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Niagara Falls - A unique experience
Apr 09, 2005 02:10 AM 3807 Views
(Updated Apr 09, 2005 02:28 AM)

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Niagara Falls! I have been fortunate enough to visit this magnificent spectacle. This review is a description from the American side.


The Niagara Falls consists of three separate Falls. The American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls on the American side and Horse Shoe Falls on the Canadian side. On the two occasions I have been there, it seemed like the majority of the visitors were from India. As you walk along the parkways snatches of telugu, tamil, hindi, bengali, gujarati etc can be heard. You feel like you are back in India. There are visitors from all over the world to this place but I know of some Americans who have never been to the Falls. Amazing?! In addition to providing information, I have also provided a couple of links to make your reading more realistic.


Travel:I live in Boston, which is around an eight-hour drive (480 miles) from Niagara. So driving works out fine for me. If you are living anywhere in New England area to Washington D.C, the trip can be made through driving. The nearest airport is Buffalo and there are good flight deals on the Internet.


Accommodation:There are various types of accommodation in and around Niagara. Comfort Inn, Days Inn, Econo Lodges? etc. The best way to get a good deal is to book through priceline.com. If you search for a 3-star hotel you are upgraded to a 4-star hotel room for the same price. It can cost around $50- $90 per day. Actually you can get cheaper accommodation in Buffalo, which is about twenty minutes drive from Niagara. If you don?t mind the extra time spent on the road this is a better option.


If you are arriving by car to the Falls area, there are a couple of parking lots by the roadside. You won?t miss it, as there will be signs leading you to it. There is also an indoor parking lot just a block away and near the Canadian border crossing. The only problem is that at night getting out of that building could take a while when everybody tries to leave at the same time.


Accessories:Have your camera and camcorder ready. But don?t get too obsessed with taking photos at each and every step, as you need to enjoy the experience too. Casual and comfortable clothing is a must as there could be a fair amount of walking. Sunglasses and hats are also useful.


Food:There are couple of places where you get Indian food. Some of the American restaurants also have good Indian food like chicken curry, Alu Gobi etc. There is even a stall selling pani puri, pav bhaji etc.


Best time to visit: May-September. If possible travel on a regular weekend rather than a long weekend to avoid the huge crowds.


Visitor Centre:This is the first place you need to go. Its located just near the entrance of the park. You can get maps and directions here. I would suggest that you take the Passport booklet which contains tickets to all the attractions and costs around $27. This way you avoid waiting in line to buy the tickets at each attraction.


Observation Tower:You have to go through here to reach the Maid of the Mist. Most probably there will be a long queue but its fast moving and you could be at the gate in less than 30 mins. If you have elders or children with you, they can always sit in the nearby shaded grass area until its your turn to enter. The Tower is an extended deck over the Falls. I don?t know how high it is, but seems like 15-20 stories high. If you suffer from acrophobia like I do, I would advise you not to go too near the railings. From here you have a clear view of the Falls and its adjoining areas. It?s a good place to take some video and snaps. There is an elevator, which takes you to the bottom of the gorge. Here there is another line to board the Maid of the Mist boat


Maid of the Mist:This is a boat tour, which takes you right beneath the Falls. The ride takes around 30 mins. As you are waiting in line you will be provided with a blue plastic overall to put over your clothes. Overalls or not, prepare to get a little drenched. The boat has two decks; the best position would be at the front end on the upper deck. My thoughts as I took this boat ride;


As the boat moves forward, the high cliffs on the Canadian side and the American Side surround you. You feel the spray from the water on your face. You pass the American Falls on your left which seems gigantic and then the smaller Bridal Veil Falls but your eyes keep darting to the front of the boat where the Horse Shoe Falls keep getting bigger and bigger and threatening to engulf you as you approach it. The water gets choppy and you try to hold on to something as the boat starts swaying.


Now the spray from the Falls is hitting the boat and soon you are surrounded by the Falls on all three sides. The base of the Falls is a misty haze due to the churning water. The sound of the cascading water from that huge height is enormous. Magnificent, breathtaking, majestic, stupendous... words fail you. No words will ever do justice to your feeling as you find yourselves at the base of the falls.


As you look up and your senses take in the towering height, crashing water and the falling spray, you are filled with awe at God?s creation. You are but a puny object before Mother Nature. You feel humbled. A picture is worth a thousand words they say. Here is a link to what I tried to describe. It has some great photos and even a short video clip. You may have to download a couple of plug-ins but it should be worth it. Just give it a try. http://www.maidofthemist.com Don?t forget to turn on the speakers.


Cave of the Winds:This tour takes you to the bottom of the Bridal Veil Falls. The first time I was here, the line was serpentine. You first have to go to a counter and get waterproof slippers and a yellow overall. After that you are taken to a bottom of the gorge. As you get out of the elevator you notice another line of people waiting to get into the elevator after their tour. You see people who are wet and some of them even drenched from head to toe. Your anticipation grows as you look at their happy smiling faces.


After a short talk by the guide, about the history of the COW you start walking. The first few minutes are through a wooded path with the Niagara River on your left. You reach a wooden stairway built on the rocks directly below the Falls. This is in a zigzag pattern so you can find a dry place to watch the Falls, if you want. The wooden stairway and platform is built just a few feet away from the point where the water falls.


So if you are standing on the platform you will be soaked in a minute by the thundering water bouncing off the rocks. You can turn your face upwards and feel the stinging water. At that moment you are one with nature. It was truly an awesome feeling. You can lean to the side and touch the rushing water as it races to the Niagara River. This link has some photos. http://www.niagarafallslive.com/cave_of_the_winds.htm


This is getting a bit lengthy. Concluded in Comments..


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