Day 57, 58 & 59 : Niagara - Thundering Water

Trip Start Jul 01, 2008
Trip End Sep 27, 2008

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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rising early with a guilty conscience, I had everything packed and loaded into the car before waking Matt and the kids, announcing we had to make a silent and speedy getaway. [I had booked the cabin as a family of four, the only way to successfully make an online reservation, but it kept me up half the night wondering how I would explain to the kids that I had rorted the system, so we were dressed, fed, and on the road before 8.15am]
Both Matt & I had high hopes for Toronto, without having any knowledge of the city or anything in particular we wanted to see. Entering from the north may not be the most scenic way to arrive, but it was the way we came in and we agreed that after the beauty of the many other cities we have visited, this one wasn't coming up with anything inspiring at first glance. It didn't help that we were without a guidebook so had no clue about highlights. A couple of Trams making their way toward us while we sat at a red light that stubbornly refused to change colour didn't help endear us to the busyness of the Chinatown district we found ourselves in, so we decided to find a cafe and head out to Niagara Falls earlier than planned. It took longer than expected to find a cafe and then find parking, but we did at least find ourselves in a more interesting district (Bloor Street), so at least we didn't leave town wholly disappointed. Giving Toronto one last shot to impress, Matt chose the Whiskey Distillery to take the kids to the toilet, but returned without whiskey or a glowing report. Determined as he is though, he tried a last resort, the Lake Ontario seashore drive instead of the first freeway out, but again ... not that interesting. We'll leave this one off the itinerary next time.
We arrived at Niagara Falls mid afternoon and checked into our hotel/room with a view of American Falls, which was a beautiful start. The view held the attention of the kids for all of about 2 seconds, just long enough for them to notice that there was a Giant Ferris Wheel, an Imax, and a  Sky Tower all in walking distance. The Sky Tower (and the accompanying 4D film) won out, with promises we'd do the rest tomorrow. Which we did; as well as the Chuckee Cheese style arcade that was unfortunately attached to the diner we chose for lunch.
As lovely as the view was of the American falls, the Sky Tower gave us our first glimpse of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, and we are still trying to work out how America missed out on these falls.
The Maid of the Mist tour was fantastic (didn't realize we'd get a soaking under the standard issue blue raincoat), as was the Imax film about the eccentrics who have performed random acts of bravery/foolishness in the hope of fame and fortune. The story of the 7yr old boy who accidentally went over the Falls, and survived, has haunted the kids ever since, but hopefully we won't have the drama we had at the Everglades when they are next asked to don a life-jacket. Niagara Falls, Canadian side, was throbbing with the Carnival atmosphere we had read about, tacky in every respect, but no more so than the exit out of Great Smoky Mtns in Tennessee, so we weren't quite as appalled this time!
We had a couple of really great meals in Niagara Falls, first a steak at an Italian restaurant, which was the first time either of us had felt like meat since arriving in Louisiana and discovering the delights of the sea. We pretty much stuck to seafood in one form or another all the way up the east coast, but magically when we started inland heading west, our desire for meat returned. The kids have been largely unaffected by regional variations; hamburgers, chicken nuggets and pizzas seem to be a kids staple right across the country. One way to get them off the Kids Meal diet however is to take them to a Japanese restaurant and feed them California Rolls until they beg to stop. As Daniel says: "Mum, if you want me to eat avocado, just put it in a California Roll". So Pa, you have your work cut out for you when we return ... Daniel is expecting great things from your Sushi Hand Rolls that we have been telling him are the best on the planet.
Leaving Niagara Falls on the third day turned out to be perfect timing. The rain had arrived and the views over the falls had suddenly become quite limited. We joined the queue to get back into America, always a slightly daunting task as non-citizens, but after a few questions about Matt's work and how he managed to get 3 months to travel the US, we were on our way relieved not to have had to open the roof box or surrender the laptop.
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