14th - 15th October
14.10.2011 - 15.10.2011
Niagara is Falling!
A long bus ride landed me very early in the falls area, coming from the hustle and bustle of Boston and New York made it extra special to see huge areas of grass and trees with gorgeous multi colour leaves and I could smell the fresh air as I stepped off the coach. The police sirens and endless car supply seemed miles away, which in fact was at least 7 hours.
Having one of the world’s natural wonders on my doorstep for the next two days, gave me such a great feeling but i decided that I could wait a couple more hours before I saw it, my eyes were barely open after having no sleep on the busy bus. It was 9 am as i pulled myself over to my hotel. Check in wasn’t for another 5 hours but after a small convincing argument and a 20 dollar note the lovely receptionist showed me to my room.
Im sure my eyes were closed even before my head hit the pillow and I had a full 3 hours of deep sleep to regain some energy for the big day ahead. I got myself ready managed to sneak into the breakfast room and have some fruity loops and steal a banana for my journey.
It turned out that the journey wasn’t too far at all. It was an easy walk to the touristy centre where I found a big shop full of everything you’d expect from a tourist shop. This included several tour companies, one of which took my fancy straight away, a man with a great selling pitch won my attention and I decided that a half day tour was the best option. I had 20 minutes till that set off so I bought myself a hot dog and browsed the aisles of gifts etc. I hadn’t given myself much of a birthday the day before in Boston so therefore Friday the 14th was my adopted birthday! I bought a Jumper/hoody and headed out to wait for our bus.
We were a party of 10 plus tour guide as we boarded the bus and set off towards the falls, it had been 7 hours since I’d arrived and still I hadn’t seen them. We arrived and stepped onto a platform that stretched over the river and finally the three falls that made up Niagara were in front of me. Several clichés spring to mind to describe how I felt and the view in front of me, I won’t use any but my goodness I was proud to be stood there watching as thousands of gallons rushed over and down. The sheer power of the waterfalls was impressive enough and then the beauty of them was something indescribable. We spent a considerable on that platform taking pictures, and simply watching.
It was then time to don our yellow poncho time coats and board the famous ‘maid of the mist’ it took about 15 minutes to journey to the biggest of the three falls which stretches from the Canadian side all the way to the American, the horseshoe falls. On the way we passed both the Bridal Veil falls and the American falls which were equally spectacular. The spray starting hitting us very soon into our journey as we approached the beast, the gentle spit began to develop into a light rain, to a downpour until we were close enough to feel the great wind push us back from the bow and the spray was worse than any torrential downpour ive experienced in England, this time though we knew it wouldn’t last long and everyone had their cameras out for long enough to snap a picture and save it in a pocket before water damage struck. It was a lot of fun and I know now why the maid of the mist is so popular.
As we returned with smiling faces there was time for one last picture from the platform and we were off again on the bus to our next point. This was a place called ‘The cave of winds’ this time the poncho we were assigned was a big blue fluorescent number as well as some handy dandy sandals to keep our shoes from getting drenched (although the maid of the mist had already taken care of them) the tour took us down an elevator and onto wooden bridges that stretched over the American falls. As you walked you got closer to the falls with each step and were able to feel the power of the water as it flowed over the top, it was slippy and the sandals didn’t offer as much grip as I hoped but it did give everyone the chance to take stunning pictures, the final wooden platforms were virtually under the falls and one corner actually stretched out under the falls, Naturally I edged closer to this corner, I got to the corner and it was no longer mist it was pure water raining down on me. It was a lot of fun and I managed to get someone to video me doing it, in that same video the true slippiness of the wood became apparent as some excited child decided to run to the same spot and fell head first into the wood. When we knew he was ok it turned into a big laugh amongst everyone watching, much to the boys embarrassment.
I got back on the bus with the satisfaction of being the most wet out of the tour, which I was proud of, I think this is the benefit of travelling by yourself, I had no one sitting next to me and therefore I could sit comfortably in my wet clothes and spread out to my heart’s content.
The penultimate stop was a natural whirlpool a bit further down the river; the walk to it was beautiful and apparently was a popular spot to marry in the summer, the whirlpool was enormous and fascinating, the water came in to this giant circle and before it headed it curved back round left and then through the part it had just come from, of course you all know what a whirlpool looks like but it really was a sight to get your head around, it must have been from such force that water wouldn’t just exit and had to go around before leaving.
Final stop and still wet through, my new hoody was already in need of a wash and dry, was at a small museum and shop which funnily enough was the same place the greyhound had dropped me off, it contained several different capsules and objects that people had used to go over the falls, some survived and some had not fared so well, on two occasions people went over without so much as a life jacket and lived to tell the tale, one successful capsule looked remarkably like a space shuttle. My favourite was a guy who unfortunately didn’t survive but went hurtling over the drop on a jet ski, someone had taken a picture and before falling he looked very majestic sitting high on the machine.
I tipped our lovely tour guide as we left the bus behind and headed back to my hotel to change out of my wet clothes. Then it was time for my birthday dinner and the best place I could think of was Hard Rock Café, I had a full three course meal with a beer or two until I decided I just needed a coca cola. The bar man kept me company as I ate and chatted and watched a local band play country music to a very busy crowd.
To round off my evening I walked through the Niagara park to one of the view points, every evening each of the three falls gets lit up by powerful colourful lights and it was beautiful to watch as the white foamy falls were turned into rainbows of colour. I’d been told that the fireworks on Friday had stopped a week before, but our tour guide had an inside man who’d said that the 14th was the last so as I waited till 9pm I crossed my fingers. Her inside man was right, it lasted more than 15 minutes and I managed to find a spot to sit and watch the spectacle unfold. I walked home very satisfied with my 22nd birthday celebrations!
My second and final day of my Niagara adventure started with several bowls of cereal then a jog down to the falls again to see how the water was doing; it was just as I left it. It was then time for a Chelsea match against Everton which I watched with my lunch at TGI Fridays. I had a lot of fun with another traveller also there for the Chelsea game, good food was a bonus and the final score of Chelsea 3, Everton 1, the cherry on top. With my head held high I headed into the casino which is the only big tourist attraction on the American side of the falls, on the other there are several casinos, hotels huge restaurants and tourist attractions, with the park and huge amounts of green areas the American side definitely appeals to me more. After a couple of hours at blackjack I managed to walk away with 200 extra dollars in my pocket which practically covered my Niagara expenses.
I decided that I should relax and watch a film; I walked in to Starbucks and settled down with a hot chocolate (served by a very pretty girl) in a state of unwind my film finished I felt I deserved to see the beautiful blonde again so allowed myself another hot chocolate. I then walked to a different part of the falls to grab my final views of the three waterfalls and headed for the bus.
As I waited I browsed the museum/shop again and decided that I regretted not getting a contact from the girl at starbucks! I walked out of the shop as the bus arrived and I felt as if id missed my chance, I then made up a story of leaving a card at the shop and the bus driver gave me the challenge of 15 minutes till departure. I felt I could do it so I left all but my phone on the bus, big gamble, I ran back to find her vacuuming the entry way and in my breathless state (probably not so appealing) ask for her number….she gave the excuse that she did not know her new number but I could add her on Facebook! I decided that it wasn’t a complete rejection and headed back to the bus and made it with minutes still on the clock, I was pretty pleased with myself as I sunk into my seat and my first of three buses headed towards Chicago.