The oldest memory I can think of relates to Niagra Falls. I can think back when I look at old photo’s and recall playing footie in the back garden against Neil ‘Mary’ Mcgregor or getting a photo taken in our school uniform taken in the front garden (when we had one), with the mothers daughter, back in the day on Tweedsmuir Road. That said, my oldest memory is when we had been on holiday in Canada, no doubt partly in Toronto and Partly in North Bay.
I can remember the photo’s, even though I have not seen them for a while, there is one with me wearing a proper dark green raincoat, with a proper sour puss on me, cos I probably just get soaked on the Maid of the Mist, that goes in the centre of the falls. But that’s not the photo I am mentioning here. There was one off my mother in a sort of comedy pose trying to throttle my father and it was done in a newspaper front cover stylee about a wife trying to throw her husband overboard. When you’re a kid, you love that sort of stuff and when they offered to take my photo, for a cost obviously, as I was on my own, I could not help myself. I make no apologies, I know I’m an arse, but I’m a cutsey, cheeky arse.
My plans have been changing as I go along and when I got the idea to go to the falls, I contacted my cousin Chuck for the sound advice* (*Sound advice meaning he said the American side was a shithole and I should stay on the Canadian side!!). He not only gave me the boss tips, but said he was heading to Ottawa when I would be over the border, but would happily meet me on his way back to his home in London, if I could make some time to come up to Toronto. A Sort of Vietnam meet up reunion sort of thing and I am so glad we could both find the time, but that will come in another post.
I arrive in Buffalo, get off the train at 10am, phone Amtrack to change my plans and I’m on another train, over the border @ 3.10pm, it’s that simple and no extra cost forza big cheese. I have some time to head to a mall, get some lunch and a badly needed paid of Adidas three stripes. The bus for $3, picks up at the train station, takes you to the mall and takes you back – perfect! The train was unfortunately a little delayed, but spirits are high. We get to the NY side of the border and Immigration go through the train, take the old thumb prints and ask you a fairly standard set of questions about your travels and reasons for visiting, it’s all good. I thought it would be a similar breeze the Canadian side, but as I was not on the manifest, having changed my train so late and no doubt a concern having come from Asia, into the States and travelling thru a few ‘legalized’ states, I was rightfully a concern. First time it’s happened to me, with a full phone search, sifting through my laptop, bag, case and checking the prescription. Hey, I get it, they’re just doing their job and it was only 20-25 mins or so and I was on my way. I tried to be cool, but even tho you now there is no issues and I have a spotlessly clean record, you still get the fear. The only downside was, even though I was not getting back on the train, it can’t go until everyone has cleared Immigration. I bet all the smokers were loving me.
I’ve got a decent gaff, with a swimming pool, working gym this time, but also a Jacuzzi in my room and the good thing is it’s easily £45 a night cheaper than on stateside. I have already been to the Lush store in the mall to get a couple of bath bombs and I’m in the room, not even unpacked, but the beers are on ice and the hot water is running. Groovy baby, Groovy. It’s still early doors and the hockey is on. The TV Pulls out and tilts, so you can watch it in the tub – This is ace baby! Once I’ve relaxed, it’s time for a late dinner, few drinks and a wander of the area to get my bearings. First thoughts however, is I have walked into a giant theme park, which for my view unfortunately seemed, well, a bit tacky. Don’t get me wrong, the main tourist attraction for the area is the Falls itself, possibly the couple of casino’s downtown and the many choices of eateries, of some good, decently proceed grub. The rest of it is for the kids, Guinness World records, Frankestines Haunted House, arcade’s to win tokens to get gift, karting, big well and plenty of similar things. If I had a wife and kids, or if I just wanted to see the falls and have a gamble and I lived not too far away, I would probably come quite a lot, so don’t let me put you off.
The lesser Casino does a great all you can eat buffet, and the Wardy loves his grub baby. I’m down about 2pm the next day. I’ve shelled out $60 already on the fruit machines. I have something to eat, the cash in $200 for the 3 card poker. $10 bucks a bet, goes to $15 then to $25 cos I’m winning. 10 mins later its all gone, the dealer get my last $5 chip, cheers pal! I play a couple more machines and another $40 bucks lost and I’m calling it a day. I need the loo tho and I walk to a corner thinking it was the loo, instead it was free juice and coffee. I have some pepsi and another and cos I feel bad standing drinking and no playing, I punt another $20 in a machine – 20 mins later I am cashing out some $280 and only down $40 or so for some 3 hours playing. I’m feeling bolshy, so I’m hitting the Falls. Right down the hill to the fine view of the Yankee side and the Falls. I’ve paid my money for the Hornblower Co to get on the Maid of the Mist, made my way down, got my poncho on and we’ve just got on the boat.
Now, for anyone who has not been to Niagra Falls and/or has not done the Maid of the Mist Boat Tour, I will tell you this. It’s the single, greatest thing I have done throughout the 3 months I have been away. You are filled full of anticipation having watched the other boat, head up to and rock side by side, right in the middle of the crescent of the falls. You watch them all get off the boat, absolutely drenched, with massive smiles on their faces and cock-a-hoop from the experience. We all get on the boat, which has wifi and allows you to shoot live videos to the Facebook. There’s the anticipation and the buzz about what it’s going to be like and although you know you are going to get soaked, wow! That is all I will say brothers and sisters, you need to experience it for yourself. Hopefully you may have seen one or two of my videos, with seem to be an amalgamation of two in one, cos my moby got soaked and it’s not waterproof.
I have a ferrit aboot the shops the next day, but they all seem overly expensive. I power a couple of hours in the gym as I had it tae masel, followed by a nice relaxing 45 minutes in the pool. It’s funny, I’ve no been proper swimming for years and years and this place had a pool that went down 9 meters. I have been in for about 15 mins dossing around and I had done a couple of lengths. From the side I dive down to the bottom and back up again and talk about gasping and grabbing for the sides of the pool – Jesus. I’m out at a decent time to hit the Boston Pizza place for ma tea, a few beers and to watch the Basketball. $25 for a medium pizza I thought was a bit pricey, until the fecker arrived. Twice the server lassie came back in between my breaks from eating through this thing to offer me a box to take it away in. “Just you keep the Hendricks and tonic coming lass, just let me worry about the Pizza.”
I have made some daft decisions the 3 months I have been away, but coming to Niagra Falls and then onto Toronto to see the Cousins, was easily the best one. I suppose I have to thank the arseholes at the SFA for the fecking of their communications of the ticket sale. Sure, I’m missing the no doubt $1 beer and good times in Peru and Mexico, with a good couple of humpings of football in between. I think we will get beat 2-0 in both games by the way. But thinking now, having met family in the City and having dinner, brunch and few beers to boot with them, that’s where you should be going, every time you can.