Road Trip Day 6: Cleveland > Albany

Entrance of Lucky's Cafe

Trip Taken: 2010

Breakfast at Lucky’s Cafe

Another one of Guy Fieri’s stops from ‘Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives’ was Lucky’s Cafe in a rather sketchy part of Cleveland. It was rather dilapidated with weeds growing in the sidewalks. There was what looked like an Russian Orthodox church at the end of the street. Plus, I will say that some of the houses looked like they had some work done. I think it’s great when a thriving restaurant scene (there was a cool looking Turkish restaurant nearby) uplifts the neighborhood.

As for the restaurant itself, it looked like it transplanted itself from Santa Cruz, CA to the middle of no where
Cleveland. There were some decorative murals on the side of the wall and a bustling garden filled with tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. There was outdoor and indoor seating. We opted for outdoor seating since it was such a nice day outside. Foolish! So foolish! The sun slowly moved us from the shade of the tall fence and into direct sunlight.

Sunlight aside, the food was pretty good. I had the beef hash special with poached eggs on top. My brother had the shipwreck, which was the meal Guy ate. It looked like an omelet. It probably was an omelet. In fact, I think my brother said it was an omelet. My dish tasted extremely fresh. It should. The waiter went on this whole spiel about how fresh all the ingredients were.

Fort Orange Club

Stairs to the upper floors

I slept through most of the drive through Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York so I went bore you with the one-two sentence description of the ride. What I want to write about is the hotel we stayed at in Albany. It is called the Fort Orange Club.

It looks like one of those old boy’s club with dining services, studies, game rooms, and workout facilities. However, when we got there, we were the only guests there. Most of the lights were dimmed and there was a lone black housekeeper looking after the club while most of the staff took their annual leave. Throw in a snowstorm and an imaginary friend named Tony and you would have the makings of ‘The Shining’.

The club also had a distinctive smell. For those of you who have been to Disneyland, it smells like stepping into the Haunted Mansion ride. The aromas were of the musk of old wood and damp wool. You knew you were stepping into an old building just from smell alone. Another factor that added to the creepiness was that the old Victorian decorations and the paintings that referenced obscure biblical stories. Ever heard of the Amalekites? Neither have I. It seems more like a club that has lodgings for member rather than an actual guesthouse or hotel.

Ghandi for Indian food

Korma and Tikka Masala of the chicken variety.

After settling into our room, we set out for dinner. Originally, we wanted to try an Italian place near our lodging. But, after driving aimlessly for about two minutes in downtown Albany, we didn’t feel safe exploring the city at night. We decided to eat at an Indian restaurant we passed by and had pretty decent Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Korma. The restaurant was pretty empty except for a few college students and a family there.

After dinner, we walked back to our car and saw a black youth just steal a bicycle that was parked in front of a liquor store. How do I know he stole the bike? I saw him from a little ways away and that direction didn’t have anything but an old church. Well, it kind of the bike owner’s comeuppance for not locking the bike at all. As I fell asleep in my bed and thought about the creepy club and bike-jacking, I give Albany a thumbs down.

Parting Words

The drive from Cleveland from Albany took about 6 hours and ran through Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Is it that all state capitals have shady downtown neighborhoods? Is that just a theme among the fifty? I don’t know, but I hope not. Albany was not a pleasant stay and I would only return to visit friends.

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About the Author

John is always trying to find his way back to the road. He has an affinity for Germany due to his three years studying German at Cal, and a year working as an intern in the Stuttgart area. He also likes chocolate cake and good cheese.