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Should bert post lots of pics of the falls in his trip report?  

37 members have voted

  1. 1. Should bert post lots of pics of the falls in his trip report?

    • Yes - I love seeing pics of the waterfalfluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo from many angles
      22
    • No - only need to see a few pics of the waterfalfluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo to get the idea
      15


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Hi All,

 

we just got back from an amazing jaunt from Texas to Ontario, and will be working on a trip report (hence this placeholder).

 

but the reason I wanted to start now. . before even beginning to type, was to ask:

 

I took HUNDREDS of pics, and even if I cull to only the best ones, I still have tons.

 

so how many pics of the falls and surrounding areas are y'all interested in seeing? (multiple angles from lots of activities we did).

 

don't worry about MarineLand. . those I'll post almost all of em, when we get to that day -- and I took pics of every ride, path, and sign there. . LOL. . so lots to see.

 

 

but, how interested are folks in pics of the actual falls? (Depending on answers, will post a ton, or way less of em).

 

bert

 

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Post as many as you want! I love pictures! I'm sure they're fantastic!

 

you asked for it

 

 

will start working on the 1st day report later today, but here's a taste. . and possibly my favorite pic from the trip (tho there are a lot of contenders)

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Us at the Cave of the Winds walkway, looking up at Bridal Veil falls.

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It's always nice to see a few shots of Niagara Falls...just as long as it's followed by some theme parks after.

 

oh. there will be a whole day of MarineLand pics . . you just gotta wait for all the water pics first

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And so it begins: Day 1:

 

 

In our quest to clear thru our bucket list of places to go, we settled on this year’s trip as a quick trip to Niagara Falls.

 

We had originally intended to add Manhattan to the trip as well, but since work was being difficult in regards to time off, as well as myself having a long vacation coming up later this summer, and needing to retain days off (sorry Dragon*con. . . skipping this year), we decided just to stick to the Niagara Falls area, and planned it for Memorial Day week so as only to use 4 vacation days.

 

I was able to find a fairly cheap flight (Southwest) to Buffalo (routed thru Baltimore on the way there, and thru Orlando on the way back), and was able to cheaply rent a car.

If I had realized that GreyLine offered a drop-off in Canada service for ~$80 per person, might have gone that way instead of renting, as the car mostly sat in the Hotel lot (being charged $14 / day for the privilege). . but oh well, was nice to have the wheels when we wanted them.

 

We got up at 4am, and made our way to the airport for our 7am flight, and parking in long term and going thru security was a breeze. Since the dog was out, we didn’t even have to take our shoes/belts off, or any liquids out of our bags – although, as usual, I was “selected” for additional screening. Meaning I got to stand there legs spread wide, while I was felt up (quite well, I might add) across my crotch and my buttocks. Funnily enough, an older lady in line behind us, just happened to be on our same flight, and when we saw her in the gate area, she giggled with me and commented how she felt so much safer since my crotch had cleared security. LOL.

 

Anyways, the flight to Baltimore was completely full (“like sardines” as the desk agent told me – I always check, since Nick likes to sit in the very back row, and if the flight is full, don’t want to be stuck in the smallest row, with all 3 seats full), so we sat just behind the wing, and it was an uneventful flight. We got to Baltimore, and had about an hour ½ layover, so grabbed a light snack and waited by our gate until boarding. Where we watched a young lady freak out, when she realized she was at the wrong gate (yes, after sitting there for an hour, and ignoring every single tv screen that SHOWED what the next flight was. . . yay, people).

 

This flight wasn’t near as full, so we spread out in the back row for our quick 1 hour flight, and before we knew it, were landing in Buffalo.

 

Getting the rental was easy/peasy, although the car rental clerk was extremely chatty (she liked that I asked her how her day was going. . and come to think of it, one of the Airline Stewards also lit up when I told her good morning, and said that nobody EVER greets her. . . that’s so dumb, it takes *nothing* to be polite to people). Anyways, rental clerk was chatty, and gave us all kinds of extra perks, and freebies. . all while saying ‘cause I like you two”. . . . and really, I was ready to get on the road, but as long as she’s giving us free upgrades? Sure, I’ll chat.

 

LOL

 

We eventually got the keys, and following the clerks direction to the Peace Bridge Boarder Crossing (which she advised us taking instead of Rainbow Bridge crossing in Niagara Falls, as that one would be way more crowded on Memorial Day).. .we promptly got lost in downtown Buffalo (yay us!).

