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Niagara Falls smack down : The American falls vs The Canadian Side

niagara falls bridal veil falls

Now that I have been to both sides of Niagara Falls, I realized just how different the American and the Canadian side are and wanted to share with you the pros and cons of each side, similarities and the main differences, and which side I think you should visit when you plan a trip to Niagara Falls.

Unless you’re a total geography buff, you’re probably not familiar with the exact location and division of the Falls between the U.S. and Canada, so let’s start with some background information.

horseshoe falls and rainbowSome background info on Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls are located 20 minutes (17 miles / 27 km) north of Buffalo, New York on the American side, and about 90 minutes south of Toronto, Ontario (75 miles / 121 km) on the Canadian side. The Falls are located on the Niagara River, a short river that connects Lake Erie with Lake Ontario (two of the five Great Lakes). Each side has a city right by the Falls, and both are appropriately named Niagara Falls. More on both later.

Niagara Falls actually consist of three sets of waterfalls: the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, and the Bridal Veil Falls as well as the American Falls on U.S. soil.

Together, they make for the world’s biggest waterfalls by flow rate, with an average of 4 million cubic feet (110,000 m3) of water falling over the crest line every minute and up to 6 million cubic feet (168,000 m3) in high flow.

American Falls and Horseshoe FallsIn comparison to other famous waterfalls, Niagara Falls are fairly small though:

Niagara Falls

  • Width: Horseshoe Falls 2,600 feet (790 meters), American Falls 1,060 feet (320 meters)
  • Height: 167 feet (51 meters)

Iguazu Falls

  • Width: 8,858 feet (2,700 meters)
  • Height: 210 – 269 feet (64 – 82 meters)

Victoria Falls

  • Width: 5,604 feet (1,708 meters)
  • Height: 360 feet (108 meters)

Niagara Falls MapWhile they are only about a third in width of Iguazu Falls and less than half the height of Victoria Falls, they are still an incredible sight and well worth a visit, and they are still the biggest waterfalls in North America.

As I mentioned before, the Falls can be either visited from the American side or from the Canadian side, and I have compiled everything you need to know about visiting either side.

niagara falls with rainbowSimilarities

Let’s start with what’s similar on both sides. No matter if you’re visiting from the States or from Canada, you can take a 30-minute boat ride close up to the massive Horseshoe Falls; the Maid Of The Mist leaves every half hour from the U.S. and its Canadian counterpart is the Hornblower Niagara Cruise. Another thing that both sides offer is the possibility to get close up to the Falls with a set of walkways / viewpoints that are right by the Falls.

It is possible to visit Niagara Falls entirely for free anything from either country.

Getting close up to Niagara Falls
Getting close to the Falls from Canada and from the U.S.

Differences

The biggest difference between visiting the Falls from Canada and the U.S. are the views you get. Let’s be honest, Canada just lucked out here and simply has the better vistas: you can get the entire panoramic view of all three waterfalls from the edge of the gorge here, while from the U.S., you’ll have difficulties seeing the entire ‘horseshoe’, despite the various observation decks. The American Falls themselves can only be seen if you pay to enter the Cave of the Winds walkways, but then you also only see them from the bottom and not in full panorama.

The U.S. side has an advantage though: here, you can get really close to the Falls. While you can get close to the Horseshoe Falls in Canada, you can truly feel the American Falls.niagara falls

Here is some more information on each side:

The Canadian Side

The Canadian side of Niagara Falls offers you the full panoramic view of all the falls. You can walk along a wide sidewalk along the Niagara Falls Parkway right on the rim of the gorge for about a mile and look down into the Niagara River and see the Falls across from you.

niagara falls american falls from canada
The American Falls seen from Canada

If you want even broader views of the Falls, you can go up on the Skylon Tower from where you have stunning overhead vistas. The Skylon Tower also has a revolving restaurant, so that you can enjoy a meal or some drinks with those epic views. Reserving a table here includes free access to the observation deck If you book only a ticket, it’s only CAD10.71 if you book it online! The Brunch Buffet at CAD27.50 is actually pretty good value, considering it includes the observation deck as well.

