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Each journey begins with a single step... Two kiwis escaping from the island to explore strange new worlds and boldly go where thousands have gone before... . .

Niagara Falls - New York and Canada

USA | Friday, 29 August 2008 | Views [1095] | Comments [1]

29th Friday

To Niagara Falls, NY

Our overnight train trip to Buffalo-Depew wasn't the best, there was a fat woman in front of us who snored loudly all night, keeping many of the other passengers in the carriage awake, and she didn't quieten until Kent gave her chair a solid kick (should have done it earlier!). We arrived in the small dump of Buffalo-Depew around 10am, only ½ hour late, but Carol hadn't read all of the emails from David, who has been a great help with organising this trip. He had suggested taking the bus into Buffalo, then bussing to Niagara, but instead we had waited until 4.30pm for the train which was scheduled to arrive at 3pm to take us to Niagara. We walked about two miles from the station to get something to eat for lunch, too.

Niagara Falls

We arrived in Niagara Falls about 6pm and got a taxi to take us to Wrobel Towers where our next couchsurfing host, Bill, lived, which is something like the council flats in NZ, only it's an apartment block. Bill is 73 years young, who keeps himself occupied by keeping an open mind and still learning as much as possible, and a very generous host. Bill told us that Niagara Falls, NY was in decline, with many of the industries that had originally started here because of cheap electricity, moving out of the US to get cheaper labour. His apartment is on the 12th floor, which gives great views of the river, Rainbow Bridge, the city of Niagara Falls, ON (in Canada) which has a fireworks display each night, and you can see the falls too.

We went for a walk downstream before dinner, since our stay here was going to be brief. The highway that runs along the US side of the river has such little traffic that one side is for cars, and the other is now for bicycles and pedestrians. Along the way Kent saw a squat, short legged animal, somewhat bigger than a cat, that wandered across the path and disappear into the undergrowth. (We questioned Bill when we got back – he suggested it was probably a groundhog). We walked thru a park downstream to the whirlpool, and a little further until we came to a very uneven stairway going down to the river. We went down the stairs a little way and caught a beautiful red sun setting into the clouds above, before returning back to Bill's apartment.

Bill prepared us a meal of franks and sauercraut, followed by icecream. After checking our email and updating the travel blog, we arranged our packs and prepared for an early start for the next day.

30th Saturday

Into Canada (if only for 1 hour...)

Our day started at 6am, and we were on our way to Canada by 6.30am! We walked upriver to the Rainbow Bridge and crossed into Canada. The Canadian side of the Niagara River was very attractive, very clean, very formal gardens, quite a contrast to what we had seen already of the unkempt US side. There's one hell of a lot of water going over those falls! After walking up to the lip of Horseshoe Falls on this side, and also seeing the views of the American and Bridal Veil falls, we quickly walked back to the Rainbow bridge, only to be confronted with a toll booth! We were supposed to pay 50 cents each to get back into USA (but being enterprising Kiwis on a budget, and as a matter of protest, we both squeezed together thru the turnstile, so effectively got in for half price). We crossed back into USA, and thru emigration just before the first wave of tour coaches (luckily), so it was only a matter of minutes to be processed.

... and back into USA

Walking upriver on the US side now, we came across a maze of fence. We walked a little further until finding the ticket sales booths for the 'Maid of the Mist' boat trip to the base of the falls. We joined the growing line of people waiting for the booths to open, then realised the maze behind us was to herd the growing queue! The booths opened and we were lucky again, just in time for another window to open and we were at the front! Off to the observation deck, down the elevator to the river, where we given a blue waterproof poncho each. We boarded the boat and got a front position on the top deck and we were off. We passed along the base of the American and Bridal Veil falls, with the spray from both falls swirling about us, not getting too wet. Then the boat powered to the base of the Horseshoe falls. Here the water was extremely turbulent, and the wind and water blew about us fiercely. If it wasn't for our ponchos we would have been absolutely drenched! It was one very thrilling, if not short, ride.

Back on dry land, we walked over to Goat Island, and up to the lip of Horseshoe Falls on the US side. Time being short, we didn't spend too much time here, pausing breifly to photograph a bronze statute of Nikola Tesla. Back to Wrobel Towers, saying our thanks and farewells to Bill, it was off to the station for our train trip to Albany.

 

Comments

1

Hey, there's no way a groundhog could be that big!!!I think your couchsurfing host has never seen a real one! It would most likely have been a raccoon, they're a bit bigger than cats and around looking for food all the time although mostly at night. They waddle along. Skunks are much smaller, nowhere near the size of a cat, and anyway they have the white stripe you can easily see.

  Elaine Sep 8, 2008 11:40 AM

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