 

Luckily, I had directions from the Hotel, which also happened to have suggested crossing at Peace Bridge, so we were able to correct, and get back on track, and before we knew it, were approaching the Peace Bridge border crossing.

 

The Customs guard was super friendly, and chatty, and when he asked if there was a reason we were going to Niagara Falls (as the follow up question to “where are you going”), I just said “delayed Honeymoon”. . . I mean, it wasn’t the *reason* we were going, but we actually hadn’t gone on a Honeymoon, so why not? Nick was a little worried I said that, but the guard simply smiled, said Congratulations! And waved us thru . . .welcome to Canada. 

 

The route from Peace Bridge to Niagara falls is really a straight shot, so in less than 25 minutes, we were pulling up the main drive (Victoria street) towards our hotel, the Courtyard Marriott.

 

we love Courtyard Marriott, as they are all basically the same and we know what you are gonna get, and although this one did not have the little “bistro”, everything else was as expected: Poool, hot tub, large room, computers in lobby, supplied newspaper, large reading area with comfortable couches.

I think this one didn’t have the bistro, because there is a “Keg Steakhouse” attached on one side (with full breakfast buffet from the hotel offered there in the mornings for less than $10) , and just across the parking lot is a TGIFridays and a Denny’s across the street.

 

Note: Victoria Street was under major construction, making it only 1 way from just before our hotel, down to the Rainbow Bridge, and we were told by multiple folks thruout our visit that they had been working on for several weeks, and it was hurting the businesses there – which I totally believe, as we were one of only two groups of customers when we went to Denny’s one afternoon, and in a souvenir shop the proprietor was so happy to see us, she acted as a personal valet offering suggestions on things we might light and digging for sizes for us (we bought a number of things from her). Several folks noted they hoped they would be done soon before “the season” started. . and yeah, they were rushing it. In our 3 days there, it went from unpaved, to paved, to striped, and almost ready to open back up. So if you go now, it should be back to 2 way traffic.

 

anyways. . .

 

When we checked in, I mentioned to the desk clerk that we had never been before, and if possible, we’d like a nice view of downtown (the hotel is not on the falls, which made it significantly cheaper, since no falls view), but is right near the tourist district and is an easy walk to view them. Our room on the 6th floor, was nice, and had a view towards the falls (in the mornings we could see the mist rising from them over the trees), with a good view of the Ferris Wheel on our left, and the Skylon Tower & FallsView casino on our right (both of which change colors thruout the night. . very pretty).

 

Once we got settled into the room, it was already almost 5pm, and we were getting hungry. I had planned that we’d go to FallsView Casino for the evening, as I knew they had restaurant options, and we could relax and play a bit. I checked at the front desk, and they told us tho we COULD walk it (it was maybe a 15 minute walk), if we wanted to drive they had parking. . but it wasn’t free. One clerk mentioned that last time she was there it was $30 for the 2 hours she spent shopping. They also mentioned that since it was Memorial Day, that there would be fireworks over the falls at 10 – something that excited me, but gave Nick pause. . remember, we had been up since 4am.

 

I thanked them for the advice, and knowing that we’d be doing a LOT of walking over the next couple of days, we asked them to call us a cab – which was only $7, and the driver was thrilled we paid in American, as that was extra $$ for him.

 

He dropped us off right in front of the Casino (literally a 3 minute ride), and we headed inside to what looked like something transplanted from the Vegas Strip.

The property is absolutely beautiful, with a steam-punk vibe thruout. With a large shopping promenade (similar to the Wynn shops), long pathways that go along the falls (makes sense, the place is called the FallsView Casino), and the largest casino floor I’ve ever seen. Seriously, it was at least 3-4 football fields long. . just huge.

Since it looked like a Vegas casino, I followed the standard plan, and we went directly to Players Club to sign up as first thing.

 

and just like in Vegas, the Player’s Club offers some perks – including validated parking for members (d’oh!!). . oh well, the cab wasn’t too bad, and we were able to leave the car there.

New members also got $5 off on the buffet (which cinched it for where we’d eat that evening), and a pretty good cashback program for players. Which in Canada is 19. . tho really, I don’t think we saw anyone under 40 playing on the casino floor. Interestingly there seems to be no liquor service at the Casino in Canada. While there’s a bar, I don’t recall seeing one waitress serving drinks or walking around taking orders. A big plus tho is that no smoking is allowed, so we didn’t have any eye or breathing issues at all while at FallsView.

