Sunday, August 10, 2008

Vacation - Day 2

The second day of vacation broke hot and humid (what's new) in Niagara Falls. The rowing is actually taking place in St. Catherines Ontario, about 10 minutes west on the QEW. My youngest is the rower, so he had to meet his teammates in the hotel lobby at 6:30AM.

My older son and I got to rest a while longer and start transitioning our body clocks to Eastern time. We eventually made it out to Henley Island in St. Catherines where we were able to watch our guys practice. This is the second year that we have rowed in the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, considered the end of the season Championship Regatta in Canada. Last year we were here with two rowers (both under 16), one coach, and a couple of dads. This year, our club, the Newport Aquatic Center, has sent over 30 rowers, so we are well represented this year. This is no minor commitment too, as we have to trailer and send boats across the country to compete.

Unfortunately for me, this is a bit of a working vacation. I was back in the hotel room by noon Eastern so I could field phone calls and do the other things in a normal work day. Once that was done, we "hit the town" in Niagara Falls. Now, Niagara Falls is a *huge* tourist trap. Everything here is expensive, and is tailored for tourism. Everything has a charge associated with it, from horrible exchange rates (85 cents CDN for each USD exchanged), to parking in near empty lots. Food is atrocious - dinner for 3 at TGI Fridays runs $100! A half liter bottle of water runs $2. In the past, this was still not too bad, but with the weak dollar these days, we are not getting a favorable exchange, so when put in dollars, everything is 5% more expensive than the price in CDN. But, at least everything is within walking distance here. So, we set off for Clifton Hill (the main tourist area), and the falls (lighted at night).

The walk up and down Clifton Hill is like going to Downtown Disney. Flashing lights, touristy type stuff. There are some things that are most apparent here - everywhere you turn there are midway style "Haunted Houses" and sideshow style museums. You can go to the Criminals Hall of Fame ($6), or the Guinness Museum of World Records, or Movieland Wax Museum, or Louis Toussaud's Wax Museum, or (you get the idea). For $10 CDN, you can ride the Falls View Ferris Wheel. For a couple of bucks you can do just about anything!

But, we bypassed all of the "attractions" and went to the falls, where we enjoyed the views and fireworks.

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