We’ve all heard of Niagara Falls. We’ve all seen pictures and heard stories about them and because of that, they’re not a perfect destination for Wandering Secrets. However, it was one of Guillaume’s dreams to see them so for my ears’ sake I agreed to go there.
We had five days to visit Toronto and the Falls, which is more than enough. The idea was to spend a day in Niagara and spend the rest of the time in Toronto. So on Friday we jumped on a coach from Ottawa straight to the Falls, and by 11PM we were there. We had a reservation in a hostel we’d never heard of, but it didn’t matter because we just wanted a bed for the night.
So we arrived in Niagara, walked 30min from the terminal to the center, where the hostel was. I was astonished at what we found. Tons of haunted houses, wax museums, loud bars and all sorts of games, the ones you can found in a fair. I couldn’t believe it: What’s with all the haunted houses? What does it have to do with the great Niagara Falls???
Anyway, we were tired so we left Disneyland to go to the hostel.
And… We were welcomed by Patrick, the owner. For those who know him, I think it all stands in that sentence.
It wasn’t just a “hello how are you” kind of conversation: We talked for about an hour about travel, people, hostels and Niagara. I felt at home. Patrick has this kind of aura around him that makes you feel comfortable. Above all, he represents what I’m trying to convey with this blog: You only truly live your travel when you look beyond what the book says, and you go towards people, and the locals. They’re the ones who know all the places, they’re the ones who can tell you why this place is worth visiting and what’s really interesting. You’re the one who’s travelling so you have to move forward and have YOUR experience, not someone else’s. I think you can imagine how much we talked and how much I listened! I was so happy to meet someone with this travel spirit, so calm and so relaxed. Suddenly all our troubles vanished and we were left with all the good sides of backpacking.
Naturally we listened to what he had to say about Niagara, and to my surprise, there’s much more than the Falls. I’m talking wine tasting, hiking and sight seeing.
For once I didn’t have to listen to the eternal question: “why don’t you come during the summer, it’s so much nicer” in Niagara I finally found someone to tell me that it was a good thing to visit in November. Why? It’s as simple as that: there are no leafs on the trees so you can see far beyond them and the sight is really worth it. Plus, the wine tasting is cheaper in winter (some of them are free) and you have plenty of space to go and enjoy the falls. There are a few hiking trails really nice to do, and among them: Pebbly beach, Niagara-on-the-lake and the beautiful hike that leads to the Whirlpool.
Patrick advised us to take a small tour with a taxi driver he knew. It wasn’t that expensive so we agreed and the driver took us to Niagara-on-the-lake and some wineries. I don’t like using the word “tour” because that’s not really what it was. The driver, Derek, had A LOT of anecdotes and facts to tell us about Niagara and its surroundings. He was more than a driver, just as ACBB hostel is more than a bed. It was about sharing something, not selling a tour. We were with two other guests and two super nice staff girls.
And again, it all comes back to this simple point: the people you meet, they’re the ones who build your memories.
This trip was fantastic because of what our travelling friends made us do. Don’t go to the Falls just to see them because you WILL be disappointed. It’s nice and it’s something to see but try to spend two or three days in Niagara because what’s around is worth as much, if not more, as the Falls.
And above all, try to talk to people, share your experiences, your thoughts and learn from them. Because when you feel good in a place, it all becomes so much more interesting. We ended up spending two nights and three days in Niagara, for just one in Toronto. And we don’t regret this decision one bit.
The hostel’s website: www.hostelniagara.ca
All opinions are ours. We were not asked to write anything about the hostel , the owner or the tour.