Niagara Falls - Canada & USA

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Where I stayed
riveria hotel

Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Friday, June 24, 2005

Astoundingly Beautiful. Niagara Falls. There are many other falls in the world we have either seen or plan to see but Niagara is here and now, and taking our breathe away.

 It was with great excitement we arrived via a 2 hour bus ride to Niagara Falls, a "must see" in Canada. We had pre booked a room over the Internet for 4 nights thinking accommodation may be tight and for the first time, this was a big mistake. We set off from the bus station to walk, as we usually do if it is under say 4 klms. Turned out it was 10 klms as the map on the Internet was not to scale and had streets missing! What was worse as we walked along we saw maybe 50 motels with "cheap rooms" signs and closer to the falls than we would end up being. For a distance like this we do not carry our packs on our backs but use the handle and wheels, but it is still a lot of physical work! 

By the time we arrived we were ready to fore go our deposit for the 4 nights and only stay the 1. After a cup of tea to revive us,we set off to catch the bus and find ourselves some cheaper and closer accommodation for the rest of our stay. And we came up with a beauty! Located reasonably near the tourist area and the falls with a bargain price of $39 a night (before tax) and with a personal  jacuzzi! This is the cheapest we have paid for accommodation in our whole time in Canada. Niagara is a bit like Las Vegas - many cheap hotels/motels catering for honeymooners/dirty weekenders and lots of glitz and glamour in the streets. The big hotel chains are here also but the majority of the hotels are privately owned and been around for awhile. The only drawback with our amazingly cheap jacuzzi room is the bed is pretty uncomfortable but we've had worse.

So after establishing our new "home" for the next week we set off to walk to the falls and they ARE magnificent. The water tumbles and roars 56 metres in 3 separate falls, the Horseshoe Falls (sometimes called the Canadian), the American Falls and the Bridal Falls. A huge mist is raised which often has a brilliant rainbow through it. We were pleasantly surprised to find that there is no National Park type charge to see the falls and the charges for the activities to see the falls in different ways were not expensive. Over the next week we enjoyed seeing the falls from many angles and enjoyed the other attractions of the area. Niagara is a wine and fruit growing area, the largest in Canada.

The Niagara River and Falls Separates Canada from the USA so by walking over a bridge you can enter USA and view the falls from a completely different angle. On the Canadian side (where we were staying) we took a boat trip called "Maid of the Mist". This required us to don plastic ponchos and the boat took us right up to the base of the falls. We also took a walk through tunnels under the falls which bring you out at various vantage points right behind the falls. On the USA side we did an amazing walk and climb going under the bridal falls by way of walkways and climbing up towards where the American falls roared over. This not only required disposable ponchos but special Velcro non slip sandals which we got to keep after wards. The customs/immigration post on the bridge to USA and returning was staffed by friendly people, just the opposite to our experience in 1,000 islands!

The USA side town of Niagara was strangely deserted and derelict in total contrast to the glitz and glamour of the Canadian side and yet the walks around the falls and the river were more beautiful and accessible and so uncrowded with tourists. We had been told not to bother going over to the USA side but we are so glad we didn't listen.

While in the Niagara area we went to some other interesting places. We visited Niagara on the Lake a wine growing area and Port Dalhousie where we enjoyed a rubber duck race for charity.

We were able to obtain 1/2 price tickets to Marineland at Niagara Falls and so decided to make a day of it. The receptionist at our hotel mentioned there were BBQ's there and we got quite excited about the idea of having an Aussie BBQ. We bought some meat and vegetables and carefully packed them in some ice (The motel has an ice machine) and a towel in our backpack (it was a hot day) and set off on the 3 klms walk to Marineland. After looking around and enjoying some of the exhibits we found the BBQ's but to our dismay we discovered they required wood and there was none supplied and we had no matches! Not to be deterred we first tried the shops in the complex for matches - no luck. We then collected up pine cones and sticks and while doing this a family arrived and set up next to us and we then realized that Canadians bring their own heat beads for a BBQ. We borrowed a match and were away with our BBQ. With only a sharp knife for a BBQ tool Avan (and the pine cones)cooked our steak to perfection.

One of the exhibits that intrigued us was the Beluga whales. These whales are very unusual. Most of them are white and they do not have a dorsal fin. They live in upper Canadian waters and close to the Arctic circle. The reason they have no fin is so they can rise up to the ice and bash it with their backs so they can break through to breathe. All the females in the aquarium were pregnant and towards the end of their 15 month gestation. There are a couple of photos in the album of these. There were also other Canadian wildlife including bears and bison.

We had really enjoyed our time in Niagara but it was time to head back to Toronto and prepare to fly out to London for the next part of our journey.
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