Tourists Alert: Niagara Falls, Marineland, Skylon Tower, Greg Frewin, Casino, IHOP

*Extremely long blog warning!*

Sunday arrived and it was time for an overnight adventure.  We packed our things and headed downtown to get a Megabus to Niagara Falls. – $17 per person each way, two hour trip, can’t complain.  We stayed at the Ramada where I stayed last time and managed to get rooms with a connecting door which was nice.  Our 8th floor rooms came with views of the Skylon Tower.  It was pouring with rain on Sunday all day, so we headed to Marineland deciding to save the falls for Monday when hopefully the weather would be better.  The animals will be wet either way, so we thought it wouldn’t make much difference. 

Marineland was good fun and we got there to catch the end of one marine show, have a walk around and see the next show before heading back.  The beluga whales were adorable playing in their tank with hoops and tyres.  Kiska, the killer whale was swimming around quietly – as one would expect from an OAP.  They said she is 40 and has been there since the late 70s.  They live to 40-50yrs old.  Last time, the bears were a mediocre part of my visit.  This time they were a definite highlight.  We got cones of feed to throw over the fence to them and they were loving it.  Two in the distance (see pics) would jump up on their hind legs if you raised your arm and/ or shouted across to them.  I loved this and spent ages ‘playing’.  The marine show was fantastic with the dolphins jumping up out of the water and sea lions throwing and catching plastic rings. 

 We got a ‘We Go‘ bus back to the hotel.  The sign at the bus stop doesn’t tell you that you have to buy a 24 hour pass for $7 each or that the driver had had a sense of humour bypass and forgot his Canadian manners.  Anyway, it was dry and got us to the gift shop by the falls for a quick look around the shop and falls in the rain before walking up to the hotel.  On the way, we discovered a mall advertising a Christmas shop.  Obviously a stop off was needed.  The Christmas shop was fantastic! I loved it.  I can’t wait for Christmas and have been singing Christmas songs since.  In fact, I am humming away to myself now!  Can I add music to a blog? I don’t know how to do that, but must find out.  In the meantime, here is a link for some festive cheer.  The girl in the shop wished me a good day.  I was hoping she would wish me a Happy Christmas.   At the hotel,  a shower to warm up and dry clothes prepared us for another soggy excursion to Shoeless Joes for a really tasty dinner.   

 The Fallsview Casino: we went to the casino to see what was what.  After wandering around for ages trying to figure out where to get change or tickets for the machines, we sat at twin machines and a little flutter.  Well, actually, we put our money in, pulled the handle, pressed some buttons and waited until it told us our money was gone.  We are still none the wiser as to what happened or how to play.  After more wandering around looking lost, we found the tables to watch some other folk who knew what to do playing.  Well, craps and black jack both make no sense to just watch.  Roulette.  Yes.  We found one we understood, watched for a while and I eventually persuaded Dad we should have a game.  Minimum bet $25.  We bet our chips on 1, 7, 16, 25 (I think) and put one in between 3 & 5.  I was excited.  We were going to win.  Alas, with one spin of the thingy, our money, chips and hope we’re all gone.  ‘How to waste $25 in 1 minute’.  What number came up? 9.

Time for the second day of our mini holiday.  The sun came out, the sky was blue and Hornblower Cruises were calling for us to take a boat ride to the falls.  First though, sustinence.  The on site IHOP (International House of Pancakes) was calling.  We ordered a stack each.  The server asked if we wanted mini stacks.  We laughed and said no.  Well.  He knew.  We should have listened.  The pancakes were delicious, but the stack was large!  We both agreed to stop before reaching the point of slowly shovelling them in in a tired and breathless fashion.  We didn’t finish them.  We discussed that we felt a little embarrassed about this.  We also know, we could have if we pushed ourselves, but what we showed by only eating four was self control. 

Off we went to take take a boat trip up to the falls with Hornblower Cruises.  We were given the iconic plastic ponchos to wear during the trip and off we set.  I think I could do this trip over and over again and it would still be immense.  We walked up the road afterwards aong beside the falls, stopping to takes countless pictures, as must be done when walking alongside something as a amazing at Niagara Falls.  At the end, by the falls, there is a trip called Journey behind the Falls where you go down in a lift and see the falls from, well behind them.  I did this last time and wasnt too fussed about doing it again, so Dad went off and explored the mini excursion whilst I pottered around the gift shop.  We bought some new pyjamas each with moose on them and a scarf each and went back to the hotel.  We had every intention of swimming or using the gym, but both fell asleep.   

 The evening entertainment was to go the Greg Frewin Magic Show.  It was billed as a  Las Vegas style show, so we had high expectations.  The show itself was good, a nice theatre with great views from all seats.  Table service for food and drinks.  Unfortunately, it was freezing cold  Our server said that the room has to be kept cool for the tigers.  It was cold enough to warrant a friendly heads up with the ticket purchasing.  I know I feel the cold, but people all around had coats on.  There were some excellent card tricks and I cant even to begin to imagine how he made doves and parrots appear from scaves.  Unfortunately , there were a few times, you could tell when there were fake hands or feet sticking out of boxes and the dancers were, well, a bit shit.  The tigers were in the show in box swap type tricks, so the magicians assistant gets in, he covers the box and when he uncovers it, there is a tiger in it.  This was great and I loved it, however, this was the extent of the tigers participation.  When leaving the stage, the tigers were led off on a lead, no more tha a foot from the front row with no cage between audience and stage.  I was amazed this was allowed to be done, but I did love that it was.  He told us about his programme and money raising to help tigers, but we didnt hear much about his story with them and how he got into keeping them, where they are kept etc..  At the end of the show, you could meet the magician and have your tickets signed.  There was a big sign saying he would not shake your hand due to flu and cold season.  Come on?!  Overall, a good experience,  I am glad we went and I would recommend it to others, but could have been improved a bit.  I love magic and always have since I was little.  I love watching the tricks and trying to figure it out, I love to be amazed and I used to love watching a show about how the tricks were done.  I always remember my Paul Daniels magic set I had as a child, in fact I think it is still in my parents loft.

Anyway, after the show , dinner at TGI Fridays.  Tasty.  It was here that we had a special Niagara Falls tourism improvement tax applied to our bill.  It is an additional 3% tax that is voluntary.  It gets added automatically and places dont seem to tell you what it is or that it is optional.  By the time you pay 13% HST, 3% tourist tax and a 15-20% tip, money is disappearing.  It seems a bit scrooge like, but they have to remove it if you ask.

On the subject of weird Niagara Falls things.  Every attraction seems to have an obsession with making you have your photo taken in front of a green screen so they can provide you with the option of buying an expensive fake picture at the end.  I say fake because the pictures show scenes and photos that just arent real.  We didnt see the falls at night with fireworks in the background, so why would we want to buy a fake photo giving the impression that we did?!  Very bizarre.

Anyway, our final day.  Again, lovely weather and we decided to eat up the Skylon Tower before heading home on the Megabus. We paid just under $30 each for an all you can eat lunch buffet with stunning views of the falls.  The buffet was delicious and good value for money.  Included in the price was a visit to the observation decks where you can stand out admire the views from even higher than the restaurant.  In case you are wondering, the Skylon Tower is 158m tall.  Eiffel Tower is 324m and CN Tower is 553m.  We were both just so pleased that we did this.  It was spectactular and so worth doing. 

 Bus home, checked Dad in to his AirBnB.  Seems lovely.  The lady was really friiendly and nice and the apartment is clean, tidy and they provided towels and basic food items as well which was ideal.  Fingers crossed the weather holds and we can have a quiet day on the beach tomorrow with a swim in the lake. 



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