As we left Iceland behind, heading towards Toronto, it was at that funny time of the afternoon when it’s starting to get dark, but it’s still daylight. The whole journey, we seemed to be chasing the sun – It was dark behind us but still bright up ahead, yet we were in that in-between light and dark state all the way.When we were coming into land at Toronto airport, the night had finally caught up with us and my first view of the city was its sprawling lights spreading out beneath us as far as I could see. This was the next part of our adventure…
1.During our time in Canada, we were staying at Niagara Falls, a couple of hours drive from Toronto. I have to pay homage to the bus journey from the airport to the hotel because it was quite the experience! Once we had landed in Toronto airport and collected our luggage, we attempted to follow the instructions to our transfer pick-up location. We stepped out into the biting cold, found our pick-up point and waited patiently. The temperature was -7C with a strong wind and I have never felt cold like it before. It was painful! We were completely wrapped and covered up apart from our faces which were stinging in the wind, and despite all our layers, we were shivering. Welcome to Canada!! After waiting a while, transfer shuttle buses came and went, yet ours still hadn’t arrived. We headed back into the airport to thaw, only to find that our pick-up point wasn’t where we had been waiting. Not a great start! So after another ten-minute wait inside the warm airport, we boarded a rather rickety and ancient looking shuttle bus with two other passengers. the look of the bus didn’t bode well for the journey and our first impressions were not wrong. The bus was pretty cold, so we kept our coats on for the whole journey. That was the least of our concerns! After flying for six hours into a different time zone we were feeling very tired, but there was no chance of catching forty winks on this shuttle bus. I think kangaroo petrol is all I need to say! It was far from a smooth journey and needless to say, we were glad to arrive at our hotel in one piece!
2. On day one at Niagara Falls, we were excited to experience the famous landmark and ventured out into the icy weather to see it. But first stop – breakfast. We bundled into a warm restaurant/ bakery, took our seats and ordered pancakes – a traditional Canadian breakfast. The waitress laughed at the look on our faces when she put the meals in front of us. They were HUGH. Obscene! We barely made a dent in them, yet ate so much we felt sick! At that point, we decided we didn’t want to see another pancake for quite some time.
Following our mammoth brekkie, we ventured back outside to explore the city of Niagara Falls. It was strangely quiet. Apparently, they’re not early-risers there!! We were a little surprised at how commercialised and “touristy” the area was – almost like a mini Las-Vegas, with casinos, amusements and rides. Not our scene at all, but the place really came alive at night. So we then headed to the waterfalls themselves instead.
3. As we approached Niagara Falls, we could hear the roar of the water cascading over the cliffs and feel the icy spray on our faces. It really was ICY! It had even frozen trees and lampposts, which looked utterly surreal.
The whole area was a slippery sheet of ice, our hands and faces were frozen and I was relentlessly trying to shield my camera from the spray that was raining down on us. Despite all that, Niagara Falls were breathtaking and worth the journey. They were waterfalls on a scale I’ve never seen before and you can really feel the power of all that water in the roar that fills the air – The power of nature!
We walked behind the ferocious falls, down a long tunnel. It was loud, but the view wasn’t the best. Just two small windows to the falls… not quite like walking behind Sgwd-Yr-Eira waterfall in the Brecon Beacons National Park back at home! But I really got a feel for the huge volume of unstoppable water as it formed a curtain in front of me. We also stepped out onto a very icy viewing platform, with icicles the size of my arm, which made me feel tiny in comparison to the power of nature.
4. For a couple of days while we were staying at Niagara Falls, we decided to visit Toronto. I have never been to such a quiet city. It was on a huge scale, yet without the hustle and bustle of London. This gave us ample time to see and do all the things we had planned, from the aquarium and the zoo to the famous CN Tower. The tower itself is an impressive structure. It’s so high my ears popped as the lift ascended to the top! The views were unbelievable. It wasn’t the clearest day, in fact, it was forecast to snow, but we could still see for miles and miles across Toronto and beyond. I was excited to step out onto the glass floor looking hundreds of feet down onto the city. Matt wasn’t so keen, but I kind of dragged him onto it too. After all, you can’t go all the way up the CN Tower and not do that!!
5. We had the chance to explore Toronto after dark too. We ventured to China Town where we ate authentic noodles and dumplings, but we lost track of time and had to run to catch our coach back to Niagara. It was a shame because I didn’t even get to finish my meal! But It turned out that Toronto was bigger than we thought and we had walked quite a long way away from the coach terminal. This was partly down to using the underground system too. I have never seen such a clean and simple underground transport system. It was nothing like the overcrowded and unpleasant tube trains in London where you are fighting to breathe next to someone’s sweaty armpit. It was the complete opposite. Spacious, modern and extremely easy to navigate and use! I have decided that I would like to return to Toronto one day so that I can explore this interesting city without having to run to catch a coach!
So that was my Canada adventure in a nutshell, although there’s so much more to tell. It’s a brand new country to add to my list of places visited and also places to re-visit. The people are friendly, the scenery is beautiful and I feel that it has got a lot more to give. But now it’s time to buckle up…we are off to New York next!