Friday, September 26, 2008

O Canada! Part 1: Niagara Falls

Food Adventures with FrankenMeg in Niagara from FrankenMeg on Vimeo.


Frank and I took a trip to Canada over Labor Day. Frank had never been to Canada before, and I hadn't been since I was a little girl, so we dusted off our passports and headed over the border.

We had planned to spend just one day in Niagara Falls and then move on to the much more cosmopolitan Toronto, but within hours of our arrival, we got sucked in to the carnival atmosphere of the town. We didn't want to leave.


Lets back things up a step or two.

We planned to fly from LGA in New York City to Buffalo, rent a car and drive over the border. Our short 1 hour flight, however, turned into a five hour delay due to a malfunction with the auto-pilot. And yes Meg, I am still complaining.

Flying to buffalo instead of Toronto saved us almost $200 on the flight, and by renting a Toyota Prius we only spent $20 in gas over the 320 km we drove (that's close to 200 miles for those who don't understand the metric system and that includes Meg and I).


When we first arrived, we were a little put off by the chaotic atmostphere of the main drag. A long day of traveling had worn us down. We pushed through the crowd until we reached the falls. Since we got there so late, we could hear them roaring but couldn't really see them very well, so we gave up and traipsed back up the hill.

The hill is packed with carnival-like attractions. Haunted houses, games and rides are practically piled on top on each other. After we had some food, we were much more receptive to the party-like atmosphere.


That night we hit the casino or should I say the casino hit us... right in the wallet. After taking a beating on the roulette wheel we found a small bar that was a little more our speed. It had a local band of teens playing our favorite grunge songs from the late 90's. After chatting it up with some Canadian we learned of the best drunk food ever... poutine (more on that in part 2 of this post).

The next morning we got our first glimpse of the falls, and I must say that they were more impressive the closer I got. Not one for doing touristy things, I bit my tongue and we bought tickets for the Maid of the Mist, which I think was a good decision. A bad decision was all the tourists around us who put on their plastic blue ponchos the minute they got them. They all stood baking in the sun waiting for about a half hour to get on the boat. There really is no need to put on the poncho until the boat gets right up to the falls. But then, make sure to get it on quick, or you will get drenched.


The Maid of the Mist was such an unexpected highlight of our time in Niagara Falls, we were actually upset when we realized we didn't have time to partake in more "touristy" experiences - particularly the Behind the Falls attraction.

This time, winding our way back up the hill, still drenched from the mist, we allowed ourselves to be swept up by the carnival kitsch. Frank took some whacks at a "Test Your Strength" attraction, and I couldn't resist a few games of Skeeball. We poked our heads into a haunted house, goofed off in front of the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum, and laughed as fellow tourists posed with replicas of celebrities in front of the wax museum. By the time we reached the top, we had worked up an appetite. Luckily, we weren't far from the Embassy Suites - and the Keg Restaurant, which is located on the 9th floor. We enjoyed a Canadian beer and a leisurely lunch before heading to the falls for one last look before we had to leave.

As we grudgingly packed up and climbed into our Prius, we actually contemplated staying another night - how great could Toronto be, right? Niagara Falls had surprised us when the corny, over-the-top circus facade gave way to a truly fun town with nice people. In the end, we had to move on. Toronto was waiting...

Check out our review of the hotel we stayed at while in Niagara here at


Nonnie said...

Great job. I really enjoy it when you include a video!

Nonnie said...

I am waiting for Part 2, wondering what you really thought about that messy, artery-clogging food called poutine! A biggie in Manchester, NH because of all of the French Canadian people there.
The pictures and video really make the blog.
My suggestion about where to go: local places that people don't think about. For example, the place where we used to go hiking (re: food connection - you could talk about the things that would be best to take when you go for a medium to long hike) or the place where Gina goes to get her maple syrup.
Nowadays a lot of folks are having to cut back on recreation and travel. So, those free or almost free types of places that are close to home (wherever that is: New England, the South, Midwest, etc)would be a good take.

Auntie Maggie said...

I love keeping up with my amazing nephew and his love, Meghan. Uncle Ralph and I are very proud of you and happy for you. There are people who make things happen, people who watch things happen and others who wonder what the hell happen! We are happy to let you know what kind of people you are!!
We have enjoyed you info about Niagra Falls and your sence of humor coming through! You make us want to travel and eat! Rhode Island has more mom and pop restaurants than any other state so our suggestion is to check out a community with a strong ethnic background.