You can get really close to the Horseshoe Falls if you pay for the Journey Behind The Falls experience. You get to take an elevator down 150 feet (45 meters), walk through a series of caves and finally get to an observation deck right next to the falls. While it is called Behind The Falls, don’t expect to actually get behind them: it’s more like getting a glimpse behind them. You will get drenched though (rain ponchos are provided), and will hear the thundering noise of the rushing water really close up. Admission for the Journey Behind The Falls is CAD15.95 plus tax.

Niagara Falls Journey Behind the Falls
The Journey Behind The Falls

If you stay overnight, make sure to come back at night to see the Niagara Falls light show. After sunset, the falls are illuminated in changing colors – it is a neat sight. During the summer months, there are also fireworks on Fridays and Sundays and on public holidays.

If you have difficulties walking, there is a hop-on hop-off bus service that connects the main attractions in town and several lookouts along the Falls; a day ticket is $7 per person. You can find the schedule and route map here.

niagara falls at night
The Falls lit up

The American Side

The American side might not have the panoramic views that Canada has, but it lets you get super close to the water. There is one big observation deck which you can enter for free and where you get the best vistas of a big part of the falls.

You can also take the 30-minute boat ride into the rushing Horseshoe Falls and get soaked that way, or you walk along the wooden walkways of the Cave Of The Winds experience. The cave that it is named after is long gone (it collapsed in 1954), but the walkways and viewing points, 175 feet (53 meters) deep into the Niagara Gorge, get you so close to the waterfalls that you basically get a free (and strong!) shower, especially on the appropriately named Hurricane Deck at the bottom of the American Falls. On this deck, you are only 20 feet (6 meters) from the Bridal Veil Falls! Admission for the Cave of the Winds experience is USD12 per person, the Maid Of The Mist is USD17.

niagara falls hurricane deck
Getting soaked on the Hurricane Deck

In addition to these paid-for experiences, there is are several viewing points at the rim, one right in between the two American Falls (on Goat Island, a little Island that separates the American Falls from the Horseshoe Falls).

There is a hop-on hop-off trolley service in the Niagara State Park for only $2 per person if you have difficulties walking.

Winner: Canada, these views are just unbeatable!

horseshoe falls with mist
The Horseshoe Falls seen from Canada

The cities

Niagara Falls Canada

It’s no secret that Jess and I weren’t the biggest fans of this town when we visited the Canadian side in 2011. The city felt tacky, everything was set up to get every tourist dollar possible: haunted houses (seriously, who needs four haunted houses? Especially in a city that small.), wax museums, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Hershey’s Chocolate World and many fast food chains.

If you can’t entertain your kids with an awe-inspiring natural wonder, you’ll get the chance to do that here (and spend lots of cash). Ironically, most of the chains who set up shop here are American, it seems like even they knew the Canadian side is the one that’s bringing in the big bucks. For the grown-ups in need of additional entertainment, there are not one but TWO casinos to carry your money to.

Niagara Falls Canada with Skylon TowerNiagara Falls USA

The American side feels more tranquil, less crowded and less tacky – other than a Wax Museum of History, a haunted house and an aquarium, and the giant casino that’s towering over all the other buildings, there is not much here. The town makes an effort though to provide some entertainment that you don’t have to pay for and that’s more family-friendly, like free board games, outdoor movie nights in the summer, concerts and even fitness events. You can find the entire program here.

I thought that there was much greener here, and it is known that you can go on better hikes along the Niagara River from here. This side is definitely right for you if you’re planning a couple of hikes in addition to visiting the Falls. You can find some more details on the hiking options here.

Winner: Niagara Falls USA

niagara fallsWhich side should you visit?

