Exciting. Apparently, you can’t come to Toronto without visiting Niagara Falls, so that is exactly what we did this weekend!
An early start on Saturday saw us watching the Sunderland match at 7.45am (the less said about that the better) and then getting wrapped up in our winter woollies, packing our case and heading off on our first Canadian roadtrip 😀
The journey was good, we spent the full 90 minutes looking at the pretty views and listening to, laughing and singing along to our favourite radio station here – 102.1 The Edge. If you get a chance, listen to The Dean Blundell Show, this bloke is seriously funny! How they get away with half of the things they say on this show I will never know, but it has us in fits of laughter. I wish English presenters were more like this!
We pulled up at our hotel (Embassy Suites by Hilton) and Phil decided to go for the full valet service. It was at this point that I realised my husband had left his usual frugal-ness at home and was up for going all out this weekend! Now, I might sometimes mock Phil’s ways with money and his obsession with saving 😉 but I do understand it really. We cut back on unnecessary things during the week so that we can have weekends like this. That way we don’t have to worry about scrimping and counting the pennies whilst here, as we have been sensible on the lead up. So with that in mind the valet attendant took our car, and the porter grabbed our case and bags and showed us up to our room.
The reason we were able to afford to stay in such a wonderful hotel was thanks to Phil’s Hilton Honors points, which he has accumulated over the course of the last year. We knew there had to be some benefits to spending weeks and weeks in different hotel rooms miles away from me]]each other , and it seems we have found them! He is now a Gold member, and has an abundance of points, so he decided where better to use them than Niagara Falls. I have to say I agree, brilliant decision!
We walked into our room and the first thing we saw was a big square window looking right out onto the Horseshoe Falls! We were amazed. I kept repeating what a great view we had, and Phil whole heartedly agreed. We were thrilled.
Our porter started to laugh, and said that if we were impressed with this view then we would be blown away when we went into the bedroom.
It was only then that I looked around and realised we were stood in a lounge area, with a dining table and sofas, and that there were other rooms leading off it. I knew that we had booked a suite with a full Falls view, but in my excitement I had thought that was it, so when we followed the porter through to our bedroom I was not prepared for what greeted us!
Floor to ceiling windows ran the full length of the curved wall, with the most perfect, unobstructed view over the whole of Niagara Falls! I don’t think either of us spoke for a few seconds, we just stood there looking out in amazement. WOW!!
We just couldn’t get over the view!
I can honestly say, I have never been anywhere with such a brilliant view and I very much doubt we ever will again. I still can’t actually believe how fantastic it was as I sit here typing this. As you can imagine, we sat there for some time, taking it in and catching our breath. The Falls looked amazing, and so HUGE! The windows drown out most of the noise, but if you listened carefully you could hear the dull thundering of the water. Amazing.
The rest of the suite was absolutely great too, we had a GIANT bed overlooking the Falls and a fireplace in the bedroom, and even a 2 person whirlpool, with windows meaning you even get views out over this spectacular sight when you are in the tub! Then there was the lounge area, with sofas and a dining area at the window, with another great view. We felt like we were famous!
So to settle in, we sat there with our feet up and watched rainbows come and go on the water from the mist. I could literally have sat there for hours, but if this was good, then what would it actually be like down there on the waters edge? Well, we soon found out!
We got ourselves wrapped up again, I was prepared – wellies, scarf, hat, even socks over leggings over tights!
We walked down first of all to the American Falls. Until this trip, I had never seen a waterfall bigger than the ones at the side of the road at the Lake District, and I was taken aback by how amazing they are to watch. In comparison to the big one I had watched from the window, and could see and hear in the distance, this looks small, but don’t let it fool you. It is BIG and it is strong! It looks so violent, but it is so beautiful. The Bridal Veil Falls is the smaller waterfall just to the right of the picture. It is a separate waterfall, and although it does tend to get put together with the American Falls, it isn’t actually part of the large waterfall itself.
We then made our way along towards the big one, walking slowly, taking it all in. The views are breathtaking, it really is an amazing sight and one I could stand and stare at for hours. For someone who likes to take a photograph, this is probably the best place in the world. But, no matter how many pictures you take, you just can’t seem to capture just how amazing it is. I tried my best though, I think pictures can describe how awesome that walk towards the Falls were better than any words I could think of.
We reached Table Rock Welcome Centre and went inside to buy tickets for our Journey Behind the Falls. This is a tour of the tunnels built behind and underneath the Horseshoe Falls of Niagara Falls. On entry you get a very flattering yellow poncho, which we rocked, it has to be said! 😐
First of all you go down in a lift into the tunnels. They are long and not very high, and full of information posters with facts about the tunnels and the Falls themselves, which were really interesting. I found the tunnels quite eerie, they echoed and you could hear the water all around you.
