Monday, August 15, 2011

Niagara and Finger Lakes region

The Niagara Falls are the largest falls in the world, and located on the border of US and Canada, on the Niagara river. The drive from New York to the Falls is about 7-8 hours, while its much closer from Toronto, about an hour or so. They are one of the most popular places visited by tourists who come to New York and we also saw the falls this summer, from the US side of the border itself.

We drove till the Falls from New York, passing through upstate New York and the state of Pennsylvania. The drive was pretty, especially because it was summer. Lush greenery everywhere, mountains covered with a carpet of green, in varying hues and shades. If the sun is out, the drive becomes a bit too bright, but on a cloudy covered days, its just wonderful to drive through this area. You pass small lakes and drive next to rivers and so on.. The drive sometimes gets too boring and sleepy, but that I think would be true of any long highway drives in western countries. To be truly attentive and awake at all times, you need to drive on the Indian highways I guess, where you don't know when a cow or a goat or a child comes on the road, you do not know:)

Once at the town of Niagara, the place to go is the New York State Reservation on the US side or the Queen Victoria Park on the Canada side. Apparently the view from the Canada side is better, but we did not get a chance to see the Canadian side.

So once at the Reservation Center on the US side, the first realization you have it that it is a proper touristy place! People, shops, eating places, hotels, high rises everywhere! Its just all around you! And the second realisation is the number of Indian tourists there! My guess would be that more than 50% of the tourists there are Indians! Anyways the park is well maintained, green and covered with flowers: good to sit around in the park and view the falls from.

There are a couple of good view points in the park to view the two falls: the Horseshoe Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls.  One from the park itself, one from a viewpoint tower and another from the Goat Island. The falls look regal from each of these viewpoints and are a pleasure to see (and hear!). Here are some photographs of how majestic the falls look from these places!

There are two activities which are popular here: the Maid of the Mist and the Cave of the Winds. Maid of the Mist is a ride in a huge boat which takes you near both the Horseshoe falls as well as the Bridal Veil Falls.

Its soo surreal there, under the falls where you see the full force of the water falling from above you! The whole region is misty here, the sounds are loud and the feeling dreamy! The boat feels so small in front of the huge falls, and while there you also see multiple rainbows along the falls. Other than that, you can walk upto the bottom of the falls and in some caves there, to get a more real feel of the water falling from above: this is called the Cave of the Winds. We did not get a chance to do that though.

After the stop at the Falls, we drove towards the Finger Lakes area and stayed there for the night. This area has a couple of big and small lakes, shaped like fingers.. The area is very very pretty, with small villages here and there, holiday homes on the lakes and a true vacation spot. The whole area also has a very English countryside feel to it, with many old British bungalows in this area.

We stayed in an old Victorian house here, with gardens and flowers all around. We also drove around the Canandaigua lake, a huge elongated lake running for miles. The drive next to the lake took us through winding narrow roads, lined with summer homes of the rich and the wealthy! There was greenery around, with cattle grazing here and there, the typical idyllic English countryside... Sublime and relaxing.. totally serene and calming..! We also visited one of the small villages around for a short stop to see a local town fair and then the pretty drive home!

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