Monday, August 10, 2009

Niagara Falls

Last week, the girls and I went away on vacation together for the first time ever! It was also the first time that any of us had been to Niagara Falls, so I was really excited to be able to share that experience with them!

My mom came with us, and there are a few reasons I love travelling with my mom. One is that my mom is not a timeline stickler. This works well because I'm not a timeline follower. We left three hours later than we had intended to in the morning, and my mom was okay with that. I mean, sure, we both wanted to leave earlier, but were we going to let that ruin one second of our vacation? No, of course not! What would be the point?

So we left my place and headed out on the three hour drive to Niagara Falls, with the girls in the back seat. They were awesome little troopers, and we only had to make one stop for leg stretching!

Our plan was to stop at Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens on the way in, meet my sister Tracey and her daughter, Maya, and have a picnic lunch there. The kids blew bubbles, we ate lunch, they climbed trees, and we wandered the gardens. It was perfect and peaceful. I think I mentioned a few times that I could have laid down and napped there.

(C) Copyright Amanda Stratton, 2009 - Waterloo Photographer

(C) Copyright Amanda Stratton, 2009 - Waterloo Photographer

(C) Copyright Amanda Stratton, 2009 - Waterloo Photographer

(C) Copyright Amanda Stratton, 2009 - Waterloo Photographer

(C) Copyright Amanda Stratton, 2009 - Waterloo Photographer

I had never seen cabbage like this before. I totally forget what it was called, but I declared immediately that if I ever get married, this cabbage will be my centrepiece. Well, not this exact cabbage, as I assume it will be decomposed by the time I ever get married, but one like it. I also thought the green plants on the lower middle would make a nice accent to said cabbage. And maybe some white peonies for a bit of luxury factor. Rotten apples not so much. You may mock, but I swear it's going to be really pretty.
(C) Copyright Amanda Stratton, 2009 - Waterloo Photographer

Eventually, we decided we'd better head into the city to check into our hotel and get on with our other plans. We stayed at the Sheraton On the Falls, and I'm so glad we did. When I first started planning a getaway to Niagara Falls, I intended to stay somewhere cheap. But I decided that since this was my girls' first hotel stay, I wanted to give them at least a bit of luxury.

Of course, we made them carry the bags. They have to earn their stay somehow ;)
(C) Copyright Amanda Stratton, 2009 - Waterloo Photographer

We had a room on the 20th floor, with a balcony and a gorgeous view of the falls.
(C) Copyright Amanda Stratton, 2009 - Waterloo Photographer

The Sheraton on the Falls is also one of only three hotels with a direct indoor connection to the famous Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, but we didn't go there. The hotel was great, the service was good, and the TV in the bathroom impressed the heck right out of my kids. That's exactly what I wanted to give them--a break from ordinary and a couple of days of just having fun and doing whatever we want!

(C) Copyright Amanda Stratton, 2009 - Waterloo Photographer

(I was impressed by the Sheraton's white sheets. When I look at hotel room pictures when choosing a hotel, all I'm looking at is the colour of the sheets. Hotels should have white sheets. It's only right.)

(C) Copyright Amanda Stratton, 2009 - Waterloo Photographer
After having some hotel time, we walked down to the river (literally a three minute walk, even with two three-year-olds) and we got some tickets for the Maid of the Mist. At this point, I want to interject that I was not sure what to expect of the Falls at all. Of course I've seen pictures of the falls, so I sort of knew what it would look like. But I felt that maybe after waiting so long, it would be anticlimactic. I felt much the same about the Maid of the Mist. In fact, some people had told me that it wasn't worth the money (BTW, it was only $14.50 for me, and both of my kids were free) and that it wasn't very impressive.

Those people are boring.

(C) Copyright Amanda Stratton, 2009 - Waterloo Photographer

When you're on that boat and get close to the horseshoe falls, you feel like you're caught in a storm of wind and rain. The rushing water drowns out pretty much all sound, and it takes a moment to get accustomed to the rocking of the boat. It's a cool experience just at that, but then when you get your bearings and look around you to see that you're almost surrounded by walls of water. Well, I'm sorry, but you have to be one of those really annoying people who tries too hard to be blase about everything to not be impressed and awe-struck. It was really cool.

I also have to ask something here. Somebody replied to me on twitter saying "check Canadian side of Niagara Falls too, some say it is better view." I've seen similar advice other places. I'd like to direct your attention back to my photo of our hotel view, as it best demonstrates my point.

(C) Copyright Amanda Stratton, 2009 - Waterloo Photographer

I'm at a loss in understanding how it's even physically possible to see the US falls and not the Canadian falls?? It would seem that you probably can't even see the falls from the US, can you? Wouldn't you just kinda see a river ending? Maybe I should go over there sometime and check.

(C) Copyright Amanda Stratton, 2009 - Waterloo Photographer

Anywho, after our Maid of the Mist adventure, we wandered around a bit, bought some tourist items (I got my usual mug!) and then we meandered around Clifton Hill. I'm embarassed to say I didn't know Clifton Hill existed, such as it is. I thought (can you see me blushing?) that Clifton Hill was a town near Niagara Falls. It's not. It's a street that runs right down to the falls and has kind of a "Vegas/Times Square meets Main Street Disneyland" feel about it. Things looked pricey there, and we didn't really do anything, but I think it was probably a cool experience for the kids just to see all the lights and be out late!

One thing that could have made our trip even better would have been knowing that fireworks and free concerts take place on Wednesday night and Friday night, but not on Thursday night, which is when we were there. If I had known, I would have gone on Wednesday so we could see the fireworks. But now we know for next time!

(C) Copyright Amanda Stratton, 2009 - Waterloo Photographer

We finally went back to the hotel, gave the girls a bath for the sole purpose of allowing them to watch TV whilst in the bath, and then we hit the sack after my sister and I had a brief argument about air conditioning. The next morning we lounged around in the hotel room until checkout time. This was an important part of my vacation, and I'm glad the rest of the people with me consented to it even though I think I was annoying them with my lack of "get up and go".

Our main Day Two activity was Marineland, but this post is already really long, and I didn't take many pictures there, so I won't bother to write home about it!

Niagara Falls was the perfect choice for our first family vacation, and I'm so glad we went! Here's one final shot of Marissa having a cuddle with Grandma in the courtyard in front of the hotel. Such a beautiful and relaxing spot!

(C) Copyright Amanda Stratton, 2009 - Waterloo Photographer


Peggy said...

Great photos, Amanda! Looks like you had a wonderful vacation. Your girls are so adorable!!

Dawn said...

Hey Amanda...I love your blog!! And I just have to say I completely agree with with the white sheets in the hotels. It should be obvious!!

heesom photography said...

Awesome Amanda, I loved Niagara Falls.

Tracey said...

Love your pictures Manda! It was such an awesome trip and I am so glad Maya & I joined you!!

Oh, and just so you know I don't think anyone was bothered by your lack of 'get up and go' on Friday. It was nice to just hang out and relax.

A fantastic vacation!! Where are we going next?!?!

Lisa Piellusch said...

Sounds like a fun time :) We were just there a couple of weeks ago for a day trip. Love all that water!! :))

Heather said...

Looks like a fabulous trip :)
TV in the bathroom??? Awesome! :)
We went to NF for our honeymoon and have gone back a few times to reminisce (sp?).
I, too, would be interested to see what can be seen from the U.S. side.

It was so good to finally meet you today, Amanda! I really enjoyed the session (even though I wasn't much of a model ;) and it was really nice to get out & just chat afterward. Thanks for a great morning! I'm excited to see the pictures! :)