 

She also mentioned the fireworks at 10. . since it’s just before the start of the season (in June), I guess it’s a big deal as the fireworks aren’t happening every night yet.

We asked for recommendation to go look at the falls, since that was the reason we had come to Niagara, so I wanted to at least LOOK at them before doing anything else, and she directed us to the end of the shops, and out to the scenic overlook pass. . . . which although we were hungry, we headed out that way.

 

And got our 1st look at the falls. LOL. . . and too be honest, we thought, nice. But smaller than we had imagined they would be. (but we also knew that we were looking at them from a ways away, and that tomorrow we’d be right up in them). But they most certainly were beautiful, and after doing a quick look around the overlook, and the grounds, we headed back into the casino to make our way to the Buffet.

 

How was it?. . . well, with the discount, it still came out to about $50 Canadian (so about $42 American?).. .and I’d rank it as a mid-level Vegas one. It was along the lines of what you’d get at Planet Hollywood, or MGM Grand. Lots, and lots of offerings, that were OK, but nothing terrible. And a number of standouts – the Mussels were quite good, as was the Lamb Schwarma. I found the deserts to all be way too sweet for my tastes, but there were a lot of variety available.

 

Since we were both so hungry, ate way more than we should have. . tho I wouldn’t really recommend this place for the food. However, for the view? If you can sit near a window (and the hostess kindly sat us with a lovely view of the American & Bridal Veil falls). . . totally worth the cost of the buffet for the view. And everyone that was sitting around us, not all US tourists, as we seemed to be surrounded by Canadians from other provinces, was very friendly and wanted to talk about where we were visiting from, the view, and for the most part. . NOT about US politics. . tho several Ontario folks brought up politics, and we declined to engage in that topic

 

As we waddled out of the buffet (told you we ate too much), we had to go to the Cashier to exchange US $$ to Canadian, as you have to play with Canadian Dollars. It’s actually a little more thrilling, as with the exchange rate, they hand you back a much bigger wad of money than you hand them – even if the money looks odd to Americans (there is a large “clear” section on the bills. . it kind of looks like it got burnt, and someone put tape over the spot). But It’s very colorful, and you feel like you have way more money than you have -- something that works opposite when you go to convert it back to American, and your large stack of Canadian turns into a few $20’s. . LOL.

 

No cameras allowed in the Casino, so no pics of that, but we did end up playing for almost 3 hours, and although Nick didn’t do so hot, as usual, I held my own. After 3 hours of playing, I walked out of the Casino with $80 more than I had started with. So that’s “winning” in my book – not only did I get the entertainment which ended up costing me nothing, but even ended up with more than I started, so could use that for souvenirs!

 

it wasn’t dark yet, and it was feeling like there was no way we’d make it to the fireworks (lots of food + sitting at a slot machine will sap your energy), so I reluctantly agreed we wouldn’t stay for the fireworks, but we’d go back outside to look at the falls again, and then we’d walk the whole overlook pass (with multiple viewing platforms), back around to the front of the Casino to grab a cab back to the Hotel. The weather was beautiful, mid-70’s, and we saw all kinds of birds, black squirrels, and even a big skunk (we SLOWLY went around him as to not startle him), while admiring the views, and the plants/flowers around the landscaped grounds.

 

It was close to 9, I’d guess but we easily found a cab to get us back to the Courtyard Marriott (even cheaper than the trip there, at only $5 back), and when we got to our room, we realized that hey. . we can see the casino from our sliding patio doors.. so maybe we’ll be able to see the fireworks anyways? Oh, and there was a beautiful full moon up too Monday night.

 

In a nod of how perfect the universe had made our day thus far? Not only could we see the fireworks, but they were over the American Falls.. which is the direction our room faced.

So we were able to stand at our patio door, and watch the fireworks from the comfort of our room! They didn’t last long, but they sure were pretty.

 

And that wrapped up an almost perfect day 1. . . we set a wake up call for 8am the next morning (full day of sightseeing tours planned!), and turned in, and were asleep by 10:30.

 

On to pics from day 1:

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up and at the Austin airport, waiting for our "full like sardines" flight

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now sitting in Baltimore, waiting for our connecting flight

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and we're here! in Buffalo

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after getting lost in downtown Buffalo, we finally found our way onto (and over) the Peace Bridge

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OH, Canada

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pulling into the hotel, this is our view. that's Skylon Tower, and the FallsView Casino ahead

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from our room.. looking to the left

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looking to the right.. behind Skylon tower on the left there?

