Swept Away – Niagara Falls

niagara falls close up waterfallAs a Canadian, born and bred in rural Alberta, I knew of Niagara Falls as an iconic landmark of my country. However, I didn’t see it with my own eyes until my 25th birthday.

Whenever I was backpacking and told other travellers of my Canadian origins, they would mention Toronto or Niagara Falls and I would have to admit that I hadn’t seen the famous waterfall. They didn’t seem to understand that it was 2,162 miles from my birthplace – but if you’re not from Canada it’s hard to comprehend the scale of our country anyway. Nevertheless, last year my boyfriend Lee and I took a road trip across the country from Victoria, British Columbia to St. John’s Newfoundland and we made sure that Niagara was a stop along the way.

As luck and travel timing would have it, I ended up marvelling at this natural wonder on my birthday – which was a pretty memorable way to celebrate turning a quarter-century.

Larger Than Life

We caught the bus from Toronto to Niagara Falls in the early morning, so that we would have plenty of time to see everything. I have to admit, as we walked up the river and the falls first came into view – I was completely blown away with what I saw. I had heard about the waterfall my whole life, but nothing could really describe the scale or the magnitude of this natural wonder. You don’t really understand the sheer size, until you see the large double decker ferry boats looking like plastic bath toys when they are floating next to the falls.

The falls were formed when the glaciers receded back at the end of the last ice age and the water from the Great Lakes flowed through the Niagara Escarpment on its way to the Atlantic Ocean. While the falls are not exceptionally high, they are incredibly wide and over four million cubic feet of water flows over them every single minute. Lee and I took quite some time just sitting and watching them, listing to the thunderous roar of the water.

Border Hopping and the Maid of the Mist

Whether you are visiting on the Canadian side or the American side of the falls, it is possible to take a quick day trip across the border while you are at Niagara Falls. We walked across the bridge over the river, went through the process of queuing and getting a temporary visa and spent a few hours in New York State – eating lunch and checking out the opposite view of the falls.
But why just stand there and look at the falls when you can experience them up close? The Maid of the Mist is a classic Niagara Falls tourist experience and it is a ferry that takes you right up to the base of the falls. We had to wear blue plastic ponchos over our clothes, which were blowing around in the wind like capes. The roar of the water was so loud that we had to shout to be heard and the cold mist dripped from my eyelashes. Now I can say that I have experienced this iconic landmark with all of my senses!

About Kelly

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word. With no fixed address and only the possessions that they can carry in their backpacks, she and her English boyfriend Lee have been perpetually wandering the world since Spring 2011. They share their adventures as well as helpful travel tips and guides on their website, Global Goose