Day 8 – Niagra Falls and Canada (briefly)

• Made up for another late night with a stupidly early morning, making The Hilton in Times Square our most expensive stay by far on a dollars:hours inhabited ratio given we were checked in for all of about 12 hours. It’s old and pretty crappy, but you can’t argue with the location. Also the lobby is on the 20-something level, and goes up another 30ish from there so she’s a tall girl. We were in the early 40s (how fitting…) and it was a pretty good view!

Having remarked to Erin the night before that the footpath (sorry, sidewalk) smelled of piss, we found out why – it’s because of all the piss. Occam’s Razor, NYC style. Saw two people doing it, and neither looked particularly homeless or whatever. They just decided the gutter was now their bathroom. In some ways I wish I had their confidence. In other more hygienic ways, I’m glad I don’t.

• Then it was on the bus for a 6 hour drive to Niagara Falls, with a stop at the Finger Lakes for a waterfall appetizer in the form of Watkins Glen Canyon. Pennsylvania is an incredibly beautiful part of the country, especially in the mountain areas. Also we stopped at a servo (sorry, gas station) and I found even their Red Bull cans are bigger than ours at 20oz (592ml) instead of 473ml.

• With our appetite for falling water wetted, we pulled in to Niagara Falls with the bus driver playing a very fitting TLC track – Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls. I appreciated this attention to detail very much.

• Niagara Falls is definitely an amazing sight to see, with what looks like Australia’s total yearly rainfall nation-wide going over every few seconds. I celebrated the excess amount of water by washing my hands for probably twice as long as needed after using the bathroom.

• And then suddenly… What’s this all aboot, eh? Canada wasn’t on the itinerary, but somewhere between NYC and Niagara Falls the driver suddenly declared that we were headed over Rainbow Bridge (if you’re in the dog world this is actually slightly terrifying to hear, though I wouldn’t mind seeing Wally and Bear again) and now here we are in America’s Hat.

• Because Canada is pretty much just Australia with beavers, our passport was plenty sufficient to get in the door. No need for a visa or strip search and cavity inspection like the airport, just a colonial nod between Commonwealth members and the secret handshake the British taught us both and we were in.

• The view of the falls from the Canadian side is probably better on balance, but honestly both sides have their benefits. You’re much closer on the US side, and I feel the height is more “real”. You also get to see the water when it’s still a river before it gets famous as a waterfall which satisfies my inner hipster. And there’s ducks swimming in the top area and watching their little legs paddle like mad in the current is pretty cute. We had a very short customs line when we went through, but noticed it had blown out a heap a couple of hours later. Not sure it would be worth the wait those guys were in for.

• At 8pm they start shining what looks like an Alienware gaming PC array of RGB LEDs at the falls which lights it up all pretty colours. We jumped on a Ferris wheel on Clifton Hill and got to watch it from the top which was really nice.

• Because we wanted to fit in, we rode our moose to Tim Hortons to get some maple syrup for dinner. We opted for dinner and coffee, at which point I was introduced to some very passable “loaded bowls”, and literally the worst coffee I have ever tasted in my life. The irony is certainly delicious (unlike the coffee) that the first truly terrible coffee I’ve had in our American trip was actually in Canada. When they say “classic brew” what they actually mean is “burnt drip coffee” and it was sourer than my mood the first night in Vegas.

• Speaking of Vegas, there are of course casinos here. On both sides of the border, within easy walking distance. Because who can possibly enjoy natures beauty without also having to put in some hours on the brickies laptop? God I hate gambling.

• Currently in a very questionable “4 star” hotel. I am yet to find evidence of stars 3 and 4, but if you open the window to our 1″ deep balcony you can hear the falls so it could definitely be worse. Up early again tomorrow for a boat ride under the falls (y tho?) then mostly back towards NY for a stay in New Jersey via shopping at some famous shopping centre (boring).


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