Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Niagara Falls, Ontario—Day 193

Today I took a day trip over to Niagara Falls which is just about an hour from Toronto. I booked a tour through a newspaper ad that I saw and was excited to get to the falls. Oh, I almost forgot. The subway was SO packed; it was literally like you had no room to even breathe. It was during rush hour so I had to squeeze in on the end before the doors closed on me. I only had a few stops to go on the really busy subway train and there was this woman standing next to me. Well, when the train came to a sudden halt like they do when you stop at a station, I accidentally stepped on her foot (apparently, but I could hardly move so it wasn’t like I did it on purpose). Well the woman gave me this little huff of attitude (just a huff, no words were exchanged) and she hit me! It was more like a disgusted push, as if I had pushed her first and she was pushing me back. I just looked at her and mumbled “sorry” as I got off of the train. What did she expect?

So as I pushed through the crowds and made it up to the street surface, I some donuts and some tea and stood on a corner in downtown Toronto where I was supposed to be picked up. After a few minutes, a large white passenger van pulled up. It was my ride, so I hopped in.

The tour guide enthusiastically greeted and enthusiastically asked for me to pay for my trip up front. Fair enough. I found my money and handed it to him and we drove away. We picked up a few more people and were then off to Niagara Falls. The driver was so excited that we were going to Niagara Falls and acted as if it was his first time going there but apparently had been a tour guide for over 20 years in the Niagara Falls area. It wasn’t like it was his first time and he didn’t know where to go, but more of an “I’m so in love with Niagara Falls” excited. Bur more about that in a minute.

So we headed south to Niagara Falls and every so often the tour guide would come on the loudspeaker and gasp at something we were passing by. OOOOOHHHHH! Look look look! On the left!!!! We would all quickly turn as to not to miss out on the supposedly spectacular thing that he was looking at only to find that he was pointing at a nice car, or a squirrel or something. Honestly, it was like Oooooooh, look at that really big house! That BIG HOUSE! And we would all look at this semi-normal, yet somewhat big I guess, house.

Anyways, he kept doing this the ENTIRE TRIP. Everything was new and exciting to him and it got to be pretty funny. Especially when his shouts of enthusiasm would come out of nowhere which would make you jump in your seat.

Anyways, we made it to Niagara Falls and got dropped off for a little five minute break or so while the tour guide went to park the van. Unfortunately I never knew what this guy’s name was which would make my story SO much better but maybe I’ll just make one up. Vinnie. I’ll call him Vinnie.

So Vinnie comes back and takes us over to the falls and buys us tickets for the Maid of the Mist boat ride, which is basically a bunch of boats that you can get on and ride one right up to the falls (hence the mist part) and then back. There are boats on both the Canadian and American sides. So he showed us in and then said that he would be back in a few hours to pick us up again. So we had some free time to go on the boat ride and walk around.

I handed my ticket to a ticket lady and was given a bright blue plastic poncho, along with what seemed like hundreds of other blue-poncho people. We looked like smurfs. They filled us in a line and we didn’t have to wait long until it was our turn to go on the boat. But at this point it started to POUR with rain, so not only were we getting wet from the rain, but we were going to get wet from the falls as well. Oh well, it didn’t matter. Getting soaked was part of the fun.

So our boat pulled out of the boarding area and we went over to the American Falls, which is part of Niagara Falls on the American side. We went passed it (ooooh, ahhh) and then over to Horseshoe Falls which is the big mama of the two falls on the Canadian side. Our boat went in very close to the falls which was cool but because there was so much wind and water blasting in my face it was hard to really get a good look. The water going over the falls was a cool green and grey color, with white as well, and there was a huge cloud of mist in the middle.

We then turned around and headed back to shore where we disembarked and they loaded another group of camera-touting tourists for their turn. By this time the rain had kind of subsided to a drizzle so it seemed like our group was the only one to really experience the downpour.

I spent the rest of my “free time” getting lunch and walking over to where you could see the falls going off the cliff—that part right at the point where the water falls. It was really neat and you could see the other Maid of the Mist boats going towards the water from below.

I then headed back to meet up with the group and we spent the rest of the afternoon going to other sights in Niagara Falls, including the floral clock (OHHHHH!!! LOOK LOOK!!! ON THE RIGHT!! A CLOOOOOOOCK!!!), several historical sights concerning the War of 1812 (OHHHHHH WOW!!!!!) and a winery (WOOOOOOOOOOW!!! *whistle whistle* WOW!!!) where they served us free tastings in hope that we buy wine. Pretty standard touristy stuff but all in all I had a really good day because I was able to see Niagara Falls. We headed back to Toronto and got back in around 6 o’clock in the evening. Vinnie dropped me off at the downtown area and thanked me for taking the tour with him, saying that there was a tour to an Amish village tomorrow if I wanted to go.

Just the idea of Vinnie driving around the Amish countryside shouting enthusiasms (OHHHHH! A HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE!!!!) was enough to make me NOT want to go, but in a good way. One day with him was plenty.

I then decided to go up the CN Tower (yet another Space Needle type place—this is my third that I had been to) and had to wait over an hour and a half to even get up it. It was ridiculous—people kept trying to cut in line in front of me. Well, in front of lots of people) and I had to spend an hour trying to block out a mother’s conversation with her grown son and her complaining about everything under the sun.

But, the view was cool up at the top. There is this glass part of the floor which you can stand on and look down but there were so many people literally sitting and laying on it that you could hardly squeeze yourself in to get a good look. So I went outside and took pictures of Toronto through the wires that blocked the view but kept people from throwing things off of it. I then went back inside and had to wait to catch the elevator down and to try and prevent more people from cutting in line. It didn’t work (the prevention) but I finally made it down.

I then, like the suave Toronto native that I’ve so expertly become in the past three days, I made it back to my hotel and packed up my things for my flight tomorrow!

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.