Subject: Re: Niagara Falls
Hi Dick, you wrote:

> One of the highpoints was the Maid of the Mist, but, as
> Linda pointed out, it seems that it does not operate in
> December.

Correct; it's not an icebreaker!

> We stayed on the Canadian side - and were amazed at how
> garish - and tacky - the downtown areas was!

My guess is that Dick was nowhere near downtown, which is neither garish nor tacky, but isn't particularly interesting for tourists either. He's probably referring to the Clifton Hill area, a few short but crowded blocks not too far from the Falls that seem to contain every seedy tourist "attraction" ever devised by man.

Fortunately, however, the actual area close to the Falls is managed by the Niagara Parks Commission, which doesn't permit private commercial activity of any kind. So unless you specifically /go/ to Clifton Hill, you are spared the noise, confusion, and - yes- tackiness of that street.

> You get a great panoramic view of the Falls from the
> Canadian side, especially at night when the lights are on
> the Falls. However, am not sure if the lights are on in
> December.

The lights are on year-round. They are coloured for the most part, but the beginning and end of the nightly display is a pure bright white.

> The American side is far less touristy.

That's because there aren't many tourists on the American side (relative to the Canadian one). You really can't see the majesty of the Falls from there. And as I say, the touristy area is carefully segregated, and kept well away from the Falls, so you need never go near it unless you want to see how many wax museums it's possible to cram into a single block.

> If you go to the American side... You can get magnificent
> close-up views of the Falls from a number of vantage
> points; in fact, you can almost touch them!

You can experience what I consider far more spectacular views from the Canadian side. You can stand right at the brink of the Canadian Falls, which is where all the water is (only about 7% of the water goes over the American and Bridal Veil Falls combined, and with much less velocity, as it is impeded in its flow by Goat Island), and you could touch it if your arm were long enough. Even better, you can walk the tunnels /under/ the Canadian Falls, and come out both behind it, with the whole thing crashing down over your head, or immediately beside it, near the base, which is as spectacular as it gets.

Something like 20% of the entire world's fresh water passes continuously through the Niagara River Gorge; it's definitely a site not to be missed. And has already been noted, on a cold, sunny winter's day, with the leaf-less trees all sheathed in frozen mist, Victoria Park can be a sight you'll never forget.

Doug -- San Francisco -- formerly Niagara Falls