Simon's Restaurant

Last night we did not go to bed until 1:30am, so in the morning it was tough to get up. Lying in bed, I was thinking that it's our vacation, so we should take it easy. Even if we could not wake up in time to make to an attraction, then so be it. So, neither did I waking up the kids, nor trying to wake up myself. We did not get out of the hotel until 8:30AM, and did not make it to Simon's Restaurant until after 9AM. We drove passed it the first time. We pulled over and consulted the map. Then we tried again, and this time we found it. It's a small restaurant, a bit off of Niagara River Parkway, corner of Bridge Street. It's definitely a local food joint. We walked in and thought we were in the wrong place. It's nothing like anything restaurants we've been in. Knick-knacks, papers, toys, old license plates ... are everywhere. Stuffs spilled out to the tables, as well as sharing the shelves of the candies near the only cash register. Few faces looked up at us, and went back to read the papers.

An owner, a cook, and a waitress - That's what it take to run the place. We sat ourselves at a table, and Huân found a basket of full of toy cars, and that kept him busy. I wandered around the restaurants, looking at these ... amazing stuffs. Some, I could not even able to recognize. An old typewriter on top bunch of cardboard boxes, but what was that rolls, and rolls of papers; they're look like engineering/architectural drawings; but what are they doing here in a local restaurant! All these remind me of an old basement, or a very messy garage. Yes, we had our breakfast in the middle of a messy garage. The place is charming, cheap, and offers quality greasy comfort foods; well what else could you ask for, you want to go local, right?

The owner brought out a blue 3-ring binder for us to leave comments. Open the binder, we found other visitors from many places far away like Russia, or Finland. Before we leave, the owner brought out 5 Niagara Falls pins, one for each of us. Huong must have left good comments in that blue 3-ring binder.

Maid of the Mist

After breakfast, we parked the car at the hotel and walked down to the Welcome Center to exchange the tours receits printout which we had purchased online to the real tickets. The online purchase saves us almost 30%, so this is definitely the way to go! The tour package gives us 4 attractions (Maid of the Mist, Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara's Furry, White Water Walk), all day ride on the People Mover bus, and also the Incline Railway; so I think this is definitely worth the money. After the exchange, each of us got a pouch to wear, and on it printed "Priority Access", which is good to jump ahead of the line at the attractions, because each attraction we already had it scheduled. Also, the pouch shows the sticker to ride on the bus. Our first destination is the Maid of the Mist, which is just on the other side of the street, very convenient.

Each of us was handed a poncho to wear for the ride, a good indication of we will get wet. We boarded the tug boat, and positioned ourselves in the lower deck, which I think it's better. The top deck is very exposed and will get soaked, so if you have camera or camcorder and plan to use during the ride, then it's better to take the lower deck. The tug boat took us out to the American Falls and then to the Horseshoe Falls. It's quite an experience to come close to the falls. Experiencing the sound & the mist, and the waves; they all remind you of the enormous and continuous power which they possess. Highly recommend attraction. At the Horseshoe Falls, it stopped for about 5 minutes, which I think for the people on the upper deck get soaked, which is the thrill of the ride. The boat then turns back and drop us off at the Niagara Falls park. There is a buffet restaurant right outside of the tour's exit, and bunch of food carts & shops in the area. There is a structure on the street level, which has a better view of the falls, I would highly recommend to go all the way up and take pictures of the park as well the falls from this vantage point.

After the ride, we sampled the frozen yogurt before heading off to the next attraction.

Journey Behind the Falls

We took the People Mover bus to Table Rock, which is the placing hosting the next two attractions: Journey Behind the Falls and Niagara's Furry. The bus is fairly new, that means it has lot of glass windows, allowing a clear view to the outside, and very comfort ride. The bus pulled into the Table Rock establishment, and we were off. We were stading inline, behind 50-60 people, then we realized that we already scheduled to see this attraction so we headed to the Priority Access door, and the attendant guided us in right inside, much shorter line. Really worth the effort to plan & schedule for your arrival of each attraction. We pace out each attraction with additional 30min, allowing us to take it easy, and this really pay off. Again, we were handed rain poncho, this time they are yellow instead of blue. We put them in and took the elevator about 100ft down.
The temperature is cold, the tunnel is damp and wet. The tunnel leads us to the first observatory upper platform to see the fall on its side. For the lower observatory deck, there is the stairs which takes us down & to the outside, which we were greeted with a shower of water from the falls. People were screaming when hit with the water splash, but that does not mask the loud rumbling sound of the water fall. It was quite refreshing, exhilarating. Out of excitement, Huan was jumping; and everyone had a good laugh at being wet. We went to see the two portals: Great Falls and Cataract, which is an openning right behind the falls. You can see thick columns of water cascading over the port.

