Trip Start Nov 01, 2009
123Trip End Nov 30, 2010
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The train was the slowest train we had ever been on and we had to sit in a certain carriage depending on what stop you were getting off at - Doog and I were pretty sure we were in the right one but you always have doubts with that kind of announcement. We both fell asleep for most of the way and were quite relieved to wake up in time to get off at Niagara
We had hoped that there would be bag lockers at the train station but we were told by the guard there that they had got rid of it after the 9/11 terrorist attack. We were slightly concerned that we would have to carry our humongous bags around with us all day, but luckily there were lockers at the bus station opposite and with a bit of squeeze and some repacking we managed to get our bags in them, close the doors and turn the key...phew!
We walked to the falls along River Road, a cliff road that ran alongside the Niagara River. On the opposite side of the river was the USA. As we approached Rainbow Bridge, which was the USA/Canada border crossing we caught our first glimpse of Niagara Falls. At this point we bumped into a couple who were walking in the opposite direction and wanted to know how long it had taken us to walk from the bus station, when we told them 30 minutes they were totally shocked that we had walked for so long and decided it was not for them and turned around.
We continued further down the river so we could get a good view of the Horse Shoe Falls and of course we took lots of photos
We bought our tickets, $15 each, and over-heard two different couples infront of us buying their tickets. As they got to the kiosk, the first question they asked the ticket seller was 'how do you get down the cliff to board the boat?' Once they heard you could get a lift they then bought the tickets. We thought it seemed like a strange question for fairly young couples to ask...would they not have bought the tickets if they had needed to go down some stairs?
As we queued to board the boat we were given blue plastic ponchos to wear. Everyone looked so funny wrapped up in the ponchos, especially Doog who had pulled the strings of his hood so tight that he only had a little hole to look through which just went round both his eyes so he could see. He also tied the string in an impossibe knot, which wouldn't losen so he resigned himself to the fact he would just have to look silly.
As the boat got nearer the falls we got more and more soaked
We then walked up Clifton Hill, which is one of the main roads in Niagara, with lots of restaurants, shops and amusements tapping into the Niagara tourism trade such as the Haunted House, King Kong buildings, wax works with Johny Depp, Harrison Ford and Heath Ledger as the Joker, museums and bowling alleys. We went to 'Tim Horton's' for lunch, which seemed to be the Candian equivalent of Pret a Manger but which also sold donuts - we had sandwiches and a Canadian maple donut, which was delicious. As we ate, we watched a man dressed as Elvis and painted in gold outside. He was fairly old and looked like he may have started his carreer as one of those statues who moved when you pay them money, but now he had resorter to sitting on an office chair, under an umberalla, throwing plastic gold beaded necklaces at people as they walked past, with the hope they would pay him for them.
After lunch we walked to the end view point of the Horse Shoe Falls and watched how insignificant the Maid in the Mist boats looked as they ventured towards the huge walls of water. The mist that the falls generated made rainbows appeare and also got us very wet! With all the sights on the Canadian side done, we walked back to the bus station along River Road which was lined with lots of guest houses with Scotish themed with names such as'Glen Eagles' and 'Cairn Gorms'
At the bus station we retrieved our bags and asked if there was a bus to take us back to Rainbow Bridge for the border crossing. The guy behind the desk was very busy highlighting something and we had needed to ask our question in a brief moment when he looked up. He looked at us as though we had asked the most crazy question ever, despite being in a bus station, and just said 'you're too early,' before continuing his highlighting. We still are not sure exactly what he meant, maybe too early in the season, but we worked out that if we didn't want to walk with our bags we had to take a taxi, so at the cost of $10 that's what we did.
We then crossed Rainbow Bridge on foot from Canad to the USA. From the bridge there is a spectacular view of Niagara Falls - by far the most impressive border crossing we've had! Annoyingly, we had to pay $6 each to re-enter the States by foot (apparantly this does not apply if you fly). It all seemed very strange to me as we had already entered the States when we visited Miami about 7 days ago and the stamp in our passport was still valid.
After a lengthy conversation with the immigrations officer about why we had to pay, and after he had looked at our British passports, when he handed us the immigration form to fill in he still asked if a form in English would be okay
Ater a 15 minute walk we reached out hostel, which was more like a guest house with a big porch with the familar American wooden rocking chair on it looking over a residential street. The owner of the hostel lived there and it felt like a proper home with a big kitchen which we had full use of. Although there were 4 beds in our room, as the hostel wasn't full and we had the room to ourselves.
After having dinner at the hostel we walked back to falls to see thmn from the US side by night. The falls had lights shining on them that slowly changed colour, which looked incredible.