 

That's MarineLand's drop tower off in the distance: Skyscreamer

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entering into the lobby of the FallsView Casino, where they have a beautiful glass dome over a steampunk inspired fountain

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and here's me and the fountain

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at the end of the gallery shops, our first glimpse of the famous Niagara Falls

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Nick and the falls

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stepping outside, we get a nice glimpse (tho blocked by lots of foliage) of the Canadian Horseshoe falls

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and here's the American falls on the left, and the Bridal Veil Falls on the right

 

(the structures around the base of Bridal Veil falls is the "Cave of the Winds" experience

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from our table at the Buffet, a lovely view of the American Falls

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from the lookout, looking towards the Casino behind us

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headed back in to eat, but first a picture by the dancing fountain. . . since there's not enough water flowing around here :p

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the Tower Hotel there on the left, looks pretty cool. . until you get close to it and see how run down it looks (all peeling paint, and panels falling off.. . would not have wanted to stay there)

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again, from window at dinner

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after we ate, went back out to the overlook paths, and found this guy sitting around

(we would discover the next day, he's one of THOUSANDS of these birds)

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nope. . not afraid of people at all.

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Horseshoe falls thru the trees, as the sun is starting to set

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American Falls, and Bridal Veil, from the path as we're headed back around to the front of the FallsView Casino

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Nick and the Skylon tower

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looking down from a walkway over Fallsview boulevard. . but we're getting tired

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you can tell

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full, fat, and happy. . and pooped

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back in our room, taking pics of the night starting to get dark. . once it starts, it gets dark fast

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full moon and Skylon tower

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the ferris wheel lights up lovely at night. . . and stays lit up ALL night.

 

good thing for think curtains in our room!

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Skylon Tower, and FallsView Casino looking all purply

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full moon, and fireworks!

 

Happy Memorial Day.

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Oh wow, that looks so fun! Who was putting on the fireworks, do you know?

 

as we were there before the season officially starts the daily fireworks in June. . not 100%. .but I would assume it's the Clifton Hill folks (the entertainment district we were staying right next to on the Canadian side), since the site says:

From May 18th until June 17th, 2018, enjoy a spectacular fireworks display every Friday, Saturday and Sunday (and Holiday Monday's) at 10 p.m. in Queen Victoria Park, and then beginning on June 18th, 2018 straight through to September 3rd, 2018, the Niagara Falls fireworks shows will resume daily at 10 p.m. Fireworks ...

 

 

https://www.cliftonhill.com/events/niagara-falls-fireworks

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Ahem.

 

I am totally "falling" for your photos, Bert!

Great shots of both countries' waterfalls.

 

How were your meals there?

 

 

1st day: FallsView Casino -- perfectly acceptable, but nothing fantastic (other than the mentioned Mussels and Lamb Schwarma)

 

2nd day: on tour in morning, so lunch was Hot Dog stand next to USA Visitor Center (was good tho), and late lunch/dinner (before 2nd tour) was at Denny's across the street, actually quite good, I had the spicy skillet and Nick had French Toast.

 

3d day: breakfast at the Keg in our hotel (very good, with an omelette station), and then we did not eat at Marineland, other than an ice cream cone. . I swear EVERYONE was eating ice cream. .it was very odd, but I'll talk more about that on day 3), and for dinner we walked down to Clifton Hills Entertainment area, and tho we prefer to do food more "local" we ended up at the Niagara Falls Hard Rock Cafe.. where I had an OK pulled pork sandwich -- with some STELLAR Poutine (honestly, I was very impressed), and Nick had a decent turkey club.

 

 

oh, I should mention, as it's very noticeable: in a 6 block square area. .there are at LEAST 8 IHOPs.

the evening tourgide told us, when I mentioned to her how prominent IHOPs are (not only there. .but advertised with huge signs on the sides of multiple hotels), that not only is the food not good, but it's very overpriced on the Canadian side.

 

Can't comment on the pricing, since we didn't eat at one, but the guide said the prices are almost double what one would pay on the American side. . which is weird, because the Denny's and the Hard Rock were both about the same as they cost here in Texas.

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^ Sorry, I didn't read much through your write-up on the trip. Because...my eyes are starting to "go,"

even with reading glasses on. I realized I was probably asking about what you've already described...

