CANADA TRIP

I recently (last Friday, June 7-Monday June 10) went to Niagara Falls, Canada. I went with my mom, sister, and my Aunt. We decided to drive from my house as opposed to fly. For one, it’s a lot cheaper. And two, it’s actually not that far of a drive from my house in Baltimore County to the border. So my Aunt met us at our house around 4am and we were on our merry way!

We stopped off for coffee about an hour or so into the drive. God knows I needed it! So minus one or two stops for gas and food, we made good time. There was ZERO traffic! It’s at this point in this post that I will be breaking my trip down day-by-day.

So Friday, June 7 around noon, maybe a little earlier, we arrived at out hotel in Canada. We couldn’t check in until 4pm though. So we dropped off our luggage, went to see the Falls, and went on the HornBlower. The HornBlower is the Canadian version of the US’s Maid of the Mist. I’d been to Niagara Falls and done this before, but that was WAAAAAAAY back in 2012. I’d forgotten just how close you get to the Falls. YOU GET REALLY FREAKING CLOSE! I GOT SOAKED!

After that, and after we had dried off a little, we went to Clifton Hill to look around. Clifton Hill is the touristy area of Niagara Falls. Think Times Square, but in Canada. My family went shopping. I was not really in the shopping mood, so I opted to do the SkyWheel. The SkyWheel is this MASSIVE observation wheel overlooking the Falls. It cost $10 US to do it, but it was SOOOOO worth it! They let you go around five times and the enclosed capsule is heated in the winter and has air conditioning in the summer.

So when I was done the SkyWheel, which lasted about 15 minutes, I went to a haunted house called House of Frankenstein. It cost around $12.50 US to do it, and honestly…I don’t think it was entirely worth it. The warning sign outside the attraction said there were live “scare actors” inside, which is to be expected. Well, there was ONE actor in there! And I could hear him too! The rest of the experience was screens and animatronics. It was pitch black in there–I had to feel around to figure out which way to go–VERY confined (so do NOT do this haunted house if you are claustrophobic) and just not that scary. There were more people in line to take photos of the outside of the building than the attraction itself. Like, I was the ONLY person in line to do this. Now I know why. Honestly, I think the Haunted House in Ocean City, Maryland or even the Haunted Mansion at Disney were better and scarier than this.

It’s at this point I have to mention the cell reception and service in Canada. IT’S REALLY SHITTY! I got separated from my family in Clifton Hill and couldn’t get a hold of them for an hour! And it wasn’t just in that one area…IT WAS EVERYWHERE! So if you are a Verizon customer here in the United States and are planning a trip to Niagara Falls, just be aware of that.

We stayed at the Hilton which was maybe a 10 minute walk to the Falls. My mom and sister were shopping and my Aunt and I were at the hotel. I walked down to the Falls around 9:00 pm to watch the Falls lit up and the fireworks they do at 10 pm. The fireworks were good, but short. They only lasted five minutes. After that, I went back to the hotel to go to bed.

Saturday was probably my favorite day in Canada. Why? I went ziplining from one side of Niagara Falls to the other. I spent $50 US and was hoping it’d be worth it. So, Tom…was the zipline worth $50? YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT IT IS! You get SO CLOSE to the Falls! Actually, you get so close, you get wet and misted during the ride. It was AWESOME! After I did that,  my family and I went to Niagara on the Lake. This is still Niagara Falls, but it is a lot more quiet than the main area. It sort of reminded me of Colonial Williamsburg or, closer to me, Fells Point. It has that historic “old time-y” feel to it. I loved this area! We ate at this pizza joint and I got meatballs. WOW! Not only were the meatballs good…THE SERVICE WAS QUICK! I swear, we sat down and ordered and within ten minutes, we had our food! So I loved that.

After that, we went to some wineries. This is where my inner alcoholic came out. I DRANK SO MANY FREE WINE SAMPLES! I discovered my favorite wine EVER in Canada. It’s called Icewine. OH MY GOD! THIS STUFF IS AMAZING! What they do is, they take frozen wine grapes and thaw them in winter and ferment them for 6-8 months. The end result is this super sweet (like literally sweet, not like “Dude, that was SWEET!) dessert wine. I always considered myself more a beer guy, but there was just something about this wine I loved! The one downside is that it is really expensive. But if you are in Niagara on the Lake, check out IceHouse. They are known for their wine and…wait for it…ICEWINE SLUSHIES! WOW! This is THE best slushee I have ever had!

So after filling our bellies with wine, we tried to go to the butterfly conservatory. I say “tried” because we paid for parking, went up to the building…and it was closed. So that was a bummer. We got a refund for the parking fee though. Thank God. I was tired so I went to bed early that night.

