Canada

Don’t go to Niagara Falls without Gloves

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Niagara Falls was never really on my extremely long and a bit overwhelming list of “Places I Must Visit Before I Die,” but when a Groupon for a $49 hotel came up in my Featured Deals, I figured it might be time I shut up and go see those falls anyway. That, and the fact that any excuse I can get to 1) get out of NYC and 2) go back to Canada and you got me.

I then noticed that in addition to the hotel, they were throwing in a $20 off Mama Mias voucher and 25% off voucher for Perkins Restaurant, and before I knew it I was on a overnight Greyhound bus in this position for twelve hours:

greyhound-bus

To get my ranting started on this post, can we first just review bus, plane, or train seating etiquette? Number one: if you are ever traveling on a bus or train and see someone who needs to sit down, please don’t be that person to put your bags on the seat next to you. It ain’t right. So to the woman in front of me who literally used the excuse “but if you sit here, I won’t be able to put my feet up,” this isn’t the Kensington Palace; it’s a Greyhound bus.

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Incorrect travel posture.

Number two: if you see two people who need to sit down because they are traveling together, give up your seat. You’re going to have to sit next to a random person anyway, so you might as well do some good and let the couple sit next to each other, with the hopes that someone would do that for you one day

And then number three: Being friendly is great; being overly talkative is not.

I was lucky enough to be seated behind a man that looked like Beavis and Butthead and I don’t say that to be mean but the man was a lil kooky to start off with. So kooky that when he tried striking up a conversation with the three people in front of me, I had to play the “Désolé, je ne parle pas anglais’ card (Sorry, I don’t speak English) when it came to me. Thank God for all those foreign language classes. As much as I promote learning a language to communicate with more people, I also recommend it to strategically get out of unwanted situations. Like, c’mon the man was so kooky that when we were at some rest stop in the middle of upstate New York at 3:45am, he used his five minutes to get change and play a game of Pacman in the arcade. Told you traveling is always eventful!

So, I arrived at the Wyndham Garden Hotel the next day and had one goal: see Niagara Falls. This wasn’t like my other trips where I basically forced myself to see every part of the city, talk to locals, and do all of that hubbaloo. I wanted to see Niagara Falls and then spend the rest of my two day trip back at the hotel, taking advantage of the French television, the bubbling hot tub, the free USA Today paper, and okay, I admit it, the free drink voucher from the bar.

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My room after my destruction.

When I checked in, I was literally one of three people staying at the entire hotel (yes, three people), so they nicely put me on the 9th floor. My friends weren’t kidding when they said Niagara Falls shuts down in winter. My Groupon was for a city-view room, which I was fine with especially after realizing that the sun set from that side anyway. Well, and I’m a sucker for city views, even if they do look this industrial.

niagara-falls-city-view

On my way to see Niagara Falls for the first time, I couldn’t help but realize how Tim Hortons basically owns the city (or Canada for that matter?). If my calculations are correct, what McDonalds is the the United States, Tim Hortons is to Canada. They’re everywhere.

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And I now see why.

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I ate at Time Hortons at least four times in two days. 1) Because nothing was open (I can’t emphasize enough how many restaurants simply do not operate during the winter season), 2) because the soup, bagel, coffee deal is the only meal you’ll find for $5.65, and 3) because it was the only thing remotely vegetarian-friendly, and by that, I mean bagels and muffins, and soup that probably was made with beef broth.

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The Falls themselves were overwhelming. Not sure if it’s because of the 10 degree weather paired with no gloves and trying to snap photos and videos or because the Falls are just that beautiful. Because I went in winter, when you can’t take the famous Maid of the Mist boat near the Falls, about the only entertainment I got was watching fellow tourists throw massive snow chunks into the falls. Entertaining to say the least, until my mind wandered and I started questioning how many people themselves have fallen overboard…and that’s when I stop thinking/writing about it because the whole thing freaks me out….Alrighty, so where were we?

niagara-falls-selfie

Peace up, A town down.

When you’re researching Niagara Falls, you’ll notice that people in message boards will heavily debate the pros and cons of the NY and Canadian side. Because the Greyhound bus terminal and my Groupon hotel were both on the Canadian side, my decision was easy. Oh yeah, and again the fact that I’ll take any excuse I can to go back to Canada, after my awesome experience in Montréal [Things I didn’t know about Montréal till I went to Montréal].

Canadian vs American side

Ok, so I’ve never been to the American side, but I can imagine you might prefer that if you don’t want to bother with money conversions (although now that I’m thinking of it, I never had a problem paying with American money) and don’t want to be harassed at US-Canada border customs, and questioned so much into thinking you’re guilty about something.

Also, Im not sure if the American side is this way, but the Canadian side of Niagara Falls is very commercialized, so it’s mainly a city built for tourists. In winter, it seemed as if 85% of the city was closed or abandoned, but with the amount of theme parks and Vegas-like entertainment, I bet there’s some hope for summer tourism.

What are your thoughts on Niagara Falls in summer? In winter? In winter with no gloves?

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  • Nora

    Loved it!

  • Denny

    Found this piece after watching your new Niagara Falls video. I don’t know very many people who are bold enough to book trips and travel alone. But watching you do it makes it seem okay, like it’s something everyone should do and experience at least once. Be spontaneous. Get away. But maybe not at Niagara Falls in winter….

    Thanks for documenting your trip.

    But I have a question after reading this… If you went alone, who took that photo of you inside Hortons, wearing the red shirt? hmm

    • Hahaha you’re quite the detective! Believe it or not, Jo isn’t my only friend! I went with a good friend of mine who also had never gone! Anyway, that being said, I’ve taken many trips alone and highly, highly recommend them. It’s nice to be with yourself sometimes!

  • Anthony

    I work in Niagara Falls, you’re absolutely right when you say it dies in the winter. Summer is a great time though, I work in one of the many hotels and it’s a great work experience, but I’ve also lived in this “city” for the entire 19 years of my life thus far. Personally, I wouldn’t say we’re a city. We’re a town that’s houses one of the 7 wonders of the world so it draws people in. Although, the Falls hasn’t lost its beauty. The history is the best though. A lot has happened here that not many people realize!

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