I had last visited Niagara Falls in 1973 and whilst on a recent trip i.e May – Jul 2011 to USA and Canada, it was only natural that me and my wife visit this place. So we boarded a train from New York for Niagara ( Canadian side) and reached there after a nine & a half hour picturesque journey on an Amtrak Train ( Approx USD 60 per ticket). The Canadian Customs took about 2 hours plus to clear the complete train load. They were nice but could not resist asking about the food stuff we might be carrying i.e. “ Sir, Any Khakras; Any Theplas; How much Currency on your person”. When told that Khakras and Theplas were the staples of Gujaratis and not ours, she just smiled and dismissed us.
Transport at the Railway Station / Grey Hound Bus Station
Come out of the Railway station and be prepared to see a deserted expanse. Old dilapidated buildings, No readily available Local Bus or No Taxi. Typical of MOST OF North America – No people either. Just a one room Grey Hound and other Buses Terminus across the road. You will see a sign – City Bus / Local Bus on the right side of the train station as you face it. When, where etc – anybody’s guess. The point being made is that, one must arrange transport well in advance from/ to this place or you could be stuck for hours. We were lucky to get a taxi after an hour’s wait. Transportation is available in plenty at the Falls/ Hotels since Taxis are on call all the time.
Checked into Hotel Day’s Inn Falls View ( Approx USD 70 per day). Good location ( approx 1 KM from the Falls; easy Walking distance). Spacious Room, Refrigerator, Microwave, Clean, Value for money.
About the Falls (For more informative inputs, please visit www.niagaraparks.com).
Now a bit about the Niagara Falls which are approx 12000 years old. . The word Niagara comes from the word “Onguiaahra” which means Thundering Noise. There are two falls – the American side and the Canadian side, the latter being in the shape of a Horseshoe and much much prettier than its US counterpart.
Also called the Honeymoon Capital of the World, the horseshoe falls are 180 feet high, and discharge approx 6 Million Cubic Feet of water per minute i.e. equivalent to water in a Million Bathtubs and being discharged every minute 24x7x 365 except the winters. The Niagara River flows at about 35 miles/hour (56.3 KMs /hour) and the Falls wears its way back by approximately 1 foot/year. Hydro Electricity is also generated at the Niagara Falls.
Annie Edson Taylor (October 24, 1838 – April 29, 1921) was an American adventurer who became the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel on her 63rd birthday, October 24, 1901.
We undertook the Boat Ride i.e. Maid of the Mist, Journey behind the Falls and the Skylon Tower. Also, along with the Skylon Tower ticket, we purchased tickets for a so called 3D / 4D Movie . This theatre is just behind the road side Ticket Counter which falls on the left side of the road when you are going down towards the Falls. The movie was totally avoidable and a waste of money.
Maid of the Mist (Ticket – Canadian $ 16.00 approx ) is an absolute Must. It is a Boat ride which takes you to the base of the falls so to say.
Journey behind the Falls (Ticket – Canadian $ 16.00 approx) – it takes you to see 3 view points. The first two are the ones that are behind the falls and you just see a SMALL curtain of water falling down. Not very exciting. Hold on, it does not mean you do not go there since the absolutely awesome is the third view point. It takes you to an open place which is just hugging right end of the Falls. You are in absolute proximity of the RAW Power of water being discharged @ 6 Million Cubic Feet per minute. For us, it is also a Must Visit. This is the experience one can never forget.
The Skylon Tower
It rises 775 feet above the Falls. Has a revolving restaurant on top also. The ticket for going to the Top is approx CAN $ 13.00 approx. A Yellow Buggy takes you to the top in 52 seconds. It gives a panoramic view of around Canadian / US 8000 Square Miles. The parting joke from the Yellow Buggy Lift Operator is that the Lift was commissioned in 1965 and it so reiiable that it has not been serviced to date. Best visited at night to enjoy the illuminated Falls .
Queen Victoria Park is another beautiful place adjacent to the Niagara Falls. Tthe annual Winter Festival of Lights is held here.
Illumination of the Niagara Falls is also a Must see.
First lighting of these Falls were attempted in 1860 with – white calcium, volcanic and torpedo light called the Bengal Lights. Illumination of the Falls using electricity first occurred in January 1879.In 1997 and 1998, new fixtures replaced the outdated lamps and fixtures.
Currently a total of twenty-one xenon lights, each with a 76-cm (30 in) diameter are used to illuminate the Falls in a rainbow of colours. Eighteen are located at the Illumination Tower, beside the Queen Victoria Place and three are located below street level in the gorge opposite the American Falls. Each of the xenon spotlights produces more than 390 million peak beam and has a brilliance of 250 million candlepower .
To conclude, all I can say is that Niagara experience is something different. You get a feel which is different from the rest of the places . To me, it gave me a feel what Venice had given. Would it be fair to call it romantic – Yes, I think so.
If you get an opportunity, do go there. Just sit by the Falls and keep sitting for a while. Soak it in. It will mesmerize you.