22 Jul

Niagara Falls, ON, Canada, 20-22 July 2012

The journey from Kingston had been long, passing along the Loyalist Parkway around Prince Edward County, a route along which I saw more Union Flags than ever before in my life, each one alternated with a Canadian Maple, and with numerous redcoat and royal images. They're very very proud subjects of the Queen in Ontario, and very proud of the War of 1812 when they repelled a US invasion and frankly beat the fledgling neighbour, before settling down to 200 years of peace and cooperation. If Britain ever became a republic, and now the Queen has become a Bond girl even I have my doubts about that, then there would be a welcoming and loyal home in Ontario. The area is very nice, full of winerys, and pretty well presented townships running alongside Lake Ontario. The ferry at Glenora, on the scenic and historic Loyalist Parkway (Hwy 33), connects Prince Edward County with the mainland and is great free value as a bit of tourism, and the Lake on the Mountain defies all known geographical and geological theory located nearly 62 metres above the Bay of Quinte. Cloaked in mystery and legend, the turquoise lake is a source of amazement and a beautiful setting for activities in the park.

We then had a long drive past Toronto (jeez what a traffic jam) all the way around to Niagara Falls along the QEW, Queen Elizabeth Way, and into a city that at first seems like an up market version of Blackpool. In some ways it is, but the key fact is: The Niagara Falls are amazing. Awe inspiring. I don't mean the town, I mean the Falls. We checked into the Embassy Suites, fought our way past the happy noisy kids (grrr) and settled down in our rather nice large suite and unpacked. Well, I unpacked. Ann just sat by the window and stared in awe at the Falls as they cascaded before us. Two hours later and one pizza, and she just started to pull herself away from the view. I have to say that I agreed with her, but I have seen the Falls before, admittedly in a fierce blizzard that meant I only saw 25% of them, but the endless flow of such enormous volumes of water is astounding. Then at night they light them gently changing colours with huge xeon lights, and at 10pm they capped it all with a great fireworks display.

The next day we explored and first of all we decided not to buy the $45 all in one ticket, but to watch the Horseshoe Falls from the edge, and then walk down to the American Falls, all of which is open and public. Then we paid for and went down 'Journey Behind the Falls', which allows you to view the water from behind (not so interesting) but also to watch the water from a viewing platform right next to the drop. This was definitely the best value way see the maximum and pay the least. The 'behind' tour is as good if not better than going on the famous boat, the Maid in the Mist.

We then drove to Niagara on the Lake, which is a very posh, very expensive and very nice township some 20 miles along the Niagara river, where it emerges into Lake Ontario. It's a very nice walk, and quite a contrast to the glitz and tat of Niagara iteslf, but frankly both are: a: done well and b: irrelevant compared to the glory of the Falls themselves. We had a fun experience on that drive, we almost ran out of gas, but fortunately we made it in time and were able to reward ourselves with the best part of Canada.. Tim Hortons!