These tunnels take you behind the water and you actually watch as the water thunders down in front of you through portals in the caves. There are two portals, and they are amazing! The portal that is the furthest into the caves behind the Falls was my favourite, it had a creepy green glow, but both portals give you the amazing sight of literally standing in the dark, feet away from the thundering water of Niagara Falls gushing down so viciously in front of you, the noise is loud and scary and brilliant!
Then it’s time to go to the bottom of the falls, and stand underneath thirteen stories (approx 180 ft) of water hammering down into the lake next to you, creating spray and mist that gets you cold and wet. This is the reason you need the ponchos!
But oh my God! I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it is to be standing next to such a powerful natural wonder of the world. It made my heart pound in my chest, and we stood in awe for easily half an hour, getting wet and just looking up and around us at the amazing scene. Once again, words will not do this justice, and neither will photographs. If you ever get the chance to do this, DO IT! I can not recommend it highly enough. We spent an hour at least here, and could have spent the whole day in all honesty. Absolutely magnificent.
That was so much fun, I wish I could do it all over again, and I certainly hope to some day! I want to be able to keep adding to their guest book, and not let this be our only entry.
We came out of our Journey Behind the Falls and, like typical tourists, wanted a few souvenirs to take home. We collect shot glasses from the places we have visited, and so along with a couple of presents we had promised friends and a couple of mugs for breakfast cuppas, we found and purchased our shot glass. I also found a hunky chunk of burning Moose.
After this photograph I sang my rendition of ‘I kissed a moose and I liked it’ for Phil over and over again, which didn’t get annoying for him at all! 😀
We decided that Table Rock was as far along above the Falls we would go for the day, and leave the rest until tomorrow. Its a great spot, and everyone enjoys the views out over the whole of Niagara Falls from here.
Well nearly everyone. One of these children was thoughtfully pushed over by the rails so they could see the lovely rainbow over the American Falls. I am guessing the other child had been naughty, and as punishment got to stare at a nice brick wall!
These next two photographs are for that child looking at the wall. Hey kid, look what you were missing!
We decided to get out of the cold and dry out in a place as far from the freezing chill of Niagara as we could find, and where better than Margaritaville!
We sat at the bar, after being directed by the hula girl on stilts, and I got myself a frozen cocktail, as you do when you are soaked through and freezing, but get carried away with your surroundings!
It was too lovely to only have the one drink, so after our first round we decided we would stay for a while, have a few more drinks and order some food. I got a bowl of fries, as it’s my new favourite food, and Phil got a Philly cheese steak.
After we couldn’t listen to the Copa Cobana once more without going mental, we decided to go back to the hotel to get ready for our night out. We passed a casino on the way, but managed to get home with our purse and wallet still pretty much intact after resisting the flashing lights and glowing charm of the gambling haven.
Once back to the room, we were drawn to the windows once again, as the Falls had been lit up with lots of lights, changing colour every few minutes.
Eventually we dragged ourselves away to get showered and changed for our night out. The manager’s reception and the promise of a free drink was too hard to resist, so we called into the 9th floor on our way down for a taxi.
Sipping my rosé sangria from my straw was just what I needed to get me back in the mood for our big night out in Niagara. Phil eventually ditched the straw and drank his Jim Beam and coke straight like a man, however, the fact he had his little finger sticking out while drinking didn’t seem to fit the butch persona he was trying to give off 😉
We had tickets to go and see a small theatre production of my all time favourite Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life,and I was very excited. We got a taxi straight through the hustle and bustle of Blackpool, sorry, I mean Niagara town centre, and into a little neighbourhood downtown only 10 minutes drive away.
We found a bar near the theatre and thought we would have a drink as there was still enough time for one before the show started. The bar was called Grand Central Sports Restaurant, and full of NFL memorabilia and bikers wearing Harley Davison coats. Pretty cool place, and friendly too. The beer was cheap and very generously given in HUGE glasses, and we liked it here a lot. It was a shame we only had time for one, as we hadn’t found Rolling Rock this cheap and big anywhere else in Niagara or Toronto!
With the show about to start we walked over the road to the small local theatre to collect our tickets. The ticket guy was on a break, and obviously, the man who was standing in for him until he got back was as blind as a bat. He was friendly enough, but seriously couldn’t read anything that was written on the tickets. He searched through the pile agonisingly slowly, bringing the paper to his face and repeating ‘Randle’ until he finally found what he was looking for. Or not as the case may be… we were given 3 senior citizen tickets under the name of Mrs Randell. What are the chances of someone with the same name collecting tickets that night? Turns out very high, about the same of that of a short sighted theatre worker thinking we were 3 elderly women. We walked away, after finally sorting the mistake out, realising that I need to stock up on oil of Ulay and Phil needs a a haircut!