Absolutely no question: Visit both sides! I’d recommend planning in enough time to visit both Canada’s and the American side to get the full Niagara experience. I thought it was very similar to my experience at Iguazu Falls – while I got to get a real close-up encounter with the Falls on the Argentinian side, the breathtaking vistas are what you only get from Brazil. At the Niagara Falls, you get the greatest views from Canada, but the better close-up experience from the U.S.

niagara falls close up
Getting close to the Falls on the American side

How to cross the border at Niagara Falls

Thanks to the Rainbow Bridge, which connects Canada and the U.S. right by the Falls, you can easily cross from one country into the other – as long as you pack your passport! Make also sure to check visa regulations for your country of origin. The toll to cross the bridge is 0.50 Cent if you cross on foot, but higher for cars, RVs and trucks. You can find the current prices here. If you visit the Falls with your car, there’s no need for you to take it to the other side – you can just walk over the bridge and explore the Falls on foot, unless you aren’t in good health.

niagara falls panorama
The panoramic views from the Canadian side

Have you been to Niagara Falls? If you have tips and recommendations how travelers can maximize their experience, feel free to share them in the comments below!

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Ottawa UnLOCKed: Finding the key to conquering Canada’s Capital City

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Canada’s capital city is clean, green, and home to some of the world’s friendliest citizens, so it is easy to feel immediately at ease here. However, the key to truly conquering Ottawa is all about the locks…ottawa view over river and parliamentKeep Out: Constructing the Canal

While Ottawa is more than welcoming now, the city hasn’t always been that way.  Nearly 200 years ago, a British colonel, Colonel By, was sent over and put to the task of protecting Canada from its pesky American neighbors, rumored to be planning an invasion of Canadian territory by way of the St Lawrence Seaway. It turns out that while we made our way through the city this summer, I wouldn’t have been the first American attempting to conquer this area of Ontario.

It was Colonel By’s task to construct the Rideau Canal, which, in bypassing the St Lawrence River bordering New York, would secure the supply and communications route between Montreal and the British naval base in Kingston. Travel would proceed along the Ottawa River to Bytown (named for Colonel By, this was originally a makeshift town in the swampy wilderness. It’s known today as Ottawa) and then continuing southwest via the canal to Kingston before emptying into Lake Ontario.

ottawa rideau canal locksToday, these eight mighty locks are a perfect starting off point for exploring Ottawa. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Locks 1-8 lower the waters of the Rideau Canal to meet the Ottawa River 30 feet below. Both the majestic Parliament Hill and magnificent Fairmont Chateau Laurier castle hotel rise high above the Rideau to give this part of Ottawa an entirely old-world feel. Strolling along the path by the locks here is relaxing, and the Bytown Museum (can you guess its namesake?) is a great little spot to learn more about the building of this engineering marvel.

ottawa view over ottawa riverCycling in Ottawa

Looking to cover more ground, we headed to Rentabike, not 50m from the museum along the canal. After stocking up on heaps of great advice from the owner, we hopped on our fancy cruiser bikes and never looked back. First we shot up the canal away from the river, past the paddle boats on Dow’s Lake, and stopped at the sound of pounding water – the waterfalls of Hog’s Back.

ottawa hogsback fallsAlready feeling free of the city just 30 minutes after renting the bikes, a quick turn to the northwest led to a patch of rural farmland. We were now riding through the area known as the Central Experimental Farm, a true urban oasis filled with acres of crops, lush green grass, classic red barns and their barnyard animals. From here, signs for the cycle paths back to the city were easy to follow. Continuing westward, the path met up with the Ottawa River, and it was here we discovered the rock art by Jean-Félice Ceprano, a truly inspiring find we would have never come across without the bikes.

rock art in ottawaOttawa is a cycling city and thousands of Ottawans (very courteously, of course) commute back and forth from work as much as to enjoy the outdoors. In fact, Ottawa has over 200 kilometers of bike paths, we had been told, but in our six hours out on the bikes, we only managed 30 km.

jess cycling along lake dow ottawaBeaver Tails and Boats

Before bringing the bikes back, it was time for a late lunch at the Byward Market. Established by Colonel By in 1826, this is Canada’s oldest public market, covering nearly four square blocks of restaurants, pubs and some incredible specialty food shops. After lunch we popped in to a cheese shop so specialized, it even carries our favorite brand of Norwegian cheese! In an amazing case of self-restraint, however, we walked out empty handed – but only because we knew where we were headed next: the Beaver Tail stand.

