A Bridge Too Far

Trip Start Mar 10, 2011
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15
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Trip End May 05, 2011


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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Friday, April 1, 2011

Having no objective, I set out to pass the day by wandering New York. Pretty soon I found myself at Momofuku again.  The cold rain and my emerging hunger demanded for a bowl of hot ramen. So I slurped greedy and left content.
Unsurprisingly, I realised a large section under central park was yet unexplored. So while there I made for a few well known stores. The two largest brands of the electronic age were represented by Apple and Nintendo.  Apple's halycon was the embodiment of its minimalist image.  A beautifully distinct clear prism marks its entry amongst the metal and concrete but hides below what can be best described as a zoo.  None of it's design principles are here, people push and jostle and mill about to get a taste of Steve Jobs' latest.  I was not particularly enamoured and left promptly.  The Nintendo store was a much more civil proposition.  More a exposition rather than a retail store, it contained within all the available gadgets in two large rooms.  Most people there were like myself, merely curious and trying to hide from the elements, but there was no haste.  There was even a little museum in displaying the products that defined the brand.  Needless to say, I was filled with nostalgia.  The only traditional toy store left was FAO Schwarz.  It has come to reflect the times of change.  Having humble beginnings as a soft toy maker in the 1860s, it embraces the boom of the 80s and expanded business drastically but suffered the fate of many in the 90s and was eventually sold to giant conglomerate Toys-R-Us.  Now the last of its name, it faithfully holds its roots in stuffed animals, with barely an electronic toy in sight.  Surely this must be a dying business, held up by brand recognition and the dreams of those now too old to enjoy the toys in the store.
In what seemed an eon, I finally arrived in Buffalo.  In the dark I managed to jump on the first bus to Niagara in the hope of catching the sunrise.  Not only did I miss that, it seemed as I had missed the entire tourist season.  Not a soul was in sight and it seemed much of the attractions would not reopen until the ice receded from the falls.  The white blanket of the sleepy landscape did make for a beautiful contrast to the neon rainbow of the city and the isolation was deeply introspective.  Though my peace was briefly distracted by some wayward squirrels looking for breakfast.  Eventually the clouds dissipated and the life returned. I made for Canada and the supposed better tourist experience.  After having a somewhat abridged experience, I feel as if a visit is not complete without a visit to both sides.
1. View - Canada
Bigger, closer and from the front.  In every way the view from the Canadian bank was superior.  It's hard to truly appreciate the falls unless you leave USA.
2. Landscape - USA
While Canada has glitzed and gentrified its Niagara with tacky shops and attractions (e.g. indoor skydiving and revolving restaurants).  USA has preserved the beautiful parklands with excessive staffing and an army of wildlife.  It is truly complimentary and much more pleasant to stroll in.  Even the nearly abandoned township has a sleepy hollow charm.
3. Attractions - USA
Narrowly.  Whilst both have the standard Maid of the Mist.  Canada's other attractions have no relevance or interest and are in general, lame.  Even its Journey Behind the Falls detracts from the magnificence.  Having said this, I could not actually experience much of it first hand.
4. Border Crossing - Canada
This may seem like an unnecessary category it was included because it is likely you will spend some of your visit traversing the Rainbow bridge, and the experience one way is certainly in contrast with another.  In Canada I was greeted with a homely hello from a Scottish Canadian lady behind a desk who happily stamped my passport and even provided some recommended tourist advice.  Upon return to the USA I felt no more than a convict.  Steel bars, queues and needless security made me feel an unwelcomed return. One arrival was even denied access.
I must say I thoroughly enjoyed my investigatory experience despite my setbacks.  This process only lasted until early afternoon though, and soon I had to find something else to occupy my time. Erroneously, on boredom I stepped into the gambling pits with 40 dollars.  After 3 hours of bouyant heights and drowning lows I escaped the clockless dungeon.  Thankfully my wallet and spirit were still intact - this could not be said of most in there.
The journey home was rather uneventful, I even happily slept the entirety, probably due to sheer exhaustion.  Save for a single event.  So if anyone knows Steve from Long Island who missed his bus from Buffalo "sorry man, I hope Japan is where you find your success"
   
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Comments

Bonnie on

I am truly enjoying your US travel blog. As a native Buffalonian (now live in Virginia), I was so happy to read that you visited BOTH the Canadian & US sides of Niagara Falls. So many tourists skip visiting the US side of the Falls which is a shame for both them as tourists & the Niagara Falls, NY, economy. You simply cannot get the same experience from the Canadian side ... the rush of the waters above the Falls, standing amongst the very top of the Falls, etc. The calm & beauty of the US Falls can't be matched across the border. I do agree, however, that Niagara Falls should be experienced from both sides.

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