Saturday 7th June 2008
Well, I was up bright and early on Saturday, even before the alarm went off. There was final packing to be done, and something had to be done about the hair, far too much grey. Could hear Mum stirring, but thought I would leave my sister in for as long as possible, because she was likely to wake up in aggravating mode, as is the case when she gets excited. Poor girl does not get to do exciting things all that often. You guessed it, Mum was up so everyone was up and so the day started.
Made a good getaway at the appointed time. Sara came to get us with Marcus to chaperone her. We made good time to the airport and we were through check in almost before we could blink. Passport control was a doddle, so by 11.30 we were wondering what to do with the next two hours before we boarded. Did the usual stock up of magazines, had a cup of tea and a disgraceful muffin. Finally we made our way to the departure lounge, where there was eventually an announcement that the crew had been delayed getting to the airport so we would be leaving late. So a 2.00 pm flight became a 3.30 flight.
Once into the flight and approx 250 miles out the captain announces that there is trouble with the wing flaps that he is trying to sort, and there is a possibility that we will be turning back when he has been able to shed enough fuel. Sometime later he announced that he knew what the problem was and that we were going to proceed on to Toronto. Atthis point, my sister, who is not a seasoned traveller asked what the problem had been, as she had been asleep when the original announcement had been made. Something we were pleased about as she is a nervous traveller. We had been anticipating a flight of around 3500 miles, but in fact we had flown around 4000 miles. Just before we came in to land the captain suggested that we reacquaint ourselves with the whereabouts of the emergency exits, so I had been anticipating the command to brace for an emergency landing. Fortunately that never came, although we had to travel for virtually all the journey with the seat belt lights on, so we are assuming that the wing flap problem never fully went away and the pilot was ensuring that there was as little fuel as possible left for when we came to land.
Our arrival at Toronto was eventful as they could not dock the exit steps for us to leave the plane, so we had to wait sometime until they could achieve a good fit, whatever that meant. Then we came to collect the hire car, only to be told that our booking was in someone else’s address. That was eventually sorted out and we embarked on our 60 mile drive to Niagara Falls. Of course, by then it was dark. We had not got a SatNav and did not have a map, meaning we had to find Kitchener Street in the dark. Bob for once did not do the man thing, and agreed to stop at a local shop to ask directions.
The motel is basic, has seen better days and was probably a Days Inn at some point. Still it is relatively cheap and within walking distance of the downtown area. By now it was about 9.30 local time, so around 2.30 am UK time, and off we went in search of food. The food on the plane had been minimal, although what we did get was tasty. We found a local pasta place and had chicken with pasta, washed down with a couple of glasses of wine. This was followed by a quick trip into a couple of shops to see if we could get some mugs and coffee. After an abortive attempt at this we returned to the motel and fell into bed, and what would by now be around 4.00 am UK time.
Sunday 8th June 2008
Our intention had been to sleep in until we woke naturally, rather than set alarms, so of course I woke up around 4.00, never went back to sleep properly, and was finally up round 8.30 am. There was no way I could make tea, as we had not found a shop to buy in anything for breakfast. We had said that we would not disturb Mum and sister, so we waited till around 10.00 am and decided to load the car, hoping that the noise it makes when you lock and unlock it may give them a clue that we were getting restless. (Must have been the coffee I found in reception when I went to see what tourist leaflets they had). This worked and we finally got out for breakfast at 11.30, going to Al Macs where they served an eat as much as you like buffet for $6.99 (about £3.50). So we got the works, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, potatoes, waffles, pancakes, fruit, yoghurt and I am sure somethings I have missed.
We then set of to give them a tantalising glimpse of Niagara Falls. We had agreed that we would do the Falls on Monday and Tuesday in the hope that it would not be so crowded. We drove up past the falls, and then on up the Niagara River. We followed the Niagara trail ending up in Fort Erie where we were treated to a guided tourby a young man (called Blair if we liked his speel, or Max if we did not) dressed as an English solder at the time of the 1812 battle between America and Canada for the possession of Fort Erie. He gave us an interesting commentary about the battle and how the English came to lose so many men. We were given a demonstration of muskets being fired, and shown around the Fort and its living accommodation. Well worth a visit and Bob now has yet another history book to add to his unread collection (sorry I meant his collection of books ready for his retirement).
After leaving Fort Erie we retraced out steps on the Niagara trail, this time taking us on up to Niagara on the Lakes – a lovely village type place that we had stayed at last time we were in Canada. I probably forgot to say that this is our third time at Niagara, having been here twice before when Bob came out on business. This trip has come about because when Bob was on secondment in New York we asked Mum where else she would like to visit given the chance, and Niagara was the one place her and Dad had always wanted to visit. So that is why we are here, unfortunately without Dad as he died almost 4 years ago, and hence the reason my sister is with us.
We stopped at the Whirlpool and watched the way the water comes down and then circles round changing direction before it flows off at a 90 degree angle. At this point there is also a cable car that takes you across the river, which Mum had been thinking might be nice to go on. That was until it came back and sherealised you had to stand, and she thought it might not do her vertigo any good.
On the way up to Niagara on the Lakes we spotted the Living Water Wayside Chapel, which we had passed before, so on the way back we stopped. Today the door was open so we called in. This has got to be the smallest church. There are two pews inside, which look as if they will seat 4 – 6 at the most. Lovely little chapel and now well photographed.
On our way back we also stopped at the Floral Clock. I am sure that it did not have hands and work as a clock last time we were here, but today the second hand was going round, so of course the hands were moving and it was just chiming 6.45 when we arrived.
Back down to Niagara where we had intended to walk out for supper, we had to succumb to the car as the heavens opened accompanied by thunder and lightening. Once we had supper we had a drive around to see what else Niagara had to offer, found Clifton Hill, which is like a mini Las Vegas. I am not sure if I like it, but it is full of attractions like wax works, casinos, and so on. Apparently it was developed around 5 years ago for the tourists. We are going to wander out sometime tomorrow to check it out whilst walking. This evening was rounded off by driving up past Niagara to see the light show and then back to the motel, where Bob is now snoring gently as he has already gone to bed with yet another headache. Guess who will be seeing the GP when we get back to the UK.