ottawa beaver tails stallBeaver Tails are Ottawa’s classic deep-fried, doughy delights and are best enjoyed in Winter with a hot cup of coffee to warm up. You might be enjoying a break from ice-skating along one of the world’s longest ice rinks. Stretching seven kilometers from the Ottawa river, the frozen length of the Rideau Canal converts Ottawa into a winter wonderland and when it re-opens in mid-May, several boats pass through the locks each day, some heading down to the Ottawa River. While one hundred years ago, the river would have been packed with thousands of logs rushing down it as a part of the logging industry, today this aquatic hotspot is packed with speed boats, kayaks, yachts and even white water enthusiasts – although that takes place up the river about 90 minutes from downtown.

ottawa rideau canal boats in lockWe wanted to get out on the river, but also wanted to do a city tour – Lady Dive amphibus tour met both those needs. In its bus form, we tooled through town on four wheels, marveling the architecture and learning about Ottawa’s complicated past. We then plunged into the water next to the Britannia Yacht Club and, as soon as we got our sea legs, we floated past the Museum of Civilization, a mega-museum which takes visitors through 1,000 years of Canadian history and also has a children’s museum and a 3D IMAX theater. Make sure to plan at least one day here, if not two.

ottawa parliament and chateau laurier hotel from riverAlso set on the river is the National Gallery, considered Canada’s premiere art museum. We really enjoyed the permanent exhibits, which are on par with top international galleries. True culture vultures might want to plan in at least half a day to visit, though any travelers on a budget should visit on Thursdays, when entrance to the National Gallery is free from 5-8pm.  Ottawa has plenty of public art as well, from the statue of Canadian blues legend Oscar Peterson (at the corner of Elgin and Albert) to the many statues located on top of Parliament Hill: The ‘Women are persons!’ sculpture and the Queen Elizabeth II statue accurately characterize the history of women in Canada.

Women are persons statueAfter the river cruise, we sprinted up to Parliament Hill for a look at these statues and to take part in the free guided tour of the Parliament building’s Centre Block (daily, more frequent in summer). This tour was the best to help us grasp the political history of the nation as a whole.

Ottawa parliament buildingJust over the Ottawa River

While out on the Ottawa River, it was not immediately clear that we were floating along a heavily-contested, well-protected border. There are no border control guards and we didn’t need our passports. We didn’t even leave the city.

But, as we learned on the Parliament tour, the Ottawa River is where English and French-speaking Canada converge, and this border, a sociocultural one, is fervently protected on either side. This fact is not obvious to casual visitors except for strict language difference on either side of the river. We had overheard snippets of French throughout our time in Ottawa, but our day trip over the bridge to the Gatineau Park on the Quebec side saw us struggling to order lunch in some pretty rusty French. Luckily most of our day hike through the gorgeously green Gatineau required very few words at all.

gatineau park viewpoint daniRide along the Rideau Canal

Both sides of Ottawa boast such fresh, green space, as do the 202km along the Rideau Canal. These calm waters can be explored by boat, which takes up to seven days to make it through all 49 locks along the Rideau Canal to Kingston on the St Lawrence River. During our time in Ottawa, we chose to cycle and drive most of the way, meandering along country back roads and through picture perfect towns like Merrickville and Perth. There is also a trail for hikers, bikers and cross-country skiers.

No matter how you choose to explore Ottawa, whether by boat, bike, car or kayak, the key to discovering the city’s heart begins along the city’s locks.

ottawa rideau canal sunset

For more information on the Rideau Canal, check out the Rideau Heritage Route.

A big genuine Thank You goes out to Ottawa Tourism, who provided some great tips and tricks to help us get the most out of our Ottawa trip.

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Street Art special: Oh Canada!

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We’ll be the first to admit that before spending so much time in Canada this summer, we pictured wide open spaces and wild life roaming, not urban centers wrapped in world-class street art. We certainly saw a lot of rural locales, but often this was as we city-hopped through Ontario and Quebec, spotting murals and graffiti popping off store fronts, taking over entire buildings and catching our eye around every corner. As huge fans of street art, we were excited to find many terrific pieces everywhere. So which Canadian city do we think has the best street art?

