I woke up this morning after a few shorts hours of sleep and was very reluctant to get out of bed; the murphy bed at the condo was so comfortable, and I knew what I was getting myself into when I got to the hostel tonight. Janette and I had a quick breakfast together and she walked me to the streetcar. I am going to miss Janette, Paul, and Jan as I continue on this trip. It’s been great to have people to do things with every day, or at the very least people I knew I would get to see at the end of the day and share the adventures with. The nomad life is really fun, but there’s something really nice about having a kind of home base to come back to every day, and I’m so thankful to Janette, Paul, and Caileigh for giving me while I was in Toronto.
I took the streetcar to the subway, then the subway for just one stop to get to Union Station and board the VIA Rail train to Niagara Falls. I thought this would be an easy process, but I was wrong. Union Station is under a ton of construction and there are so many different forms of transportation that leave from it that I couldn’t quite find the right Gate 20. I was running around the station, very tight on time, in a bit of a panic that I would miss my train. I finally found someone who worked for VIA (after somehow managing to take the PATH out of the station altogether and wandering around the ACC for a while) and they got me moving the right way.
I ran onto the train just as they were getting ready to shut down boarding and was greeted by perhaps the peppiest, friendliest, warmest person I’ve come across on the trains since Patrick. The train I was on was actually an Amtrak en route to NYC, and the interior was clearly much newer than the cars I was in on The Canadian.
I worked on writing and reading on the way until my light sleep caught up with me and I took an emergency nap until hitting Niagara Falls. The hostel was only a block’s walk from the station. I got in a little after 10:00 am, so I couldn’t check in yet, but they let me dump my bags so I wouldn’t have to walk around with them all day.
The walk to the falls didn’t take too long, and I could see New York just across the river. It was almost tempting to walk across the bridge with my passport, just to be able to say that I had. I resisted, and instead enjoyed the views of both the American and Canadian Horseshoe Falls. My grandma told me the falls were better from the Canadian side, and I must say that I agree.
I saw the little falls tour cruises going back and forth on both sides of the river, Maid of the Mists in their blue ponchos from the U.S. and Hornblower with their red ponchos from Canada, and after checking to see how much it would be I decided I had to do it. I bought a ticket and ten minutes later I was on the boat cruising towards the falls. If you’re ever in Niagara, make sure you do it. The view of the falls from the water are so great, and driving into the mists kicked up by the Canadian Horseshoe Falls is 100% worth how wet anything poking out of the poncho will get. And don’t make my mistake and wear glasses; you can’t see much anyway, but it’s a little annoying to get stuck with watered and misted up glasses that you can’t clean because it would be pointless.
I was thankful to the sun for finally making its way out once I got off, since it allowed me to dry off a bit. I kept walking down the parkway the city has set up all the way to the Visitors’ Centre outside the Canadian Falls, because I’d heard there was a spot where you could look almost directly down the falls at the falling water; itwas pretty intense to see!
I grabbed a quick lunch from Timmie’s and made myself a little picnic by the falls before walking back towards the hostel. I took a quick detour up a street that was basically a massive midway, lined with haunted houses, funhouses, kitschy shops, and restaurants like Planet Hollywood and the Hard Rock Café. I got the feeling then that Niagara Falls was a sleepy town, just starting to wake up in anticipation of their insane summer season and was thankful I was there when I was. There were big crowds on the cruise and down on the walk, but I can only imagine now what it must be like in peak season.
My phone was dying, and so were my feet, so I walked the rest of the way back to the hostel to plug in and take a nap that I needed in a big way. When I woke up, I had time to walk to the whirlpool area before dinner. After I saw the whirlpool, I headed towards the Q, Niagara Falls’ downtown district.
Paul had told me that there was a great BBQ place in town, Jeffro’s BBQ, and I thought it would be as good a place as any to grab food. Walking down the street, I thought it was strangely quiet, then saw that a few blocks ahead it was blocked off. Turns out, I was there for their weekly car show, Cruising on the Q, so everyone was up in that area. Jeffro’s was right on the corner where the car show started, so there was lots of good people-watching to enjoy while I munched on a melt-in-your-mouth brisket sandwich.
I made a quick walk back to the hostel after taking a picture in one of the cars, then decided to take the night to do a little TV catch-up, since this hostel actually had functional internet. I went down the hostel’s basement lounge to find that I had it — and its massive, fantastic cuddle puddle set-up — all to myself. I plugged my laptop into the TV, turned on the SNL Prince special, and sprawled out on the sea of beanbags and pillows.
Now it’s time to rest up. I have to catch my first ride tomorrow morning at 10:27 to start my very own On to Ottawa Trek!