Meet the cutest bit of graffiti I have ever seen and enjoy the first of what promises to be four posts on my Canada trip. I am sorry for the delay, but I had to sort through all of my pictures.
So, the story is that my friend, who has been to Canada before but never to Ottawa, wanted to make a trip this summer, and she invited me along. Her plan was to fly to Niagara on the U.S. side, take a taxi over the border, spend the day in Niagara Falls and take a train the next day to Ottawa.
Our taxi-driver was Kurdish, and when he learned that we came from Nashville, which has a large Kurdish community, he really opened up and we had a good long conversation with him. The border-crossing was much easier (and in consequence much less hilarious) than my last crossing into Canada.
We were dropped off near our hostel where we were greeted, interestingly enough, by a young and very friendly Irishman. The hostel was the most friendly of any I have encountered. The whole staff felt like a family, and were beyond helpful. Once, they even offered to share some chicken wings with me.
The area around our hostel was pretty run-down. I took many pictures of abandoned-looking buildings. There is something beautiful, as well as sad, in urban decay. Below is my favorite shot, with crumbling bricks like moth-holes in a tapestry, and wires like cobwebs.
Despite the ravages of economic stress, beauty of past prosperity endures.
And as I said above, the people at the hostel could not have been nicer to us. The friendly Irishman, in answer to our question about good lunching, pointed us to a Caribbean restaurant around the corner. In my opinion, this Caribbean meal, suggested by an Irishman in Canada, was the best food we had on the whole trip. Behold!
After lunch, we walked to the falls. As we moved towards the center of tourism, of course, the apparent prosperity of the place increased. We passed many nice-looking bed-and-breakfasts, but I wouldn’t have traded our hostel for them. We also passed a bridge that caught my eye. Oh how I love perspective!
Niagara Falls, which I had never seen before, are magnificent and beautiful. For those that don’t know, there are two falls, one on the U.S. side and one on the Canadian side. The U.S. side, pictured below, is smaller and lower, but also more natural in appearance. Of the two, it is my favorite.
That is not to say that I do not also love the Canadian side. It is overwhelmingly powerful and beautiful in its own right. The two following pictures are of it.
The stormy sky was a great gift for my camera. The rain was overkill, though, as we were wet enough from the “Maid of the Mist,” a short boat ride near the falls. We also walked behind the Canadian falls in tunnels, which allowed us to see them from a different angle.
Sadly, Niagara is also a huge tourist-trap. It reminds me more than a little of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge (don’t get me started unless you want a loooong rant). Look below to see what I mean.
And no, that chap in the foreground isn’t an escaping ghost (though that would be fantastic!). I merely like to avoid posting pictures of random strangers without their permission.
Despite some frustrations with a bus-system in transition (the day after we left it was set to change) we had a good time. Being me, I grieve for the existence of a tourist trap next to such natural beauty, but tourist-trap culture is at least interesting to me. If you ever travel to this place, I suggest staying at this hostel. I did not take any pictures while on the train to Ottawa, but it was a pleasant trip. Next post will be set in Ottawa itself.