Saturday, February 16, 2013

Niagara Falls

The Canadian Side of the Falls
As my first excursion out-with Guelph it was only fair that I went to Canada's most famous landmark. The university chartered a trip out the day before but  my Great Aunt and Uncle offered to take me there free of charge. They picked me up at 11am and my Aunt Sandra gave me a Tupperware of Shepherds pie and some other food, a luxury I am not used to! As we set off the weather in Guelph was horrendous, it was blizzarding snow and my cautious family were a bit apprehensive but I had put my hope in the weather forecast being right and Niagara being sunny.

We made a stop at a Tim Hortons, which is a coffee chain which is probably equivalent to Costa or Starbucks back home but Timmy's is much bigger than Starbucks In Canada, in fact it's bigger than MacDonalds. Canadians are addicted to coffee; probably as an attempt to wake up but it's more likely an attempt to keep warm. Tim Hortons was named after a ice hockey player who set up the company but he died in a car crash and the crash site in en-route to Niagara falls.
The Town of Niagara Falls

One thing any visitor to the town of Niagara Falls will say one thing: it looks like a mini Las Vegas. Out of nowhere the town springs up full of neon lights, Ferris wheels, 50m high plastic dinosaurs and apparently there is a waterfall there too. In the Summer the streets are full of tourists and tour buses but at this time of year the town looks like deserted Disneyland.

The Skylon Tower

Niagara Falls has it's own mini CN tower called the Skylon tower and we went there for lunch. We thought we were heading to the revolving restaurant but after an hour of seeing the same view we realised that wasn't the case. The Brunch buffet was very nice and very posh and I felt horrendously under dressed as ever. Everywhere here seemed to be very fake, plastic and shamefully aimed at tourists. People came round taking your photo and coming back 10 minutes later with it photo-shopped onto a fake version of the falls. If I was going to need a photo of me photo-shopped in front of the falls then why would I have bothered coming all the way out here to get that? I don't get it but they seem to make money from it.

This one is not photoshopped!

From the tower you could see the whole falls, which is split into a Canadian side and an American side. Lets just say the Canadians lucked out there. The Canadian side has it's Vegas promenade and lavish casinos as well as the most spectacular part of the falls. The American side was much more industrial with industrial steam overshadowing their one or two flashing signs.

Some crazy frozen ice grass!
After a tasty lunch we headed town to the falls itself and you could appreciate it's size a bit more. The Maid of the Mist doesn't run in the Winter so we had to make do with walking along the falls and to be honest that is definitely enough to handle at these temperatures. The closer you got to the falls the colder it got and as the mist reached the ground it froze everything making it very icy but also creates some beautiful ice sculptures. You end up walking away soaked and you almost become an ice sculpture yourself. As much as I would have liked to have seen more of Niagara, it was so cold and I didn't want to take my poor Great Aunt hiking about in the cold.

It was great to see the falls up close without fighting for elbow space with some Japanese tourists but I may well come back in the summer to see more of this really strange town when it is in full season. I've never been a fan of the idea of the commercialised towns like Las Vagas, and now Niagara Falls, but there is something intriguing about the place; the fact it's real but seem so fake. Or I am just like a month to a flame, or should I say neon.
The American Side


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