 

Ah well. It's my age, that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it. Thanks for your response.

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^ Sorry, I didn't read much through your write-up on the trip. Because...my eyes are starting to "go,"

even with reading glasses on. I realized I was probably asking about what you've already described...

 

Ah well. It's my age, that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it. Thanks for your response.

 

oh, no worries at all Bill!

 

I had only done day 1. . and I tend to type a lot (but been told some folks like it, and that's just my style). .so that's why I said "as mentioned". . . . because that's the only meal we had on day 1.

 

the other stuff was all new info, so I'm glad I could summarize for ya

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Fireworks are done by "Niagara parks". They do a pretty good job, and you get them even in the depths of winter (which is nice when they illuminate all the snow and ice).

 

Glad that you picked a nice weather weekend to come up. It has been warm (for the end of May) up in this neck of the woods!

Love the picture at the "Cave of the Winds". Still one of my favourite places at Niagara.

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Glad that you picked a nice weather weekend to come up. It has been warm (for the end of May) up in this neck of the woods!

Love the picture at the "Cave of the Winds". Still one of my favourite places at Niagara.

 

it was pretty incredible timing. . the ONLY drizzly overcast we saw? the morning we were driving back to Buffalo.

 

absolutely gorgeous weather the other days!

 

and funny you mention that it's been warm, I cannot tell you how many (but it was in DOZENS) folks commented to us at Marineland how hot it was. (and as you'll see in the pics when I get to that day, I'm wearing long sleeves).

 

Almost every conversation with an employee included them commenting how hot it was, and us saying that we're from Texas, and to us, this is perfectly comfortable. .. . almost always followed by a look of disbelief, followed by a statement that just last week it was cold, but now it's so hot, they were dying.

 

it was bizzaro world, because coming from Texas, we're so used to the extreme heat, that weather in the high 80's really is nothing to us

 

 

and yes, we LOVED Cave of the Winds. . . it's up there among our most favorite thing we did (possibly tied with the rainbows in the falls we saw during walk behind the falls on the Canadian side).

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LOVING IT!!! I've been to Niagara Falls when I was ten, but now that I'm grown, I feel it's a major need to go back and really try everything out. Especially for Marineland! Since 2019 is the year I plan on taking my first international theme park trip (Canada's Wonderland), I might have to make a hop over to the falls as well. But I really do love the pictures and I can't wait for the rest of the report!

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Thanks for sharing your trip. Looks like you had an amazing first day! I enjoy the detail in your posts and am looking forward to reading the rest.

 

thanks. . really appreciate that!

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Great report! You made a wise choice avoiding the Rainbow Bridge; I have never gotten over that thing in a timely manner.

 

That view from your room was really nice.

 

thanks! Part 1 of Day 2 coming up shortly. where we actually went over Rainbow Bridge to start our tour.

 

we came back that way to Buffalo (again, getting slightly lost, but this time in the USA, on the way back, LOL. . .)

Luckily because we left for the airport at 8:30 am on a Thursday, crossing over wasn't bad at all at that time (tho the bus lane was packed with 3-4 buses stacked up).

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LOVING IT!!! I've been to Niagara Falls when I was ten, but now that I'm grown, I feel it's a major need to go back and really try everything out. Especially for Marineland! Since 2019 is the year I plan on taking my first international theme park trip (Canada's Wonderland), I might have to make a hop over to the falls as well. But I really do love the pictures and I can't wait for the rest of the report!

 

if you're going to MarineLand, you MUST go to the falls. it's literally a 4 minute drive from Marineland to TableRock viewing platforms (where walk behind the Horseshoe Falls is located).

 

heck, in many of my pics, you can see the Marineland Drop Tower in the pics (from our hotel room, it was visible just to the left of skylon tower).

 

one thing that was a little odd: they have no overhead lights in Marineland -- some of the rides have lights on them, but otherwise, NO lights. which is why you can't see the drop-tower in the evening pictures (and why the park closes at dusk).

 

but yeah, if you are in Ontario for a park, and don't go by the falls? you'd be missing out.

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Day 2, part 1, morning tour of the USA side of Niagara Falls

 

So we had the alarm set for 8am, and as a back up had set up a wake-up call for 8:05. Yet despite how wiped out we had been from the prior day travelling, we were both up by 7:30 and ready to begin our day.

