What a View!

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Feb 20, 2014

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What I did
A waterfall

Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ever since I rode in a helicopter over Victoria Falls in 2006, I have wanted to compare it to Niagara Falls. That trip to Vic Falls, sandwiched between Zimbabwe and Zambia, not only put me under Africa's spell, but I got this desire to travel the world and see as many 'big ticket’ items and World Wonders as I could see in my lifetime. Sights such as the Giza Pyramids, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon and now I am only a day from ticking one more off my list – Niagara Falls. Until researching this trip, the extent of my knowledge about Niagara was largely seeing snippets of black & white footage with Houdini going over the falls in a barrel. I always thought it was in the USA whereas the best/most part is in Canada, I didn’t know there are 2 falls, and I didn’t know that there is a mini Las Vegas right on the edge of the falls where u can book a hotel room overlooking the falls. I agonised for days (literally!) over what hotel to book because I had a vision of waking up, opening the curtains and being impressed by the monumental waterfall of the Niagara River. Since booking it, my every thought about Niagara has been "I hope we get a good view".

We left Toronto in pursuit of our Niagara hotel quite late (3pm) after our time at the CN Tower. I got out of the city ok, but we then met a huge traffic jam where an accident or something must have occurred and the main freeway to Niagara was closed. It was Good Friday and it seemed that everyone else in Canada was undertaking the 1.5 hr drive to Niagara for the Easter long weekend. Great. I even had my phone hooked up as an alternate GPS to the Hertz one and all was going fine, until this road block. We eventually re-navigated onto another highway and were on our way again, but no time to call in at any wineries as we’d planned – they were probably closed anyways for Good Friday.

The glitz of our hotel lobby had us flashing back to Las Vegas. Upon check-in, I requested an upgrade to rooms that are only offered complimentary but told they were fully booked as this was one of their busiest weekends of the year (I had stupidly thought it would be a quiet weekend for some reason). However, she said we were in a room with a great view on the 27th floor...this was promising. Amy and I looked at each other with eagerness to finally see the falls for the first time. We dumped our bags after opening the door and our jaws dropped when we saw that the falls were right there! There was almost no reason to leave the hotel room to explore them on the ground. I’m sure there a better views, and the windows could do with a clean, but this would do just fine!

We only had 2 nights here, but crammed in a lot and actually feels like it was longer. First night was at the buffet for great food and so many tasty options (I resisted the meat!), then a couple of drinks at a bar overlooking the falls, which are lit up at night. If it was warmer, we would’ve walked down to the edge of the falls. The next day we walked the footpath along the edge of the falls and then did the ‘Journey Behind the Falls’ which takes you thru a series of tunnels constructed behind the actual falling water. We spent longer in the queue than we actually did in the tunnels. Just 3 openings, with 2 looking out behind the water so you don’t see anything other than spray. It’s ok, but not as amazing as seeing them from in front. The volume of the falls and the rush of water going over the edge is breathtaking. A lot smaller than Victoria Falls in length and drop, but more water volume. The buildings, loads of tourists, and well constructed footpaths make this less authentic and awe inspiring than Vic Falls, but Niagara is definitely a sight worthy of its reputation.

The afternoon, we went out to the winery district just 20 mins away from the falls. We got lost numerous times in our search for a winery that served lunch. We stumbled across what seems the main street of Niagara Falls and surely gives it the tacky reputation that a lot of people I know have mentioned. This street felt to me like sideshow alley at the Royal Show and very much out of place for the edge of a natural wonder. We finally got to some wineries late afternoon where it is $1 per tasting (!) and the ice wine that is famous from this region was way too sweet for my bland palate. We did have a really nice dinner out there too.

On Easter Sunday, we checked out and went to Church. Seriously. It was packed and we were late of course. After our religious moment, we thought about heading over to the US side of the falls, but I figured it would take too long and why go when the best view is clearly here on the Canadian side. Instead we went to the ‘Whirlpool’ just down from the falls and rode on a suspended cart thing from one side to the other. I then had to go back to the winery where we’d had dinner the night before because I had left my credit card there! Luckily they had kept it and hoped I would call cause they had no contact details for me. Phew. Following this scenic detour, we hit the road back to Toronto for our 7pm flights out – Amy back to Houston and me onto Washington DC.

So, Easter 2012 came and went at Niagara Falls and not only did I not eat a single Easter egg, but I didn’t even see one! Great time catching up with Amy and great to finally compare Vic Falls with Niagara...next is Angel Falls??...

PS – I got stung by Hertz at the airport where I had forgotten to fully top up the car with fuel. They charged me $3.70/litre for 8 remaining litres. Ouch.
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