Saturday, September 19, 2015

Niagara Falls in a Rainstorm

September 12, 2015

A driving rain loomed over the city for the entire weekend, so it was a very wet and cold experience, but that didn't stop us from enjoying one of the most spectacular and powerful falls in the world.


(A closeup of the precipice of American Falls, a "small" offshoot from the main falls, placed entirely on the US side of the border.)

(The Maid of the Mist boat tour has been running since 1846, taking tourists into the mouth of the falls and getting people absolutely soaked in the process.  It's an amazing way to experience the power and size of these massive falls.  And yes, you get to keep the poncho.  So worth it.  American Falls sits behind me at around 100 feet high.)

(The Maid of the Mist tour takes you past American Falls and then goes right into the middle of Horseshoe Falls, the iconic U-shaped falls that are bisected by the US/Canada border.)

(Heading straight into the mist.  I have heard that lines can be quite long for this boat ride, but due to the weather, the tourist hordes weren't quite as big as expected, so we were able to walk right up and jump on the boat with no wait.)

(Maid of the Mist leaving the falls after thoroughly soaking each and every passenger on the crowded boat.)

(Clifton Hill, on the Canadian side.  This area is full of tourist shops, restaurants and cheesy things to do.  Fun for walking and people-watching, though.  We stayed on the Canadian side of the falls, as the prevailing opinion is that it's a far better place to stay, and the favorable exchange rate at the moment also helps.)

(A view leading up to Horseshoe Falls.  If you look down on the green part of the picture in the middle, you can see the tiny people at a lookout point of Journey Behind the Falls, an interesting attraction that takes you down right at the base of the falls and even through a few tunnels within/behind the huge falls.)

(On the Journey Behind the Falls, you walk through two tunnels behind the falls.  The tunnels have a couple of portals opening up to the back of the falls.  Obviously, with the incredible volume of water, you can't see through the falls, but it's a different perspective and the sheer power and sound of the falls is evident.)

(More tourists aboard the Maid of the Mist.  This boat (or multiple boats) and the Canadian version, the Hornblower, run tours almost constantly, alternating between the two, so there's almost always a boat on the water.  For what it's worth, the Canadian boat is much newer and nicer, but I like the more nostalgic look of this one.  The Maid of the Mist also offers a quick walking path to the base of American Falls that you cannot access without a ticket, so I think that gives the Maid a slight edge overall.)

(The view from the edge of Horseshoe Falls from the bottom of the Journey Behind the Falls.)

(The Hornblower makes its way into the falls.  As is typical for Canadian/US comparisons, I'm sure it's cleaner, safer and just nicer in general, but I still recommend the Maid of the Mist.)

(Maria and I finally dried off a bit at the bottom of the falls before getting soaked again as we walked around the top of the falls as the rain and wind picked up.)

(The view from our restaurant, Marilyn's Bistro, 26 floors above the falls with an absolutely amazing spot.  In spite of the rain and clouds, the view definitely made it worth it.)

(On top of the great views, the food was actually good as well, but it would be hard to be unhappy with a spot like this.  You can see the American Falls between us and the Horseshoe Falls behind me.)

(A long, cold walk back to the hotel, but we remained in good spirits.)

(Before heading back to the airport on Sunday morning, we made another quick stop at the top of Horseshoe Falls, enjoying the spectacular views of the early morning before many of the tourists arrived.)

(Close-up of Horseshoe Falls.  At 167 feet, it's definitely not one of the tallest waterfalls in the world, though it's about half a mile wide and has one of the largest volumes of any waterfall in the world.

(Heading back to the airport in Cleveland - yes, we got a really good deal on flights, and it's only 3.5 hours away - we made a quick stop at Lake Erie right along the New York/Pennsylvania border.  The wind was strong, creating strong waves, and the cloud was still ominous, but it was a pretty stop, if just for a few minutes.)