Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Niagara Falls


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Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls


We visited Niagara Falls during Fall 2011.

Niagara Falls is probably the most well known falls in the world, though for trivia lovers it is not the tallest (this distinction goes to Angel Falls in Venezuela). Part of the popularity of Niagara Falls clearly stems from its accessibility, with its proximity to Toronto on the Canadian side and New York on the US side.

Niagara Falls can basically be considered as two falls with the larger "horseshoe" shaped falls on the Canadian side and the smaller (but equally impressive) "bridal veil" falls on the US side.


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Niagara Falls (US side)

Transportation 


The easiest, fastest and "cheapest" way to Niagara Falls is to take a taxi from Toronto Pearson Airport. While the cheapest part is debatable, the benefits in terms of the other parameters (easiest and fastest) in our opinion far outweigh the hassles you would endure in trying to save $20-30. Technically the cheapest option would be to take a taxi from Toronto Airport to Union station (yes, there are no direct bus connections between the two) + then take a train from there (be sure to check the timetable as it varies depending on the season - and in the worst case you might have to again transfer to a bus from the train).

There are also numerous day tours departing from Toronto to Niagara Falls that bring you back to Toronto the same day. This might also be an option for travelers who wish to make Toronto as their base during the trip. However, we recommend spending at least one night in Niagara Falls city (for reasons specified below).

Niagara Falls City


The area surrounding Niagara Falls has developed into a nice (small) city. The city itself is very "green". Apart from the falls, there are numerous attractions such as Casinos, Wax Museums, Ripley's Museum to keep those of you engrossed who do not enjoy 'natural beauty' as much. There are many hotels right in front of the falls offering "Falls view" rooms. The main incentive however to spend the night in Niagara is to see the falls illuminated by colorful lights at night (pic below) - a sight not to be missed.

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Niagara Falls (Canadian side) at night

There are also many tours one can take in Niagara Falls. Couple of recommended ones include:

  • Maid of the Mist: You are taken in a small ferry very close to the falls so that you can almost "feel" it. Raincoats in the form of plastic sheets are provided, but  you are still likely to get wet. So be prepared for that. We took this tour on the last day of our trip and got completely wet - luckily we had not yet checked out of our hotel.You can take this tour from both the Canadian and American sides.
  • Cave of the Winds: This tour is only available from the American side. You can basically travel to the very base of the falls and then climb a few stairs to the Crows Nest - from here you can really feel the force of the water falling down.

US-Canada Crossover Bridge


Before ending this post, a few words about the bridge connecting US-Canada in Niagara Falls and crossing over.Technically, there is only a bridge (10 mins walk) connecting the US and Canadian sides of the Falls. The bad thing is that there are checkposts on both sides and for mere mortals like us (read Indians who need a Visa to go anywhere and are subjected to lengthy interviews) you will have to endure it twice both while entering US and returning to Canada, or vice versa. The only good thing is that your Canadian single entry Visa remains valid if you are going out of Canada to US and then returning to Canada. Both sides are worth visiting but as warned be sure to check your documents before crossing over.

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