A few weeks ago, I posted a status on Facebook about “one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life.” Keep in mind that I run in circles with writers – travel writers especially – who have done so much more than I think I ever will. They’ve scaled mountains, gone to foreign countries where they’ve spent time interviewing some of the coolest people and stayed in the most luxurious hotels in the most exotic locations. I didn’t do any of that. But what I did literally took my breath away. I have such an appreciation of Mother Nature and its beauty and I think that appreciation gets even bigger as I get older.
Just a few weeks ago my honey, Ej Garr, and I took a trip to Niagara Falls, New York, (my first) which lead to one of the coolest things I’ve done so far. First, I cannot even describe the emotion of seeing the Falls for the very first time.
When we walked into the park, the first thing you see is the calmer, yet still pretty moving, part of the Falls which lead up to the biggest drops. And I got a little emotional. Then we made it down to the bigger part of the Falls and they are absolutely stunning, magical and breathtaking and I got even more emotional.
The only part about Niagara Falls that I didn’t expect – and I don’t know why I didn’t expect it – was how ‘touristy’ it was. I thought that it would be filled with people who were there to appreciate the splendor of it all and I’m sure that many people were, but those who weren’t were the people who threw trash over the railing. Disgusting. Come on people!
Refreshments were ridiculously high inside the park and in many of the restaurants outside of the park. We are travelers on a budget. Thinking that pizza would be a good, affordable option when we first arrived — when isn’t it?! — we went to Mario’s NY Pizza and bought a few slices at $3.50 a pop. They were smaller than a standard slice and, sorry, not very good. I’m very particular about my pizza and I’ve eaten a LOT of pizza over the years. It was suitable for a quick meal, but nothing special and waaaay overpriced.
We were in Niagara for only two full days, so we went to TGI Fridays the next night (it’s right next door to the brand new Rainforest Cafe, but we got smacked again when the burgers were twice as expensive as the TGIF in my hometown. We did go to the Seneca Niagara & Casino and found a more affordable restaurant for a quick lunch, but of course you get what you pay for and it wasn’t great either. I did go to my first Tim Hortons Cold Stone Creamery in the casino where we found extremely affordable coffee, muffins and other sweets. Our hotel had a free breakfast, but the muffins made a good late night snack.
So if you are going to see the Falls and you are on a budget, think about going to a local grocery store, buying some sandwiches and having a picnic in the park otherwise the food inside will definitely drain your wallet.
We were also guests of The Giacomo Hotel in Niagara Falls and I have to say that the staff was absolutely wonderful. They helped us with every question we had about the area and we had great little chats about coffee and tea and the work that we do. The hotel is also in walking distance to the Falls.
Most importantly to me, the rooms were extremely clean and the art deco design was beautiful. I wished that my bedroom at home could be that pretty.
By the way, the building is historic. Check out one example of the designs that you’ll see on the outside. Cute! By the way, how many people really look at their hotel like this? LOL
The Niagara Tourism Bureau provided some tickets for us to see a few sites, which included the movie on Niagara Falls – and that is a must see because of the behind-the-scenes stories it tells– and the Maids of the Mist – ONE OF THE COOLEST THINGS I’VE EVER DONE.
Okay, so here we go: It was pouring rain when we went on the ride and we almost didn’t get there. The day before it was shut down because of too much water (if you can believe it) so we thought that more rain would keep the boat docked, but it was open and I knew that I HAD to do this. Unbelievable. The boat takes you right up to the Falls and the noise, the power of the water and the view were all just so amazing — AH-MAZ-ING. I ranked this as one of the most fun things I’ve ever done (okay, so I’m the Virgin Traveler and haven’t done a ton yet, but this is a great start. DO THIS. If you do nothing else at Niagara Falls other than see the Falls, DO THIS. Ride the Maid of the Mist.
Also, when I told people I was going to Niagara Falls, they would ask if I was visiting the Canada or US side? I kept being told that Canada is the better side, but when you take the Maids of the Mist trip, Canada or US side doesn’t matter. Plain and simple – it’s awesome.
Five Virgin Traveler Tips About Niagara Falls, New York.
1. See the Falls as often as you can. Once just isn’t enough. Go during the day, again at night and again before you have to leave. Soak it all in.
2. Bring a picnic, the food inside the park is extremely expensive.
3. See the movie about Niagara Falls in the park’s theater. Very cool.
4. Maid of the Mist — find a way to do it.
5. The fireworks show was nice, but very short. It’s still fun though.
On the way home, we stopped at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Historic Site in Buffalo and got another stamp in our passport! More on that in my next blog post.
Until then! WHAT’S THE COOLEST THING YOU’VE DONE SO FAR?