The Beauty Around Us

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Posts tagged ‘Winter Festival of Lights’

Thanksgiving 2017

Based on posts that I have seen on my Facebook news feed, Bob and I spent Thanksgiving Day differently than most of our Facebook friends and family.

We spent Thanksgiving Day in Niagara Falls (Ontario, Canada).

We departed home on Thanksgiving Day at 8:00 am.

Our first stop was in Jamestown NY at Bob Evans restaurant. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast. Bob ordered a Border Scramble Omelet.  I ordered a Farmer’s Choice Breakfast. A woman stopped by our table, shortly before we were done eating, and gave us a $3.00 off coupon. How nice!

We were back on the road at 9:05 am.

We took a different route to Niagara Falls. Instead of driving over Grand Island, we came up the east side of the Niagara River through Tonawanda NY. I noted a few points of interest as we drove through Tonawanda: the East Hill Foundation, the Herschel Carrousel Museum, a U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, and a U.S. Navy Seabees Memorial. We returned home via the same route.  Please keep an eye out for a subsequent blog post about our stop in Tonawanda.

We arrived at Niagara Falls, NY around 11:30 am. Having time to kill before we would be able to check into the Embassy Suites hotel, we stopped at Niagara Falls State Park. We have an NY State Park Empire pass card that provides free admission into NY state parks. We did not need the pass card, as admission was free at Niagara Falls State Park both on Thanksgiving Day and on Black Friday. We took a brisk walk to Prospect Point, where we enjoyed an overlook of the falls. Our walk was brisk because it was a bit nippy outside!  It did feel good, though, getting out of the car after the 2 1/2 hour drive from Jamestown.

We entered Canada via the Rainbow Bridge.  There was light traffic at the border crossing, so we arrived in Canada very quickly.

After a short drive up Clifton Hill and Lundy’s Lane (when we found it), we made our way to the Embassy Suites hotel.  We arrived there at 1:00 pm. Check-in time is at 4:00 pm. Our room was ready, so we were able to check in immediately. Our room was located on the 19th floor, with a view of both the American and Horseshoe Falls. Being a Hilton Honors member has its advantages. We received two bottles of water upon check in.  At the tour desk we purchased two 24-hour WEGO passes at a cost of CA$7.50/ea.  The WEGO bus service is an excellent choice for transportation, while in Niagara Falls.

What a great afternoon / early evening we have had. Using our WEGO passes we rode to Casino Niagara, arriving there around 3:40 pm. We enjoyed Thanksgiving Day dinner (turkey & trimmings) at the Market Buffet, located at Casino Niagara. Our hotel package included several perks. One of the perks was a $30.00 off coupon for dinner for two at The Keg Steakhouse. We opted not to eat at the Keg Steakhouse. It cost us the same, or perhaps even less,to eat at the Market Buffet than it would have cost us at the Keg Steakhouse. Another perk was free slot play. We used CA$25 free slot play at Casino Niagara.  We didn’t gain any money, but we didn’t lose any either! We walked from Casino Niagara to Table Rock, stopping often to take pictures of the illuminated falls and some of the Winter Festival of Lights displays.  Please enjoy the Smilebox slideshow that I created of photographs taken during our walk.

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At 6:15 pm we watched a short fireworks display over Horseshoe Falls.

If the video does not appear in your browser, please click here for the direct link.  In addition, please click on HD for best video quality.

We returned to our hotel, via the WEGO shuttle bus. Soon after returning to the hotel we hung out for a short time at the hotel bar. Bob ordered a double rye whiskey, and I ordered a Diet Cola. Both of our drinks were complimentary, another hotel package perk.  At one point in time I reached for my glass to get a drink of Diet Cola.  It wasn’t Diet Cola, though, that entered my mouth.  I wasn’t paying attention and picked up Bob’s glass accidentally.  Yuck! Yuck!  I do not like rye whiskey, not at all!

At 8:10 pm we watched a second fireworks display from our Fallsview room. I didn’t capture any photographs of the fireworks.  I did, however, capture a couple photographs of the Falls illumination.

_LG25233American Falls
(as seen from Embassy Suites hotel, Room 1901)

_LG25236American and Horseshoe Falls
(as seen from Embassy Suites hotel, Room 1901)

We went to bed around 10:00 pm and awakened too early the next day.  It was 4:00 am.  Neither of us could get back to sleep, so we got up.  We read our hometown newspaper on line, checked out some Black Friday online sales (no purchase made), and skimmed through Facebook news feed.  At 5:00 am we returned to bed and slept until 7:00 am.

We awakened in time to see the sunrise over Horseshoe Falls.

Soon after getting up, we went to the 9th floor for a hot, complimentary breakfast.  Our food selections included made-to-order omelets, scrambled eggs, bakery items, pancakes, potatoes, sausage, ham, a variety of juices and other hot and cold beverages.

