Americas

From drizzle storms to deserted towns

There are a lot of sights in this world which are beyond staggeringly impressive, and yet when you walk up to them in real life, it’s a slightly ‘meh’ moment…You know what I mean?!
You have seen so many photos, postcards, film-sets etc featuring them, so when you eventually see them for real you feel like you have already been there or almost as if you expect them to be bigger and more impressive than they really are. Think of any tourist booklet of Australia for example (I love the country, but…) it will always feature a kangaroo, the Sydney opera house and bridge, and Ayers Rock…resulting in Sydney harbour etc, being such a known image it loses its impressiveness. Don’t get me wrong I was so over-excited to see them, but I hope you see the point I’m trying to make!

Niagara Falls is one of the few exceptions.

As with so many things, the Canadians have managed to keep these falls a slight secret. Everyone knows of Niagara Falls and their size, but it’s not an image I, personally, have seen plastered everywhere.
Niagara Falls in HUGE. Every minute, 34 million gallons of water roar over the edge. That’s one gallon for each and every Canadian citizen (it’s a surprisingly low population for the country’s size!) every MINUTE….crazy!
As you approach the falls you first come across the American falls, which are in themselves highly impressive. It’s not until you look further ahead that you notice the enormity of Niagara Falls, also know as the horse-shoe falls. It’s hard to realise how big they are until you notice the boat that is driving into the falls, or the people standing next to it looking like ants. You can walk right up to the waters edge at the top and see it pouring over the ridge. Due to the amount of spray that is produced from the falls you immediately feel like you are standing in a ‘drizzle storm’ and being whipped across the face with the spray. I’m sure on a boiling hot summers day this could be an excellent welcome cooling system, but unfortunately for us it was rather overcast and therefore this sensation was far from pleasant!
We had two days in Niagara Falls and decided to wait until the second day to see if the weather cleared up a bit to do all the ‘falls activities’, and headed to the town of Niagara.

Unfortunately, in a place of such natural beauty, the beauty could never be expected to continue into the town either. The town resembles a theme park. High rise hotel blocks and casino towers dominate over the falls while on the lower street levels, the place is filled with amusement arcades, fast food joints and candy stores. And yet, it’s SO much fun! You have to forget how spoilt and touristy Niagara Falls has become and take the town as a separate entity. We spent the whole day going from the wax museum to the amusement arcade, laser quasering, on simulation rides and eating from the abundance of fast food eateries. Luckily we were in Niagara Falls on a Monday and out of peak tourist season, meaning that we never had to wait too long for anything…infact, it occasionally felt like we had the places to ourselves. (Think of the town Shrek and Donkey visit in the first Shrek and you’ve pretty much found your picture of Niagara!)

That night, we decided to treat ourselves to a delicious supper and visited The Keg…an incredible steak restaurant. This restaurant has cleverly located itself near the top of one of the many tall hotel blocks overlooking the falls. Just as we arrived

and were seated the nightly lights display of the falls began, which was stunning!Both the American and the Canadian Falls are lit up by coloured and neutral light beams resulting in a gorgeous backdrop for our meal! Full of steak and wine we decided to hit the Casino….! Having never really visited a casino I got a little overexcited and probably a little bit too much money was put down on the roulette table. However, on a last minute whim, my lucky number struck us big time so we decided to stay longer….

On our way back to the hotel we tried to take a short cut and ended up going up a path leading us to a dead end, but the end was the origin of the lights beaming out over the falls. Watching them change slowly next to us and massively impacting the way the falls looked, we watched this private show for a while before heading back to the hotel.

Unfortunately the next day’s weather was not much better, so we gritted our teethand went back into the ‘drizzle storm’! A tunnel has been built going behind

the actual falls; so we donned our free-be poncho’s and wandered behind the immense falls which was so surreal. Seeing the water cascade down in front of you with such force is just another reminder of how powerful nature can be.

We then decided to go on the ‘Maid of the Mist’ boat trip into the falls. Walking outof the drizzle storm down the river towards the boat, we were given yet anotherponcho and boarded the boat. Little did we realise how wet we would actually get.Eagerly stepping up to the front of the boat, we started our journey into the falls. Just when you start to worry you might be headingright under the waterfalls, the boat stops and sits for a while in the mist of the falls-romantic as this may sound…its not! You are no longer in a drizzle storm so much as a full ontropicalstorm! It’s not until you start to head back out of the falls that you can appreciate the journey you just went on, and quite how much water does come over the edge!

Unfortunately the weekend had come to an end, so we tried to dry our clothes asmuch as possible (poncho’s weren’t all that waterproof it would seem!) beforeboarding the bus back to Ottawa!

Claudia Guest
A traveler all her life, Claudia was born in Germany and raised in England. She regularly visited various countries around Europe and the Americas, but it was when she was 18 that she really discovered her own overwhelming lust for travel. As soon as she finished school, she and two girlfriends backpacked through Italy, Southern France and Spain. Five months later she was back on a plane for a two-week sailing holiday in the Caribbean and a week after returning from that she was on another plane bound for Australia, where she traveled for three months, before going to teach English in Ecuador for four months. From there, she studied at university in England, traveled to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, and then headed to Canada on a work visa, where she is today. This summer, Claudia is working on a tourist cruise boat in Ottawa…yet constantly feels Asia calling her back. Try to keep track of where she goes- or just look up in the sky, where she’s most likely bound for somewhere new!

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