 

I had booked a tour thru Grayline, called “Shared Wonder tour” that was actually 2 tours: the “Maid in America” tour in the morning, and the “Canadian Rainbow Tour” in the evening.

The morning tour was going to pick us up at our hotel at 8:30 am, and drop us back off around 1, then the evening tour would pick us up at 5:30, and drop us back at 10pm.

 

This was the perfect thing for us, as we LIKE touristy crap, and the planned itinerary would eliminate the need to stand in any ticket lines, or mess with having to find parking (or each attraction). . so it was well worth the cost for us. AND they picked up and dropped off at our hotel, so all we had to do was go to the lobby and wait.

 

The tours did not offer a food stop, so we decided we’d just eat leftover plane snacks in the morning, and then it the 4 hours between tours, we’d grab a bite to eat, relax in the room, and maybe do some souvenir shopping.

 

So we went down to the lobby, and sat on the benches outside at 8:30 as instructed, and around 8:50, the small shuttle bus with the Grayline logo pulled in. The driver apologized that he was running a little late, as he had come from the American side to pick us all up for the tour. We assured him it was fine, and he said he had 3 more stops for pick ups before we started the tour officially. The Bus was already full with about 16 other passengers, and we start chatting as we’re going to next hotel for pick up, and I mentioned how we were sure we had our passports, and hopefully the crossing back over wouldn’t take too long.

 

To which the woman in the back row says: “wait.. . we need our passports?”

 

Yeah. . . really.

 

Someone who was *picked up* on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, to take a tour called “Maid in America”.. had not brought her passport with her.

 

So several of us called forward to the driver, and advised him that she did not have her passport. At which point, a Gentleman sitting two rows ahead of us says, “oh. . . I don’t have mine with me either”

 

Yes. Really. People really are this stupid

 

 

The driver (who actually should take some responsibility for not asking passengers as he picked them up if they had their passports.. .but come ON. . we know it’s really their own damn fault – personal responsibility, people!), was very kind, and backtracked to both of their hotels so they could go in and get their Passports. The original woman was on floor 36, and it took her a good 20-25 minutes to get to the elevator, up to her room, and then back down. . while we waited, and waited, and waited. Once she finally got back, he swung back to get the other guy, and then headed to get the last 3 stops – which had already called to complain, or were worried they had been ripped off by the tour company.

(once we got them all on the bus, and we explained to them what had happened, they were completely understanding, and more than a bit relieved that they hadn’t been forgotten or cheated out of the tour).

 

However, we basically didn’t even START the tour (getting across the Rainbow bridge into the USA), until almost 10 am due to these people! Because by the time we got to the Rainbow Bridge, there was a bus in the lane in front of us (a full size bus, rather than our smaller tour bus), so that took a bit for them to get thru customs, before it was even our turn.

 

But. . . to cut to the chase, the driver went out of his way to make up for the disastrous start, and not only cut 30 minutes out of our “shopping stop” (that wasted almost 40 minutes in the evening tour later that day). .which no one minded, but he made absolutely certain we got our full tour.

 

So we ended up getting back to our Hotel closer to 4pm when all was said and done (almost 3 hours later than the tour was supposed to have ended, but still with more than an hour ½ before our evening tour was to start).

 

But we were absolutely fine with this, it resulted in not being rushed (which helped with the Australian couple who were late getting back on the bus from *every* stop. . again. . people.. sheesh). We made sure to tip the driver well, as we really did appreciate how he accounted for the late start, and made sure we had time at the stops (most of which he got out and did with us. . other than Cave of the Winds, where he stayed up top and held all of our shoes, so none of us had to schlep plastic bags full of our footwear up and down the wooden decks & stairs like everyone else has to do).

 

Anyway. . . once we actually crossed the Rainbow Bridge, he took us on a quick drive thru the NY side of Niagara Falls, and up to the Observation Tower, that is also where the famous “Maid of the Mist” boat tours depart from. Because we were with a tour, he parked in the closer bus lot (off to the side of the main lots), and walked us to the observation tower gates, where he went in the line and got all of us the tickets for the Maid of the Mist boat ride, that brings you past the American and Bridal Veil falls, and into the center of the Canadian Horseshoe falls. . where one is just surrounded by cascading water, rainbows, and mist.

 

Our driver doled out advice when he handed out our tickets:

-- Yes, you are going to be tempted to stop and take a picture on the way to the elevators, but don’t. You’ll get better views from the tower after exiting the boat ride.

