Monday, October 11, 2021

[NIAGARA FALLS] Free Shower, Bring Shampoo and Soap


The original plan was to end the Canada tour at Niagara Falls, then cross the bridge from Ontario to Buffalo in New York on the other side. But Biden keeps on extending the land border restrictions from Canada to the US despite the reverse direction traffic already being allowed by the Canadian government. That means that at present you can cross the Rainbow Bridge from New York to Ontario if you are fully vaxxed and hold a negative COVID test, but not the other way around. And so, Toronto got tossed to the end of the Canada itinerary instead.


Niagara Falls is doable on a daytrip from Toronto and there are many options for transportation depending on your point of origin. As I came straight from Toronto Pearson, I purchased Go Transit’s one-day pass which only cost me CAD10 instead of the ~CAD20+ I would have spent had I bought individual bus tickets. You can buy the one-day pass on Go Transit’s website. You then have to activate it before you board your first Go Bus. Take note that activation takes 5 minutes and requires an internet connection, which is not a problem at the airport. After that, you just show the activated ticket with a built-in timer to the driver every time you board.


The journey from Toronto Pearson Terminal 1 to Niagara Falls Bus Station takes around 3 hours cumulative and might require some transfers along the way, in my case, at Dundas. There were several bikers hopping on the bus that day which added more to the travel time because the driver had to find a way to accommodate their bicycles on the bus. Go Bus has several stops along the way, so this is not the fastest route. If you are coming from Downtown Toronto’s Union Station, try Megabus. It only has one stop at St. Catharine’s and takes just around two hours. That’s the bus I took heading back to Toronto.


Niagara Falls straddles the US-Canadian border, the river itself bisecting the two countries. Sans pandemic and with valid Canadian and US visas on your passport, rumor has it that you can actually walk across the bridge from one country to another, subject to immigration protocols, that is. COVID has made everything a bit more complicated nowadays. In any case, it seems to be the consensus that the view is much more beautiful from the Canadian side because you see the two waterfalls in all their glory.


If you are on the US side, you can get closer to the falls because you are technically there, but the view will be that of downtown Niagara Falls (the town) in Ontario with its several skyscrapers hosting casinos. A popular way to see the falls up close is via ferry, which the two countries both offer. Are you going to get wet? Of course. That’s why they give out disposable ponchos before you hop on. But actually, you will also get wet EVEN IF you opt out of the cruise. Why is that so?


The American falls, the first you see heading south, is rather tame, maybe because of its distance from the Canadian side. You can ogle it all day from afar and you will not get wet unless it rains. This one has several viewing decks always full of people and equipped with binoculars for a closer view, which is a rather shady proposition in times of COVID. This area also boasts its own zipline, ever so popular among tourists. You don’t land on the falls per se, but you do get a very good view of both while zipping down the ravine on the Ontario side.


Now Horseshoe Falls, this is the one in the south, also visible from afar but way more majestic up-close. Those who opt for the ferry ride are taken very close and you will see how the visibility becomes less and less clear as you approach the falls. You don’t have to ride the ferry to see it in close proximity but prepare to get wet because that area of the Niagara Falls Viewpoint is under a perpetual drizzle. It’s not really a shower of typhoon proportions but more of an eternal mist that can get you a bit soaked. On a bright day, the sun will easily get you dry after walking for a bit back to your casino of choice.


Since I multiply when I get wet, I opted out of seeing the Horseshoe Falls up close and about-turned as I felt the droplest of water on my shirt. Was I disappointed? Not really. Aside from those two waterfalls, the vicinity also offers several colorful parks where you can spend the entire day just doing nothing, but with a good background for whatever photo you will be taking. If you get bored, you can also kill time at one of the many casinos and shopping centers on the other side of the street.

[NIAGARA FALLS] Free Shower, Bring Shampoo and Soap

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