After breakfast, we relaxed in our room for about an hour. Then we packed up our stuff to check out. We waited for over 20 minutes for an elevator. It seemed like the elevators were passing right by our floor. I finally called the hotel operator. I didn’t even get to finish my statement to her that several of us had been waiting for an elevator on the 19th floor before she told me that she would send an elevator to us. Within a minute an elevator stopped at our floor.  The elevator was packed, but Bob and I and two more adults and two children (with our luggage) managed to squeeze in.

Before leaving Canada we drove around Dufferin Islands, where we saw several Winter Festival of Lights displays.





Perhaps Bob and I will have an opportunity to return to Niagara Falls before the Winter Festival of Lights ends to see the displays lit up.  The festival ends January 31, 2018.

We crossed over the Rainbow Bridge into New York.

Please keep an eye out for my next blog post about our drive back home.



A Mini Getaway

We spent the night of Sunday, December 6th, in Niagara Falls, Ontario. We departed Warren PA at approximately 10:00 am. We drove to Niagara Falls via NY Route 5. We crossed the Peace Bridge into Canada and followed the Niagara Parkway to Niagara Falls. We arrived at our hotel, Embassy Suites, around 1:00 pm. The regular check-in time is 4:00 pm. When I made our hotel reservation, I requested an early check in. The hotel was able to check us in upon our arrival.

Our spacious, luxurious two-room suite was on the 23rd floor (room 2316), with a view of Horseshoe Falls.

20151206_183836470_iOS 4x6Horseshoe Falls
(view from our hotel room)

Soon after checking in, we ate a picnic lunch in our hotel room.  We had picked up the grocery items for a picnic lunch at a grocery store, en route Niagara Falls.

We stayed in our room, relaxing, until 4:00 pm at which time we rode the elevator down to the 9th floor to The Keg Steakhouse for dinner.  Our hotel accommodation included a $30 (Canadian $) dinner credit for The Keg Steakhouse.  Bob and I both ordered chicken entrees. My dinner was Supreme Chicken Breast, which was pan seared and roasted.  My dinner was served with twice baked potato and broccolini. Bob’s dinner was Seafood Chicken Deluxe, which was boneless chicken breast accompanied by scallops, shrimp, and crab meat, and served on garlic mashed potato and steamed asparagus.  As we ate dinner, we admired the view of the American and Horseshoe Falls as the sun set.

20151206_213114733_iOS 4x6This was our view, while eating dinner at The Keg Steakhouse.

20151206_214901820_iOS 4x6
We watched the sky change color, as the sun set, while we were eating dinner.

20151206_214954374_iOS 4x6

After dinner, we dropped by the complimentary evening reception (held across the hall from The Keg Steakhouse) to pick up a double Scotch and pickles (for Bob) and a snack mixture for me to take to our room.

Around 5:45 pm we left the hotel for a walk alongside the falls. We rode the nearby Falls Incline Railway to Table Rock.

_LG19302 4x6
Falls Incline

We timed our visit to Niagara Falls to coincide the Winter Festival of Lights.  The Winter Festival of Lights is an annual event.  This year’s event began on November 21 and will continue until January 31, 2016.   The principle lighting area for the Winter Festival of Lights is a five-kilometer route stretching from Queen Victoria Park at the base of Clifton Hill along the Niagara Parkway to Dufferin Islands.  We saw only a small fraction of the illuminated displays, as we walked along Niagara Parkway from Table Rock to Murray Street.

_LG19299 4x6Illuminated display at Falls Incline Railway

_LG19307 4x6Illumination of Horseshoe Falls

_LG19316 4x6
Skylon Tower
Illuminated Displays

_LG19321 4x6Illumination of American Falls

_LG19322 4x6
Skylon Tower
Illuminated Displays

_LG19327 4x6
Murray Street
Illuminated American Falls

_LG19326 4x6Murray Street Pedestrian Bridge
I loved the snowflakes and big horn sheep displays along Murray Street!

It was very nice to walk alongside the falls in December and not get cold and not get wet! We climbed Murray Street and then walked back to Embassy Suites via a walkway between our hotel and the Fallsview Casino Resort.

_LG19331 4x6
Fallsview Casino and Galleria
The casino lights changed colors, from green to blue to red to red and green.

We returned to the hotel around 7:15 pm.  Back at the hotel we made use of the Jacuzzi and spent the remainder of the evening in our room.

At 7:00 the next morning we took the elevator to the 9th floor, where we enjoyed a complimentary breakfast.  In addition to breakfast items that we are accustomed to when staying at Best Western Plus hotels, Embassy Suites provided made-to-order omelets as well.  Bob and I ordered omelets for breakfast.

