Niagara Falls – across the border!

After this high energy week – 18th birthday celebrations and a super Madrigal performance – let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming! Now, where were we? Oh yes, Niagara Falls!

So Ajey and I had only ever seen the American Falls – due to our visa status, we had not been able to cross to Canada the last 2 times. So we were pretty excited to see the famous Horseshoe Falls from the Canadian side. My in-laws’ Canadian visa fiasco threw a spanner in the works, and we were caught in quite the dilemma. On one side, it was unlikely that we would visit Niagara Falls again – and it seemed like we shouldn’t miss the opportunity. On the other, we would literally be leaving Ajey’s parents behind to travel to a totally different country! Ajey’s Pappa finally made the decision for us – he was quite insistent that we should go, it was only a matter of few hours, after all – they would be fine to rest in the hotel. That being settled, we drove them back to the hotel after a quick lunch, and headed back – this time to the border!

The most popular option, of course, is to cross over the Rainbow Bridge – there’s even an pedestrian bridge which we briefly considered. But while looking for lunch places, Ajey noticed the endless line of cars waiting – so we decided to cross over to Canada a little earlier. About 20 miles upstream of the Falls is Peace Bridge, and armed with a completed ArriveCan application, we were soon in Canada! Now, it’s difficult to explain, the differences are subtle, but even so close to the border, being in Canada feels just a little different. As on the American side, the first sign of the Falls is the high plume of water, followed by the incessant roar of the cascading water – no GPS needed here!

We drove along Niagara Blvd, passing the Niagara Power Plant and the stately Queen Victoria place restaurant. On the American side, other than the Falls, there really isn’t much to do – a few restaurants, some souvenir shopping, that’s about it. Totally different story on the Canadian side – it was a much more carnival like atmosphere – similar to what we had seen in Gaitlinburg! The walkway along Niagara Blvd was absolutely bustling with tourists, the bright flower beds adding to the festive air! We made a slow circuit of the area – Ripley’s Believe It or Not, several go-karting and mini-golf places, the Upside Down House, the Niagara Skywheel – this was the perfect vacation spot! And restaurant after restaurant – including several Indian restaurants!

Skylon Tower was our first stop – again, highly recommended by Pappa! The tallest building in Niagara, Skylon Tower has a revolving restaurant above the observation deck – reservations only, besides we didn’t really have time for a 5 course, sit-down meal – so the Observation Deck it was! I truly wasn’t prepared for the jaw-dropping views – the elevators have glass walls, so the ride up is spectacular!! The Observation Deck offers a panoramic view of the complete Niagara Falls – all the way from Rainbow Bridge and the American Falls to the magnificence of the Horseshoe Falls! It was so much fun watching the matchbox like Maid of the Mist boats head into the water and come back! And yes, we did end up buying the super-kitschy, touristy souvenir photos – I mean, come on, look at those expressions!! And if that wasn’t enough, getting down to Niagara Blvd for an up-close and personal view was next-level awesome!!

We headed back over the Rainbow Bridge – but we were not done yet! One last view of the Niagara Falls – this time with illumination and fireworks! Again, quite mesmerizing – watching the colors play over the water, the lighted buildings on the Canadian side, and the fireworks – I think I took a million photos – and still didn’t feel like it was enough! Too soon, our brief vacation to Niagara Falls was done! All these years, we kept hearing that there’s no need to cross to Canada, the view from the US side is just as good, and anyway, the Maid of the Mist takes you right to the Falls. I will say now, that if you can, you absolutely must go to Canada – yes, the US side view is amazing, but what you see from Canada fully reveals the true, exquisite glory of this natural wonder! I am beyond grateful that we didn’t pass up on this opportunity – I would have never known what I was missing!

And finally, the college visits. To be honest, as much as I know and accept that in a few short months my little chick will spread her wings and fly – I want to avoid thinking about all that right now. Yes, an ostrich is my favorite bird at this point. College visits are in the same category – it just makes everything so real and so now. So although we did stop at several places – Ann Arbor, Purdue, Buffalo, Ohio State, and of course, UIUC – and although all these schools have beautiful campuses and ambitious programs – it is very hard for me to picture Manasi being at any of these places – because that would mean having to picture her not being with me full-time. So, no – I’m still not going to talk about colleges right now – we’ll just save that for another post.

I know these have been pretty picture-heavy couple of posts – but couldn’t resist adding in these last ones. Remember the acres of grapes I mentioned in my earlier post? Well on the way back home, we had a chance to stop at a couple of the fine wineries of the Lake Erie Wine Country for a bit of wine tasting. I was looking forward to the whole swirl-swish-spit routine, but there was no spitting involved! Plenty of swallowing, for sure!! We ran into a couple of groups that were doing a bingo of wineries – now that sounds like a truly wonderful idea! Enjoy the pictures, while I pour myself a glass! Sante!


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