Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Niagara Falls, eh!

Last Thursday morning, we set off at the crack of 7:30 am for fun and adventure in Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada. Mapquest said it would take 4 hours and 51 minutes. I thought this was a fair assessment but as we trucked up I-90, we started to realize this was a gross overestimation. We made it in 4 hours flat. Crossing the border at the Peace Bridge was a snap. And as the customs officer perused our passports he said, “Oh, new passports, eh?” No joke. I was beaming. Our first “eh” and we hadn’t even made it across the border yet! This was a splendid sign of things to come, I thought. (Let the record show I drove the first leg, a whole 3 hours until we made it to the rest stop in Angola, NY.)

We swiftly found our hotel. The lovely Sterling Inn and Spa just up the hill from the falls. Should you decide to stay here, know that the view isn't very pretty out the window but that didn't matter to us. It was an old creamery, hence the milk bottle in the center. I selected this hotel for its numerous reviews on Trip Advisor. It’s rated #1 on there of the Niagara hotels but don’t let their posted price fool you. It only cost $130/night and in the week prior to the trip, Orbitz was showing it at $80 (I cursed myself for booking in advance on that one.) It was still early, 12:30pm, so I didn’t really think we would be able to check in. We were, however, able to leave our car at no charge and get a lunch recommendation (which we actually ate for dinner) and free passes for tours and tastings for the next day from Andre, the concierge. Merci, Andre!

Having snacked on a McDonald’s hamburger only an hour earlier, we weren’t quite hungry for lunch yet and decided instead to embark upon the falls and take in our one and only falls-related attraction, the Maid of the Mist. John has never ridden the Maid. I rode on it when I was 7 on a trip with my dad and sister, although she has no recollection of this. (B – I confirmed with dad. We rode it.) After forking over our $28.00 (hey, fun’s not free, people!) we donned our blue hooded garbage bags and boarded the boat.

Look at the Little Maid. So cute, right? She doesn’t go to the falls though. She's just for show!

The weather was lovely. 74 degrees and a day filled with sunshine. We didn’t have to wait at all and we were at sea. The boat cruises over to the American falls first. These are smaller than the Canadian (horseshoe) falls but still magnificent. I enjoy the Bridal Veil falls to the right. I think the name is clever. At this point, it wasn’t so misty. I somehow convinced John that the most advantageous viewpoint would be on the upper deck of the Maid. Silly boy. Remember, I’ve ridden before. I was worried about the water ruining the camera so I don’t have any pictures really while on the boat. Onto the Horseshoe falls in all their glory. At this point, things were getting a bit wet. I was having trouble keeping my hood on and John was cursing me for being on the top deck, although I offered to go below with him. I think he was afraid of letting go of the rail to make our way to the stairs. The seas, they were a-rockin’.

If you have never ridden the Maid of the Mist, you must try it. At least once. I will warn you. Once you’re hanging out under the horseshoe falls for a good 10 minutes, you will note that it’s not so much misty as monsoon-like. You cannot look up because there are so many drops pelting you. Also, I recommend wearing something of a sandal in nature and NOT socks and shoes (more on that later.) Anyway, continually cursing me, John was finally convinced that we could go down the stairs to the main deck. By this point, my hood had long left my head and I was afraid at what my hair might have looked like. My one pant leg was soaked through and half of my purse, though under the raincoat, was also wet. I was worried John would be mad. Apparently, my memories of the Maid at age 7 did not include wetness of this extent. We were down below on that ride, something to keep in mind in the future. Back at the dock (the whole ride lasts about 30 minutes, max), we could only laughed at our sopping misfortunes. Perhaps you will find it funny too, eh?

By this point we decided we were pretty hungry. I’d also like to point out that our tennis shoes and socks were making lovely squish-squish noises with every step. Not a comfortable feeling considering we had more miles to walk before check-in. We headed up the other hill to the Fallsview Casino, a lovely establishment that I didn’t feel like forking over $200 to stay in. We had burgers for lunch at The Famous, a diner within the casino. $25 later and we were back to sight-seeing. (P.S. The fries at the Famous were delicious. The burgers? Not so much.) I should mention that in the bathroom at the Famous, I wrung out my socks in the sink. I have no shame. $20 lost dollars in the casino later and we headed back down to the falls in search of dessert. We were not paying attention to calories this trip as you’ll come to find out. Dessert was found at the Hershey/Coke Store. It was a cookie sandwich, double chocolate cookies, peanut butter filling and it was TREMENDOUS!

Back up the hill again to check into our hotel. Mon ami Andre showed us to our room. Holy cow. This hotel only has 40 rooms and is known as a ‘boutique’ hotel. That fact should never deter you from staying at the Sterling. The room was HUGE! We booked just a standard but were upgraded to a deluxe which included a fireplace. It had a king-size bed, Jacuzzi and shower with 4 shower heads (that took some getting used to and was rather like being back on the Maid). It was then that John and I took the best nap – nearly 3 hours – and awoke quite refreshed and ready for the evening. Remember, this was supposed to be a relaxing vacation too. Nothing says ‘relaxed’ like a 3 hour nap.

We changed clothes and set off in search of the Spicy Olive for dinner. This was Andre’s lunch suggestion but we weren’t near it when we were hungry for lunch. It’s a modern, moderately priced Italian restaurant. There were only about 5 tables of people in the whole restaurant. Let me say, I’ve only ever been to Niagara Falls in the summer when it’s teeming with tourists. This was a nice change. The streets were practically empty since we were only a few days past the holiday, and it was a Thursday. Dinner was tasty, though nothing spectacular. I did have a yummy martini (Bailey’s, Kahlua, Amaretto and vodka). It was called the Sexy Lady. A sexy lady for a sexy lady, eh?

Back down at the falls to see them all lit up at night but my pictures didn’t turn out very well. It wasn’t the weekend yet and therefore, no fireworks show either. That’s ok. They were still pretty.

Then it was casino time. I think this was the part of the trip John was most looking forward to. I don’t mind a casino but it’s never first on my agenda. I can put $20 in the slots and then be done for the night. We didn’t win any money and there was also an unfortunate tipping incident at the bar where John forgot that not all coins in Canada are quarters. Some of them are worth $1 (loonies) and $2 (toonies). Oh well! Back to the hotel and we turned in for the night. And because this was a lot of reading and I commend the two of you who are still with me…….stay tuned for adventures of Day Two!

1 comment:

  1. Ashley - Sounds like an awesome trip so far! I can't wait to read more and see more pictures! (PS...I doubt I'm considered "one of the two" who read your blog, but I do!) :)

    Looking forward to more,
    Christine :)


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