After the bright lights of Toronto we headed south to the Niagara Falls along the western shores of Lake Ontario.
To help us on our way, we have now been joined by a new travel companion, our
hire rental car, which is a Kia Forte. Following on from our previous holiday hire car luminaries, such as Harris the Yaris, our car needed a name. So welcome Kia Maria.
Connecting Lakes Erie and Ontario is the Niagara River. A relatively short river, but due to its steep and rapid descent, includes the famous Niagara Falls and some fearsome rapids along its course. At its mouth on Lake Ontario is Niagara-on-the-Lake, a small town, and our port of call on the way to the Falls.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is an attractive town with those stereotypical North American houses – wooden slatted and with a veranda along the front. It has immaculate flowerbeds and well manicured lawns. It is also full of old aged day trippers and not much to see, so we stopped for lunch, and were on our way.
Next door to the Niagara Falls, is a town also called Niagara Falls! We checked into our motel in the town, and picked up a Niagara Falls Adventure Pass. The Adventure Pass gives you free bus travel for 2 days, as well as entry into four attractions at the Falls.
The first attraction was Niagara’s Fury, an indoor attraction that doesn’t actually feature the real life Falls, but aims to educate you about how they were created. Emma has some very strong feelings about this attraction, something along the lines of…this was crap and basically just involved me getting absolutely soaked! You go in, watch some stupid cartoon about a beaver learning about the Falls from an owl, which fails to teach you anything, and you then you walk through to another room where they blow cold air in your face and chuck water at you whilst making the floor vibrate.
Journey Behind the Falls
Our second activity, whilst still involved getting wet, was much better. Journey Behind the Falls takes you to two points. One next to and near the base of the Horseshoe Falls, where you can watch the water come hurtling down into the mist below. The second vantage point is from two tunnels, which take you directly behind the falls, where you can watch a wet and white wall of noise just metres in front of you.
Later that evening we were also treated to the illumination of the Falls, and the Friday night firework display.
White Water Walk
Since their formation, the Niagara Falls have retreated back up the Niagara River by 7 kilometres! In their wake they have left some of the most fearsome rapids in the world. These are home to the White Water Walk, our third activity, which runs alongside the rapids. These rapids are classed as ‘Grade 6’ – there is no higher classification and they aren’t safe to white water raft down – and it is easy to see why as the water barrels its way down the gorge at great speed and crashes over hidden boulders.
Hornblower – boat to the base of the Falls
This was Stewart’s favourite of the four attractions by far. He loved it so much that he rated it as good as the Incredible Hulk rollercoaster at Universal Studios in Orlando, and he went on that 3 times in a row…
You set off from a jetty a short distance downstream from the Falls, everyone clad up in matching red ponchos, and packed on to the boat like a cattle truck. The boat takes you past the American Falls first, where you get a face full of water from the mist. Then you head into the mist at the base of the Horsehoe Falls, where you get face full of water at least another two times. Such was the nature of it, it did feel like some theme park ride – getting soaked and everyone screaming. Fortunately, it was 24 degrees that day, so drying off afterwards wasn’t a problem!
Overall we absolutely loved the Niagara Falls. Witnessing the power and velocity of the water, and just the sheer volume that goes over every second is astonishing, and is something that we will never forget. The town of Niagara Falls is incredibly tacky though, completely geared up to serve the tourist, with amusement arcades, cheap crappy restaurants, ghost houses and crazy golf. We were also slightly concerned about the amount of ponchos that the authorities must get through in one day, considering we alone used 6 between us in two days! Sadly though they are much more convenient than carrying around a wet coat all day. Hopefully they are actually recycled!
Emma and Stewart