Sometimes, things don’t always go to plan. Sometimes, those things are a trip to one of the most recognised parts of the world, as my friend Beth and I figured out on a long, stressful day in Toronto. Although we made it to the gushing waters of North America’s famous falls, our journey that led us there was less than simple. So with a not so perfect (yet nevertheless memorable) experience to reflect upon, I present a guide for how not to see Niagara Falls.
Do not forget your credit card
Geared up for a Canadian road trip that lay ahead, Beth and I giddily headed out to the rental car booth in Toronto’s underground shopping centre. After about twenty solid minutes of trying to find the damn thing, we smiled at our server as we requested a hire car for the next day. We were going to drive on down to Niagara Falls, singing along to Don’t Stop Believin’. Chatting away with our Hertz representative, we picked out a small little vehicle and went to pay the deposit before the bad news struck us. It went something like this…
“Can I see your credit card mam?”
“Sure will my FairFX be ok?”
“Well let’s try it”
[A minute later]
“It doesn’t seem to be working. Do either of you have another credit card?”
“Well no but we’ve pre-booked a car for later on in our trip and that went through ok”
“I’m afraid we need a credit card so that it has pre-paid value on it… you won’t be able to hire a car without it”
“SH*T MOTHERF**KER F**K BALLS. ARE YOU KIDDING ME FOR REAL MATE?”
“Unfortunately I am not Miss and I’m not sure I appreciate your language”
As we left confused, hurt and more than a little disappointed, we stood out in the Toronto sunshine considering our plan B. As for the Canadian road trip? Well you can find out how that went here.
Do not assume you’ll fit on the tour bus
“We’ll just get on a tour bus!” seemed an obvious choice. So bright and early the next morning, we headed down to the big red information point where we crossed our fingers and hoped to die that we’d be able to pick up two tickets aboard the tourist express.
As more and more people turned up those nervous butterflies flickered within, and not the good kind. In our sweetest oh please help us voices, Beth and I battered our eyelashes and put an adorable posh twist on our English and Welsh accents.
Yeah you guessed it. The bus left without us.
Do not assume public transport is regular
“How the actual F will we get there now?”
To the public bus station we went. A bored and stale faced woman told us that yes, we could in fact get a pretty cheap bus all the way to Niagara Falls. A nice 2 hour trip that would drop us a half hour walk away from the sight. With no other choice we booked our Megabus tickets and wandered off for some comfort chicken wings before returning with our waterproofs later that afternoon.
We finally arrived at a hotel lobby, actually only a few minutes from the falls (however we then had to taxi it back to the original meeting point on our return journey). From there we walked through the strange town of Niagara, which although bright in neon lights was unnervingly quiet.
Do not expect much
The falls themselves were of course impressive. The more recognised Horseshoe Falls cascaded down at full force, creating an eerie mist against the clouds. Yet opposite the Canadian border where we stood, the American Falls flowing from New York were more my taste. A rainbow was cast as they pounded into the rocks and they felt more natural despite the city backdrop.
Beth and I wandered round the edge, full tourist gear equipped, looking down at the either brave or stupid people slipping around like fish in the boats below. I didn’t particularly envy them.
Do not forget a change of clothes
The only experience I regretted not booking was the Journey Behind the Falls. Equally drenching, but with more spectacular views, this attraction gets you right up close to the tumbling Horseshoe Falls. Without a spare set of dry clothes, it wasn’t exactly high on my agenda to spend the rest of the night getting pneumonia.
Don’t go late, go early
We purposely arrived late afternoon so that we could see Niagara in the darkness, as the waters illuminate in a rainbow of light. Perhaps some people enjoy it, but to me it felt tacky and unnecessary. I love a sparkling skyscraper, but I believe that we should enjoy our world’s natural wonders for what they are.
So there we have it. Despite our unplanned nuisances, Beth and I had an unforgettable trip to Niagara Falls, giggling our way around the edge of the waters like two tired tourists. No matter how much you plan, things will always go wrong somewhere down the line. But if there’s anything I’ve learnt, it’s that stress and worry get you nowhere and that only laughter with a little slice of Plan B (or was it C?) will turn a bad experience into a treasured memory.