Niagara-on-the-Lake is ridiculously beautiful. Plush green lawns, colorful flowers in gardens and pots surround every home and shop, clapboard houses that would fit right into New England (or upstate NY…which happens to be right across the river.)
The town is also noted for it’s Shaw (as in George Bernard Shaw) Theater with a range of productions, at least four to choose from each day. (We avoided choosing any, deeming this to be a pressure-free stop, i.e. a vacation from our vacation / no need to make decisions. We know there were many great shows over our few days there, but we’ll have more theater in our future…)
Keeping with our stress free approach, we signed up with See Sight tours for their Ultimate Niagara Falls Tour (recommended by our Innkeeper.) Then we took the Parkway along the Niagara River to Niagara Falls. The Parkway is green and lush, lined with perfectly manicured homes, wineries, golf courses, and fruit stands. We made several stops along the way, not really knowing the specifics. Several of these stops were also on our tour and our guide enlightened us re the details later. Details and photos are below.
|The American Falls from the Skylon Tower|
|The Canadian Falls from the Skylon Tower|
|Pat & Bill on the "Behind the Falls" Tour|
- the first scenic overlook we had visited in the AM is where the Falls were initially located millions of years ago.
- the spot with the impressive rapids is a turn in the river that results in numerous whirlpools. There is also a cable car crossing there that appears to cross from the US to Canada, which is mind boggling in this day and age of security. But wait, somehow, because of the bend, there are 3 “sides of the river” here and the crossing is really to and from Canada.
- the Floral Clock was a present to the community from Canada Power as a bribe or a thank-you for allowing them to mar the nearby area with a huge concrete power station.
|View from Scenic Overlook viewing original location of the Falls|
|Whirlpool Rapids. Note: Cable crosses the river from Canada to Canada.|
The point in the left center is in the US.
|The American Falls from below|
|The Canadian Falls from below|
|Pat, Bill and 3 Inniskillin Ice Wines|
Later we went to the University run Botanical Gardens and Butterfly house. The butterfly house was quite fun (see photos).
|A true "Kodak Moment" at the Butterfly House|
Day 3 we decided to check out the shops in Niagara on the Lake. There are the usual offerings (gifts, knick-knacks, kitchen gear, a range of clothing types, bakeries, …) and a wine tasting room. The wine tasting (sparkling wine first followed by reds) was the most successful stop for us and we ended up with two bottles to add to our collection and 4 stemless Riedel champagne glasses. Note: By now our wine collection had dwindled because we were limited to two bottles each (or high duties) when crossing into Canada.
We enjoyed the sign in front of the Pub but decided to have lunch at Cork’s - caesar salad and fish and chips (claimed to be #1) with more beer (Mill Street Tankhouse Ale and Cork’s Dark….Hemp Beer).
|Honest. Pat had no idea the recommended beer was Hemp Beer.|
Yes, that detail was on the menu but she went on the waiter's recommendation.
She also noticed no "Buzz" from the beer.
Later Mike & Carol took us on a walk around the city. The city dates back to the 17th century when Kingston first became a trading and shipping center on Lake Ontario.
|A lovely fountain in downtown Kingston|
|Kingston Harbor with a Martello Tower (Gun Tower) in the background.|
|Pat & Bill learning to tell "wine time"|
|A selection of ciders (including ice cider).|
|Charred barrel staves ready to be reassembled into a wine barrel. |
(Note they are charred as a barrel and we also neglected to inquire why they are later disassembled... Sigh)
Sunday we were off to the “fresh” market. Mike had promised us a selection of pierogis but the vendor was off at a Ukranian Festival. So we settled for some fine cinnamon rolls from another vendor. We tasted a little wine (who us?) and bought fresh corn for dinner. Following a short stop back at the house and we are off to the downtown flea market where we found a few paperback books to supplement our reading supplies.
That evening we took a drive around Kingston, crossing over to Fort Henry with it’s old fortress, museum, military school and active military base. The museum, in a Martello (Gun) Tower has an extensive collection of weapons.
On the road toward Montreal in the morning we made a short stop for lunch at Marco's Bar & Grill in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, a small village on the river’s edge just after you cross onto the island of Montreal. Our grilled scallop appetizer and an arugula, pine nut and parmigiana salad made a fine light meal.
|Main Street of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue|
|View of Montreal from Mont Royal|
|Our evening snack at Boca Iberica|
|The snow drifts on top of the Olympic stadium|
Walking back to the metro we noticed that the grounds of the Olympic Stadium are prepared to provide many active options including pickle ball, and a ropes course.
Next stop: Old Town for lunch (pasta with prosciutto, endive with blue cheese for Pat and smoked salmon, pine nuts and capers for Bill) and a pinot nor from the Niagara region. We wandered around Old Town and along the Riverfront. There are lots of souvenir shops and restaurants. But also, another interesting amusement park, this one with climbing walls, zip lines, as well as a ropes course with challenges for kids of all ages.
|A colorful Ropes Course on the Montreal waterfront|
Day 3 we decided to check out the Montreal shopping experience and headed to St Catherine’s street. From St Catherine’s Street level, it is just a bunch of the usual stores, quite a few in mall’s, some standalone. We needed to check out the mall a little more, but first, we were headed to “The Bay”. Thirty plus years ago, as we drove through Canada on our move to California, Pat discovered that she like "The Bay" (short for The Hudson Bay Company), a Macy’s like store but still not owned by Federated. It is now basically a Macy’s by another name. Disappointing. Nothing against Macy’s, but variety is the spice of life.
We next aimed for the Archeology and History Museum and along the way discovered that the street side malls on St Catherine Street, and others like them, tend to have lower levels that connect to the metro and to other like malls. This is what is known as “The Underground City” that enables locals to shop mid-winter (or anytime) without going outside. Instead of a photo, just imagine any shopping center anywhere.
Pointe-à-Callière Museum of Archaeology and History occupies the actual spot where Iroquois people once had an encampment and later European adventurers traded furs. The visit starts with a narrated film projected on to a 270-degree "screen" around the excavations of the 17th-century Catholic cemetery. Not only does the screen surround you horizontally, but it is also below you with the film projected down on the excavations. Interesting story.
The museum features the history of Montreal (from geological formation, through the various immigrations to today). It was quite interesting. It also had a special exhibit - "The Aztecs", also quite well done although we’d seen most of the pieces at Templo Mayor (the Aztec Temple) in Mexico City. In fact, while we were not allowed to take photos, we have photos of all the key pieces (taken in Mexico...see below).
Having missed out on the Perogies for lunch with Michael & Carol, we headed the nearby Stash’s Cafe for a Polish lunch ...Perogies and Kielbasa with sauerkraut and potato salad with a nice French Red wineChateau de Gourgezaud minervois. We are not sure if it is authentically Polish but we followed this with coffee and apple crisp.
|Apple Crisp. One of Pat's favorites.|
|In the Tropical Rainforest Exhibit...cute bird|
|Fairy Penguin in the Sub-Antartic Exhibit|
|Pat hiding behind a waterfall|
Next up: Maine