Poor Niagara!

imageI really should have seen Niagara Falls before going to Iguacu Falls! To be honest it wasn’t all that exciting. Sure it’s pretty big, but in any case you don’t really go to a city to see nature now do you? A waterfall next to a Canadian casino (or was it American? So hard to tell) isn’t really what I’m into.

Getting there

So the fun part was actually trying to find a way from Cartagena to Toronto. The cheapest and most interesting way (I figured) was to fly to Buffalo in the United States, see Niagara Falls, walk the border into Canada and then bus to Toronto.

The cheapest way to get from Buffalo airport to Niagara Falls was to take an airport “taxi-shuttle”. Two words meaning different modes of transport in my mind, but in actual fact it’s both. If you can fill up a cab or enough other taxi-shuttle passengers arrive, they’ll take you straight away for $24 per person. Otherwise, they’ll just go at designated shuttle times. If you just want to take a cab, it’s about $80 for the 40 minutes ride to the falls.

The Fail Falls

The USA visitor’s centre actually allows you to store you bag – very kind of them given their usual take on security. So I dropped my pack, got a map and started walking as it’s all very close and compact.

You’ll probably hear me refer to some strange country called Canadia. Okay, so maybe it doesn’t exist, but doesn’t it sound a whole lot cooler?! Right?!

The first set of falls are pretty average. Nothing to get too excited about.

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From the US of A looking towards Canadia or is it Las Vegas. I'm not sure.

The big deal is Horseshoe Falls, but you can’t see squat from the American side. They have some thing where you can walk into a cave cut out by the falls though and you can of course ride the Maid of the Mists up to the base of the falls. Both are around $20, so pretty reasonable, but I wasn’t interested.

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The American view of Horseshoe Falls

I don’t think it was even an hour before I went back to grab my bags and head for the border bridge. I was surprised that there was nothing to do at American immigration besides walk through an unmanned turnstile. I guess no one is ever concerned with keeping people inside their country – it’s always out!

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Crossing the bridge into Canadia or maybe a theme park

At the Canadian border there was a 50c toll to exit. A little odd I thought, but I was on the way into Canada. A least I thought I was, until the immigration officer started asking me twenty questions… I was so confused because three Germans in front of me got a hello, a stamp and a goodbye. I’m Australian for gods sake!

Meanwhile, I was asked what I was doing, my address, who I was seeing, how I knew the person I was seeing etc. The last question there was the funniest. I thought it was pretty obvious how I knew my cousin Rachel. Umm… we’re related… that’s why I said she was my cousin. I showed him my departing flight to Iceland, but he still wasn’t happy. He asked me what was in my bags… I explained they were my things. He asked me if I had weapons… I said I had a Swiss army knife for camping.

He then got on the radio and said some sort of code to his colleague and asked me to “walk this way sir” which I figured meant trouble. He led me to some other guy who again asked for my passport and my departure ticket. But as soon as I showed him I was free to go. That’s it?! I don’t get it…

In all seriousness though I get it, it’s his job, it can be important sometimes. It was just strange being treated like a terrorist when I have never had an issue going anywhere. I got the exact same treatment when I was entering and exiting Colombia too. I even had my bag fully searched end to end.

Anyway, finally I walked freely into Canadia, but the ordeal had taken up all my time before my bus to Toronto. So I quickly got cash, headed down towards Victoria Park, took a few snaps and looked for the WeGo bus to the bus terminal.

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The Canadian view of Horseshoe Falls from a distance and not a bad place for a ride on a warm sunny day like this I imagine

Having just arrived and knowing nothing about the buses, I figured I could buy my ticket on the bus, but no, when the bus arrived I couldn’t. So I promised the lady I’d buy a ticket when I got to the bus terminal, but no. Then I told the lady if I didn’t get on this bus that I’d probably miss my bus to Toronto, but nope, no use, and my practical solution wasn’t good enough. So much for Canadians being nice. She couldn’t even tell me where the kiosk was to buy a ticket.

I hadn’t actually seen any unoccupied cabs go by, so I asked some strangers and went for a wander. I found the kiosk and also bought a thickshake, because if I was going to make my bus, there was now no time to buy food elsewhere and it was 3pm. I went back to the bus stop within 10 minutes and waited for the ”every 15 minutes” bus, but nothing came.

So, in the end I had to find a cab, because even after buying a stupid bus ticket and paying for a cab it was still cheaper than booking a new bus to Toronto. Lame! But at least I made it I guess.

Well I think that sums up how crappy Niagara Falls was, but it was onwards and upwards to Toronto.

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