Sunday, 27 November 2016

Niagara Falls

After an awesome few days in Toronto [which you can read about here], Emily and I set off for a trip to Niagara Falls with our friends Alyssia and Jon. It was 17th November, exactly one year before Emily and me will get married in 2017! It was around an hour and a half drive from our friends' home in Bloor West, Toronto to Niagara Falls, with some great views of lakes on the way. 

niagara falls photo
Seeing Niagara Falls for the first time :)

We checked into the Ramada Inn, which Alyssia and Jon had kindly booked for us as an engagement present. The hotel room came as a package with some restaurant vouchers and winery tours, which I'll mention later. The Ramada was a few minutes walk down to the Falls, which we were super excited to see! As we walked towards the Falls, you could start to feel the mist in the air, being blown far and wide. As we were visiting in mid November in the off-season, the area was very quiet and it felt like we practically had the place and the view to ourselves!

niagara mist
The American Falls, The Rainbow Bridge ...and a rainbow!

Emily and I went on a boat trip to the foot of the falls with Hornblower Cruises, although we still like to think of it as the famous "Maid of the Mist"! Our friends' had been on it before so gave it a miss. There were very few people on the boat, so we had unhindered views, but also no one to protect us from the mist - we got very wet very quickly! We were given ponchos to wear by the boat company, but this only goes a small way to keeping you dry.

The Rainbow Bridge, pictured above, connects Canada and the US, aptly named due to the beautiful rainbow that can be regularly seen here at the foot of the American Falls. I hadn't really understood the layout of the Falls until seeing them myself, with the American Falls adjacent to the main sidewalk and harbour, and the much larger [Canadian] Horseshoe Falls curving around further down the river. It's still hard to explain even now I've seen it myself! 

maid of the mist
Getting soaked on 'Maid of the Mist'!

Many people say that seeing Niagara Falls from the Canadian side is better than the US, and due to the layout, I can understand why, despite not having time to go over to the US side myself. I am also told that the Canadian side/town is much better kept than the other.

This lovely little video below, made by Emily, depicts the Falls better; however there isn't much footage of the Horseshoe Falls, as the mist was so vast that it was getting the camera very wet!

niagara falls
The American Falls

After a brilliant couple of hours of enjoying the Falls, Emily and I headed to Niagara-on-the-Lake with Alyssia and Jon. Firstly, we stopped off at the Oast Brewery, where we tried some tasty beer and had a mini ping pong tournament! We then popped into a nice farm shop supermarket and had salad and fresh baked bread for lunch outside in the sun. The weather has been very unseasonably warm for the whole week we had been in Canada so far, and it was lovely to sit outside in the sunshine to eat our lunch.

niagara brewery
Oast Brewery

niagara oast
Oast Brewery bar

As part of the hotel package, we were able to visit some wineries in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area. We first went to a shop, the name of which escapes me and tried three fancy wines each. Niagara on the Lake is a very quaint and very well kept village, with vintage shops and houses, making it a lovely place to wander around.

niagara house
Guest house in Niagara on the Lake

Our next stop was the Trius Winery in Niagara on the Lake. This is a very fancy winery, which included a 'farm to table' brasserie, wine shop and hospitality/tasting rooms. The four of us had a private tour with host Steve, who was very lovely and knowledgable. He clearly had a passion for what he does and this showed in his engaging tour of the winery. We tried several wines at the end of the tour and bought a fancy bottle of red for a gift for someone at the end of the tour. I'd have bought a lot more if it would have fit in my suitcase!

canada brewery tour
Trius Winery tour

trius winery
Trius Winery vineyards

After a very lovely day out, we went back to our hotel to rest before an evening of food and drink in a slightly less refined area of Niagara Falls than earlier in the day! We had been told that Niagara Falls was popular with stag and hen [bachelor and bachelorette] parties and couldn't really understand why, until we walked down a large strip filled with bars, clubs, casinos, fast food and all sorts of random amusement attractions. We had some epic burgers at The Works and some drinks in the town. 

Whilst walking between bars, we popped back to the Falls to sneak a quick look at night. The Falls are lit up at night, glowing in lots of different bright colors. They have fireworks displays there three times a week in the peak season, which would look amazing I'm sure.

Niagara Falls, lit up at night

The next morning, Emily and I indulged in an IHOP breakfast, which are typically found all over the US. If you're not familiar with IHOP, it's a budget restaurant, specialising in huge stacks of pancakes and Emily and I love to go whenever we visit the States. What better way to end a brilliant trip to Niagara and to start the day, then a plate full of sugar and a million calories!

IHOP breakfast pancakes of dreams


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