Niagara Falls: Ice Wine and Alien Secretions
The main attraction of this area – the Niagara Falls themselves, were smaller than my expectations at first. It takes a while to grasp both the scale and power of the water, but it’s more impressive when you get up close. Both at the top where the water starts its fall to the depths below, and from a Maid of the Mist tour where your boat brings you in close enough to be sprayed with the water. You come away from your boat trip with a souvenir plastic poncho which gives you the perfect blue garbage bag look. The power station nearby actually diverts 50% of the power so it would be interesting to see the difference if the full force of the water was in effect. Even at half power I wouldn’t fancy risking a swim in those waters.
Aside from the Falls themselves and the town (or more accurately, the amusement park) – the region has a lot more to offer. Further out from the town you can stop off to see a whirlpool. I was informed that a telephone pole would take 40 days to circle the whirlpool, but didn’t get around to testing the validity of that claim. There’s also the Niagara Falls Glen where you can hike along a few trails. For those who prefer more bizarre flora and fauna, you can stop off to see a giant floral clock. Disappointingly this is nothing more than just metallic clock hands rotating above a flower bed.
Of more interest to wine-lovers – the whole region boasts many vineyards, some of which specialise in ice wine. The gist of the process for making this is that it’s harvested late in the winter. The grapes are tied up on the vines in the cold weather which stops them from rotting or drying out. When the temperature hits –8 degrees celsius the grapes are harvested and used to make an extremely (even sickly) sweet wine. A small bottle of the wine will set you back about $50. You can drop in to most of the vineyards and try a small sample of their wares before they give you the big sales speech that includes much ‘woe is me’ tales of spending their christmas nights picking grapes in the dark. They stop short of dragging out some orphans in rags to look pleadingly at you, but still didn’t succeed in eliciting any purchases from our group. Possibly something to do with the palatial homes in view all round.
After some wine-sampling you can head back to Niagara to eat in one of many all-american/canadian restaurants and search out some more amusements. The group packs away an impressive amount of food during the day, so many pit stops are required. I think we got the others addicted to Tim Horton’s cinnamon rolls. And as both our friends are addicted to Dave and Busters, after a hearty dinner we spent quite a bit of time there. It offers Guitar Hero and cocktails like Alien Secretion or the Schizzler. What’s not to like?