-- They are going to give you a blue raincoat. Most everyone will put them on immediately, but hold off until you are on the boat. The raincoats don’t breathe, and as it’s humid down by the dock, you’ll be sweating in minutes if you put it on early.

-- Most everyone is going to go to the upper deck. We should not, instead go to the lower left front section. We’ll get better views of the American and Bridal Veil falls as we pass them on the left side, and as a bonus, the upper deck will cover where we are standing, so we’ll be able to step back under the covering to get some great pictures, without getting our cellphones or cameras completely drenched (this was some great advice)

-- also by staying on lower left deck? We’ll be right next to the exit, so when the boat returns, wouldn’t you rather be off immediately, instead of wasting time standing in line to get off the boat, when instead we can already be moving to the next thing? (especially since the elevators only hold 15 or so people per trip. .so we want to be among the 1st off).

 

 

All of this advice was great, and made for a great time. Yes, we got wet – but not soaked (the raincoats really do keep one pretty dry), but oh wow is this boat ride fun.

Not only do the falls kick up that mist, but the power of the water gives a heck of a wind that will blow you all over the deck if you’re not holding on.

 

Until the boat finds the sweet spot right in the center of the falls, where everything suddenly goes calm. It’s eerie as hell, and an absolutely breathtaking experience.

 

It was here that we really felt the power of the place, and blew out of the water our 1st impression from the night before that they are smaller than we expected. Nothing like looking up into cascading walls of water surrounding you, to make you appreciate the beauty of nature.

 

After about 10 minutes, the boat heads back to the dock (in all, it was about 20 minute trip), and the raincoats quickly dried out, so we ended up keeping ours as souvenirs.

we followed our guide’s instructions, and were among the first off the boat, and into the elevators back up to the Observation tower. Where we got some just amazing views of what we had just seen up close. We hung out on the tower for 10 or so minutes, then a quick look-see at Prospect Point (overlooking the edge of the American Falls), then headed back to the bus, to continue on the morning’s adventure.

 

We took a lovely drive, as he headed past the Rainbow Bride (going East?) along the Niagara Gorge, and took us to see some of the Power Plants along the river that generate much of the power for the area (pointing out the decommissioned plants, as he explained they built better and more efficient plants further down-river. And tho we didn’t get ouf of the bus, this part of the tour was still interesting, to see these giant concrete structures perched into the sides of the gorge, and seeing the massive intake ports, and control gates.

 

As we looped back towards the main falls, the next stop was the Whirlpool State Park – an area of the Niagara Gorge where the power of the water, has eroded out an “elbow” in the lake, creating a whirlpool like effect where the water comes in and swirls counter clockwise on itself, before continuing down river. This is also the area of Niagara where the famous Whirlpool Class 6 rapids are. We parked and exited the bus here, for some show and tell on the picnic tables, where the guide pulled out a giant iPad and showed us pictures of what the Falls area looks like in the winter months, and told us stories of some of the famous daredevils who had challenged both the falls, and the Whirlpool rapids over the decades.

 

Then it was time to hike down the trail, to the overlook and spend some time enjoying the natural beauty of the gorge, the rapids, the whirlpool, and foliage (watch out for that poison ivy tho. . it’s EVERYWHERE. . and once the guide pointed that out? Yep, we all started itching). LOL.

 

Then it was time to head back towards the falls, since we had our Cave of the Winds stop scheduled for 1:30 (yep, ½ hour after the tour was supposed to be done. . but since you have to buy timed tickets for that so they don’t overcrowd the decks, our guide booked our time during the morning observation stop. . .and I *think* that because we had been running behind, 1:30 was the first time available for his large group).

 

It was still about an hour away, so he brought us down to near the Niagara Falls Visitor Center / Honeymoon gift shop on the US side, and we took ~ a 15 minute break to use the restrooms, and grab a hot dog from the vendor that was there. I have to totally assume that this stop happened only because our driver was hungry (as this tour was not supposed to include a food stop).

 

But almost everyone on the bus grabbed a hot dog (and as noted, they were really good), and I took the opportunity to run into the Honeymoon Gift Shop to pick up magnets as gifts for co-workers, and into the Visitor Center to grab a novelty pic (I wanted a shirt, but there wasn’t time for that type of shopping, so instead grabbed a brochure, and will order on line, as I really like the US side Niagara Falls Logo).

