Saturday, October 2, 2010 (Niagara Falls, ON)

We were up and out by 9:00 this morning...walking out to the entrance of the campground to wait for our bus tour. At 9:15, a van pulls up—it was Bob, the tour operator from last night, he would be driving us to meet the bus at the Holiday Inn.

Our first stop was the Maid of the Mist boat ride to the Falls. We discovered that there is still one area where it doesn’t matter if it is October or not, it is still super busy with tourists...and that is Niagara Falls. There are bus load after bus load of (mainly) Asian tourists! And they push and shove their way through the line-ups, don’t bother moving over to share sidewalks and generally are very annoying!

Anyway...back to the Maid of the Mist was very cool. They take you down to river level by elevator and as you enter the loading area, you are given a big blue rain poncho to wear.
Once on the boat, you have a choice of going upstairs to the top (open) deck or staying down on the covered deck. Of course, we headed upstairs. A little warning about how wet you actually get would have been nice...particularly for those holding cameras. I was expecting to experience some mist as the boat gets closer to the Falls...but no, it was like going through a major rain and wind storm! The rain poncho certainly helped but our legs from the knees down and our feet were soaked as were our arms from the elbows down! Oh well, it was well worth it!

At precisely 11:00 a.m. the bus picked us up to continue the tour. It was very interesting learning the history...the area was the site for some major battles during the war of 1812. We had a very good tour guide\bus driver who provided a lot of information about the area...from Niagara Falls to Niagara-on¬-the-Lake.

We stopped at the lookout to the Falls for a half hour for pictures and a visit to the gift shop and then continued onto the Floral Clock. After it chimed, it was time to get back on the bus and we continued onto Niagara-on-the-Lake. We had an hour and a half lunch stop there...what a cool little place! Unfortunately, it was so busy with tourists that by the time we waited for a table in a restaurant and had our lunch, there wasn’t much time to explore all the shops. We will have to come back here on our own tomorrow.

Back on the bus, we continued our tour...our next stop was a winery...with wine tasting. The Pillitteri   winery is world renowned for its ice wine. We did not partake in the ice wine tasting but I quite enjoyed their white wine selection...but the red wine, not so much.

After herding everyone back onto the bus...and realizing “the 3 ladies” were missing...we waited for a few minutes. The three finally arrived with a case of wine...and apologies for holding us the bus. Our next stop was a chocolate factory...where we tasted a variety of chocolates...yum! We purchased a container of chocolate covered coffee beans...they are soooo good! We also won some chocolate trivia playing cards—we just missed out on the first prize...chocolate covered strawberries.

The tour continued on to St. Catherines and the Welland Canal where we watched a ship go through the 3rd lock out of 7 as it went from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. Very cool...and very interesting.

We were dropped off at 5:00 p.m. at our campground. It had been a great day and a great tour! We learned so much more about the area than we would have if we had just gone out on our own. Tomorrow we think we will take the shuttle and explore the areas that we would like to see more of...particularly the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

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