Friday, June 10, 2005

Niagara Falls

Thursday afternoon, we drove to Niagara Falls; Kasia thankfully slept the whole way. We checked into the hotel (the Hilton) to get our "adventure passes", freebie entrance to most of the major attractions as part of the hotel package. We immediately made our way to the Maid of the MistsTigana was less interested in the scenery then in seeing how wet she could get ("Is it wetter over where you are Dad? How wet is it?"), no doubt a result of having listened to how wet she had gotten as a toddler when we were last here. Kasia seemed to tolerate the spray reasonably well, but holding her for the tour was taking a toll on Mary's back. We began scouring the tourists areas for strollers, and eventually found one for sale. (Our previous stroller had been a loaner from the hotel in Toronto.)

We then made our way back to the hotel, stopping to observe a glass-blowing demonstration, and then hit the swimming pool. Tigana and Kasia had gone swimming every day of our trip, but at this hotel Mary observed that their were very young kids using the waterslide, so encouraged Tigana to try. Tigana was initially terrified at the prospect, since it is one of enclosed ones those that loops around and round like a rollercoaster, but having polled every other kid in the pool on "How fast is it? Is it scary?", eventually allowed herself to be talked into it by another father. Then, of course, there was no getting her off it.

The next morning we started with breakfast in the hotel which overlooks the falls. We then made our way down to the "behind the falls tour" (which I found fairly ho hum, since all there is to see is a wall of water - no real sense of 'falls" as such); the "White Water Walk" (formerly the "Great Gorge Adventure", but there isn't anything very adventuresome about walking along beside it - the adventure would only be if you were out on the water, which basically isn't allowed. But the scenery is great, and if it were not for the kids, Mary and I would have found it very peaceful and restful. I was again struck at how most tourists seem to just rush from one site to the other, the objective apparently being to take a picture of themselves in front of whatever it is, and then move on. People did not seem interested in sticking around and appreciating the grandeur of it all. I was also struck at how the prices in attraction gift shops were extremely reasonable, no sense of price gouging at all, in sharp contrast to the privately run shops up the road. (Though to be fair, there were big signs ups saying "Tourist Area" when leaving the public park for the private attractions, which is a pretty clear message from the park authorities that buyer beware.)

From there we ended our day in Niagara by going to the Butterfly Conservatory, which was a big hit with both kids. Tigana had been there before when just slightly older than Kasia is now, and had had a butterfly land on her, so it was crucial that she be able to recreate that memory. Fortunately, Mary was able to coax a butterfly to land on Tigana, and once there, it stayed with her for over half an hour. Kasia mostly entertained herself by opening and closing the straps on her stroller, but would occasionally pause to look at a passing butterfly.

All in all, a good day trip!

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