Another Amtrak voyage?

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November 5th 2008
Published: December 8th 2008
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Niagara Falls train stationNiagara Falls train stationNiagara Falls train station

Nice staff at the station, and the Diner close by (I think it's called "Daddy's") was a good old-fashioned thingie.
We had not much planned beforehand, but one thing was certain: we were going to see the Niagara Falls. I've heard about this since I was very small (got a feeling it was from a children's book), so this was an absolute must. There were flyers at the hostel saying that we could go there with a bus for 45 Canadian dollars, but we wanted to check out the train option. We passed some kind of tourist office on the way to Union station, and the lady there tried to sell us a more expensive bus trip than we had seen at the hostel, so we weren't tempted. We like trains.

So, the tickets weren't cheap, but we took the train anyway, since I knew I could work in peace on a train, and we wouldn't have to keep to a group for the whole day. The national train company in Canada is VIA, but you can imagine our fear - see Amtrak - a disaster waiting to happen - when we saw that it was an Amtrak train (with NYC as its end station). Still, we hoped that the Canadians knew better than to abuse the trains and rail as they do in the US,
View from River streetView from River streetView from River street

Our first view of the Niagara river. Impressive is the best word I could find.
and we were proved right in that aspect.

So, at 10:30 in the morning we went of at Niagara Falls station. We had a map of the city (about 82,000 inhabitants, making it as big as Halmstad in Sweden, population wise), so we knew there was some kind of road leading down to the falls from the station, and since we're in Canada, not the US, it was perfectly easy to walk by foot. But first, we had lunch at a diner. We kind of like diners, they're as local as you get in this part of the world. At Dad's diner, we got a good omelette with mushrooms, made while we were waiting (I almost wrote 'fresh from the hen' ...). Then we could venture forward and downward, following the River road its 4 kilometres along the Niagara river. There were plenty of signs saying "Bed & breakfast" or "Inn", but most of them were closed for the season, which seemed rather strange on a day with 19 degrees Celsius and bright sunshine.

A couple of kilometres from the falls, we could hear them thunder. It's really a mighty sound, and since there wasn't much traffic, it
The inevitable sign photoThe inevitable sign photoThe inevitable sign photo

At this point the Falls were located, some 3,600 years ago.
was easy to imagine the sound before the Europeans came here. Unfortunately, the only boat trip there is by the falls was over for the season, and that also meant that the first part of the falls when we entered the city centre were closed. Nice, since there weren't that many tourists, but strange that not even the ice cream vendor had opened for the warm day. Perhaps they'd earned enough during summer, I don't know. The city of Niagara Falls has grown into a gambling heaven, since the Canadian dollar has been lower than the US dollar, the city has had a lot of tourists from across the border (the Niagara River _is_ the border between the two countries here), and the river front is full of hotels, casinos and other "amusement" facilities. Indeed fascinating, I talked to a guy some days later that compared it to Las Vegas, but I would perhaps not go that far.

But the falls were indeed impressive. I guess it's part because I've dreamed of seeing these since I was really young that made part of the impression, but still, we stayed for a very long time just admiring the water and taking photographs. But since there was only one afternoon train back to Toronto, we had to do something to spend the rest of the day. We had looked up two vegetarian cafés that sounded interesting, so we headed up into town to find them. As soon as we got about a bloc away from the casinos and hotels, the city turned into a very dull and sleepy town. We walked on Main street, but there was only a part of it that even remotely reminded us of a "main street". A lot of places were closed, and it was impossible for us to know if it was only for the season or for good. There were three funeral homes in a row, though, I don't know what that means ... but it felt a bit like being in the HBO series "Six feet under", except people actually walked on the sidewalks here. After a while, we came to a park, were we rested our tired feet and wrote a few post cards. The chipmunks didn't want to come join us here either, unfortunately.

When we finally reached Queen street, the vegetarian café there, 4Triple5 Gallery, was about to close. They said that there
Zakje proves his courageZakje proves his courageZakje proves his courage

Our mascot... (ouch!) sorry, friend, had to get a photo in front of the water masses. Rabbits don't like water, and he hates it, but he was very courageous.
was no se being open in the evenings since they didn't have a license to sell alcohol, but when they got that... ah well, at least it seemed hopeful for the town that this place and the one we went to instead, Balzac's, seemed such good places. We got a good, warm apple cider with cinnamon and some biscuits at the Balzac's, and it was a cosy atmosphere inside. Recommendable, if you're going to Niagara Falls! I later heard that Queen street in Niagara Falls has been a really bad place, with junkies and the lot, but we got the impression it was going to renew itself, and take back the street, so to say.

Yes, the train back was late, it was after all an Amtrak train, but only for about half an hour. We took a veggie hot dog (! oh yes, a normal veggie can survive even at the hot dog stands!) by Union station and went home to sleep tight.

Additional photos below
Photos: 9, Displayed: 9


First view of the FallsFirst view of the Falls
First view of the Falls

The first impression of the Falls was not visual, but audible. hen we saw them as well.
Falls and attractionsFalls and attractions
Falls and attractions

Just to give you an idea of what it looks like, and what this city has done for its tourists.
Rainbow cityRainbow city
Rainbow city

At first, we were surprised to see so many rainbow flags all over NIagara Falls, but then we realised it only had to do with the Falls. Here is one.
Horseshoe fallsHorseshoe falls
Horseshoe falls

This is the reason they're called the Horseshoe falls. Facinating was the second word I came up with.

8th December 2008

Indeed awesome and humbling. The horseshoe form is created by the water itself as it slowly eats into the rock in the center. There have been discussions about somehow harnessing the immense power, but thankfully they have come to naught in the face of nature's own majesty and the tourist dollars to be earned.
9th December 2008

One word is enough...
...jealous! Damn... Now I have to go and see the Victoria Falls and Iguazu Falls...
9th December 2008

Hi Zakje!
Hi Zakje, So Big Rabitt put you near the falls only to take a photo of you. That must have been scary! Water in general is not nice, we are also cuddly toys so we know that all too well. But we have found out that vertical water can be interesting to look at if you stay well away from it. Good to see you. Take care, Emma and Jean-Claude
10th December 2008

To Emma & J-C
Zakjekonijn just wants to let you know that he actually decided to go so close himself, he didn't ned to "be put" anywhere! That's how brave he was. (I can tell you a secret: he went out again rather quickly as well …)

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