 

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Oh. . also in front of the Honeymoon gift shop? A photo op. and since I had said to the Customs agent that we were there for Honeymoon, I giggled, and insisted Nick pose with me.

 

D’awwwwww

 

 

On to the pics, and rest of the Morning Tour will hopefully be up later today, or tomorrow (with the Cave of the Winds pics)

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up bright and early (ish). . . here comes da sun!

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in line at Customs on the Rainbow Bridge (while waiting for the bus load in front of us to clear customs), so get a very nice shot of all 3 falls: from left to right: American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, then straight ahead, Canadian Horseshoe Falls.

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all checked in with our tickets for Maid of the Mist, and down on the docks waiting. So was able to look up and get this shot of the Rainbow Bridge between the two Countries.

 

That's Canada on the left, and USA on the right.

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Looking up, there is the US Observation Platform. the elevators down to Maid of the Mist are in the large support.

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nice view of Niagara Falls, Ontario from the Maid of the Mist queue.

 

The American side (Maid of the Mist) get Blue raincoats. The Canadian Side (Hornblower tours) get Red raincoats

(and Cave of the Winds, as well as Journey Behind the Falls, get Yellow Raincoats)

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awww. . don't we look smexy in our "gear". . . LOL

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Boat about to leave the dock.

again, that's the American & Bridal Veil on the Left, Horseshoe straight ahead

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we're moving! and Nick is excited.

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American Falls

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starting to get windy, as we get close to the American falls on our way to Horseshoe, straight ahead

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American Falls

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American on the left, Bridal Veil on the right.

And all those structures around the base of Bridal Veil are the "Cave of the Winds" walkways. . we'll be on those later this afternoon!

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yep. . getting breezy as we pass the American falls.. tho not wet (yet).

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looking back at American and Bridal Veil

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and here comes the main event: Horseshoe falls... you can see a Hornblower boat (from the Canadian side) up ahead in the mist. when they pull out, we pull in.

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it truly is stunning

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MASSIVE walls of water, all around. . with heavy winds and mist, and a rumble you feel way deep down inside

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STUNNING

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after a few minutes in the center of the Horseshoe falls, we head back, and the air clears, and we can get some beautiful shots of the American falls as we head back towards the dock.

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Observation Tower back in the distance, so you can gauge about how far away it is from the falls themselves.

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we've now returned from the Maid of the Mist boat ride, and have taken the Elevator back up to the top of the observation tower. so can get some good overhead pics of all the falls.

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damn.. we look so happy :)

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my "artsy" picture! put a quarter into the lookout viewer, then put phone up against the viewer to get this interesting shot.

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Driving downriver to head towards the power plant, can see some of the rapids going towards the Whirlpool curve

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our happy group (tho you can't see the Australians who were always late, as they were sitting in front of us) :)

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plaque talking about the Niagara Falls Daredevils at Whirlpool State Park

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the cable car across the Gorge on the Canadian side, that takes a trip back and forth over the Whirlpool.

We would be over on that side later tonight, but the cablecar was closed by then

(not that it mattered, no WAY would Nick have gotten on that :p )

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Whirlpool rapids

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the famous Niagara Whirlpool

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d'awwwwwww

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d'awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

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in the Visitor Center on the American side.

 

wheee!

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Enjoying your report a lot as this is just down the road from us, and one of my favourite places in North America.

 

 

it was bizzaro world, because coming from Texas, we're so used to the extreme heat, that weather in the high 80's really is nothing to us

 

Love this comment, as it is the complete opposite when we go down to Florida in February, and when we were in Texas in December last year. The locals would tells us it is "cold" when it was minus 24C or the like in Toronto.

 

Looking forward to the rest of your report.

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Enjoying your report a lot as this is just down the road from us, and one of my favourite places in North America.

 

 

it was bizzaro world, because coming from Texas, we're so used to the extreme heat, that weather in the high 80's really is nothing to us

 

Love this comment, as it is the complete opposite when we go down to Florida in February, and when we were in Texas in December last year. The locals would tells us it is "cold" when it was minus 24C or the like in Toronto.

 

Looking forward to the rest of your report.

 

thanks! and too funny that you had the opposite when you were here. LOL. but Texans are weird. .if it gets into the 60's people here start freaking out about "winter"

 

LOTS more pics to come from our afternoon, and then the evening tour.

 

then the full day at Marineland (where I took a ton of pics). . . wish I didn't type so much tho, would be able to get the report up faster

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