11 July 2013


When I crossed the border into Canada, I got a bit excited, even though I did not obtain another passport stamp. I felt like I was on a new adventure, even if it was for roughly 18 hours. When I made the decision to go on an old-school road trip, I dedicated myself to finding my way old-school style – by map – and I was quite proud to do so.

A road trip, for me, involves sun, wind, windows down and/or a sunroof open, blaring music, singing loudly and just going where the road leads. Nowhere in that statement does it say, “woman nagging me to merge left, bear right, drive 942 miles and turn right now,” so I decided to forego the now-standard GPS navigation, making life much more peaceful.

Now, I need to preface that I did not eliminate the GPS tracker and I did on occasion use Google Maps to plan my route to specific addresses to which I had never been. When driving in a foreign land, Google Maps and my little blue dot come in handy. I simply did not turn on any navigation or ask for turn-by-turn instructions at any point on my nine-day excursion. And it was amazing.

When I got into Canada, just after my initial excitement, I had a brief moment of anxiety when I realized that I needed to switch my brain, my eyes and my speed from miles to kilometers per hour. Two-second heart attack over, I realized that I was surprisingly good at monitoring my kilometers per hour, only having an issue determined later in the evening when I realized the Canadian version of a speed limit sign stated “Maximum Speed,” not “Minimum Speed,” like I initially suspected.

In my 18 hours in Canada, I mastered the southern part of the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way – the highway to Toronto), and I am positive that I was able to do so because I was actually paying attention to roads, exits and landmarks instead of just following a line on a screen, relying on a voice to tell me where to go.

I drove into the Niagara Falls area and pulled into my hotel. I thought I could hear the Falls from the parking lot but I wasn’t sure. I considered walking down the street to see if I had a view of the Falls but I decided to just unload my car and take up to my room the items I needed for the night.

Having selected a Falls-view room, I was nervous that my first Falls experience would be through my hotel window instead of observing the majesty that is Horseshoe Falls in person but I placed my items in the elevator, selected my floor and began to walk down a long, angled corridor that led to a set of doors behind which only my room and one other room were located. I plopped my key into the electronic lock, turned the handle and walked in.

As soon as I entered the room, my eyes met the amazing room that I was provided and the Horseshoe Falls right out my window. I literally dropped everything including my jaw at the door, stepped over my bags and walked over to the window. After a minute, I glanced around the room, ran to grab my camera and then later explored the rest of my digs.

This was the view from my bedroom area:

This was the view from my bathroom:

After gawking, I realized that I had about 30 minutes before I needed to leave my hotel to meet a friend for dinner. Yes, because of my connections in Singapore, I now have friends in many, many countries. So, I showered, got changed and headed out to explore the road.

One of the best parts of a road trip is the scenery. Nicola Brown specifically requested photos from my window so, here are a few:

The Niagara Region boasted highways lined with vineyards. In one of those vineyards, I ran into this girl:

Shalyn was one of the first people I met in Singapore; she is also the host of those amazing food adventures at the hawker centers. Since my trip was so last minute, I gave Shalyn even less notice that I was coming. “Hi, do you have any plans tomorrow night? I am taking a spontaneous trip to Niagara Falls and I will be staying in Canada. Want to grab dinner?” Seriously.

Thankfully, I caught Shalyn on a decent day and she was able to take me to this beautiful place, Vineland Estates Winery in Vineland, Ontario.

The food was great; the company was fantastic. After dinner I went on my way to see the Falls at night. I thought the view would be spectacular but I wasn’t really impressed. I was Falls side for about five minutes and then I went back to my hotel room for a Jacuzzi bath, a dessert of my choice (fudge brownie with hot fudge, a scoop of ice cream, some whipped cream and chocolate shavings) and some of the bottle of champagne I bought myself at the winery.

In the morning, I awoke somewhere in the 5 o’clock hour to this amazing display:

The sun had risen above the Falls and the mist was the highest I had encountered. The water was bluer than the sky and the waves just crashed over the side of the Falls with such power. It. Was. Beautiful. And then I went back to sleep.

At a more reasonable hour like 7:30, I got myself ready to see the Falls and planned to eat breakfast outside near the Falls. The mist is so present near Queen Victoria Park that I twice thought it was raining and cars driving along the adjacent Niagara Parkway required the use of windshield wipers to see.

I had walked to the Horseshoe Falls the night before so I decided to head left toward the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, continuing through the park passed the entrance to the Maid of the Mist.

After a stop at an extremely chaotic local breakfast joint boasting an all-you-can-eat buffet for $6.99, I went back to the hotel to shower and pack up. I had an enjoyable anniversary alone and look forward to another trip when I have more time to explore Niagara on the Lake and maybe take that ride on the Maid of the Mist. 

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