I took a 16h coach ride from Chicago to Niagara (Canada side) and it was worth it. Firstly, it’s not as bad as you think. It’s more spacious than an aircraft, and being on ground is way more comfortable too. If 16h flights are a normal thing, what’s a 16h bus ride considered? Pick an overnight one and you can save a night of hotel and sleep while being transported. I booked my tickets on Greyhound and it was only US$53. I initially wanted to take an Amtrak train to Buffalo and then find my way over, but I figured out that it wasn’t going to be easy. I think the usual mode of transportation to Niagara would be by car, so the public transport options weren’t very good. The Greyhound tooks us directly to the Ontario side and it was way cheaper than any flight or train, so why not? They have Wi-Fi and power sockets at almost every seat too.
There were 2 transits – Detriot, US and Toronto, CA making it possible to freshen up along the way. Digressing, it was my first time in Canada and I have to point out that Toronto looked a lot like Hong Kong to me. No wonder they always seem to regard Canada as second home, migrating all the time, in Hong Kong drama serials. Now I get it.
From the Greyhound Terminal you can actually take a WEGO bus to the main tourist area but the frequency is every 30 minutes. We were waiting for it but somehow couldn’t locate the bus and it left. Not wanting to waste more time, we took a taxi and it was quite exorbitant. Otherwise, I think it’s perfectly possible to get around Niagara Falls area by public bus. The WEGO bus works with an unlimited day ticket where you get as many rides as you want on their routes for CAD$7 and this can be bought from the driver. All information is on their website.
The tourist area was quite concentrated around the Falls and most hotels are located there. I stayed at Double Tree Fallsview and it was very decent and inexpensive in my opinion.
After settling the luggages, we went to have breakfast. I was looking forward to maple syrup since this was Canada but to my dismay, the cheap (actually not really) pancake shop used artificial maple syrup instead. Nevertheless, at least the quality was not bad and it was tasty, despite being artificial. You can find such cheaper food if you stray further away from the main tourist area which is the casino area.
After breakfast/ brunch, we took the WEGO bus to the outlet stores. There’s an outlet mall located relatively near and the exciting part was that they carry Lululemon! Lululemon + outlet price = MUST GO! Probably only yoga and a handful of athletic people would understand what this is about. Basically it is a very popular brand of athletic clothing originating from none other than Canada, specializing in mainly yoga wear but they do have stuff for gym, dance or running too. It is rather expensive but a good investment if you go for yoga everyday (yes, I mean it) like I do. It was a pleasant surprise for me that they actually had a Lululemon Outlet at Niagara falls. Just a shopping tip: if you are unable to get Canadian dollars and only have US dollar, DO NOT USE THE US DOLLAR. Try using a credit card instead. The rate is better that way! 1 CAD to SGD is about 1.16 while 1 USD to SGD is about 1.26. That’s about 10% of difference there and if you pay US dollar in Canada with 1:1 conversion it’s just not worth it.
This is my collective Lululemon haul but from this outlet I got only the Energy Bra in Pizzazz (CAD$39, U.P CAD$48) and Om Me Home Jacket in Secret Garden (CAD$79, U.P CAD$98). I regret not getting more because they have way more items in my size (Lululemon 4/6, and for reference I am a UK/Aus 6/8) than the subsequent shops I went to.. The black Free to be tank top is from the outlet in Woodbury Commons New York and the Secret Garden Energy Bra is a full priced item from Manhattan.
So after my satisfying shopping at Lululemon, it was time to head back to check out the falls for real.
I was unlucky to get wet weather that day (but even if it wasn’t raining from the sky, the falls would rain on you) but lucky to get a rainbow in return. Rainbow and Niagara falls are 2 of the most beautiful things from nature and I got to experience them both, and take a photo! Even the birds seems happier around here.
The sight of the falls was magnificent enough (no pictures can EVER do justice) but you still need to take the boat ride to complete the experience. The boat ride is available on both the Canada side and US side. I was on the Canadian side so the ride is called Hornblower. It used to be called Maid of the Mist, in case that turns out in your online search.
To cross over the border you can simply walk on the Rainbow Bridge. You need to bring your passport though, so do not forget.
The food in Niagara was lacklustre and I honestly do not know where to eat. There’s no supermarket too so you pretty much have to waste money on random, lacklustre stuff.
For the second day, we went to Niagara-on-the-lake. To get there, most people drive. But the WEGO bus heads there seasonally and I was lucky to coincide with that season.
The bus stops here and you got to change to the special WEGO bus, which costs extra.
Niagara-on-the-lake is a small town with a very different feel. It’s so small, everybody probably knows everybody. You need to walk to around to get to the lake and it is beautiful. Even though it was quite a touristy place still, it felt rather peaceful. It was sort of like a retirement area. They even have a golf course by the lake.
Again, my pictures cannot do justice to the beauty of the place.
I was happy that they actually had a supermarket there and I bought Canadian Maple Biscuits for about CAD$3 and they were so delicious! I should have gotten more of those.
So that’s about it for Niagara. The next stop was New York City and to get there I booked a bus on Megabus for US$22, from Buffalo. And to get to Buffalo from Niagara, I had to cross the rainbow bridge and take a public bus (US$2) from the Niagara US side to Buffalo Terminal (the last stop). I dragged the luggage across the bridge and sort of got lost looking for the public bus. On the public bus you got to watch out since it’s not a private coach. Alternatively there’s Greyhound from Niagara Ontario to Buffalo for around CAD$10. That may have been a more fuss free option but I got there anyway. The Megabus ride was an overnight 8h one and it was very cheap at only US$22 because I bought my tickets early. However, I do not recommend taking Megabus if you have the choice of other carriers, because the suspension of the bus was bad, the air-con was erratic and too cold, blowing strong gushes of wind and it’s non-adjustable at every seat, and I simply do not understand the idea of a glass ceiling on the bus. I did not like the idea of sun shining in when day break came. Greyhound was much better.