Hello Niagara Falls! It has taken a lifetime to get here but we knew we would one day.
The Horseshoe Falls
This 3-month trip included a number of things on my bucket list in particular – Iceland, Greenland, Grand Canyon, New Zealand and a few others but the highlight within these was Niagara Falls. I learnt about them at school when I was about 12 and the desire to see them never left me. We asked at our hotel in Buffalo if there was a bus which would take us the 20 miles to the Falls and we were told there was not. So this meant going by taxi and they ordered an Uber for us at a cost of $30 which was not too bad for the length of the trip.
On the US side of the Falls the setting is forest and parklike with lots of shade and benches. There were also 2 monuments, one in memory of the dead in the 2 World Wars and the other in recognition of the Native American people. The Visitors’ Centre was well positioned and the staff very helpful. We went to a short movie on the Falls before walking along the smooth and easy paved walkway along the river which was in full flow.
Garden of Acknowledgement of the Native American People
Near the Falls one could go down to closer viewing platforms. At first it seemed as if there was no way for persons in wheelchairs or with prams etc. to go down and it was only after Trevor was on his way back that I found one at the far end of steps which were very wide. I went down and was so glad I did as it was only from that position that the rainbow created by the mist deep in the gorge.
The pedestrian path along the river front
The lower viewing platform where the rainbow could be seen
Further along the walkway was a pedestrian bridge to an island in the middle of the river. There were 2 clearly indicated lanes to cross the bridge in either direction which should have helped with the large crowds who were there but there are always those who ignore any such instructions causing some problems for those who could not move quickly. From the island the views of the Falls were quite different and we could see the boats which take tourists into the mist of the Falls. Each boat was full for every trip and there were long queues awaiting the next trip – or the next or even the next!
Pedestrian Bridge to the island. Notice how turbulent the river was
Bottom left shows a full boat and the long queue of people in their red rain coats
After about 2 hours and a stop for something to eat and drink we decided to cross the over the US/Canadian border bridge into Canada as we had been told that the views from there were quite spectacular, and they were! It was an interesting exercise. We could leave the US by simply walking through a gate. On the Canadian side we had to stand in the boiling sun for almost a half hour before going into their immigration office. The Officer who checked our passports and visas told us that it was the first SA passport he had ever handled.
Canadian waterfront with border bridge at the back
Besides the views of the Falls being different the whole layout was completely different. No forest type area in which to enjoy some shade and not too many benches. The whole area was beautifully laid out but was all paving and concrete except for small areas of grass. The gardens which had been planted were absolutely beautiful.
A small section of the many gardens
From this side we were able to get significantly closer to the Falls and but it was a bit more dangerous. We could see the whole of the Horseshoe Falls which is not possible on the US side. One had to be very careful though as it was rather uneven and, when we were really close, it was wet and slippery but really great to be so close and to hear the roaring of the water.
Horseshoe Falls from Canadian side
At the far end of the pedestrian walkway there was a small picnic area and the ablution block. While walking back from there I saw my first Black Squirrel and while I was taking photos a gentleman came up very excited to his first Black Squirrel. As things so often happen, thereafter I saw at least another half dozen so they are probably quite common in that area.
Statue of King George V who opened the Niagara Falls, Ontario Tourist facility
On our return walk to the US we did not go through Canadian immigration again but we did have to pay $2 to go through the turnstile on to the bridge. This surprised not only ourselves but a number of others who did not have the coins available. There was a change machine which gave change in $2 coins only so clearly the officials know that people don’t know about this system so are not prepared. We crossed the bridge and once more stood in a long queue to meet with the US Immigration who stamped our passports as we passed through.
Trevor at the US side of the gate to go on to the bridge
From the park we went into the town of Niagara Falls and were saddened to see that it was rather run down. There was a time when the city was a very busy industrial area but this collapsed in the late 1970s as production of the materials made here was found to be cheaper elsewhere. The population decreased by half over 10 years and depression sank in until the plan to build the tourism sector took hold but it takes time to rebuild a city. There is also strong competition with Niagara Falls, Ontario for the tourist trade.
2 beautiful steeples of a church in Niagara Falls, Canada
On our way through town we saw a bus marked “Buffalo” so we enquired at the Visitor Centre where were told that there is a bus to Buffalo, where to catch it, when the next bus was due and that it would cost us just $5 each! Significantly less than the taxi. It was not the most comfortable bus ride but at least it was there and we had about 1km to walk back to the hotel. On our way we found a letter from the Social Security Department lying in the road and, as we could not find the street number, we left it with the Hotel Reception. We also found a general dealer where we able to buy each of us a much needed belt for a bargain price of $3.99 and so our day ended well.
On the Canadian side there was also a zipline. We didn’t try it.