On this page is my favourite photos which I took on my visit to the province of Ontario, Canada which includes places like the Toronto, Niagara, Ottawa, Kingston, London, to name a few places.
August 2010: Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Toronto.
Niagara Falls: our experience
When we say this, we are talking about the Canadian side and not the American side. We were gobsmacked when we came to see one of the natural wonders of the world to see the Canadian side looking like their version of Las Vegas, all lit up, lots of touristy things to do and restaurants, cafes, hotels everywhere. For us it was horrible and the worst thing was we booked a night to stay here as we just did a long nine hour drive from Brockton, MA (in the USA of course) to get here and planned the whole of the next day here checking out the falls. We had to suck it all in and be a tourist for once and this was our findings.
Horseshoe Falls: Niagara Falls is the name of all three waterfalls in the area, the American Falls (on the American side of course), Bridal Veil Falls and the most famous, Horseshoe Falls which is located between the Canadian mainland and an island called Goat Island (which is in the USA). This is the highlight of the trip, to see the amazing natural landmark which is 170ft in height (52 meters), about 670 meters wide and if we want to get a bit nerdy, the estimated flow rate of the Horseshoe falls is around 168,000 cubic meters.
There are many viewpoints from both sides of the Niagara River & Falls but the best one is from a viewing platform on the Canadian Side. However it can get quite packed here with all the visitors standing around trying to take in the amazing views. Also a bonus is this is FREE! So a budget saving tip there.
Now for the touristy thing we got sucked into doing: OK, so we were in the area and we saw the Horseshoe and American Falls from the Canadian viewpoint, what do we do now? Well, we got sucked into the touristy stuff, had some spare cash and done the following on a budget. We chose to buy a Niagara Falls Adventure Pass,there are three different types but we went for the basic package (known as the classic package) and saved about 25% by buying this instead of paying for the attractions separately. It includes a walk behind the Horseshoe Falls, a cruise up to the waterfall itself, a trip into an interactive show called ‘Niagara’s Fury’ where we also got wet and a walk along the white water river. Plus jumping on and off the local bus service for the day (or two) is included which is very handy especially if the accommodation is far away.
The boat trip up to the falls was amazing. Even though there were a lot of people on the boat, we were still able to get a full view of the falls and take quality photos despite the amount of spray which was going into our faces. Thankfully the company provides ponchos for everyone so we weren't too worried about getting wet. Our tip is to do this first thing in the morning before all the tour companies bring their visitors along.
Next was the White Water Walk (a little bit out of town but the bus journey is included in the pass) which is basically walking along a boardwalk and runs alongside one of the world’s wildest stretches of whitewater. We were amazed at the relentless power to which the speed of the water ran through this deep and narrow gorge. Before checking this out, we had to ride an elevator which went down about seventy meters before walking through a short tunnel to get to the boardwalk. There are also stairs which lead to two observation decks. Try and check out the whirlpool rapids as well, it's crazy to see a lot of water spinning around at once.
Back on the bus and into town, we did the ‘Journey Behind the Falls’ which was taking an elevator down to the viewing platforms located behind Horseshoe Falls. The spray is immense but the sound of the water gushing downwards is like a roar of constant thunder. Remember to keep the poncho’s on you from earlier if you still have them.
What’s so touristy about that? Fine, all the above were still amazing to do but would have loved to do it all without the glamour, the costs, all the people etc but we still enjoyed ourselves. However, this wasn’t the big let down, it was the actual town itself. Especially at night the whole place is lit up, flashing lights everywhere, neon signs everywhere and this is in the part known as Clifton Hills. This is where many of the fast food places are located as well as pointless museums like ‘The Upside Down House’ and ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’ which have nothing to do with the nearby waterfalls. We even got dragged into the ‘Guinness World of Records’ which we found rather dull and boring. Fun for children I suppose but for us, well, especially Danik, we can be a boring old sod sometimes.
The skyline is spoilt: Looking from the boat on the river or probably from the American side looking over at their Canadian neighbours, the buildings above the waterfalls makes it look horrible in our eyes and not just for our camera lens. There is even the Skylon Tower with its revolving restaurant at the top spoiling the view. Why did Canada have to spoil one of the greatest natural landmarks in the country with awful looking buildings. Or at least why build them so close. It’s just horrible. It’s probably the only thing wrong with the locals when we visited the country. We felt a bit dejected by looking at this.
Final thought: We came to see the waterfalls and were amazed by their size, power and beauty. Everything else around it on the Canadian side is just a huge tourist trap and we didn’t like it. That is our personal view but we are sure many people coming here love the side attractions especially if they have children to entertain. Don’t get us wrong, the falls are worth checking out and should be on anyone’s bucket list when visiting the world’s second largest country but to be honest, we were quite glad to get away from here and head further into Canada. When we came to Niagara, it was the first day ever in Canada for us and we thought to ourselves, please no, don’t let the rest of Canada be like this and so far on our travels on the western and eastern side of the country, there is no other place like this (thank god!) Give us nature and beauty any day.
Checking out Toronto’s CN Tower and lakeside views
Toronto is the largest city in Canada and the financial-business powerhouse which runs the country (that is how we see it). Olga and I were only passing through the city for a day as we were on a road trip but we managed to do two sights which we really wanted to do whilst we were here. The CN Tower and taking a boat tour out into the lake whilst capturing the city skyline through our camera lens.
Parking up a few blocks away, we would have thought it would have been easy to spot the 553 metre (1,815ft) tower but all the surrounding skyscrapers destroyed that for us. In the end we were asking people where the tower was and we eventually found it. Paying the fee, we whizzed up in the elevator inside this tall communications and observation tower at a fast speed to which our stomachs started to feel a bit funny.
FUN FACTS ABOUT THE TOWER:
It was completed in 1976 and at the time became the world’s tallest freestanding structure and world’s tallest tower. Then the guys in Dubai destroyed that record thirty-four years later by building the Burj Khalifa for the free-standing structure title and then the Chinese topped it off by building the Canton Tower. Ever since, the CN Tower is now the third tallest tower in the world but is still the largest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere.
The name ‘CN’ comes from ‘Canadian National’ - the railway company which built the tower on railway land (to which it is not railway land anymore). Since then the railway company sold the land but the name stuck. However ‘CN’ now means ‘Canadian National Tower’ or ‘Canada’s National Tower’ but no bugger around here uses that.
That’s enough facts, We found the tower to be an amazing experience. With its super fast lift, we were at the top taking in the breathtaking views of the cities and Lake Ontario. We found ourselves staying up here for a while, walking on the see-through glass panned floor, having some food and just simply taking in the views. We loved looking down over the railway yard and the Rogers Arena, they both look tiny as we have never been this high before in a tower.
Heading back and walking to the lake shores, we managed to get ourselves on a boat tour. There was one other thing we really wanted to do in this modern city and that was to get the perfect photograph and take in the city's skyline views from the lake. Paying a small fee we got more than we bargained for, we also managed to get a close look at the nature of the ‘Toronto Islands’ a group of small islands which also act as a natural barrier for Toronto’s harbour.
We had a very short time in Toronto but we were so happy to get these two sights in and we are sure we will be back to see the city. We highly recommend taking a trip up the CN Tower and a boat tour onto the lake. Both visits offer amazing views and are the best places to capture views of the city.