When I decided, while still in Manila, to make the side-trip to Toronto from New York, I chose to travel by air, as I didn’t want the long drive between these two cities. However, when I was already in Toronto for our family reunion, my niece lured me into joining her for the drive back to New York. Her bait? A leisurely stopover in Niagara Falls and the adjoining town, Niagara-On-The-Lake.
The last time I went to Niagara Falls was more than 30 years ago, and I’ve never been to Niagara-On-The-Lake, so I couldn’t say NO to the offer. After a leisurely two-hour drive from Oshawa, we were in Niagara Falls.
Greeting us as we entered The Falls area from Niagara Parkway was the beautiful Flower Clock. We couldn’t help but get off our car just to get a closer look at this finely crafted horticulture attraction. Built in 1950 by Ontario Hydro, approximately 16,000 colorful carpet bedding plants make up the face of the clock, which is diligently maintained by the Niagara Parks staff. I learned that the design is changed twice a year, depending on which blooms are available to provide the most striking colors.
Driving for five more minutes, we found ourselves at The Falls. Even if I have already seen it before, I was still mesmerized by the awesome splendor of this natural tourist attraction. As if to welcome me back, a beautiful rainbow arched itself on the banks of the Niagara River.
Niagara Falls, is located right between the Canadian province of Ontario and the state of New York. It is actually composed of three waterfalls—the Horseshoe Falls which is on the Canadian side and is the biggest and the most picturesque of the three, the American Falls, and the smaller Bridal Veil Falls right next to it. The Horseshoe Falls has a vertical drop of 165 feet and is the most powerful waterfall in North America, the reason why it has been a valuable source of hydroelectric power.
The amount of water that flows over The Falls can actually be controlled by the intake of the hydroelectric plants’ reservoirs. We learned that the best time to visit is during daytime of the summer months as the waterfall volume is at its maximum. We were lucky because that was when we were there.
As I was taking photos, I saw down below, on the Niagara River, the Maid of the Mist, a boat which carries daring tourists, inching its way as close as possible to The Falls’ vertical drop. I remember having taken that ride during my first visit and it is one experience that is hard to forget—the thundering sound of the powerful waterfalls cuts off any conversation between you and whoever is right next to you, and the mist gets you totally wet, in spite of the raincoat and hood that the tour agency provides. But all that make for a real adventure!
I noticed that the area around The Falls is now commercially developed. They now have many malls, hotels, restaurants, shops, and even casinos. As somebody who has been with the tourism industry since forever, I find it such a joy to see how this “natural wonder” has sparked a highly successful tourism industry for the area and for thousands employed in the related establishments. Records show that Niagara Falls attracts an average of 12 million tourists yearly. That’s twice the number of foreign visitors our entire country attracts.
After doing the rounds of The Falls area, we drove off to the adjoining town, the beautiful Niagara-On-The-Lake, an upscale neighborhood populated mostly by owners of vast vineyards and other farms. Located right on the banks of Lake Ontario, it is the only town in Canada with a Lord Mayor. This is an honorary title given to an appointed dignitary in recognition of the town’s role as the first capital of Upper Canada. The town also has an elected mayor responsible for the town’s state of affairs.
Walking around the visually engaging downtown area, I discovered a luxurious fine dining restaurant in the town’s most expensive hotel. What caught my attentions was its name—Escabeche Restaurant. I was curious and wanted to find out if the chef was Filipino. Unfortunately, the restaurant had a very strict dress code and I was just in my shorts and espadrilles.
It was also surprising to note that this small town has three theaters, all located near each other. Later, I learned that it is home to the annual Shaw Festival, which features theatrical productions of the works of the famous author, George Bernard Shaw, and his contemporaries. The shows boast of a pool of directors known to be among the best in the world of theater.
After some shopping and a late lunch, we decided to start our long drive back to New York, which took all of six hours, non-stop. I would have complained about this boring leg of the trip, but the splendor of awesome Niagara Falls, and the picturesque Niagara-On-The-Lake, more than made up for it.
For feedback, I’m at
YOUR FRIDAY CHUCKLE
Every man needs a beautiful wife…an intelligent wife…a caring wife…a loving wife…a sexy wife…a cooperative wife…but it’s sad that our law allows only one wife.