Monday, 3 September 2012

Niagara Parkway

One of my favourite day trips was to Niagara-on-the-Lake.  The main reason is the scones at Taylor's Bakery on the main drag  They are the best scones ever, with fresh local fruit - peaches, cranberries, blueberries.  I always get a half dozen as that's the best deal at $5.99 with no tax.  They are worth the drive, if you like fluffy scones.  

Of course, that's never the only reason we made the hour and a half drive (on a long weekend more than two hours) from Toronto.  We would usually catch a play at the Shaw Festival.  But this year, we decided to not put ourselves on a schedule and just take it easy. 

We started with a leisurely lunch at Benchmark, the Niagara College Canadian Food and Wine Institute's restaurant (read my post Learning to cook in farm country), thankfully avoiding the hungry hordes at Niagara-on-the-Lake.   We popped into town just long enough to buy the scones and peek into the chocolate shop - almost passing out with the intensity of the sugar aroma.  But if you've never been to the town, there are many interesting shops and it's definitely worth a stroll through.  


You will notice bicycle rental shops in town too.  There is a bike trail starting from the town all the way to Niagara Falls along the Niagara Parkway.  It is also a hiking trail but we did a small section of it and found the fumes from the Parkway too much on a high traffic weekend.  But some of my favourite stops are the Whirlpool and the Botanical Gardens.  You see below the cable car ride over the whirlpool, one of the more dramatic sections of the Niagara River.

The Botanical Gardens are a real gem.  The best time to come is earlier in the summer when the roses were in bloom.   But the formal gardens are always spectacular in any season.  Entry is free to the 99 acres of gardens, you only have to pay for parking.  

Stunning "Black pearl" an ornamental pepper plant

This reminded me of the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris

The centrepiece
Every time we were on the Niagara Parkway, the debate always came up as to whether we should go on to the Falls.  It was so near and yet so far!  We were concerned about traffic and the crowds, especially on a long weekend and we were always right.  But we always gave in to the desire to even get a glimpse of the falls.  It's still the most magnificent and exciting falls ever!   And so we drove on into the traffic nightmare.  I hopped off just to take some quick shots but also found that I couldn't get too close because of my precious camera!    The wind and the spray had to be just right to get the right close up.  And it's only in closeup that you could feel the palpable danger and excitement generated by the falls.  It would be another reason to come back...maybe in the winter...

American falls on the left and Canadian falls on the right

The Canadian Falls is still my all time favourite wonder!

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