Where a dad of two great kids (one on the autism spectrum) muses about life.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
When Did Niagra Falls Get So Tacky?
So, our first stop on our family vacation extravaganza this year was Niagara Falls. I have been there 2 or 3 times in the past, but not for at least a decade. And I don't think I've been on the Canada side of the falls for at least 30 years.
I was surprised both by how expensive everything was on the Canadian side of the falls, as well as how tacky. Now don't get me wrong. The falls themselves are beautiful (breathtaking, really), and the view from the Canadian side is better than from the US side. But I'm still left wondering whether if it was worth it to go, as the place left somewhat of a bad taste in our mouths.
This is what we expected (and got!):
The falls are a natural wonder, and the "Maid of the Mist" boat ride is worth it, as they get you right up close to the falls.
But the town is tacky to the nth degree
with Ripley's right next to Frankenstein, next to a horror show, next to a Rock and Roll Wax museum, tacky souvenir shop, etc. People smoking everywhere (not just the tourists, but a much greater percentage of the locals then I would have expected-I thought Canadians were supposed to be much more progressive. I guess they're just more "European" in this respect).
The hotel we stayed at was expensive, and looked like it had been built in the 1970's, with furniture updated once in the 1980's. The cleanliness was barely passable, the wi-fi didn't work in the room (only in the lobby, though they expressed surprise that it didn't work in the room-a night clerk said it never worked in our room). One of the mattresses creaked and was lumpier than our 25 year old sleeper sofa at home.
Food cost about 80% more, even after adjusting for the exchange rate (ham, mushroom, and cheese omelette at a Perkins restaurant- $8.49 in the states, $14.98 in Canada. Other stuff even more outrageous). You would think that the town would look really good, with the prices being charged. But other than some nice buildings right near the river, the rest of the town is rather shabby looking.
It took us almost 3 hours to clear Canadian customs, and we weren't even singled out for special inspection. The lines were just that long. Buddy Boy was waxing poetic in the back seat about what the customs agents might be looking for while we were waiting (bombs, explosives, and terrorists). Luckily, we persuaded him to clam up while we passed thru the line.
Even though the streets were packed, we were told that tourism is off this year due to the economy. The Canadian people were nicer than most tourist dependent townsfolk. I think I would be surly if I lived in a town where people tramped thru my front yard every day and asked stupid questions. One store clerk thanked me for being polite (and I wasn't even trying to be-I can't imagine what she has to put up with on a daily basis).
After a couple days of seeing the falls and the surrounding area, we were off to mid-southern Pennsylvania, where we spent the next few days. Fortunately, we got thru customs going back in about a half hour.
All in all, I still would go back to Niagara Falls and the Canadian side. It's just a shame that such a naturally beautiful place has been degraded by such a tacky town.
Me- Joe, husband of a great wife, and dad to two great kids, who were both adopted at birth.
Liz- My ever understanding wife, who manages to wear many hats (mom, advocate, therapist, teacher) for our kids.
Buddy Boy- Born in 2000. Funny, intelligent, inventive, and autistic. Loves machines.
Sweet Pea- Born in 2002. Typical little sister. Competitive, outgoing, and smart. Loves anything pink.