There is a delicate balance that must be struck when traveling between those “must see” things that you need to tick off your bucket list, but are inevitably crowded, noisy, and chaotic, and those accidental finds that are calmer, more relaxing, and feel more personal.
I went on a trip this weekend that, while a great experience, reminded me of the beauty of those accidental or less-touristed sites.
Niagara Falls – an amazing destination that you have to see at least once, right? But oh my god – so many people! My first mistake was going on a holiday weekend – obviously many, many other people had the same idea as me. Being in crowds like that all day stresses me out a little – plus the attraction loses a little of its charm when everything is so clearly marketed towards tourists – and priced for tourists as well. I suppose the positive side is that it is interesting to see such a melting pot of cultures in one place, all coming together to enjoy one natural wonder. We must have heard at least a dozen different languages spoken there while we were there.
I don’t think I need to go into detail on such a famous attraction on Niagara. I enjoyed Journey Behind the Falls, but skipped Maid of the Mist because one waterfall attraction seemed enough for me. The view on Journey Behind the Falls was amazing, probably the closest you can get. One tip, which I think most people visiting Niagara are aware of, is that the Canada is much more spectacular than the American side, so hop across the border if you can.
If I had had more than a day to spend, I would have liked to see some of the other sites in the area. There’s a botanical gardens and the world’s largest indoor aviary which looked appealing. (Are there a lot of indoor aviaries that are competing with this one? I have no idea). On the drive back towards Toronto, we stopped at a restaurant called the Lakehouse, which has a deck along the lake and a gorgeous view. One downside is that the restaurant described itself as “Mediterranean” but turned out to be Italian so there was no hummus in sight. (Yes, Italy is on the Mediterranean, but when describing a style of food, unless I’m crazy, it usually refers more to Greece.)
There was also a tightrope walker between two buildings downtown. When he made it across, all of the cars starting honking to congratulate him. Pretty incredible! Apparently he’s been doing it every day this summer (weather permitting), so it’s really no big deal to him, just another day at the office.
The other random thing is that there is an Orange Julius there. As a kid getting an Orange Julius was a treat, but there aren’t any around where I live now, so I haven’t had one in years. Like many things, though, I think it will stay a childhood favorite rather an adulthood favorite. But I’m glad I got to try one again.
Every once in awhile you find yourself in a tourist trap, and usually it’s worth it. But it certainly made me yearn for a quiet place I discovered all by myself.