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Boundless in Canada and Beyond: Early Mornings and New Adventures

Our day began at the crack of dawn with another early morning in New York City. By 5 am, we were already on our way, leaving our cozy Airbnb in Union City. We wanted to ensure we had ample time to navigate to the Amtrak station without a hitch. Gotta make my poor mum proud sometimes.

The city that never sleeps - early morning commute in New York.

I have a profound love for commuting, especially by bus and train. There’s a unique magic in sitting on a crowded morning bus with locals heading to work. It’s an experience that makes you feel alive and connected to the pulse of the city, becoming a part of the world around you. It’s like immersing yourself in a captivating book—only better.

We walked through the streets of New York, noticing the shift change between the night workers and the day workers. We were like two bystanders watching the show. You know, like in those movies where the character gets flown back or forward in time just to watch but not interact.

Our cozy and private Amtrak seats—perfect for a comfortable journey.

The Amtrak experience was well over expectations. Amazingly comfortable seats with lots of legroom, and what I really liked is that you can't peek to the front or back between the seats. Somehow they are designed with integrity, ensuring a sense of privacy and comfort that’s often hard to find in public transportation. The train follows the Hudson River for the first few hours. Make sure you sit on the left side of the train if you are heading north to catch the best views. The journey felt serene and relaxed, providing a perfect continuation to our adventure.

Heading towards Niagara Falls, you have two options with Amtrak: the US side or the Canadian side. I had an idea when booking that if we got off at Niagara Falls, NY, we would get to experience both sides. While on the train, it seemed like it would have been very convenient to cross over the bridge with the train. Something to think about depending on what you are in Niagara to do. What I failed to realize when booking is that the train bridge is NOT the same as the famous Rainbow Bridge where pedestrians can cross. A little error of about 3.5 km (a little over 2 miles).

Luckily, there is a beautiful walkway that goes close to the gorge the whole way down to Niagara Falls State Park (Fun fact: same guy who designed Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted, also designed Niagara Falls State Park). It was a sweaty walk with temperatures up to around 27°C (80°F). We met more than one person who called Luna a trouper, which we all know she is. In total, before we got to our bed for the night, I believe she walked about 10 km.

The scenic walkway towards Niagara Falls State Park.

Niagara Falls State Park is really nice and there is plenty of space to chill on the grass with the top of the American Falls as your view. You feel the mist and you can see and feel the power of the drop. I find it amazing how so much water can continuously flow through there. Luna asked where the water comes from and why it doesn’t end, and I couldn't answer that. But here's the fascinating fact: the water flowing over Niagara Falls comes from the Great Lakes, which are the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world by total area. Specifically, the water comes from Lake Erie and flows into Lake Ontario. The Niagara River connects these two lakes, and the immense volume of water that passes through creates the spectacular falls.

The reason the water doesn't end is because the Great Lakes are continually replenished by precipitation, rivers, and streams. Additionally, the water cycle plays a crucial role, with water evaporating from the lakes, forming clouds, and then falling back as rain or snow, which feeds the lakes and rivers once again. This cycle ensures a continuous flow of water, making the falls seem endless.

I had looked up vegan food using and we had our mission set to Mario's Pizza, where they offer vegan options if you commit to pay for a whole one. Coming from Sweden, that is nothing unusual. We only buy whole pizzas. What I didn’t realize was that this pizza was the size of like three Swedish pizzas. This meant that we had it for lunch, dinner, breakfast, and lunch the day after. I thought it was expensive when I bought it ($33), but if you divide that by four and consider the fact that it was food for two, it actually got pretty cheap.

View of Niagara Falls from the pedestrian bridge

After our hearty meal at Mario's Pizza, it was time to cross the border. We followed signs to Canada, crossing over the pedestrian bridge, where we were greeted by breathtaking views of the Canadian Falls. Walking across the bridge, there was something special about traversing a border, with views stretching out over the majestic falls.

