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2005-05-17 Niagara room has world's best view

When you think of Patrick's Day in the USA, cities such as Chicago, New York and Savannah immediately spring to mind. So I was surprised when I heard where we had been booked to perform this Patrick's Day - Niagara, the Canadian side.

 

But, as we all know, Patrick's Day celebrations in North America are never done half-heartedly, and so, the enthusiastic heartfelt response from a sea of green in Niagara was no less spectacular than it would have been elsewhere.
I had been to `the Falls' on three previous occasions, but this was my first time to stay over. The view from my 27th floor suite of the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort Hotel was the most heart-stopping view I could ever have hoped for from a hotel room. As I sat at my desk, on my left I had the American Falls, and in front of me was the more photogenic curved 2200ft expanse of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Even as late as March 17, a veiny deciduous brown carpet rested on snowy white. The Niagara river waters were temporarily diverted by huge ice-sheets and dramatic ice-features. At times, the sun broke through, changing icy-white waters briefly to aqua blue. Giant icicles glistened against the 185ft drop, as multiple rainbows added to the perfect postcard outside my 27th floor window.


In the past I had donned an unflattering blue raincoat  a refuse-sack with armholes  and taken the famous "Maid of the Mist" boat journey right up to the Falls, to experience first-hand the sheer force and power of the roaring cascade. We changed to yellow bin-bags for the "Journey behind the Falls" to get a full soaking and have a silly photo opportunity at the viewing platforms right beside, then behind, the Horseshoe Falls. Niagara Helicopters offer a ten-minute sightseeing flight, but let's face it, when you are put up on the 27th floor high above the Falls  who needs a helicopter? (By the way, the 800 Canadian dollars a night for the room with a view was not paid by me  about ¬550).

 

On my return to my room with a view after our gig, the Falls and spray were floodlit in luminous greens and pinks. It seemed the show was only for me  maybe that's an `ego' thing! This is where I ought to close my article, but I would not be truthful to myself, or to you.

Sadly, as with many beauty-spots there is a less attractive side to Niagara. It seems wrong that so much natural beauty has become rather eclipsed by modernity, so much so that at times the Falls seem almost relegated to being a very over-the-top water feature in a hotel garden. The Falls are undoubtedly stunning, but sadly a little less so thanks to the surrounding high-rise hotels, casinos, and other symbols of `progress'.

I must point out that the American side is `greener' than the Canadian side. In the distance, way behind the Falls (paradoxically thanks to my high-rise bedroom) I saw endless industrial chimneys and warehouses, and it was inevitable that Niagara would be used for Hydro-electric Power, but some of the other off-green additions might have been avoided?

There is some parkland, more than 30 golf courses, twenty assorted museums, flea markets, fudge factories, several Starbucks of course, observation towers with revolving restaurants, aquariums, aviaries, gardens, vineyards, theme parks and hundreds of eateries and souvenir shops for every taste.

There was something a little disturbing about the 200,000ft square casino with 3,000 slot machines and 150 gaming tables in our hotel  packed with grey-faced gambling holidaymakers, their credit cards on a chain from their pocket to the machines.

As the "Honeymoon Capital of the World", weddings are big business in Niagara. Brides of all shapes and sizes peruse tacky souvenir shops, dreaming of their forthcoming night of passion on perhaps a vibrating water-bed, or in a heart-shaped jacuzzi. The wind is no longer able to clear all the mist over the Falls because of all the high-rise. It seems sad, once again, that the modernity couldnt be a just little further away.