Saturday, September 25, 2010

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, New York, USA - My first international destination and the only tourist place that I have been to twice, but the beauty never ceased to amaze me. Luckily, I have been to Niagara in both summer and fall seasons. The same falls, the same location - but the colors were so different making the trip special the second time also. 
Being in Syracuse NY, it was an easy destination to drive and come back in the same day. But the trip to falls is definitely a day long trip because there are different things to see at different times. Depending on one's interests, sometime an entire day might as well be short duration to cover up. 
Niagara Falls - American Falls,  Bridal Falls and Horse Shoe falls
Where ever you drive from, Buffalo is a connecting place to the Niagara falls and the Niagara river is seen flowing besides quietly.  It is not very difficult to figure out when you are nearing the Niagara falls. The river gushing speedily to fall is very evident and the noises also get very prominent. 
Niagara River before it "Falls"
The first and the most obvious location once you reach the falls is the Prospect Point Park Observation tower from which the American falls are visible and the immediate roads and skyline of Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada can also be seen (which look much better in the night time)

American falls as seen from the Prospect Point

The Rainbow bridge connecting USA and Canada passing over Niagara Falls
There are two most popular tourist attractions in Niagara falls - The Maid of the Mist and The Cave of the Winds. Both awesome and stunning in their own sense. The Maid of the Mist is a boat ride which takes you in the interiors of the falls - esp in to the Horseshoe falls which are more inclined towards Canada. The American falls and Bridal falls are also covered but the immense density of the Horseshoe falls makes the heart skip a beat for sure.
Prospect Point Observation Tower, right from the ground level of Maid of the Mist

The American Falls as seen from the Maid of the Mist

The Maid of the Mist takes about 40 minutes and unfortunately, most of the time is lost in taking perfect pictures than just admiring the beauty (at least for crazy people like me!!), but the experience is nevertheless splendid. The force and the power with which the falls fall is certainly intimidating (considering the fact that some people do rope walking and film shooting over Niagara). After the 40 minute ride people usually tend to go the second tourist destination, called the Cave of the Winds, which is about a mile or so, by walk.
You can once again capture the flow of Niagara river (right before becoming the falls) while walking around the river for Cave of the Winds. There are places in between where you just sit around the river and touch the water and play with it (but carefully please, do not let children go unattended!!). The whole river flow is very dramatic, with the background of colorful trees (in fall season) and crystal blue waters of the river. 
Niagara river cruising towards the Bridal falls

The tip of the Bridal Veil falls

Bridal Veil falls are the smallest of the three falls that make up the Niagara Falls.There is an elevator that takes the people down to the deck and people can then walk to the base of the falls and experience how it feels standing right at the receiving end of the falls. The speed of the water and wind can make it quite of a sensational electrifying experience.
At the base of the Cave of the Winds
Rainbow formation is a common (near permanent) occurrence in Niagara falls, observed both at the Maid of the Mist and the Cave of the Winds, adding more excitement to the children and adults alike. 
Rainbow formation at Niagara Falls
The summer trip of mine started late in the afternoon, so we could not go to the Cave because they close pretty early in the evening, around 4 30 - 5 00 PM. So, instead we went to have some snacks and see what we found - 
There are a lot of Indian restaurants in Niagara falls and of course many more cuisines, but the overwhelming part was that, since Niagara was my first destination outside Syracuse, NY, I was surprised to see the number of Indian restaurants around (the excitement did not last long, because then I went to New Jersey in a couple of months)
Post Evening meals, during my first trip, we had no time left to visit the Cave, so we went forward to the other attractions of the city like casinos and other gaming arcades. There is also a Hard Rock Cafe, for those who absolutely love it. A walk in the Niagara city itself is pretty nice, since it is a tourist city, there is a lot of glitz in the place, some (rather expensive) shopping destinations with the sovereigns of Niagara all over.  What you (absolutely) do not want to do is - feel content with the Niagara Falls you just saw because the spectacular part is yet to come. People wander off in the evening time and return to the falls at around 8 30 PM - 9 00 PM because at night, Niagara falls is all decked up with colors. Sometimes there is a single color or sometimes, a whole range of complementing colors, but whatever it is, color covered Niagara is definitely a breathtaking view. 
The only hitch to view the falls on the American side is that you cannot see it fully, as it can be seen from the Canadian side. We did not understand the logic behind the fact that Canadian side of Niagara is more beautiful than American side till the night lights happened, but nevertheless, what we saw here was also an exceptional experience. 

No prizes for guessing why Niagara falls is a favorite tourist spot for visitors. A visit to the Niagara is definitely a memory no one would want to forget. The Maid of the mist and the Cave of the winds are generally closed in the winters and they get opened again in summer and stay till fall, so make sure (if you have not seen it yet) to mark one vacation spot next time for Niagara Falls. 

Have a good day,
Raji (the traveller)!!