Thursday, April 05, 2007

Vacation Destination: Niagara
Category: Travel and Places

If you're looking for a summer vacation destination, have a look at Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada and surrounding area.  It's one of the most beautiful places I know.  The natural beauty of the Falls is plentiful, and the very friendly Canadians go all out with quite colourful formal gardens (to make up for the long, white winters?), winery tours, historical fort tours, and all sorts of other stuff.  You can view the Falls from the American side at Niagara Falls, New York, but the view is much better and the people are more interesting, I think, on the Canadian side at Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

Don't miss the excellent restaurant with the shops in the Niagara Parks pavillion just across the street from the Falls on the Canadian side.

See hires. images and streaming video of the Falls at http://www.fallsview.com/Stream/StarDotTechCamStill.shtml .

Be sure to visit the town of
Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Its look is very much that of a British colonial town, which is exactly how it started.   It's a few miles, er, ah, kilometers (no crazy US customary units in Canada) up the Niagara river from the Falls.  See photos of Niagara-on-the-Lake at http://www.niagaraonthelake.com/gallery/ .

To the degree possible, avoid the downtown area of
Niagara Falls, Ontario, a chintzy tourist trap, except for the area right next to the Falls. That town does, however, have some beautiful images of the Falls and the area near the Falls at http://www.city.niagarafalls.on.ca/about_niagara_falls/photo_gallery/index.asp .

Oh, and be sure bring your
U.S. passport, now required to get back into the U.S.  :^(  In days gone by, you could go back and forth across the border by stopping and, without paperwork, just talking to the Canadian/US Customs folks for a few minutes. No more.

While you're across the border, consider going on up to Kingston and Ottawa.  There's a fort at Kingston that's quite interesting.  It still operates in its late 1700s mode, employing young men hired for the summer from the nearby colleges and high schools.  They perform military drills, fire the fort's cannons, and generally give the impression of an operating 1700s British fort.  They're dressed in the British uniforms of that period, and (attention gals!) they ALL seem to be quite handsome. 

Ottawa, Canada's capitol, offers tours of parliament buildings, some really neat canals and locks for small boat fans, and more beautiful scenery throughout the town.  If you can afford the time, go on up to the very European city of Montreal in Quebec (that's kee-BEK, by the way).  Learn a French phrase or two before you reach Montreal, and you'll cut the ice quickly with the locals.  Many of Quebec's people speak both English and French, but the French was once suppressed and looked down upon.  If you'll give them a phrase or two of French in a greeting--even BAD French--they'll realize you're an Anglophone who's trying and will usually be very accommodating, even if they don't happen to speak English.  You can return to the US through Vermont and go down the coast of New Hampshire where roadside restaurants specializing in the world's best clam chowder will delight you.

Enjoy your trip!  --CLO