After spending a few days in the city center, I booked a tour to Niagara Falls just to see a bit more of the place. Everyone kept telling me I should’ve visited Montreal, but it was too late for that. I didn’t have enough days to split between the two cities, so Niagara Falls would have to suffice.
My new friend Rachel, from Jersey, England, joined me on the tour, which consisted of less than 20 people. Despite this, the bus was late picking us up. What a bad way to make a first impression. When the driver finally arrived, it turned out there were several stops within the city and we were just the first. Also, some people hadn’t paid for the tour yet so we had to stop at their main office to process their payments. This seemed totally unorganized if you ask me.
We finally hit the road about an hour after the stated pick-up time. On the way over to Niagara, the driver pointed out some fun facts about the city and landmarks. Most of the passengers plugged into their iPods or slept.
At long last, we arrived at the historic Niagara Falls, but it wasn’t at all what I expected. The town surrounding the falls was extremely touristy with tall buildings, a casino and rides and games for the kids. It was like a mini Las Vegas and really turned me off. I had imagined the place to be a natural preserve of some kind since there are three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls after all – Horseshoe, American and Bridal Veil falls.
The driver let us off and gave us a couple of hours to look around. Rachel and I took some quick photos before heading over to the café in search of food. As expected in any tourist trap of a place, the prices were outrageous but what choice did we have? After scarfing down an unsatisfying lunch, we rushed over to the Maid of the Mist, a boat that would take us up close and personal with all that water.
After posing for a photo (that you can buy later) and picking up our iconic blue plastic ponchos, we went down to the boat with the rest of the crowd. The Niagara Falls people tell you not to put the poncho on until you’re actually on the boat, and this is worth following as it traps the heat and you feel like you’re in a sauna. I’m sure people have passed out wearing these things having not followed instructions.
Luckily, Rachel and I ended up at the cut off for the next boat, which meant that we’d be first to board the next one. When the boat arrived, we quickly got up to the railing and held on to our positions for the duration of the tour.
The view of the waterfalls from ground level was pretty impressive. The force of the falls created large clouds of mist that soaked everything. It was a bit of a reprieve from the heat but got everything, including your camera, wet. As this was my last stop before home, I sacrificed my point-and-shoot to get the money shots from the bottom of the falls. I wouldn’t recommend this if you have an expensive camera or are at the beginning of a long holiday. The water got everywhere!
Maid of the Mist had on-board commentary about the formation of the falls and the hydro-electric power that it generates. The falls were created during the last Ice Age and sits between the towns of Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada and Niagara Falls, New York, USA. There are two Maid of the Mist tours, one running from each side of the border, and a bridge connects the two countries.
I’m glad I went to see Niagara Falls but fail to see how this is a favorite honeymoon destination for many people. Perhaps back in the 1950s, the place wasn’t as developed and commercial as it seems to be today? Maybe the nighttime view with all the sparkly lights shining on the falls is too good to miss? Maybe I’ve just seen more of the world and am too jaded to appreciate the things in my backyard (so to speak)? In any case, this will definitely not be my honeymoon destination of choice should I ever get married.