So with a layover in Toronto after an 11am expected landing, and flying out to NYC 6am the following day, an afternoon trip to one of the most talked about natural wonders in the world seemed like a good idea. We were going to the Niagara Falls.
Fast forward to today – ” 1hour delay on your flight madam”. Ok not so bad, so we wont be there for 4 hours, but 3 will be fine.
Takes off 2 hours late. Ok 2 hours is better than nothing, I’m sure we can see what we need to see in that time.
Arrive in Toronto, go through the usual checks and arrive at Niagara Air Bus transfers desk. “Its holiday weekend and its taking 3.5hours to get there today, it usually only takes 1.5hrs…”.
Ok I admit, at this point I think there was enough excuses to not bother with this trip and abandon ship, however the very nice receptionist juggled with our transfer times and thought we should have 1.5hrs at the falls – not great but we wanted to see them not the city so this is fine.
We had a lovely driver who purposely took the ‘scenic route’, which he didn’t know and had to keep consulting a map, to keep us off the gridlocked highway as much as possible. There was actually a crash right in front of us which we darted round the side of sharpish (all were ok!). I think I may have fell in love with Canada slightly on this journey. It was so green, and pretty, and the houses were all so unique with ample spacing between them. I felt a bit like I was window shopping on my way to the falls – a much appreciated additional activity I must admit.
There were two other passengers with drop offs around Niagara so the driver sorted them out and then proceeded to give us a mini tour with commentary about the Falls, because he felt bad we would have so little time there. He told us stories of the 16 attempts 14 people have made, (2 went twice!), at going over the falls in various objects from barrels to kayaks etc. As you can imagine many were fatal. And about the story of a 7 year old boy who survived falling over the falls, which is pretty miraculous considering the power of the water here. He was on a boat which got dragged downstream by the current. The current is so strong, I don’t think anyone would stand a chance in that water, your going straight downstream and into the falls! I asked if immigration was an issue as you can see the state of New York and the ‘American falls’ as they are known, and comically the driver said that basically no one would survive swimming over there because of the current so they aren’t too concerned – but there are satellites monitoring in case anyone was wondering!
There is a massive barge lodged just on the approach to the horse shoe falls going downstream, which has been there since the 1800s where 2 men were rescued after breaking the bottom of the boat, releasing a lot of gravel and managing to lodge themselves there to prevent a rather grim death. It took hours to rescue them, and sadly one of the men who helped rescue them, lost his son to the falls as he fatally attempted to pass over them some years later.
As I mentioned before the water is so powerful its phenomenally impressive, but apparently the dam opens at 10pm in the summer and 8pm in the winter, halving the water flowing over the falls, which is then harvested and used to generate electricity in a combined power agreement between Canada and the USA. This use of the water has also reduced the erosion of the falls to roughly 30cm every 10 years – it was previously 1m a year!
So despite only being at the falls for around 45 minutes in the end – our amazing driver who took pity on us made this trip so so worthwhile. We got to appreciate the magnificence of these falls – and yes the horseshoe falls on the Canadian side are by far the most impressive! And also learn some fascinating history that we wouldn’t have found out about otherwise. His hospitality meant we were chauffeured between locations, avoiding wasting what precious time we did have walking around.
I loved the falls, and would definitely recommend doing it as a stopover trip, I think 3-4 hours would have been ideal because you could do the boat trip and sit and relax for a while, but either way 40mins or 4 hours ,its impressive and well worth the trip!
Just goes to show its the people you meet travelling who really make these trips – without that guy I don’t think I’d be writing this post!