The July 4th was on a Wednesday, so I took off Thursday and Friday. We had decided to see the Niagara Falls from the Canadian side. This would be our sixth visit to the falls overall. The trip to Niagara is almost inevitable when we have visitors. We started Wednesday morning at a leisurely 10:15 AM. Having driven a couple of miles, we realized I didn’t have my wallet !! There is always a first time, isn’t it. Anyway after getting it, we were on our way. The drive would be 395 miles. I had driven back from Niagara in six hours flat last time. While going in, we knew we had to stop for lunch somewhere. The drive up 476 North was smooth. There was really no holiday traffic. We were through the beautiful Leigh Valley tunnel, which is a marvellous piece of Engineering carved under the Poconos. This tunnel had special memories for us as Vikas used to enjoy the ride in the tunnel when we would go up north as a child, even now he does but this time around he was fast asleep!
I-81 West takes you to Syracuse and the region before is a fascinating lull of lush, rolling Appalachian mountains. You can see pockets of housing amidst these mountains – they are more thought provoking during the early morning rise and sunset times as I saw while driving back. We stopped for lunch. With so many days of eating out, I now-a-days prefer if we pack lunch from home. Kara and sweet pongal was delicious. The day was extremely hot with temperatures rising above 90. We reached Niagara Falls around 4:30 and had to go through the Canadian immigration. There wasn’t much line. My experience with the Canadian Border patrol has been a hit or miss. This time around the officer was barking order and I couldn’t understand well. I thought he wanted me to open the trunk and as I was about to open the door, he gave me a mouthful. He finally let us through. While crossing the Canadian border driving, make sure you roll down the windows at the back; don’t cut jokes (I didn’t, but read this somewhere), answer questions to the point. Anyway, this guy made it very unpleasant. I was later reading on the Internet, that many people experience rude behavior on part of the border crossing officers so much so, that one magazine opened up the case publicly for people to register complaints. At least, I was feeling better that I had company. If these agents treat everyone as criminals, they are not doing a service to their country. They have to develop the knack of being polite and respectful and at the same time have that extra sense for catching the right offenders – just don’t assume everyone is to be barked orders at. Anyway, it took us a few hours to get this off our minds.
We reached our hotel which was right on the Niagara river. Our room had a great view of the Canadian falls though looking at the water falling away most of it, but we could see the entire river and the electric plant upstream. It was a gorgeous sight, all-in-all. We decided to explore the area a bit after freshening up. The hotel is at quite an height and we took the ‘Incline train’ to get down. This is a trolley ride by which you can avoid walking 1/2 a mile on steep roads. We walked by the falls deciding to do attractions the next day. After about half hour, it was nearly 8 PM and we wanted to finish dinner in time to watch the fireworks. A couple of places we tried weren’t very vegetarian friendly, and we finally ended up at the Macaroni Grill for a pizza and soup. Just in time for a 10 minute walk to the spot besides the hotel where we could watch the fireworks. The fireworks weren’t all that breath-taking – maybe we had seen too many of these. What was more spectacular was the light golden moon that was quite a size that started to peek out of the clouds. It was a pleasure to watch the moon over the river and that was the highlight of the day.