Trip Start May 08, 2012
4Trip End Aug 10, 2012
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Grand Rail & Ship journey to the New World
Blog 4 Niagara Falls 12 May 2012
Today was a full day trip to Niagara Falls. We started out at 8.30 and the drive took us
along the expressway where the previously unattractive verges left after building the road in some stretches were grassed and offered as advertising sites – much nicer than big posters. Part of the route was alongside Lake Ontario, which holds 5,000 shipwrecks, then through Mississauga, the only city that does not have debts. Hazel McCallion has been their Mayor for the last 33 years but now, at 94 she has decided to retire – some say maybe
paperwork. We come back to this later!
At last, Niagara! What a beautiful site/sight – there are two falls, the American Falls and the more spectacular Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of the border. Driving in, we passed the locks on the Niagara River and the Pumping Station fed by it. Later on we saw the electricity generating plants further up the river – one American on their side and the larger
Naturally the first thing was to take photos, trying to keep the spray off the lens. We paid an
extra $14 to see the new 'Niagara's Fury: The Creation of the Falls’. Our guide said, "The most fun you can have standing up". First there was, in cartoon style, the story from before the falls were there. Then we went into another area where we stood on a platform that tilted and shook as we watched the landscape changing from the Ice Age
In blue rainproof ponchos (this time with sleeves) we headed for the ‘Maid of the Mist’ boat and sailed close to the Falls. The sheer volume of the water as it thundered down was awesome – the Niagara River runs at 28 miles an hour. In 1901, as a publicity stunt, a schoolteacher in her sixties named Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to plummet over the Horseshoe Falls in a wooden barrel padded inside with a mattress. She survived but some of the 15 others who tried, did not. Now it is against the law.
We had buffet lunch at a restaurant overlooking the Falls and then made our way to see the Whirlpool where again, some idiots had ignored safety warnings and gone down to sit on the rocks by the river and been swept away by an unexpectedly high rush of water.
Our return trip took us along the Niagara Parkway, stopping at the Horticultural Gardens and the Floral Clock, built twice a year by students at the School of Horticulture, a world class horticultural training centre
Wine was the last stop. We visited the winery college and tasted white and red wines and
icewine. I had heard of icewine but had no idea what it was. It is made by leaving the grapes on the vine long after the normal picking date and they become raisin-like, waiting until December or January when the temperature falls below minus 10 and then picking them at midnight while they are frozen. They are immediately crushed to get the juice – one drop per grape! This is why icewine is so expensive and very, very sweet. I wonder who thought of doing this.