The show was fantastic. Really wonderful. The premise was that we were watching in on the making of a live radio show. Everyone was brilliant, but a special mention has to go to the actor who voiced Clarence, Uncle Billy and Potter. He was the Canadian version of Alistair McGowan, changing not only his voice with each character, but his mannerisms and stage presence as well. Brilliant! After the show, we walked outside to find it snowing, and it really brought a smile to our faces. We had just been discussing how we were not feeling Christmassy yet the day before, and now, here we were after just watching a fantastic Christmas production, walking through downtown Niagara Falls in the snow. It could well have been Bedford Falls! Perfect timing.
We thought we would have a wander around Queen Street in the quaint little neighbourhood, and see if there were any more local bars we could try out off the beaten track, rather than head back into the tourist mayhem we had drove through earlier. This turned out to be a fantastic idea as, luckily for us, we found ourselves a corker! The sound of live music drifted towards us and we followed it until we came upon Taps Brewing Company, a local microbrewery. There was a ‘Sing for your supper’ night on, with bands performing for a charity event. So we happily paid our $10, got our stamp and took our place at the bar. The band were good, doing covers of Nirvana and The Killers and very sing-a-longy. The barman gave us a list of all of their beers, with descriptions of their taste and an indication of how strong they were. We chose a pale ale and got a pitcher. The bar area was full of metal brew kettles and machinery and knowing the beer was being brewed around you as you sat there was pretty ace. We stayed here for the rest of the night, working our way through pitchers and becoming slightly worse for wear! The staff were great, and at closing they sorted a taxi for us to get back to the hotel, in fact the barmaid rang one from her own mobile phone, which we both appreciated.
We had a brilliant night here, and we got to sample a little of the real city of Niagara Falls. We would recommend paying that little bit extra to get out of the flashing lights and neon tourist trap and go down to Queen Street for a night out if you ever visit, it is definitely worth it in our opinion.
Growler obviously means something else here in canada, otherwise I would be rather worried! 😐
Drunkenly happy, and shattered after a great day, we finished the night with a dip in the whirlpool, after all it would be rude not to!
Next morning, with a bit of a hangover, we woke up to find it was still snowing 😀
Waking up to these gorgeous views make your hangover not as bad as it is at home though somehow. It looked VERY cold out there this morning, very cold, but very pretty.
We went down to the ground floor and into TGI Fridays for our breakfast, it’s full of red and white, couldn’t think of anywhere better. Hangovers make you Hungry with a capital H, and so it was a good time for me to be a bit adventurous. Fussy eating put to the test, I decided to go for toast, pancakes, strawberry yoghurt, watermelon, tea and orange juice. I know my Mam and Dad will be reading this with pride! 😀 As for Phil, well, he got everything. He loves a good breakfast does Phil!
With our belly full of brekky, we went back up to our room for a chill, before checking out and exploring again.
Wellies and layers were the theme of the day today, so my outfit consisted of a vest, a jumper, denim shorts over tights, leggings, socks, wellies, coat, scarf and hat. That should just about keep me snug!
We went downstairs and the valet brought our car around, I could definitely get used to this, especially in the cold weather! We then drove down to the casino and mall, for a look around. I am not one for getting into the Christmas spirit in November normally, but something about being at Niagara falls, watching It’s a Wonderful Life the previous night, and being surrounded by such wonderful decorations made me all festive. Not to mention the snow! I defy anyone not to get excited for Santa coming when in this environment.
The shopping mall and casino were pretty impressive, and there were obviously some high stakes players in there that morning if the stretch limos outside was anything to go by. There was also an awesome fountain that reminded me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
We then took a stroll in the snow along from the American Falls up to the Horseshoe Falls, this time going all the way along.
We walked until we were literally on top of Niagara Falls. Just when I thought I couldn’t get amazed by this staggering waterfall any more, we stood on top of it looking down and I was gobsmacked. It makes you feel so small standing above something this big and powerful, and it is quite a scary place to be! But WOW it really is superb.
It is stunning. With a final look down over the cascading waters of Niagara Falls, we went back to the car to make the drive home. What a weekend, what a place to visit and what a sight! This has been one of the best weekends of my life, and it will stay with us forever. Just purely spectacular.
The drive home took a bit longer than getting there, a bit more traffic on the roads with the Grey Cup being held in Toronto that day, but soon enough we were home and warm, supping on a nice cold beer, talking over our weekend away. Good times.