Sunday 4 Nov 2007

Aline delivered us to the airport in plenty of time for the domestic flight from Ottawa to Toronto.  At 12:00pm she was to attend Anne Renee's graduation for her Bachelor's degree.

We were a little taken aback when the attendant didn't issue us with a seat allocation, but thought nothing of it.  When went downstairs to the appropriate gate and it was eventually manned, I went and asked about the seat allocation.  At some length I learned that the flight was overbooked due to a problem with flights out of the east of Canada the previous day.

[Right - View of the Niagara River in late autumn (fall)]
[Below - The Whirlpool, Niagara River]

Niagara River

The Whirlpool

To cut a long story short, even though we'd booked and paid for our flights three months in advance, we were bumped from the flight and ended up catching another one an hour later. For the inconvenience we were each presented with a voucher from Air Canada for flights to the value of $C200. Not that we can actually use the vouchers, so we'll give them to Aline as a small thankyou for all that she's done for us.

The bad news continued, as when we arrived at Toronto it was to find that one corner of Margaret's hard-shell suitcase had a chunk out of it and another corner was cracked. We reported it to Air Canada on arrival and in addition to our $C400 we received a repair voucher. We're not sure when we'll be able to use it, but I guess we'll find out.

The hotel wasn't as up-market as we've been used to, but quite presentable just the same.

The porter, Jing, made up for it by being a veritable treasure-trove of what we found to be accurate and valuable information!

Toronto has a lot of homeless people and a number of them were in the square just around the corner from our hotel. Someone later said to us that most of them came from New York when they were driven out by Mayor Rudi Juliani. It might be cruel, but I have to say that they're obviously not very clever. If I were homeless, I'd choose to be homeless in Florida where it's sunny, not Toronto where it snows!

We had dinner in an Asian restaurant which specialised in Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine, but didn't have any fresh chilli!  It was pretty good, just the same.

[Right - Margaret with life-sized wooden moose]
[Below - Rugged up against the cold and mist fr
om the falls]

Margaret with life-sized moose

When we booked in to the hotel we purchased two tour tickets to Niagara. Margaret had mixed feelings about the fact that because I was a senior, the man gave her the senior's rate for both tickets!

Monday 5 November 2007

The bus was a little earlier than the advertised 8:30am but we were downstairs a little early anyway. The trip to Niagara Falls took about two hours on a small bus, with a break for calls of nature and refreshments at a tourist-oriented shopping complex.

I took a picture of Margaret with a life-sized wooden moose, but she was in absolute peals of laughter because the model had huge testicles dangling down about 35 or 40cm!

[Below - Horseshoe Falls]

The approaches to Niagara included what is advertised to be the smallest church in the world, about 100 years old and with room for six people not including the celebrant.

There was still a great deal of autumn foliage, as you can see from the pictures above. There are three actual waterfalls; the American Falls, the Bridal Veil which is much smaller and located next to the American Falls and the Horseshoe (Canadian) Falls, over which the vast majority of the water flows.  More than 5,700 cubic metres of water go over the Horseshoe Falls every second!

We went down in a lift to a tunnel which led to a platform some distance down from the edge of the falls.  The noise was astounding, the power of the water shook the platform and could be felt through the concrete walls of the tunnel, and the spray wet everything.  We were given plastic raincoats, but the trusty Dryzabone was more than up to the task of keeping us dry.

Horseshoe Falls
Sally-port opening onto the Horse-shoe Falls

A side tunnel took us even closer to the water, and there was a sally-port through which the mist entered the tunnel, and the walls vibrated wildly, as I mention.

The picture is interesting, but gives no clues at all to the power of the water or noise which is deafening. 

After looking through the souvenir shop (it's not possible to get out of the tunnels other than through the shop) we went out onto the fenced-off area which overlooks the Horseshoe Falls and then went to lunch in a hotel which overlooks all of the falls, making it possible to take a photograph of all three of them at the same time.

[Left - Tunnel opening onto the Canadian Horseshoe Falls]
[Below - American, Bridal Veil and Horseshoe Falls at Niagara]

Niagara Falls Panorama

The buffet at the Sheraton was very good, although the fact that it was an "all you can eat" affair led to some interesting behaviour on which we won't elaborate.

On the return journey we called in to a local winery (and there are plenty of them) to sample some of their wines. They were reasonable, but nothing outstanding, particularly the reds. Then we had a sample of their "ice wine". We'd actually drunk some of this at Aline's earlier, and it's very nice, very sweet, a dessert wine.

The grapes must have been subject to temperatures of not less than minus eight (-8) degrees Celcius for three days in a row. They then pick and crush the grapes by hand, at night.

They claim that they obtain only one drop of grape juice from each grape, and that the sugar has been concentrated into this one drop.

Bridge joining the US and Canada over the Niagara

It's very similar to the late-picked and botrytis wines that we have in Australia. Very expensive, but pretty much worth it.

The Niagara area grows most of the fruit and vegetables in the eastern area of Canada.

We ate at a Chinese restaurant chosen at random, and frankly, we could have done better, but at least the food kept body and soul together.

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