Niagara Falls, ON, After Dark.

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It’s fair to say that the falls are every bit as majestic at night as they are during the day. They’re given a little extra help in summer, though, with coloured lights that shine on them in different configurations, giving rather magical effects.

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Sometimes they use particular colours to signify a particular group of people or a particular event.

The night Sean and I were there, they made the falls on both sides a greenish colour for ten minutes to signify the soldiers who were serving overseas. I thought that was pretty special. I realise that it makes no difference at all to the experiences of the soldiers overseas, but anything that reminds us that we’re at home in relative comfort, and they’re doing it tough on some assignment thousands of miles away, is a good thing. The other people there obviously felt the same way, because everyone spoke in hushed tones and there was a minute or so of almost complete silence except for the pounding of the water to pay respect to those who had lost their lives in service of their nation.

 

The other really special thing that happened that night at Niagara Falls was that Sean and I had our own little adoption ceremony where we took each other as brother and sister, at least, as officially as we could. That is just one more thing that makes Niagara Falls incredibly special to us both. It’s a night neither of us will ever forget.

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The lights of the skyline beyond Rainbow Bridge are really pretty, especially The Niagara Skywheel at Clifton Hill. I do like the way they’ve kept the developments and buildings back a bit from the falls themselves. It makes it possible to enjoy the majesty of the falls without all sorts of commercialisation being thrust upon you.

It wasn’t raining. It just looks that way because of the mist plume that produces its own “rain”. If you’re going to the falls at night, and someone tries to sell you a rain poncho for $2… don’t say no.

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Niagara Falls, Ontario, CA.

Have you ever had that experience where you visit some place, and you feel within your soul that you were always meant to be there?
I had that feeling the first time I visited Niagara Falls, and on every visit since. It’s one place on earth that I cannot get enough of.

This was my view of the falls walking down to Niagara Parkway from Clifton Hill. It looks beautiful, and even from a distance, it sounds majestic.

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The American side of the falls is, without a doubt, beautiful. It’s easy to lose yourself in the sight and sound of the water.

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The Canadian side of the falls is known as the Horseshoe Falls. While the American side of the falls is beautiful, the Canadian falls are simply breathtaking. The water pounds over the cliff and an enormous plume of mist rises from the river below as a result of the power and sheer volume of the water.

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The ‘Maid of the Mist’ has been an iconic feature of the falls for decades. Sadly, the ‘Maid of the Mist’ only goes from the American side now. Hornblower Cruises run an identical cruise on the Niagara River that takes passengers up to the falls on both sides for an “up close and personal” view. You can tell the two cruise lines apart: Maid of the Mist passengers wear blue plastic ponchos, and the Hornblower passengers wear red. Only very stupid passengers choose to not wear the plastic rain poncho.

 

 

Sean, Jenn and I took the Hornblower Cruise on a beautiful, sunny and rather warm late summer afternoon. This was definitely another item on my bucket list that was about to be checked, so that added to my excitement at getting even closer to the beautiful falls that I love so much.

The first thing that really impressed me was the turbulence caused on the river by the falls as we passed right by. There is some serious power in that water!

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This was the moment that I understood why it’s called the Rainbow Bridge. I had gone over it in a vehicle before, but looking at it from this perspective made me appreciate it so much more.

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Even from quite a distance away, the mist was hitting us like rain. It’s hard to not be in awe of a scene like this when you’re right there!

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Obviously, the boat can’t go right under the falls or it would sink. Even so, just being under the mist plume is incredible. The water comes down harder than you’d find comfortable in a shower – it’s more like spray from a pressure hose. It’s an amazing feeling, and you’ll see more rainbows at this point on the river than in any one place for the rest of your life. It’s like a shimmery rainbow curtain of falling water.

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We returned to the falls later in the evening for some sunset photos. We walked back past the Table Rock tourist centre to look at the rapids behind the falls.

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Even as the sun sank below the horizon, the scene was still magnificent.

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Standing right beside the falls at the Table Rock centre, there was no way for me to feel except awestruck. There were no words, only profound amazement and wonder.

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I will be back, Niagara Falls. And until then, I’ll just wish myself there.

 

Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Canada.

Clifton Hill is an entertainment/retail area an easy walk away from Niagara Falls, but not right at the falls. It’s a vibrant, fun place to be, with lots of places to spend your cash.

The  Niagara Skywheel is prominent in the skyline both day and night. I love the look of ferris wheels, but you won’t get me on one. Immediately in front of that is the Dinosaur Mini Golf. The dinosaurs rawr at you when you go past. That in itself is cool… and rather entertaining when the people in front of you aren’t expecting it.

0012 2015-09-22 14.04.00 Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, ON

 

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Falls Avenue extends off the Niagara Parkway along the lower side of Clifton Hill.  Highlights for me were the Hershey’s Chocolate World and the Coca Cola stores.

 

 

After walking along Falls Avenue, we headed down to the falls where we spent the rest of the day. We came back to Clifton Hill in the evening for dinner. I ate at the Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara, NY on my previous trip, and I wanted to make it a matched set by dining at the Canadian one!

Carole King was right – some people can’t stay away from the Hard Rock Cafe! It’s possibly a good thing that there isn’t one anywhere near where I live in Australia.

I love the way the Hard Rock Cafes are always so incredibly decked out. And the food… OMG. Seriously.

Confession: We shared the onion rings between three of us, and I still couldn’t finish my burger & fries. Delicious!

