I left the Hostel in Toronto and got on the bus heading for Niagara Falls just after lunchtime. It was a 2 hour non de-script journey, except for when we actually arrived in et town of Niagara Falls. I had booked with Megabus, which only gave a choice of getting off at Niagara Falls bus station, but the bus also stopped a 2nd time in town, at the Fallsview Casino – only a 2 minute walk from my hostel, instead of the 2 miles from the bus station. So, I politely asked the driver if I could stay on for the extra 2 miles and save myself a walk. The knob, said no and then refused to listen as I asked a 2nd time. What a jobsworth. I grabbed my bag and walked the last 2 miles and actually enjoyed the fresh air and the thought of the bus driver sitting all alone over a microwave meal every night for the rest of his life!! heheh!
The hostel was easy to find and I met Patrick, the hostel manager and his assistant Norah, who both spent a while chatting with me and giving me ideas about things to do here (Eeer Waterfalls!?). Eventually I managed to end the conversation and actually got my room sorted. I wonder how long he would chat to someone who had been on a 12 hour flight to get here? Anyway, I went out and took a walk down towards the waterfalls themselves. (Patrick asked if I was OK 'without a big coat', as I left. I politely said, Yes, I’m fine. While, in my mind saying to him – 'Who are you? My mum?'.
Its been a cold night, made worse by heavy rain that kept stopping and starting, but I made it down to the falls and had a look at them in the dark, as they are lit up quite nicely by spotlights. The rain was horrible though, so I decided to take time to see them tomorrow daytime and at night, hoping that the weather would be better over the next two days and nights.
|My first look at the falls|
|Yeah, its a weird place!!|
|See the rain in the spotlights!?|
|It did stop for a minute!|
After an OK nights sleep and a cheap free breakfast. I went out for the day. I managed to sneak by Patrick, by lying that I was 'Off to get some cash', as he asked where I was going, before quickly disappearing through the door. I actually went along the main street and down Clifton Hill,towards the river. Niagara Falls town, has all the looks of Blackpool or Skegness – lots of cheap cafés and flashing neon lights, cheap t-shirt shops and tattoo parlours. Plus two large casinos. Its not what you see when you look at the photos of the falls, but I suppose people want a way to make money. I suspect that a lot of visitors here now spend an hour at the falls and the rest of 3 or 4 days in the casino or kids arcades. It is very tacky. I thought that the falls would be in a beautiful landscaped park, with wildlife and maybe a few tourist shops and hotels, but this has been so overdone, it almost ruins the falls themselves, which are stunning. The American falls and Horseshoe falls are a couple of hundred metres apart, but you can hear them from a mile away. The mist rising from Horseshoe falls, rises hundreds of feet into the air, falling as permanent rain as you approach them.
I have just thought about why I’m a little disappointed and I know why. These are lazy peoples waterfalls. There is no effort involved in getting here. So, any fool with a camera and a plane ticket can visit. That is great for them, but I would love to feel like I have done something special to see such a spectacle. I remember some of the Waterfalls in New Zealand, particularly the massive ones that appeared as me and Rich rounded a corner during the Routeburn trek. They are unknown, but because of the effort involved to reach them and the sheer shock and surprise when they appeared, plus the fact that we were the only people there to see them, makes them a bit more special I my mind!
|Ok, I thought this was cool!!|
|The way in to hell!!!!|
I wandered past both of them today, ignoring the busy road and flashy lights of the casinos and bars. You can get really close to The Horseshoe falls. Its quite weird as when you get above them, it gets quieter. The roar of the water is 50metres below you ans the water cascading over the lip f the falls is almost silent, but bright green as it gains momentum. It is beautiful. I went further along the river and found the power station built by the same bloke who built Casa Loma, the castle I visited in Toronto, plus there is a stranded scow – a old rusty boat that has been stuck in the river about 100 metres short of the falls since 1918. The men aboard were rescued after a night stuck aboard the stranded boat.
|Me at the falls|
|The old power station|
|Dog in a bag - what a knobber!!|
|hahaha did make me laugh!!|
I then walked for a couple of hours beside the river, heading toward The Whirlpool. Supposedly, the worlds largest whirlpool where the river takes a dramatic 90 degree turn. It was a nice walk and good to get away from the tourists, plus I even passed Rainbow Bridge – the border with the U.S.A. There is actually a door there signed – 'To USA'.
|jump - shit weather!!|
As I reached the Whirlpool, I saw that unfortunately it wasn’t a single massive spectacular whirlpool, but a natural lagoon, between the two legs of the river, that has many small whirlpools that are generated by the flow of the water trying to the path of least resistance. It was nice to see, but not as spectacular as 'Patrick', had made it sound. I knew it was time to head back for a rest, when I saw a crazy woman, carrying her poor little dog in a 'doggy tent backpack thing'. Let the poor dog go woman!!
|last beer of 2011 and 1st of 2012|
|just after midnight|
|me in 2012|
Back at the hostel to warm up and rest for an hour, I was woken by the noise of Patrick, chatting with new arrivals at reception. He uses similar banter with everyone and is quite loud, so my plan of an afternoon kip was slightly ruined. No worries. I spent the evening watching a bit of TV on the computer and having a few quiet beers, before heading out into the madness of New Years Eve at about 11pm. I found a good spot overlooking the falls and apart from a group of Mexicans asking me to move – I said no – It was a nice night out. The fireworks at midnight were brief, but OK to look at and then I wandered around for an hour or so taking some night time pictures before going home for one last beer before bed.
|indoor falling down|
|trespassing on dangerous ground!!! wooooo arrest me officer!!!|
|last pic of the falls|
On Jan 1st, I had a good long lie in, staying in my bed till after lunchtime and then getting up and going for one last walk to see the falls. It was a shitty cold, wet rainy day and so when Spotted an indoor skydiving centre,I popped in to see what it was like and watched the pillocks in the tunnel before heading to the top of the hill overlooking the falls and climbing a fence, ignoring a no trespassing sign, in order to get a decent view of the falls without any trees in the way (You would think, that the trees would be arranged to get a good view instead of being in the way!)
I got a few funny looks as I climbed back over the fence, by the 'minute' tourists (People who spend one minute or less looking at a sight, before getting bored, cold or needing a coffee - Why not stay at home and watch the TV you knobs!”!”) and then I made my way back to the hostel in the rain to get my stuff packed.
A bit of dinner in the same bar as last night was followed by an early night and an early rise the next morning. It was a half hour walk to the bus station and my bus to Buffalo. It was an easy trip. I arrived in Buffalo on a cold clear morning and after a quick walk to book into the hostel, I went out for a look around just after lunch. Most of the city centre was closed due to New Years day holiday for Jan 2nd but I found a Baseball stadium, a warship and submarine the lookout park and a really cool building (Garanty building)covered in Terracotta tiles, that looks great. The best though was the City Hall – a beautiful old building that looks like it belongs in a 50s horror movie. It had been snowing a little on and off, but mid afternoon it got mental and about an inch of snow fell in about 5 minutes, I was caught out in it, but actually enjoyed the thrill. There isn’t much that I really want to see or do in Buffalo, but it is a nice enough place to stop off for a quiet day and night before I fly to Boston tomorrow.
|leaving Niagara Falls - bit of a shithole really!!|
|Buffalo - deserted!!|
|ship and a sub!|
|Garanty building with Terracotta shell!|
|City hall - whooo hooo (ghost noises!?)|
|me in snow!|
|me in snow still!!|