After our tour of Toronto we went on to Niagara and the Niagara Falls, which interestingly enough are on the Niagara River, which runs from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, which is many metres lower than Lake Erie,and most of that height is dropped at the falls.
The falls are quite magnificent
. There is not a lot of surprise about them because they are just like their photos. As is well known, the Canadian falls known as the Horseshoe Falls are the easiest to view and the most spectacular. The American falls are also easily viewed from the Canadian side, but would be more difficult to view from the USA side. There is constant mist in the area and this prevents clearly seeing the middle of the falls, but is also part of the experience. At night they are illuminated with coloured lights in a range of primary colours that slowly change from one to another. Of course the noise is deafening and I was surprised by the large colony of seagulls on the cliffs of Goat Island between the two falls.
An extra to the tour which most took was to have lunch at the high revolving restaurant from where the falls are viewed, and also a boat trip on the 'Maid of the Mist' boats which have been running for over 100 years. These were both worthwhile and are really part of the Niagara experience. We were surprised that apart from a plethora of high hotels on the Canadian side that parts of the nearby area was a bit like Disneyland. Entertainment & food places that you could get in Surfers Paradise, and glitzy in a neon lights sort of way. It seemed ironic to some of us that a place so well known for it's amazing natural wonder also had the crassness of a modern Las Vegas type strip.
Two other things of interest about the Niagara area, but I will give you the 2nd one first. It was quite amazing to leave Canada by crossing the bridge and to immediately be in a run down, depressed type of area. The contrast was startling and a real surprise.
I also had another surprise when crossing back in to the USA
. There is a very vigilant check point at the bridge as one passes back in to the USA, and as when we entered Canada a few days previously, we had to go through Immigration and show our passports. The young lady who took mine asked when I would be leaving the USA. I told her on the 21st July. She told me very firmly that my entry only allowed me to be in for 90 days and that I must leave by July 17th or I would always have trouble returning to the USA, as I will have breached my entry conditions. As we are still on tour and that was only a few days ago I haven't been able to follow it up, but Kathy has done a lot of hunting on the web and is pretty sure that there is no way around it. We know that to change our (my) ticket(s) is going to be very costly if I am able to, but will probably have to be done. At this stage we will only change mine as Kathy is on her American passport and is not affected. So it will probably be a week before we can sort that out, but if it has to be done, it has to be done. We will have done pretty well all that we needed to by then. It's just frustrating and we should have known.
We had spent overnight at Toronto and had a tour of the city and then as an extra most of us went up into the CN tower which is the 3rd highest in the world and is the tallest free standing building in North America. Max did that but Kathy chose not too, and then we moved on to Niagara. Many of the Government buildings in Toronto were built in the French baroque style with aged oxidised green copper roofs and look like they have been there for centuries, but some are less than 50 years old, and were very beautiful.