In the middle of the bridge, we paused to take a picture: Luna on the Canadian side, and I on the American side. It was a symbolic moment capturing our transition between countries. Customs procedures awaited us at the end of the pedestrian bridge on the Canadian side. The friendly officers spent about an hour ensuring everything was in order, eventually issuing us a special document that allows us to freely enter and exit Canada until the end of August, no questions asked. While we hadn't planned on leaving Canada during this stay, the document was so nice that I almost want to use it just to show off!

Arriving in Canada, a moment filled with anticipation and excitement.

Once in Canada, a wave of excitement swept through me, settling in my stomach like butterflies. This moment, long anticipated and meticulously planned, suddenly felt remarkably real. Navigating our way with Google Maps, our trusty companion, we relied on its local traffic updates and walking directions as we explored this new land. Uncertain about the Canadian bus system, we opted to stroll up the hill.

By this point, Luna’s little legs were weary, but she perked up with music streaming through her headphones, each step lightened by her favorite tunes. Our accommodation, a modest motel booked through Airbnb, might not have boasted five-star luxury, but the warmth and generosity of the neighbors more than compensated. It was a place where the richness of community thrived amidst varying circumstances.

Arriving late, we were warmly greeted by the permanent residents who helped us settle in. Luna wasted no time befriending four girls on the premises, instantly bonding over shared games and laughter. It reminded me of the beautiful simplicity of childhood, where differences in backgrounds and circumstances melt away, effortlessly paving the way for friendships.

"Fireworks and Ferris Wheels: a perfect ending to an unforgettable day"

Before I wrap up for today, I must apologize for the length of this blog. Our day has been so full of adventures that there's simply too much to fit in. The residents where we stayed informed us about fireworks scheduled for 10 PM, so we decided to stroll back down the hill (this time without all the bags, which made the walk much more pleasant). We arrived just in time to witness a beautiful celebration of natural wonders. Before heading back for a good night's rest, Luna insisted on visiting the Ferris wheel—a favorite activity of hers in every new city we visit. Later, we found a bus that took us back up the hill and pretty much dropped us straight into bed. What a day!

Tips of the Day: 

Choosing Your Niagara Falls Station

  1. Niagara Falls, NY:

  • Pros: Convenient for Amtrak travelers coming from New York City. Offers a unique perspective of the falls from the American side. Close proximity to Niagara Falls State Park.

  • Cons: Requires a separate border crossing to visit the Canadian side. Limited direct public transportation options to cross the border.

  1. Niagara Falls, Ontario (Canada):

  • Pros: You arrive straight to the Canadian side while crossing the border with the train. Offers stunning views of the falls from various vantage points, including the Horseshoe Falls.

  • Cons: May require additional travel arrangements if arriving by Amtrak from the United States. Potential for longer border crossing times, depending on traffic. 

Choosing Wisely: Consider your travel priorities—whether you prioritize convenience, border crossing logistics, or specific views of Niagara Falls—to make the most of your visit to this iconic natural wonder.

Public Transport Tips: Getting Around Niagara Falls

  1. WEGO Buses:

  • Pros: Convenient hop-on-hop-off service covering major attractions. Ideal for tourists visiting multiple sites.

  • Cons: Cannot pay on the bus which I found really inconvenient and ultimately made me boycott them; daily pass costs approximately $10.95 CAD per adult, which can be pricey for some.

  1. Transit App:

  • Pros: Offers a budget-friendly alternative to WEGO with flexible payment options directly from your phone. I used an app called 'transit' which also worked in New Jersey. Runs though neighborhoods you otherwise would miss.

  • Cons: Day passes are valid based on calendar days, not 24-hour activation, so plan accordingly to maximize usage.

  1. Local Bus Fares:

  • Single ride: Approximately $3.00 CAD per adult (exact fare may vary).

  • Day pass: Approximately $7.00 CAD per adult, allowing unlimited rides within the day.

Choosing Wisely: Evaluate your itinerary and transportation needs to determine whether the WEGO convenience outweighs the cost, or if using the Transit app for local buses better suits your budget and schedule.

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