2015-09-22 18.23.46 Wax Museum at Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, ON

 

Roadtrip! from Detroit, USA to Niagara, CA.

After visiting with my cousins in Detroit, we crossed the border and went roadtripping through Canada to meet with my brother. Having crossed on the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls on my last trip, I was keen to cross into Canada on another iconic bridge: Ambassador Bridge at Detroit/Windsor.

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I could almost feel the bump as we crossed the border. Well… almost.

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There are a lot of storybook-worthy-looking farms on this side of Ontario.

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Getting closer! The whole while, I was mentally rehearsing for driving on the right hand side of the road once I got to Sean’s. That’s a big thing for an Aussie!

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Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

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This is the full view of what we could only see side-on from the American side: Niagara Falls, NY, USA.
It’s somewhat ironic that you can only get a full view of the American once you’re in Canada.

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A closer view of the ice formations on and underneath the falls. Magnificent. That’s a lot of ice!

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The Canadian side of Niagara Falls, also known as the Horseshoe Falls.

Niagara Falls, New York, USA

In April, 2014, Winter was just getting ready to leave as we arrived.

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The Niagara River, full of only-just-melting ice at the end of winter.

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The falls were still partly frozen, and the mist coming off them was icy, but there was still a rainbow!

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Postcards from the Past #2

This gorgeous postcard from Niagara Falls, dated 1949, is another that I found in an antique store in PEI. 

    
 
Anyone who reads my blog knows how much I love Niagara Falls and how excited I was to go on the Hornblower cruise on the river below them. 

I am so happy to have this little piece of memorabilia. I have no idea who wrote it or kept it before now, but I will keep their little memory safe. 

 

Niagara Falls: Canada v America. 

When. I posted some of my pictures from the Clifton Hill entertainment area near Niagara Falls, Ontario, one of my American relatives posted a response saying that he really appreciated the American decision to make the area surrounding the falls a national park so that the area would not become commercialised, as the Canadian side of the falls had done. 

I agreed with him. It’s lovely that there is parkland surrounding the falls area, and that people are encouraged to enjoy the natural beauty of the falls. There is a small wooded area where one cat watch the squirrels and chipmunks play, and monuments to various historical events and figures that are significant to the area. It’s really very nice indeed. 

On reflection, though, the two sides are not so different. On both sides, people can enjoy the scenery without directly encountering any kind of commercialism. There is parkland for sitting, having a picnic, or just taking some time out. On both sides, without walking too far, people can find a gift shop, a casino, and various other opportunities for dining and retail therapy. Both casinos and their advertising are quite visible from the falls. Both sides have a Hard Rock Cafe, and I have visited and eaten in each of them. Both are excellent. Both sides run a cruise on the river that takes people right up close to the falls to witness their power and grandeur face to face. Both sides are fantastic, and I encourage everyone to visit both so that their experience of Niagara Falls is complete. 

 Clifton Hill is actually several blocks’ walk from the falls themselves, and doesn’t overwhelm one’s perception of Niagara Falls as one of the world’s natural wonders at all. You can visit Niagara Falls, CA, without going anywhere near there. There is lots of fun to be had at Clifton Hill if one is so inclined, and it’s also possible to enjoy the sights and sounds of the area without spending any extra money. Yes, it’s commercialised to a greater degree than the area surrounding the falls in New York State, but there is commercialism on both sides. 

When it all boils down about which “side” is better, my decision isn’t based on opportunities for dining, gambling or any other entertainment. It’s quite simple, really. The view from the American side is impressive, but nowhere near as stunning as it is on the Canadian side. Even the American side of the falls looks better from Canada.  

 

  

I declare Canada the winner, eh. 

Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls is nothing short of amazing. Powerful, inspiring and breathtakingly beautiful, this is one place that stole a piece of my heart the moment I set foot here eighteen months ago. 

Then, it was at the tail end of winter. There was snow on the ground and parts of the cascades were frozen. There were icebergs in the river. The purity of the glistening whiteness only added to the majesty of the falls. 

  
This time, it’s early autumn and the trees are just beginning to try on the fashionable shades of the season, although the leaves are still mostly green. A blue sky, cheerful sunshine and 24C made for a magnificent day for visiting the falls. 

  
It’s not easy to even get close to describing the falls in words. There is a constant rumble of water tumbling over the cliffs, while a plume of mist rises into the sky from the base of the Horseshoe Falls, the name given to the Canadian side of the falls. 

There are cruises which depart from either side of the falls. The American one is named Maid of the Mist, while the Canadian is named Hornblower. The cruises don’t run in the winter, so it wasn’t an option to experience one last time I was here. This time, though, I was very keen to experience the falls up close and personal, so to speak. 

I donned my complimentary rain poncho and boarded the boat with my friends Sean and Jenn. In the interests of looking all mature and sensible. I said I was excited; internally, though, I was squealing like a six year old on a roller coaster. We set off, and I have a vague suspicion that some of those excited squeals may have escaped as we got nearer to the falls. 

  
What a mind-blowing experience. The power of the water, the tingling coolness of the mist, the overwhelming humility of realising how big those falls are and how small I am, and the joy of being so close to something so magnificent all combined to be almost overwhelming in the most incredibly pleasant of ways.  

 
Later in the day, as we stood on a balcony just above the top of the Horseshoe Falls, I reflected on my love for this place and the exhilaration of the sheer joy that I feel here. I can’t explain it, but both emotions are very real. 

  
This is truly an experience and a day I will never forget.  Niagara Falls, I love you.