Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Holiday To London-NYC-Niagara - Day Seventeen

Up at 5:30am, left at 6:37. Got to the subway station on 8th Ave and caught a local train, i.e. stopped at every station. Bus came at about 7:10 on 125th St and we arrived at La Guardia airport around 8 o'clock. Checked in and was promptly told that we were at the wrong terminal. Hardly our fault. A free shuttle bus took us to Terminal C. Once we'd been through security we had only 11 mins until scheduled boarding time. Boarding was delayed a couple of times. Then we spent about 20 mins on the ground before takeoff. Still made it to Buffalo 10 mins ahead of schedule. Our flight was an "up and down", i.e. 40 mins and just enough time to serve refreshments and collect rubbish before landing. Maximum of 76 passengers and an itinerary allowing for 1 hr 34 mins of flight time with an allowance for air traffic control.

Karl, our driver from Over The Falls Tours, was waiting to pick us up at the airport. He had a nice Lincoln Town car. We dropped in at HQ, the Econolodge (Welcome Center) and got to meet Dawn who had completed the booking for me and arranged the pickup. One other gentleman there provided me with a plastic bag to protect my camera.

Had nearly 45 mins to kill before the tour commenced and we were getting a bit hungry so Karl dropped us off at Bob Evans - a diner. Interesting experience to be seated and served by a hostess. Couple of double Angus burgers and blueberry hotcakes was the order of the day. The missus ordered a coffee and it came in a large pot. Only just had time to finish before being collected by Tom, our driver, for the CanAm Tour.

First stop was the American Falls from the observation deck. It was raining and Tom provided umbrellas. The young couple in van with us from Pennsylvania lent us their umbrella as it was larger. Great view from the deck.

Tom waited until the right moment to get us down to the ship, Maid of the Mist VII, so that we could get the best viewing position. Don't tell anybody - it's at the front right of the ship. It's a quick ride, only 15 mins, and you feel the full force of the mist - can't see anything when you're out in the middle of it. The falls are beautiful. And cool. All over very quickly and you get quite wet even though a poncho is provided.

Another walk around the top to view the American Falls up close. Then we partook in the Cave of the Winds tour - they provide sandals and a poncho. Here you get to within some 15ft of the Bridal Veil Falls, and get pelted with water, and it is a beautiful feeling. Once again it was a bit rushed. The missus enjoyed it and The Boy loved to stand under the pelting water. There was an elevator that took you down some 175ft to the level of the boardwalk. I got my camera waterlogged at this point, despite the plastic bag, as I had the cord coming out of the bag so that it was wrapped around my neck. Water got in and ruined the LCD screen. Still worked though, thankfully.

We drove across to Canada - Tom timed it so that there weren't a lot of tour buses to wait for, only one as it turned out, otherwise you could be waiting for ages for the passengers' passports to be processed. Our travel group of seven, including a more senior couple from California, was processed in about three minutes. No smile from the immigration officer.

Drove to see the Whirlpool - natural bay with swirling waters from an incoming river before they change direction to go further down the river. Would've been nice to ride across the gorge on the gondola. Bit further down the road to view a couple of power stations and the Niagara Parks clock made with flowers. Then visited a souvenir shop - bit pricey.

Last stop was Skylon Tower. Of course it had the best views from some 560ft above the falls. Souvenir prices were lower too. Running out of time to get back to the airport by now.

At the border it was a bit busy to get back into the US of A. Tom was a little undecided about which lane to use and a woman tried to cut in front. He pushed in front and flashed his Parks employee pass and she backed off. Guard at the border certainly didn't crack a smile and made you feel like you had entered a war zone. There was one vehicle that they paid particular attention to and gave it a thorough checking out.

Karl was waiting for us and this sped up our departure greatly. Quick drive to the airport and we arrived in plenty of time for our 19:48 flight which had been delayed, unbeknown to us, until 20:39. This was due to poor weather in New York City. Managed to purchase something for dinner and the restaurants closed before we'd finished eating so the timing was just about perfect. Boarded the flight OK but we remained grounded until exactly 22:00 before taking off. I fell asleep but the 40 mins flight ended at 23:30 including an aborted landing due to air traffic control. Only 23 passengers on the flight.

Luckily the M60 bus runs 24 hrs but it was still another 30~40 mins before we reached the 125th St subway. Exited the subway on 42nd St about 1am and got back to the apartment at a quarter past one. What a day - Canada, or at least the region we saw, is a beautiful place. Very foggy and wet back in NYC.

Photo Album Vol I
Photo Album Vol II
Photo Album Vol III
Photo Album Vol IV (Final)

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