Street Art in Quebec City

quebec city street art On our short visit here, we spotted just a bit of street art in Quebec City, but may have missed a lot touring mainly the historic Old Town area. We’re guessing there is much more, considering the amount of creativity put into the free, nightly Cirque du Soleil show, which combines urban art with classic dance, set outside under an overpass just beyond the city walls.

Street Art in Ottawa

shepard fairey ottawa obey Ottawa had some street art, and while much of it wasn’t too spectacular, Ottawans were able to boast the giant Obey poster by Shepard Fairey, one of the most influential and worldwide known street artists, thanks to that iconic Hope poster of Barack Obama.

Street Art in Montreal

montreal street art woman In Montreal we saw plenty of street art, especially in the Plateau neighborhood which has larger-scale murals.

montreal street art ladyThis lady with her rooster was definitely one of our favorite pieces – check out her ‘gringo’ tattoo!

montreal street art

Montreal had really great street art, but there was no way it could keep up with what we considered the best city for street art in Canada that we have found so far:

Street Art in Toronto

toronto street art toronto graffiti catToronto was heaven for us street art fangirls, in particular the area around Queen Street. Here we found entire alleys that served as outdoor galleries, filled with innovative, clever work.

toronto street art alleyAnd there was so much more urban art than just graffiti in back alleys, like this great guerrilla gardening graffiti combo… toronto graffiti car toronto car & mural…and loads of urban art in other forms. We loved seeing these neon bikes permanently affixed to stairwells and various sign poles throughout the city.

toronto pink bikeToronto definitely has the most original and inspiring street artists! The best thing about this form of art is that it lives and breathes, and changes constantly, so we can’t wait to see something completely different on our next visit!

toronto street artCheck out this slideshow for a more complete collection of Canadian street art:

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Have you been to Canada? Where have you seen the best street art? Share in the comments below

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Why we didn’t like Niagara Falls (but still recommend you go!)

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This is Niagara Falls?

On our way to visit Niagara Falls, Dani and I had both been picturing rustic log-cabin restaurants, maybe a few lumberjacks, a small town feel and definitely something a bit more romantic. After all this is supposed to be the Honeymoon Capital of the World. We never expected this…mega tourist trap.

Pulling into town, however, we found ourselves suddenly driving downhill on a wide street with cheesy tourist attractions stacked up tightly on either side. A wax museum, a haunted house, Ripley’s Believe it or Not…

“Wait, is that another wax museum?” I asked.  “I think so,” Dani remarked. “And I just saw two more haunted houses on my side.”

niagara falls townAs we reached the bottom of this long, strange road, I turned right – away from the Hershey’s Chocolate store and toward the intense sound of rushing water.

The Falls are magnificent

Just a split second later, there it was! The awe-inspiring view of Niagara Falls. There are actually three sets of falls pounding into the Niagara river below – the American Falls and smaller Bridal Veil Falls on the American side and the massive Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side.  Immediately humbled, we cruised slowly along the four-lane thoroughfare which hugs the pedestrian viewing along the cliffs, gawking at the sheer size of this sight.

We managed to find $5 parking (instead of the lots with New York City level prices) and walked down to gaze at the Falls. Seeing Niagara Falls on postcards and in pictures does not compare to the sight of this incredible natural wonder in person. Two things really stood out. First, the water seems to speed up as it reaches the falls, as if it can not wait to plunge over the cliff. By the time it goes over, the water is moving so quickly and just looking at this makes you comprehend your own delicate mortality.

niagara falls horseshoe falls water powerSecond, the sheer force with which the 4 million cubic feet of water per minute hits the river below causes much of it to shoot back up into the air, with the spray reaching at least twice as high as the 180 feet it dropped in the first place. This ‘cloud’ of mist can be seen even when the Falls themselves are out of view. This part of the walkway, and all onlookers standing here, is soaking wet.