On Sunday, I went to MarineLand, which is an amusement park about a mile from the Falls. You can actually see one of the rides from Niagara Falls. I’ll get to that ride in a minute. But one thing I noticed about MarineLand was that while it is a big park–it’s HUGE!–there’s actually not that much to do. It’s these wide dirt roads with the occasional side road leading to animals or different areas. The park is known for its roller coaster, Dragon Mountain. Dragon Mountain is the longest roller coaster in the world. Note that that’s not by size or length, but by acreage. This thing, while tall (188 feet), the way the park works, you can’t really see it from anywhere in the park. MarineLand is very hilly and has a lot of shade and trees, so it hides the ride. The only parts you can actually see for the most part is its two loops. Dragon Mountain was a fun ride, but it was also a little jerky and I’d even call parts of it boring. It has four inversions (meaning you go upside-down four times). Its inversions are two vertical loops right after the drop and a bowtie inversion. That last inversion is actually two and is the only one like it in the world, so that’s pretty cool.

The other ride everyone knows at MarineLand is Sky Screamer. This thing is MASSIVE! It’s a 300 foot S&S drop ride/space shot (meaning it shoots you up as opposed to going up slowly). To add to that, it’s also on top of a 150 foot hill. So you get a GREAT panoramic view of Ontario and the surrounding area. The weird thing is, I had a GoPro strapped to my chest and they would not let me take it on some of the rides. BUT they were fine with a regular handheld digital camera on the rides. Weird…

The rides weren’t even my favorite part of the park. My favorite part was the Beluga Whales. These things were ADORABLE! There was an underwater viewing area, and since the park wasn’t that crowded, there were like three people in the viewing area. These cute Belugas all swam toward me and were showing off and almost interacting with me. I am attaching videos of this below. I also had the opportunity to feed a Beluga Whale named Skyla. You could tell the whales love the attention they get. I got to pet Skyla and feed her fish and it was so cute! It looks like the Beluga Whales are smiling at you.

They also had an American Black Bear enclosure where you could feed bears corn puffs in an ice cream cone. Weird, but it was pretty cool. I had a packed lunch from Tim Horton’s, so I went into a cafeteria-style place and got an overpriced beer to go with my meal. I usually am not one to get bored at amusement parks, but since MarineLand is so big and empty, I left a little early.

After I left the park, we gave the butterfly conservatory another shot. This time, it was open. It was pretty neat, albeit a little pricey. It was roughly $15 US to do it. But it was cool seeing all these butterflies flying around and landing on you. I will say it was a little tricky getting the butterflies to land on you, but once they did, it’s like a victory moment. My sister actually got a butterfly to stay on her head and face. I got a butterfly to land on my finger and it hung from my nose. In pictures, it looks like an orange booger. It’s pretty funny. Again, I attached a picture of this.

The main thread of the trip was Tim Horton’s. Tim Horton’s was our go-to for breakfast every day we were there. To me, it almost felt like a Canadian McDonald’s. Funnily enough, McDonald’s was everywhere, too. But Tim Horton’s had almost the exact same food as McDonald’s, just different names and better hash browns.

I’d heard about Beavertail online and wanted to try it. So after going back to the wineries on Sunday, we headed to Clifton Hill to get me Beavertail. Let me explain what Beavertail is. It’s this flaky pastry filled with vanilla icing and various toppings depending on how you want it. I got mine with crushed Oreo cookies and chocolate. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is THE BEST pastry I have ever had! I LOVED IT! The thing was long and oval-shaped. It cost $8 which going in, I thought was a little expensive. But I guess that’s to be expected, seeing as Niagara Falls is very overpriced to begin with. After seeing how insanely massive Beavertail was (try a foot!) I can see why it was $8. Actually, now I think about it, they could probably charge more. I wish we had this here in Maryland and the US in general. My mom, Aunt and I ate the thing in about 5 minutes! IT WAS DELICIOUS! Like, it’s a toss-up between this and Berger Cookies in Baltimore for my favorite dessert pastry.

Monday we got up and packed up to leave. We left the hotel around 10:30 am and met my Aunt’s sister in Corning, New York. Might I add, it was POURING Monday! So we got drenched on our walk from the parking lot to the restaurant. After we ate, we looked at Tupperware for my sister since she is looking at apartments in Philadelphia. Actually, my absolute favorite part of the trip was when we went into Baltimore City to get my kitten. It really did feel good to go home after a long drive. So that’s my trip report from Niagara Falls, Canada. I want to know what you think. Have you ever been to Niagara Falls and what did you think of it? Thanks for reading!

-Tom

 

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Author: AuTom Spectrum Blog

I have Autism and am a self-advocate and public speaker. On the side I do stand-up comedy. I live in Baltimore County and have an AMAZING girlfriend

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