Canada, North America, Travel, Wander

At Niagara: North of the Border

niagara canada

4 days before our trip to Canada, I was startled to learn that my only entry ticket to the country, my US permanent resident card, had to be surrendered to USCIS. I wasn’t ready to let it go, especially because my ever-so-trusted Philippine passport is no good in Canada without a visa.

Holding it tightly as the officer tries to get it, I explained my predicament. Sympathetic, he told me that the New York or Philadelphia Passport office will be the place to go for an expedited passport. Scheduling an appointment with these passport agencies was a game of luck. And to make the story short, I am, indeed, one lucky girl. :)

Driving from Toronto to Niagara Falls 

No drama encountered as we arrived YYZ: rather, a wintry wind welcomed us. Temperature aside, our visit to the Great White North suggests that 2015 will be more relaxed than last year which started with a 7-day Greek marathon of flights to Athens, Thessaloniki, Crete, and Rhodes. It was nothing short of fun but just left us short of breath.

When we finally managed to stir ourselves from hibernation, Thom drove us to Niagara Falls. It was a fun easy 2-hour drive that allowed the 2 boys to catch up and reminisce their childhood.

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This was actually the first time for me to view a Falls from above. It was a different feeling and experience compared to looking up to Pagsanjan and Cambughay Falls. Even from above, you could hear the thundering roar of the 600,000 gallons of water falling right before your eyes. It was a sensory delight. You feel the mist and the cold air on your face as your eyes feast on the contrast between the bright colors of the rainbows and the fog.

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Things kept turning out better than expected. The weather was cooperative enough to make it possible to drive out and see Niagara. Tourists, fortunately, chose not to brave the season: the summer crowds make it almost impossible to enjoy the place.

The Canada Goose jacket which Rhonda lend me not only kept me warm but also added this nice color to our photos. Indeed, this was the warmest jacket I’ve ever worn. I was convinced that investing in one would be a good idea especially considering that New York’ s winters are no less nasty.

Next time around, should the weather cooperate, we’ll definitely try to do the boat ride from the US side of the falls.

Fort George

We spent less than an hour at Niagara Falls, leaving us enough time to venture to neighbouring towns. As true war history fanatics, the boys agreed that we drop by Fort George, which Jeff very much enjoyed. This somehow reminded me of our Borodino stop during our trip to Russia a few years back.

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This Fort was built in 1796 and was captured and destroyed by the Americans during the War of 1812. The following year the Americans rebuilt it, only to have it taken back by the Brits. When it was abandoned in the 1820s; only the original stone powder magazine survives.

The good thing though is between 1937-40s they reconstructed the Fort so people like us can appreciate it.

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The Little Town on Niagara Lake

Walking around Niagara-on-the-Lake, a little town of boutiques, restaurants, and cafes, was quite nice especially if you’re almost always surrounded by skyscrapers. We looked for a place to have coffee and tea as I was still too full from brunch.

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We found this cafe called Balzac’s which also has another shop in Toronto’s Distillery District. I was surprised that my organic chai was served in a tall water glass. I love having my tea in a porcelain cup or a ceramic mug :) It was a bit tricky to hold it as there was no handle. The good thing though is that their carrot cake was divine and worked very well with my chai.

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If you’re a writer, you might be inspired by dining at Shaw Cafe which is just around the block. You might also want to check the Shaw Festival schedule (April-November) before you head there and experience this theatrical tradition that started back in 1962.That would be really cool as according to the Toronto Sun, it is “one of the continent’s most enduring theatrical ensemble”.

Like any other good show, this blog post needs to end. Have a good week ahead. I’ll catch you soon.

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