I love taking photos, but only ostensibly because what I really like is getting frustrated at how shoddy the photos turn out that I end up fervently wishing myself to be transported back in time to the moment I took it and give myself a nice smack on the head and a droning 5 minute lecture on how to work a camera.
That is how I am living that moment again when I arrive at the Billy Bishop airport on Toronto’s Centre Island trying to hail a cab to haul me and my red suitcase over at the MTTC South Side entrance where I can join my fellow TBEX bloggers for a nice day trip sponsored by the Niagara Parks and Commission
The call time was for 8.45am sharp however, I met Aidan who was carrying a gargantuan sign calling out for “Niagara Falls Day Tour” participants at 8.48 on the dot– and was relieved to find out they haven’t left me behind and leaving a cloud of dust in their trail.
We had the sleek Niagara Airbus- the bus that has a much wider legroom than the A320 Airbus I had that morning- it will take us to, from and around the Canadian Niagara Falls which would be 1 ½ hours of leisurely driving from Toronto.
Seeing as this is my first FAM tour ever and with like-minded individuals who love travelling as much as their seatmate, what is the proper etiquette that I should ascribe to in this particular situation? Well what would I have done if this was a regular day? 9am on a Wednesday in Montreal would mean a lengthy Chemistry lecture for me. Great, that means nap time! And taking one sweeping look around the Niagara Airbus it would seem like everyone thought the same.
A Nap really was the perfect thing to do because right after departing our comfy Airbus at the Table Rock Visitor Centre right across the gorgeous Horseshoe Falls we all loomed about having a long day of work ahead of us, really tedious labour that included awesome adrenaline pumping Jetboat rides and well seasoned exotic meats. And the first thing to get ticked off on our adventure list would be queueing up for the legendary– Registration booth! And then on to the 1000x more exciting “Niagara’s Fury” a 4D fully immersive experience that takes kids/adults/easily impressed teens like me- to a journey 10,000 years in the past to witness the creation of Niagara’s Great Gorge. Narrated by a cute chipmunk equipped with jet water sprays and a tilting platform– this show set at 20 degrees makes sure that it is in every way a cool experience.
A quirky thing about the Niagara Falls Parks is their generosity with Parkas. I donned a blue one for Niagara’s Fury which protected my rendered-useless-at-that-moment-camera and now i have a canary yellow one for the “Journey Behind the Falls” at the lower level of the Table Rock Centre where visitors descend 38m by elevator and traverse the series of tunnels to get to the observation decks and platforms directly behind the falls. Whereas from above the hum of the Horseshoe Falls is like a relaxing white noise appreciated from the background, down here it turns into a continuous wave of thunder that sprays freshwater mist in your face, no wonder the invite said Prescribed Attire: Waterproof Mascara.
The entire length of the tunnel totals to 198 metres and the Niagara falls plummets 154 million litres of fresh water per minute.
Speaking of the metric system, Canada may have an abundance of fresh water, having 20% of it in supply but there is still a need to curb public consumption because increasing pollution of surface and groundwater is further reducing the supplies of readily available, clean water.
So, a blue parka a yellow parka and a blue one again for the iconic Maid of the Mist- a 30 minute boat ride that takes you so close to the basin of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls you can literally drink it. Although sadly this Maid has ceased to operate from the Canadian side of the border, it is now revamped with the “Hornblower Niagara Cruises” which may be available come spring of 2014.
The real question for a while now is, what happened to all the Parkas that tourists, a total of 10 million per year, dump into the bin? They get recycled~ a popular Canadian custom that only existed before in folklore is the idea that you can use an otherwise easily dispensable item more than once to save valuable resources.
Now that you’ve got an answer to your most raging environmental dilemma, next up on the list for high noon means high time for some exquisitely prepared lunch by the most perfect vantage point for Horseshoe falls.
Lunch at Elements on the falls would mean lofty panoramic windows and a nice slab of Bison on a Bun for me. This burger is more than just one exotic animal ticked off a foodie’s bucket list, it was fuel for the rest of the day.
After a perfect lunch we would then go back to the Niagara Airbus to have as Winston Churchill would call it “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world.” We were en route to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the Jet Boat Tour but not before ascending up the Skylon Tower for the wicked view.
At a height of 234 meters, Niagara Falls looks even more beautiful from a bird’s eye view. And I have to ask myself why oh why did I not veer my lens slightly more to the right.
Canadians have always cheekily said that the Niagara Falls looks prettier from our side, and that is true. It’s a fairly easy cross from the state of NY and a complete, unobstructed view of the tripartite treat: American falls; Bridal veil and Horseshoe falls at the North makes bringing a passport for a quick mosey really worth it. There are also a bevy of hotels to choose from and the main street basically looks like a fair all year round.
At the Niagara on the lake sits the famed Niagara Aerocar, another historical landmark has been operational since 1916 and spans one kilometer. This funky red antique car can accommodate up to 35 passengers and even acrophobics will enjoy observing the whirlpools on the lake and how the water can quickly change directions like a fully loaded washing machine.
There’s a lot of attractions to fill a weekend in Niagara Falls, perfect for families and there are a lot of infrastructures to accommodate the differently able-d. the four hour round trip drive from Toronto makes staying at the Niagara Falls a much more attractive option.
On the Canadian side of course! ;)