On the way back, we decided to hit the outside platform again, just to get splashed ... one more time.

Niagara's Furry

This was our next attraction that we. It has two part, the first part is an animated movie showing the history or the making of the falls. The main character is a chipmunk. We were all standing in our yellow poncho watching the movie. After the movie, the door of the next room opens up and we were moved inside, standing on metal grate (for water to escape) and look up the 360 degree screens above & around us. The movie along with some water squirts, with sound and moving floor. This is ... just OK. If this attraction is not included in the pass, I don't think we would go in.

Things for this attraction to improve: more water, lot more water! More shaking & moving for the floor. And yes, did I say more water? Also, the snow flakes ... c'mon, we already have the technology to make snow for more than three decades ago, so why this attraction using fake snow is beyond me.

Incline Railway

After the lame Niagara's Furry, we walked across the bridge toward the Incline Railway. Our ticket covers all day ride on the People Mover bus, and also ride on this rail cars. Basically, it's a cable & pulleys system, which connects two cars. The descent car pulls the other one up the hill. So, it needs to fill up both cars before they can move. We showed our pass & immediately got the receipt to enter the ride. Sitting on the front row has the advantage of not being covered by the top, so if you are going to take pictures or record movie, make sure you wait to be seated at the front row. The chairs face the water falls, so you have a nice view of the Niagara Parks & the water falls. Very relaxing & enjoying ride. As soon as we got to the top, we showed our pass again to have another tickets to ride back down to the Table Rock, where we can take the bus to our next attraction.

White Water Walk

From Table Rock, we boarded the People Mover bus to White Water Walk. Here we had to wait inline for about 30 minutes! And they do not have Priority Access. So, next time, we should visit this attraction first, or early in the morning, when people visiting other attractions. This is a leisure board walk along the category 6 rapids. It has three observation decks, the first one has nice rock formation to sit & ... carve your names on. The last observation deck has couple benches. I would recommend to visit this attraction at early morning or late afternoon, then the lighting would be better to take pictures. During mid day, you end up with very high contrast lighting of the river, mixture of shade & harsh sun light.

Buddha Temple

Right opposite the White Water Walk is a  Chinese Buddhist Temple. The court yard is very inviting so we came in for a visit. Huong took the kids inside to pay respect & donate couple Canadian dollars. The courtyard has a big bell tower on the right & and drum tower on the left. This temple looks fairly new, few years, for some of the statues are still in the shipping crates. On the left of the temple is a big massive 7-level tower, which was locked when we were there. Right out side of the tower is the bus station, so this is a good place to check out while waiting for the bus to come.

Oakes Garden Theatre

We got off the bus at the Oakes Garden Theatre, which is only a stop before our Clifton Hill stop. This is a beautiful layout park. It has manicured shrubs & plants. Benches under the row of Maple trees, providing nice shade. Continue on through the garden is an open area, nice lush green lawn, and big curve pergola. This park is right in front of the Sheraton hotel. Must be a nice view from the hotel, I bet.

I don't mind to come back here for a picnic, relax and just enjoy the magnificient view of the falls from this Oakes Garden Theatre. Best of all: it's free!

Betty's Restaurant

Walked back to the hotel to rest a bit before heading out to dinner. We decided to try Betty's Restaurant, which is a distance away from all attractions. It took about 10min to get there. The restaurant offers ample of parking, and nice waiting area, even two rocking horses for the kids to occupy themselves. We saw lot of old folks, so this place must be very easy on the teeth, I thought.

The foods are good, quite quality! I was in pleasant surprise. The breaded shrimps and scallops are fried just right: soft, moist & tender. My medium steak is not bad at all, not tough & chewy like many other restaurants. The homemade pies are very tasty and the total price is definitely for local, and not tourists. Which is reasonable. Will come back & highly recommended.