I skipped Niagara Falls earlier in the post sequence so I’ll tuck it in now. I spent a couple of nights there at the start of my trip after leaving Toronto. With the exuberance of someone early in their trip I packed in as much as I could. There is loads of stuff to see, both in and away from the townships.
It is a place of interesting contrasts. My rather shabby hostel was based in the original N.F. township which is a relatively old and worn place about half an hour scenic walk away from the falls and the newer ‘tourist end’. Clifton Hills is where the majority of tourists are catered for on the Canadian side, but big tourism seemed to have sent it into tacky overdrive. Some descriptions liken it to a mini Vegas but that almost sounds a bit complimentary.
But the natural attractions are what people go there for. The falls, three in total, are stunning. From the Canadian side the Maid of the Mist boat tours get you up close to the Horseshoe Falls. The power and noise is incredible and you (and your camera) quickly become thankful for the dorky waterproof coverings they give you. The American and Bridal Veil Falls are accessed from the USA side. Along the River Road and Niagara Parkway are various viewing places and walkways and other attractions.
While there was a lot to appreciate it was overall a bit of a funny place and I left there with no desire to return. Never say never though eh?
Clifton Hills is the garish tourist end of Niagara Falls. Load of people, loads of neon.
Tourists getting drenched on the Maid of the Mist
The Bridal Veil Falls and walkway, next to the American Falls
Somewhere there beyond the mist thrown up by the falls is an old power station
The Whirlpool Rapids Bridge from the Niagara River
Given my employer prior to the trip (and since as it's turned out) I took the opportunity to tour through this power station when I stumbled upon it
Another of the attractions along the Niagara Falls Parkway. While not much of a botanical gardens person I had a bit of a look, but the nearby butterfly conservatory was a bridge too far!
I was looking forward to a decent sleep but alas this did not eventuate due to a combination of inconsiderate room mates and unexplained ‘things that go bump in the night’. So it was back into it fairly early in the morning. I planned to leave Calgary later that day but not before fitting in a group tour over to Drumheller.
The main theme of the day was the area’s dinosaur history. We stopped by viewing points of more badlands terrain, similar to where I visited a few days before.
Our longest stop was at the excellent Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. The large complex is built in complementary fashion to its surroundings.
Dinosaurs of course feature heavily and this chap is a bit of a star attraction.
In the town of Drumheller they embrace their prehistoric heritage. That’s me waving from the mouth of T-Rex, apparently the world’s largest dinosaur…
The tour bus (actually just a peoplemover on account of the small group) dropped me off at the bus terminal and a few hours later I was on the tedious 1300km journey to Winnipeg. Through the prairies of Saskatchewan and Manitoba you soon run out of interesting things to look at.
I initially had just a quick overnight stop in Winnipeg and would return for a few more days later to visit a friend. But the immediate priority was to take the train to the subarctic north. I was off to see polar bears!
The hostel was a few kms out of Jasper on the road up Whistlers Mountain. A little more rustic than the equivalent lodgings in Banff and Lake Louise, it nonetheless had everything a backpacking traveller could need. And probably with so much space in Jasper’s beautiful outdoors, they figured you could do without it indoors.
I just revisited their website, which says: “Our larger than normal dorm style accommodation may require a sense of humour.” They’re not wrong. Still I should be grateful that of the 30 beds, only three of them had a snoring inhabitant.