Kerr's Corner

Kerr's Corner is a regular feature in East Antrim and Newtownabbey editions of The Wizard. David Kerr would like to hear your memories of life in your own area. Maybe you'll trigger some thoughts for a future column. kerrscorner@ulsteronline.org.uk

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls, Ontario

IF YOU DO travel to Toronto on Zoom next year you must make a point of visiting Niagara Falls. Quite a few companies offer all-in day tours from the centre of the city, although some of these can be very expensive. You can even go for free if you take advantage of the casino buses that stop at most of the major downtown hotels. Their aim, of course, is to separate you from your hard-earned cash in one of their establishments in Niagara Falls, so it’s probably worthwhile to provide a free bus. If you’re cheeky enough you could probably walk away from the casino doors and explore the town!

It’s just as handy to go on the regular scheduled bus services from the Grey Line bus station behind the City Hall. Travelling time is around two hours. The Niagara bus station is some way away from the main attractions, in a rundown part of town, but a regular shuttle bus will take you there. For those on a budget, though it is convenient to the local Youth Hostel.

The Falls are truly one of the natural wonders of the world. You can hear the roar of the falling water as a constant backdrop to everything in the town. The main falls form a giant horseshoe shape across the Niagara River, which separates Ontario from New York State. There is another large, straighter shaped waterfall on the American side of the river. Visitors on the American side can also view the Falls from a large viewing platform and can descend to a series of paths under the waterfall.

On the Ontario side, the highlight of the visit to Niagara Falls is a river trip on The Maid of the Mist. In fact there is more than one maid of the Mist. Several of these open platform vessels struggle upriver to give their passengers a closer look at the Falls. Putting aside any thoughts as to how anyone could manage to get a lifejacket on if the vessel was to capsize, I queued up to pay my $13.00 Cdn. A lift brought us down to the bottom of the cliff, where we were each kitted out with a flimsy blue plastic poncho to protect us from the spray.

The deck platform offers a terrific view of the Rainbow Bridge that connects Canada and the US. I went on a very sunny day and was able to take pictures of the rainbow effect as the spray interacts with the sunshine. As we got closer to the Falls, the water began to boil and churn rapidly. Not a place for a swim! The spray came in huge waves, proving the need for the blue waterproofs. The total journey time was less than half an hour, but it’s one the traveller will never forget.

There is a lot about Niagara Falls and its tourist scene that is cheap and tacky but nothing can take away from the magnificent power of nature. It’s unbeatable. If you go, don’t miss out on this trip.

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