When my church first posted a flier announcing a five-day trip to Niagara Falls, I immediately thought of couples holding hands, getting married or celebrating anniversaries. Just the name, Niagara Falls conjures thoughts of romance so I didn’t think it would be the trip for me.
I took the time to speak to the trip leader and I am so glad I did. She said the tour bus run by White Star Tours would be filled with many of our church members with a cross section of ages— both singles and couples. The best news was that the bus would leave directly from our church grounds.
The trip did seem to take quite a while, but we arrived at the Canadian border at four o’clock. With passports in our hands we left the bus and went through the security checkpoint. The bus was also checked not only by customs officials but also by dogs. It seemed a little tense but very necessary in the times in which we live.
A short time later we pulled up to the Travelodge Hotel by the Falls and were welcomed by an efficient and friendly representative from White Star Tours. Joanna would be our guide during our stay and had quite a full itinerary lined up. She passed out our room numbers and keys while our driver Milton unloaded the luggage, which arrived to our rooms promptly.
Sightseeing stops on our first full day included The Floral Clock, a working mechanism with the clock’s face made up of multicolored shrubs, Table Rock for or first view of the falls which was beautiful and of course a visit to a gift shop. Take my word for it, if you see something you want there don’t hesitate to get it. You are not likely to find it anywhere else.
Next on the itinerary was a boat-ride on The Maid of the Mist, for a close up look at the falls. While waiting in line some of us noticed an antique cable car ride. It is suspended 250 feet above the racing water of the falls, which was a great way to observe the water and we had an exciting ride. Hurrying back, we put on the rain-gear that was provided. Even with extra protection we were soaking wet when we disembarked, but it was totally worth it. The falls are extraordinary!
After dinner at a casual restaurant, we were able to explore on our own. We walked to the Clifton Hill area. It is an easy walk down but all uphill on the way back. If walking is a problem there are taxis and a bus system, which runs frequently and a day pass is only seven dollars and is well worth it.
Close your eyes just for a moment and imagine a miniature Times Square, or Las Vegas or Atlantic City’s boardwalk set on a hill. Lots of neon flashing signs extolling the services or goods displayed inside. Tattoos, sand art, your name on a grain of rice, portrait drawings, paintings for sale, souvenirs and so much more. There are many cafes, ice cream parlors and entertainment venues. Some include Ripley’s Believe It or Not, The Upside Down House, The House of Frankenstein and The Great Canadian Midway. Wow! You could literally walk Clifton Hill for a week before doing all that is offered.
My favorite ride and more age appropriate for me, was the Skywheel. It is Canada’s largest observation wheel and towers at one hundred and seventy-five feet. It features fully enclosed gondolas each equipped with music and air-conditioning. The ride duration varies from eight to twelve minutes and affords a dazzling view of the illuminated falls and the surrounding skyline. It is a breathtaking experience.
The next day we headed to Toronto with stops at Harborfront, Chinatown and Casa Loma, a 98 room castle once owned by an eccentric millionaire. I opted for a movie tour and documentary instead of walking three flights of steps. I later enjoyed the lovely gardens and patio areas.
Our final day took us to the Welland Canal. We watched as an ocean going vessel was moved along with the opening, filling and closing of the locks. Then onto the family owned FX Chocolate Factory. We finished our tour with a leisurely walk through the small town of Niagara-On-The-Lake, which was the first capital of Upper Canada in 1792. It has many beautiful, historic homes and upscale shops and galleries.
I will say that although Canada has much to offer, I was very happy to come back to our beautiful country— there really is no place like home!