We walked to the Fallsview Casino a little later in the morning to play the $25 (Canadian $) free slot play that we had received as a promotional item from the hotel.  We played and lost.  We departed the hotel, en route home, soon after our return from the casino.

Our mini getaway was a very relaxing time.  Perhaps we will have an opportunity to return to Niagara Falls before the Winter Festival of Lights ends.


An Ontario Thanksgiving

It is rare that Bob and I spend the Thanksgiving Day holiday at home. In fact, since we married in September 1998, we have spent only one Thanksgiving Day holiday at home. The majority of our Thanksgiving Day holidays have been spent in Virginia at Bob’s brother’s house or in New Hampshire at his sister’s house. Last year we spent Thanksgiving Day at Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia. This year we decided to spend the Thanksgiving Day holiday in Ontario, Canada.

Both Bob and I worked until noon Wednesday, November 23 . At approximately 1:00 PM we left home en route Niagara Falls, Ontario. When we left Warren, the sky was heavily overcast giving the day a gloomy look. As we approached Buffalo, New York, the sky began to clear.  By the time we reached Canada the sky was blue, and the sun was shining brightly.

We crossed into Canada via the Peace Bridge. It was a speedy crossing; no delay. We followed the QEW to Niagara Falls. We arrived at our hotel (the Best Western Cairn Croft Hotel) around 3:30 PM.  While checking in, I asked to purchase a shuttle pass. On June 30, during our last stay at this hotel, we purchased a shuttle pass. We found the shuttle very convenient and planned to ride it again this visit. However, we learned that the shuttle stopped running, for the season, on September 4. The hotel desk clerk assured us that we would have no difficulty finding parking by the falls on Thursday, as it is a weekday and not a Canadian holiday.

We retired to our hotel room for about 1 1/2 hours before going to dinner. We chose to dine at the Swiss Chalet, located a couple blocks from our hotel. We enjoyed rotisserie chicken dinners. Bob added BBQ ribs to his chicken dinner. We shared a slice of vanilla cheesecake on a graham cracker crust topped with strawberries in syrup. After dinner, on our walk back to the hotel, we stopped at a pet store, where we contemplated bringing home a present for our kitty.

An Ontario Thanksgiving
Don’t you think Patches would like this Kitty Nest?

On Thanksgiving Day we visited Niagara-on-the-Lake, where we spent about an hour browsing the shops and taking pictures. Bob purchased a pair of polarized sunglasses for $6.00 and a Christmas present for me that I picked out (a lighthouse bird feeder!).

Prince of Wales Hotel at Niagara-on-the-Lake

Bell Tower at Niagara-on-the-Lake

George Bernard Shaw statue at Niagara-on-the-Lake

We have visited Niagara-on-the-Lake several times. This is the first time that we saw this statue. I enjoy seeing something new whenever we return to a place that we have been before!

We made a few photo stops, along Niagara Parkway, on our drive back to Niagara Falls.

Brock’s Monument in Queenston Heights Park

We met a couple who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. They climbed to the top of Brock’s Monument, while on their honeymoon. They wanted to climb to the top of the monument again, to see if they would be able to do it. The monument, though, was closed for the season. I didn’t even know that you could climb to the top of this monument. That climb is a *must do*. The view towards Lake Ontario in the north and Niagara Falls in the south on a clear day would be magnificent!

The Niagara Whirlpool and Whirlpool Aero Car

We have stopped at this attraction several times over the years. I have yet to ride this car across the Niagara River. I might become brave enough one day to step on board!

We returned to Niagara Falls in the early afternoon. The hotel desk clerk was correct in her determination that parking near the falls would not be difficult to find. Paid parking was plentiful. We could have parked for free at IHOP, where we ate breakfast; however, we didn’t feel like walking from there to the falls. As we planned to entertain ourselves at the casino, we opted to park in the casino garage. We learned that parking would be free if we gambled using a players card. If we didn’t gamble parking would have cost CAD$20. Our first stop in the casino was at Guest Services, as we did not have players cards. We spent a couple hours in the casino. It would have been less expensive to pay for parking! We ate dinner at the Market Buffet, located in the casino. It wasn’t a traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner but good nonetheless.

After dinner we walked down Niagara Parkway, enjoying the Winter Festival of Lights displays as well as the lighted falls.

the American Falls

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Mickey Mouse

Winter Festival of Lights displays and Skylon Tower

We returned to our hotel around 7:00 PM. We planned to drive around Dufferin Islands to see the Winter Festival of Lights displays there, but forgot!

We had an enjoyable Thanksgiving Day holiday, although the weather could have been warmer! I’m thankful, though, that we didn’t see any snow and ice, as was the case 6 years ago!

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