niagara falls horseshoe falls with mistMaid of the Mist is a must

Being such a popular tourist attraction, there are several tours to choose from which will get you up close and almost within reach of the Falls. We steered away from the package deals and chose only the 30-minute Maid of the Mist boat tour. With all passengers covered in plastic ponchos, the boat set off onto the Niagara river, which drains Lake Eerie into Lake Ontario and forms the border between the U.S. and Canada. The steady ship reached the Horseshoe Falls within minutes and we were immediately drenched by the mist. Actually feeling how much water soaked us at the edge of the mist helped to visualize just how much water is contained within the waterfalls themselves. We can highly recommend doing this tour as it is quick, painless and gets right to the point. While it feels adventurous, boats leave every half hour from the dock to the falls, making this a common and safe experience for everyone.

niagara falls from river tour on maid of the mistIndeed, Niagara Falls are one of nature’s incredible wonders, and everyone should see them if they get the chance. Most agree that the views are better from the Canadian side, but cross the Rainbow Bridge to the American side and check it out for yourself. From what we could see, there are far less tourist eyesores and it could well be a more natural experience. Back on the Canadian side, we just couldn’t help but be disappointed by the fact that the Niagara Falls might just be the most unnatural wonder we’ll ever visit. Luckily, we found a solution, a way out of the tourist trap – and it involves a lot of wine.

Winding our way through the wineries

No, there was no drowning of sorrows in copious amounts of wine. Instead, after beating the crowds to some breathtaking early morning views at Niagara Falls, we set off into the Canadian wine country. Sleepy narrow two-lane roads weave through historic villages which open up into vast fields filled with countless rows of wine as far as the eye can see. We glided along the road, stopping in for samples at a few charming wineries and picking up fresh organic peaches, pears and veggies from farmers stands along the way.

niagara wine country ontarioTip: try the sweet dessert ‘ice wine’, a local Ontario wine which uses grapes picked only after the first frost of the year.

Suddenly, 15km from Niagara Falls, a spot of slow traffic began when there had previously been only a few cars on the road. Where were we all of a sudden, we wondered?

Love at first sight: Niagara-on-the-Lake

This charming, historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is everything Niagara Falls is not. Independent shops and restaurants fill the bottom floors of historic buildings, which are set back on streets lined with breezy trees, exotic flowers and lovely sidewalks meant for strolling. Everything in town seems to center around good food and good wine.

Whereas the town of Niagara Falls seems like Las Vegas without the flash and fun, Niagara-on-the-Lake is more like the Canadian version of Tuscany, with its Dolce Vita attitude. Surrounded by 26 wineries, it seems easy to focus on the ‘sweet life’ here.

niagara on the lakeIt was love at first sight, and as we rambled along peeking into shops and checking out restaurant menus, we made an even more exciting discovery. Food and drink here is more fairly priced for infinitely higher quality than the fast food tourist fare down the road. To add to our delight, we spotted plenty of affordable classic hotels and boutique bed and breakfasts throughout town.

As we left Niagara-on-the-Lake, the car was filled with delicious wine, fresh blueberry scones and our homegrown fruit and veg to enjoy once we got back home.

niagara wine country fruit standTip:

If you visit the Niagara Falls, which you really should, skip the cheapie budget digs on ‘motel row’ out of town, and don’t waste serious cash on the 42-story hotel/casino monstrosities all vying for the best views of the falls. We say make Niagara-on-the-Lake your base, take a couple of day trips to the falls and spend the evenings relaxing in this adorable haven just down the road.

Have you visited the Niagara Falls or other spectacular waterfalls? What were your impressions? Share your thoughts in the comments

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Polaroid of the week: Niagara Falls, Canada

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polaroid of the week canada niagara falls

After almost seven weeks in Ontario, we finally made the trip to Niagara Falls, and following the advice of nearly everyone we met, we chose to view the falls from the Canadian side rather than crossing the border and viewing them from the American side. This was the right choice – the views from the Canadian side are incredible! From here you watch the water flood over the side of the Bridal Veil falls on the American side  and the Horseshoe Falls, as the Canadian Falls are called, which are 167ft high and shaped, as you might guess, in the form of a horseshoe (pictured here). The power of the water, the rush of the falls can be felt on a Maid of the Mist boat tour that will take you right up to the falls themselves. As we approached the Falls, the thunderous pounding sound takes over your hearing, the spray splashes at first, until it pours down from all sides into the boat. There you stand, floating just a few feet from the over 600,000 gallons of water that crash down the Horseshoe Falls every single second.

