Celebrating Civic Day at Niagara Falls

We spent 2 days driving from Boston to Niagara Falls, stopping in Syracuse NY for one night.  I have to admit that Bob drove the entire way while I spent the entire trip on my phone doing some work, some research on upcoming destinations, and of course some general playing.  We enjoyed our short time in Syracuse, staying at the Sheraton directly across the street from Syracuse University. We had peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for breakfast and lunch so we were looking forward to a yummy dinner in Syracuse.  I remembered that Adam’s co-worker Chris graduated from Syracuse University so I sent a quick text to Adam to get some recommendations from Chris.  He did not disappoint.  We ended up at Dinosaur BBQ which has been in operation since 1988.  The founder and owner of the restaurant, John Stage, began his career in 1983 cooking on the road for motorcycle shows, fairs, and festivals on the east coast.  Once he tired of the gypsy life, he opened up in Syracuse and continued to expand to other cities.  It appears their BBQ is a nationally known name since they sell their sauce in Whole Foods.  Next new location to be Chicago. After a delicious dinner we explored the campus of Syracuse University, which was just awarded the title of #1 Party School by Princeton Review.  We are so proud of you Chris! The beautiful campus is built on a large hill and has an eclectic mix of buildings with a nicely landscaped quad area and  outdoor sculptures.  However, the Carrier Dome has to be one of the ugliest buildings we have ever seen.  Lucky for us the Dome was open for a basketball camp.  I have to admit it’s much more impressive on the inside.  Bob enjoyed the retired basketball jerseys for some ex-Warriors Rony Seiklay and Billy Owens.

Campus view from our room

Campus view from our room

Beautiful building

Beautiful building

Beautiful building

Beautiful building

Beautiful building (and memorial to 35 Syracuse students who died on flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland)

Beautiful building (and memorial to 35 Syracuse students who died on flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland)

Ugly building

Ugly building

But pretty cool inside

But pretty cool inside

We arrived in Niagara Falls, Ontario on Saturday afternoon.  We were supposed to meet our friends from Chicago, Alan & Ruthie Pearlman in NF, but their dog Theo had other plans.  Due to separation anxiety, Theo decided to eat a towel, resulting in emergency surgery.  I am happy to say that Theo is doing well but poor Al and Ruthie are dealing with a large vet bill. En route to NF, we stopped at a Visitor Center on the NY Turnpike and were surprised to find out that this weekend was a VERY BUSY Canadian holiday, Civic Day, celebrated the first weekend of August.  How were we to know?  Turns out NF is a VERY POPULAR destination  for Canadians on this 3 day weekend.  Despite that, we quickly passed through Customs and checked into the Sheraton on the Falls in Ontario Canada. Our room on the 17th Floor had an amazing view of the Falls.

View from our room

View from our room

We quickly unpacked and spent the next few hours making our way through the crowds of people exploring the spectacular Canadian side of the Falls.  The American, Bridal Veil, and Horseshoe Falls can be seen from the Canadian side.  Apart from the natural attractions along the Niagara River, there are large hotels, small hotels, casinos, souvenir shops, rides, haunted houses, fast food and chain restaurants, and millions of tourists. Kind of like a carnival boardwalk on steroids. It was not what we expected. We decided to have an early dinner at a buffet at one of the casinos, which included a nice salad bar and many options of vegetables and proteins.  We made our way back to our hotel for a good nights sleep. Sunday morning was drizzly, which was just perfect for keeping some of the tourists inside their hotels. We took this opportunity to catch a ride on the Hornblower which takes you through the Niagara Gorge with up close views of all the Falls, especially The Horseshoe Falls.  It was a thrilling sight.

In our Hornblower ponchos

In our Hornblower ponchos

Creeping up on Horseshoe falls

Creeping up on Horseshoe falls

Civic Day in Niagara Falls

Civic Day in Niagara Falls

We were told by Grandma Gail (Marc Badain’s Mom, now our unofficial trip adviser) not to miss Niagara on the Lake, a town 30 minutes away from the Falls, where the Niagara River leaves Lake Ontario.  The area is in the heart of Ontario’s wine country and is a lovely town with gorgeous landscaped flowers, upscale restaurants, outdoor cafes, and charming inns.  It is also the home to the world class theatre the Shaw Festival.  We weren’t able to fit in a show, but we did have a delicious, outdoor lunch at the Shaw Cafe, right next to the statue of George Bernard Shaw.  Thank you Grandma Gail for sharing; we hope to come back here again some day and stay at one of the B&B’s.

Shaw's Cafe

Shaw’s Cafe

Queen Street in Niagara on the Lake

Queen Street in Niagara on the Lake

Charcuterie and a Cheese plate

Charcuterie and a Cheese plate (and the beer sampler)

Would love to have had a meal with George

Would love to have had a meal with George Bernard Shaw

Every night the Falls are illuminated, but Sunday nights there is also a fireworks display. We did not want to fight the crowds of tourists, so we settled for our second visit to Wendy’s (1st was Galveston).  We took our burger & chicken sandwich to a park bench and enjoyed the views of the Falls. We decided the best view of the fireworks was from our hotel window.

Dinner!

Dinner!

Today we woke early, checked out of the hotel, passed through Customs to experience the Falls from the American side. We bought tickets for the Cave of the Winds tour.  The tour takes you down 175 feet into the Niagara Gorge, and provides you with a yellow poncho and very attractive footwear that you actually get to keep.  You stand on the Hurricane Deck just a few feet from the crushing Bridal Veil Falls.  It was truly thrilling to be that close to that kind of natural power.  Once we dried out, we walked to the observation decks and enjoyed one last look at these spectacular wonders.  We were even treated to a farewell rainbow.

Cave of the Winds outfits

Cave of the Winds outfits (we need to work on our selfies)

At the bottom of Bridal Vail Falls

At the bottom of Bridal Veil Falls

Complimentary footware

Complimentary footware

Horseshoe Falls

American Falls

American Falls

  Just arrived in Utica NY for the night.  Notable residents include Friedrich Von Stuben (the Baron was General Washington’s Chief of Staff and my in-laws and Aunt Corie went to a high school in Chicago named after him) and song writer Debbie Friedman (for Bob’s camp friends).  We had a great dinner at Delmonico’s Italian Steak House, did a short drive through the town and did some laundry (right here at the Hampton Inn). Tomorrow we visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and then off to Poughkeepsie.

Dinner at Delmonico's

Dinner at Delmonico’s

A few more pictures and a video:

Hornblower at Horseshoe Falls

From our window.  Can you see the wedding?

From our window. Can you see the wedding?

 

 

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2 Responses to Celebrating Civic Day at Niagara Falls

  1. Grandma Gail says:

    Loved this. Made me a little homesick. Sorry you didn’t get to enjoy a little of Rochester.
    Poughkeepsie ?? In that area, try to visit Beacon, a newly resurrected artsy little town with a great modern art museum, the Dia Beacon. My sister, Marc’s Auntie Adie, lives there. Also West Point,
    And if you need a shopping fix there is Woodbury Commons, one of the largest outlet malls in the US.
    Looks like you are getting closer to NYC. Now I am really envious! Let me know if I can give you any tips there.
    Xo
    Grandma Gail

  2. Chris Sotiropulos says:

    This blog entry made me so happy! Glad you guys enjoyed Syracuse and the BBQ.

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