October 15-23, 2019 (Fall)
We briefly returned to our home country to attend a friend’s wedding in Niagara Falls (USA), and took the opportunity to visit the famous and beautiful Niagara Falls (Canada). But in an unlikely twist, we flew first to Chicago to carpool the many, many miles to our destination. Our base was Grand Island in New York, but we popped over the border to visit one of the premier tourist destinations of Upstate New York and Southern Ontario.
The area near the border is a monument to the friendship between the United States and Canada, but the border itself is anything but. Going across it (well, moreso coming back) felt like getting processed for prison rather than embarking on a pleasant day-trip.
Crossing the Rainbow Bridge is a wake-up call that even today, the Horseshoe Falls are a truly impressive sight. The daunting pillar that could pass for a mushroom cloud is actually the constant roiling of mist from the Falls’ gaping maw.
Straight behind the border entrance is Clifton Hill, an absurd tourist trap and the heart of the built-up Canadian side of the falls. Crazy to think that for many this majestic natural wonder is no more than a pretense to gamble and drink. We hurried down to the water-side parkway as soon as we could.
Horseshoe Falls is the highlight of the Canadian side of the falls, but it also happens to have the best view of the runner-up American Falls. Looking back toward where we came, the sheer scale of the Rainbow Bridge was daunting.
Nikola Tesla consulted on the Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station, a fact which earned him a memorial off of Niagara Parkway. We stopped for a selfie with the the man himself, and later corroborated the story in his eponymous museum in Belgrade, Serbia.
The Fallsview area is truly incredible. It’s clear even from up here where the Maid of the Mist gets its name.
We delighted in the crushing roar and rearing spray of the nearby torrent. The most remarkable part might be just how close you get to the top of the falls. Watching the immense turquoise stream bend and fall from the sudden sheer drop is even more powerful when it feels like you can reach out and touch it (don’t, though).
A sudden small change in the wind is all it takes for that column of spray to turn into a torrential downpour on the gaping visitors, ourselves included. We ducked into the souvenir shop for shelter (who, this being their entire reason for being, came prepared with ponchos and umbrellas on offer). Fortunately, we had time to dry off and clean up before the wedding!
While we don’t have anything nice to say about the hotel where we stayed (one of many reasons we stick to Airbnb↗ if we can help it), credit where it is due. The sunrise from Grand Island stands alone in its serene brilliance. One more memory added to the surprisingly robust pile for a couple days’ diversion.