We darted from one side of the boat to the other, soaking wet, giggling, taking pictures, and enjoying a truly awe-inspiring  experience at Niagara Falls!

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Polaroid of the week: A vintage car in Ontario, Canada

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Polaroid of the week Canada Merrickville Vintage Car

Ontario is car country! They love their classic cars here and we see proud owners of vintage cars cruising through the country side in their well-maintained rides all the time. During the summer there is a classic car show in some town at almost every weekend. The Merrickville car show is one of the biggest in Ontario, with over 1000 registered cars, trucks, and hot rods, one tractor and even one pimped out school bus!  It feels as if time stood still here is the old town of Merrickville as you zig zag through the vintage cars lining the Rideau Canal.

If you enjoy this weekly Polaroid series, please ‘Like’ our Facebook fan page where we post  photos from our travels every day.

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Polaroid of the week: Sunset Cinema in Ontario

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polaroid of the week canada ontario sunsetWe have been in Ontario for over four weeks now and almost every night, whether the day is filled with rain or sunshine, the big Canadian skies end the day with wildly vivid, dramatic sunsets. It started our first night in Toronto with an awe-inspiring all-pink sky, followed next by a brightly celebratory sunset over the Parliament in Ottawa on our first-ever Canada Day. Thankfully we are now based right off the Rideau River where, as the sun sets, the sky blends radiant reds, burning orange and countless shades of pink. It is amazing how much movement the scene has, with colors bouncing off the cloud formations above and reflecting off the water blow. Each night we pedal our bikes along the river to find the perfect front row seats of the nightly showing of the Ontario sunset cinema.

If you enjoy this weekly Polaroid series, ‘Like’ our Facebook fan page where we post  photos from our travels every day.

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Polaroid of the week: Watch out for the turtles!

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polaroid of the week canada ontario turtle sign

Almost exactly to the day 13 months ago we were climbing hundreds of feet up in the mountains outside of Tucson, Arizona to avoid the burning heat…and Beware of Bears signs.

This summer, we find ourselves once again in North America, in the middle of a mega heat wave. But this time, we are in Canada and around here it’s turtles we have to watch our for, not bears. Except rather than avoid them, we tried to spot them today. Turtles, we learned, go into a state of dormancy in high temperatures, so despite our search, we weren’t able to spot see any. Even the turtles are too hot!!!

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Polaroid of the week: Burritts Rapids Locks along the Rideau Canal

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polaroid of the week canada rideau canal burritts rapids locks

Our temporary home is not far from the Rideau River and the Rideau Canal which connects Ottawa with the town of Kingston on Lake Ontario. The Canal was opened in 1832 and is the oldest continuous waterway in North America. There are 45 locks along the canal and we took our bicycles out for a long ride to the Burritts Rapids locks near Merrickville, where we enjoyed a picnic in the sun while watching boats come and go.

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Polaroid of the week: Canada Day in Ottawa

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polaroid of the week canada day in ottawa

We spent Canada Day, the country’s 144th birthday on 1 July 2011, in Ottawa. Canada’s capital has the country’s most spectacular celebrations, a passionate patriotism that literally paints the entire town red – like this happy guy here!

The city’s Jazz Fest was on at the same time, with stages set up and street music played throughout the city center. Every patch of grass in the very green city was taken by picnicking families out celebrating the nation, almost everyone in red and white, maple leaf flags flying high.  It was fun for us to see hundreds of thousands Canadians celebrating their ‘big day’, and this year everyone was extra charged, as even Prince William and Catherine, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, attended the celebrations on Parliament Hill.

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