Niagara Falls Part II: Oh, Canada
Youngstown, NY - Events of Friday, July 12, 2013
As we mentioned in our last post, we headed into Canada on Friday to see the falls from the other side of the river. Going through customs into Canada was a breeze. There was no wait, and they only asked a few questions like where you were from, where you were going, why you were going there and how long you were going to stay. If you hesitate on any of your answers, they will probably ask more questions, but we sailed right through.
Our first stop for the day was the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens that serves as an outdoor classroom for the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture. Admission to the garden is free, but they hit you up for $5 for parking.
There were large maps at several locations throughout the garden, but there was no map available as a handout. We took a photo of the first map we came to so we could bring it up on the camera's LCD and refer to it as we walked the garden paths.
We first headed to the arboretum area of the garden where there were mature specimens of many varieties of trees and shrubs.
The far end of the arboretum was a little weedy and seedy, so we were glad when the path turned to head back toward the main garden area. Centrally located in the garden is the Butterfly Conservatory. Since there is a $13.50 admission fee for the conservatory and since we saw a butterfly conservatory not all that long ago at Callaway Gardens in Georgia, we skipped the butterflies and headed off to explore the rest of the garden.
There was a large herb garden with different sections for herbs having different purposes. There were culinary herbs, beverage herbs and medicinal herbs.
From the herb garden we continued on to the large vegetable garden where there were things like lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, beans, squash, tomatoes and peas. The photo below shows only a fraction of the vegetable garden.
From the vegetable garden we continued on our way around the remaining garden areas.
The above photo has a few of the many roses in the background. Most of the roses were done flowering, but there were still some very beautiful individual blooms.
From the rose garden, we began heading for the car. We passed a few more flower beds on our way out.
There were lots of flowers in bloom, both annuals and perennials. The next photo shows just a few of the perennials.
When we had dinner with Janice and Dave the day before, one of the things they told us about was Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara-on-the-Lake is an upscale tourist town to the north of the botanical gardens on the shores of Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Niagara River. We headed there next.
We drove through town to see how big the downtown tourist area was before trying to decide where to park. Once we found ourselves on the far side of town, we drove just a little farther and stopped to have a look at the lake.
Across the river from Niagara on the Lake on the U.S. side is Fort Niagara. We'll have more on Fort Niagara in our next post.
After a few photos at the lake, we headed back into town and found a parking place. There are a few pay lots ($5 for all day), but most of the parking is on-street, metered parking ($1 per hour). Much of the metered parking is "pay and display" where the parking spaces don't have individual parking meters. You pay at a central kiosk (there is at least one per block), then display the receipt on your dash. There is limited, free handicap parking right in the tourist area, and there is also some free regular parking several blocks away from the main downtown area.
The main streets of Niagara-on-the-Lake are decorated with lush flower displays. There are curb-side plantings, hanging baskets and planter boxes attached to railings and balconies all over town.
With all the beautiful flowers in Niagara-on-the-Lake, we could have almost skipped the botanical gardens.
The main tourist area of Niagara-on-the-Lake covers a distance of 6 or 8 blocks along Queen Street. It is filled with upscale boutiques and shops and numerous expensive restaurants and bistros. Many, quaint bed and breakfasts line the side streets.
Victorian-style architecture abounds in Niagara-on-the-Lake. One good example is the Prince of Wales Hotel. Built in 1864, the hotel has 110 rooms. The Prince of Wales is a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent to the throne of England. The current Prince of Wales is Prince Charles, although it is unlikely he will ever be king. Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles' mother, stayed at the Prince of Wales Hotel during her visit to Canada in 1973.
As we headed back toward the car, we passed the Chamber of Commerce building where costumed re-enactors were acting out the reading of a proclamation regarding the War of 1812.
From Niagara-on-the-Lake we headed south to view Niagara Falls from the Canadian side as we wrote in our last post. After that, we made our way to the Canada 405/US I-190 bridge back to the United States. We got in line almost immediately as we got on the 405. It took us almost two hours to go from the spot where we first stopped in Canada to travel a little over a mile across the bridge and clear U.S. customs. There is a wait almost any time you try to get into the U.S., but Friday afternoons in summer are apparently the worst because, judging by the huge number of Ontario license plates in line, almost everyone who lived in Ontario was trying to get out of Canada for the weekend.
Weary from our loooong, sloooow border crossing, we headed to the motor home to relax for the rest of the evening. Even though we didn't do much for the rest of the weekend, we still have more adventures to report from Niagara Falls, so look for our next post.