Sunday, September 13, 2015

Day 7: Niagara Falls

Today we went to “The Falls”, as they are locally known. My fiancé and I enjoyed the hotel’s breakfast and at long last I was given what I deem to be excellent waffles. They were three small delights, topped with blueberries and strawberries. Whipped cream and sliced bananas ringed them. When smothered in maple syrup - heavenly.

I hurriedly wrote in my travel journal then we were being picked up in my fiancé’s friend’s car which jerked disconcertingly. We stopped by a Tim Hortons for our friends’ stomachs and I discovered the amazing menu. Real steeped tea!? Bakery goodness!? Apparently Tim Hortons is a Hamilton institution (78 in the greater area!) though it has since spread through Ontario and to worldwide locations.

The journey took under an hour. On the way we passed an abandoned motel and theme park - both looked very creepy. When we neared out destination, one of my fiancé’s friends joked about accidentally taking the left lane, which headed to the Rainbow Bridge crossing into America (“We’re close enough to throw a baseball over!” he’d said earlier). But happily he veered into the right lane, towards Niagara Falls.

What awaited us was a tourist town to rival those found on the English beachside. It was a 24/7 Royal Easter Show. After my fiancé’s friend made use of one of the many parking lots (it’s a huge business - you can pay between $8-30 to stow your car). We paid $10 to use a machine publish lot. You can’t trust the little lots which take your keys and move your car to make more room.

The temperature was heading for 33 degrees Celcius, the hottest day of the year. The sun was already hammering down at 10:30am but there was a glare, a haziness to the sky, that made it seem more oppressive as we walked down the road. I noticed multiple “haunted houses”, games arcades, a Ripleys Believe Or Not, Hard Rock Cafe, Tim Hortons, various food shops, a ferris wheel, two putt putt golf establishments and roads without any indication of when you should stop or walk. Vehicles were given right of way, much to my confusion.


We browsed a fudge shop before hitting an arcade (5 coins were given to us free, courtesy of a multipass that got you into several attractions). The usual suspects were present - alligator whack, Cyclone, The Lost World shooting game, car races, etc. It was fun, using the tokens, but I hoped we would soon go to the Falls, before the heat really set in.

My fiancé’s friends took us on a vacant path heading towards the “Canadian Falls” first, avoiding the busy crowded path that offered a view of the “American Falls”. The Falls are on different sides of the border. The strange Skylon Tower soared overhead, yellow lifts dodging up and down continually. A fat squirrel, so large it resembled a possum, was inspecting the grass for food. One of my fiancé’s friends bent down, pretending to offer food, and it made a beeline for her.

A well fed specimen.

We crossed back over the road to take in the Canadian side. This required braving intersections without traffic lights, though they were people on duty juggling the pedestrian and vehicular traffic. The Horseshoe Falls (the more popular name for the Canadian Falls) were beautiful, underpinned by the roar of water. We were hit with a constant spray - a large mist was rising over the Falls, obscuring it and making my camera freak out as it tried to focus. I changed to the telescopic lens verrry carefully!

Focus this!

As we went closer, we countered an absurdly popular Tesla statue. My fiancé’s friends told us how Tesla put turbines under the Falls to provide a staggering amount of electricity. Quite an achievement, especially for those times!

Tesla being a little bit sassy.

After buying goodies (including Ice Wine chocolates - ice wine is a Canadian speciality and tends towards the taste of spirits; I found the chocolates quite sweet) we found ourselves closer still. Took an obligatory kissing selfie with my fiancé - the Falls are not quite as romantic as one thinks, but the photos you take are gorgeous, if you don’t get other tourists in them!!

The Horseshoe Falls

I noticed boats going right up to the Falls - people were getting drenched! Each side of the border sent a boat - red ponchos for Canada, blue for the US - the people filling the top deck revealed the boats’ origins.

We used a cliff railway to get up to a lunch area before walking down to ogle the American Falls - not as dramatic. The Canadian Falls are over a “corner”, providing better shots. Still, it was an awing sight. So too was the Rainbow Bridge. As we left the Falls, we overheard someone say loudly “I hate Niagara Falls in summer!” which we all thought was funny.

The American Falls

We used our multipass to enter a wax attraction full of badly mimicked actors. Miley Cyrus still had long hair and everyone looked very “off”. Brendar Fraser from The Mummy shared space with a dinosaur which was confusing/amusing.

Next, back to the arcade for a 6D (??) ride where you wear 3D glasses and your seat moves. We enjoyed this because the kids in the front row kept screaming. Then we went on a ghost ride which was like a rail haunted house, except you lasered small targets. After this we sat in the large ferris wheel (the air-con leaked in our pod) which had excellent views of both Falls and was beside a putt putt course which had an erupting volcano.

Lastly, after a Tim Hortons break, it was time for putt putt. This one was in a basement beneath fluorescent lighting. I abstained; it was fun to watch! The day had cleared by now but we were leaving.

We were driven back to Hamilton after dinner. I noticed that a lot of the houses we passed were tiny, but my fiancé’s friend told me that lot of them would have big basements. This is because in Canada the frost goes down four feet and if your foundations aren’t deeper, they can shift.

 “I guess if they go down four they figure they might as well dig eight and make a room,” my fiancé’s other friend said.

We were left to our own devices yet again.

Soooo tired.

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