What a fabulous adventure this was and the bucket list has another huge tick. The day started with lots of laughs with our car hire escapade. Having gone for a cheap option of ‘you click, we pick’, which meant they choose the vehicle to give us, the Manager apologised for the lack of choice between a very small car and some very large ones. “Don’t worry about me, I can drive a truck”, said Carolyn. Guess what we got? A huge behemoth of a truck! One of those massive monsters that sits miles off the ground with a 5.7 litre engine. Thank heavens for the grab handles which allowed me to heave my vertically challenged frame up into the huge seat! We were still laughing when we dropped it off at 11.30 pm.
But the Falls were no laughing matter. They were simply awesome and demanded to be respected and appreciated. We walked for miles seeing them from all angles and loved the boat trip aboard the Hornblower but thought the walk behind the falls was somewhat disappointing and definitely not what we had expected. We had started with the boat trip and I was amazed at how close we got to the millions of gallons of water cascading around us. Getting a soaking was not an option, in spite of the coloured capes provided (pink for the Hornblower, blue for the Maid of the Mist and yellow for the walk behind the falls). But the day was hot and sunny, so we simply dried as we walked and then got wet again!
It felt churlish to be disappointed with anything amidst such magnificence but walking the long tunnels behind the falls to view two small areas of actual cascading water felt just that. The viewing platform right beside the falls did provide that overwhelming feeling of awe and made you realise that fear is very real just standing so close when your imagination takes you to the exploits of people going over the falls in barrels and crossing them on a tightrope wire!
We took some time out to visit the very beautiful little town of Niagara on the Lake. It is so charming and a real heritage experience with its beautiful buildings housing a real collection of appealing small businesses, shops and lovely eateries. We had a great fish and chips meal with home made coleslaw thankfully substituting for the ubiquitous mushy peas we are served at home! Carolyn was delighted to experience blueberry frozen yogurt from possibly the same store where she had first encountered this frozen treat some 25 years previously.
Meanwhile, back at the Falls we waited for darkness to descend and the falls to light up. They did, but not in such vibrant colours as some of the poster adverts had predicted. Nevertheless, we stood and watched for a very long time although waiting a further hour for the fireworks felt like a step too far… speaking of which, my total steps for the day were 20,490!
It was such a wonderful day and, once again, I was left wondering how I had managed to take so long to get here!
Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities
‘Driven by desire and propelled by passion…’
My first, and only, trip to Toronto was 25 years ago until this year. Our second full day here and I retraced my steps of those years ago and visited Niagara.
It is wise, were you to make a mistake, not to make the same mistake again, I’ve learned. So, my mistake of 25 years ago? Wearing non-waterproof mascara! Not this time.
It is obligatory to get wet. Three quarters of a million gallons a second come over the Horseshoe Falls and some of it, inevitably, sprays you and every one within… spitting distance! Laughing and grinning throughout the experience said it all really. Well worth a second trip despite the disappointment of walking behind the waterfall (not done last time) and the relatively bland illumination of the Falls in the evening. Blackpool Illuminations, it is not, despite the funfair attractions in the town itself.
Kath has mentioned our ‘truck’ – a monster. Having driven a six-ton lorry in the UK, albeit many years ago, I didn’t doubt my ability to drive it. What proved to be more difficult was getting in and out! Grab handles helped us get in but parachutes weren’t provided for the exit. It’s a long way down from the cab, we found.
I like ice cream but love frozen yoghurt especially blueberry. I’ve managed to find it made freshly only once over the quarter of a century since my first mouthful in Niagara. Found again and it tasted just as good. In fact, better because of the rekindled memory.
It was a long day and my 19500 steps were only marginally fewer than Kath’s. We began by walking to pick up our ‘car’; passing the old SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) home of the local baseball team, Toronto Blue Jays, and the still inspiring CN Tower. Passing the Conference Centre, where I learned about Policy Governance and the North American system of community education, we paused to check our online map to the car hire garage. A passing lady immediately stopped to ask if we needed any help. As it happened, we didn’t but thanked her, as you would expect. However, that brief incident exemplified what we have found in Toronto and Niagara – so many races, nationalities, languages but no sense of tension or anything other than helpfulness and acceptance.
Anecdotally, I had to smile in the tunnels behind the Falls when an Imam, in traditional dress under his plastic poncho, pointed to a warning sign and, with a big grin, said, “But, it’s always wet!” It just seemed to me to emphasise the oneness, as well as the diversity, of humans and humanity.
Just before the car hire garage, we came to a memorial to workers who had been killed doing their jobs as a reminder about the need for protection and health & safety. A caring city.
The Falls are famous worldwide hence attracting people from so many countries and you can see why. They are not the tallest by any means but the volume and scale are impressive. Not just visually appealing but extremely useful as a major hydroelectric power provider as well.
Bearing in mind my road trip companion, I can’t help but notice rainbow references when we see them. Rainbow Bridge and Rainbow Gardens this time.
My time in Toronto those years ago gave me my title for today. In some ways, I was apprehensive about returning; wondering whether revisiting would emphasise previous difficulties, desperation or subsequent delights. I’m pleased to record that the visit has been more than I could have hoped for and I will continue to be, ‘Driven by desire and propelled by passion’. Thank you, Toronto, for then and now.