Today we travelled from Toronto to Niagara Falls by train. An early start meant some skillful bobbing and weaving in between Toronto’s busy commuters. We jumped on one of the old street cars and headed for Union Station. We paid our single $3 fare to the streetcar driver and sat down. I enjoyed riding the old streetcar, it was similar to the tram system at Blackpool or Manchester in the North of England. I also enjoyed the red, black and cream paint job, so classic and iconic.
Arriving at Union Station we hit rush hour, serving 200,000 passengers a day Union Station is the busiest passenger transportation facility in Canada. The Union Station building was designated a National Historic Site of Canada since 1975, which is no surprise given the opulent, grand the Beaux-Art style architecture. Union Station was officially opened to the public on August 6, 1927, in a lavish ribbon cutting ceremony by Prince Edward, Prince of Wales (using a pair of gold scissors). We marvelled at it’s glory before finding our platform, we boarded the train bound for New York via The Niagara Falls.
The Amtrak Train bound for New York via The Niagara Falls was punctual, we had booked our tickets in advance. The service was excellent and super friendly, our seats were pretty huge compared to European train seats.
Some of you might remember me mentioning back in January my reason for visiting Niagara Falls. After my Dad took us to see the 3-D Film ‘Niagara, Miracles, Myths, Magic’ at the Bradford IMAX as a 9year old child I have wanted to see The Falls in real life ever since. Seeing the Falls on the big screen as such a young child all that time ago in Yorkshire left a lasting impression on me, I guess. It would have been my very first time seeing an IMAX sized screen and boy what a movie to see on such a grand scale!
We jumped in a Niagara Falls Taxi from the Niagara Falls Train Station to our hotel (more on our hotel later) we are staying at The Crowne Plaza, such an incredible place. We checked in, dumped our bags and grabbed a Starbucks to celebrate our arrival. Casting my eyes on the Niagara Falls for the very first time was breathtaking. With its thunderous majesty it’s hard not to be ore struck, Niagara just reminds you of the boundless power of nature.
I was sporting the yellow raincoat I bought from the Black Market Vintage store yesterday, it’s a great colour. Staring into the water is mesmerizing, watching the water swirl and spray at the bottom of the falls. It is said that the amount of water flowing over the falls is about the equivalent to a million bathtubs full of water every minute!
If you close your eyes you can hear the thunderous sounds of the Falls and constant skwalking of the seagulls. As it’s still officially the ‘Winter’ season we avoided the high season crowds. The weather is grey, cloudy with the occasional burst of sunshine and the odd rainy spell. In the depths of winter temperatures drop to below freezing. The flow of water was stopped completely over both falls on March 29th 1848 due to an ice jam in the upper river. This is the only known time for this to have occurred. The Falls did not actually freeze over, but the flow was stopped to the point where people actually walked out and recovered artifacts from the riverbed.
We took the journey behind the Falls. The elevators descend 150 feet through bedrock to tunnels that lead to the Cataract Portal and the Great Falls Portal which is one third of the way behind the massive sheet of water. Then you walk on to the Upper and Lower Observation Decks at the very foot of the Falls. We got to go right under the Falls and look out avoiding getting wet by the almighty mist. The sounds was thunderous.
After our journey behind the Falls we went to the IMAX to see Niagara: Miracles, Myths and Magic, the film we watched as 9year olds. It was such a fabulous end to an unforgettable day. Seeing the film now it’s easy to see why it had such an impact on me as a child. Niagara: Miracles, Myths and Magic made in 1986 focuses on people that braved the Niagara Falls, such as tight-rope walkers, barrel riders, and those unfortunate enough to accidentally plunge over the Falls. The IMAX experience was so incredible, the sound was so clear I thought there was a bird flying across the cinema!
I can officially cross off my number 44 on my ‘100 things to do in 2012’ now!