Hoping to take my wife to Niagara Falls in August

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Hoping to take my wife to Niagara Falls in August

Postby macnmotion » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:03 am

Hi everyone. My wife Pia's visa has been approved for the USA, so we'll be there in August. I'd love to take her to see Niagara Falls, so now we'll go through the Canadian visa process. Assuming we get one, I want to take her on the Maid of the Mist (along with my GoPro).

Any pointers on this side trip would be greatly appreciated. We'd probably stay overnight in Canada one night, and I'd like to stay with a view of the falls. I'd also like to be able to get some good angles for photos. I also understand you can take the Maid of the Mist from either America or Canada, and that if we do it from America we wouldn't need the Visa. Is the trip on the boat essentially the same or is one better?

Any suggestions on locations, restaurants and hotels would be greatly appreciated. Matt, I know you've made a number of trips there, so you may be a good source of info.

Thanks. Andy
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Re: Hoping to take my wife to Niagara Falls in August

Postby Kelly » Sun May 04, 2014 8:27 pm

Hi Andy.

I don't have any first hand suggestions, but just this weekend I heard some wonderful comments on the fallsview rooms at this place: http://www.sheratononthefalls.com/ It's on the Canadian side, and not to be confused with Sheraton at the Falls on the American side.

Let us know how your plans turn out! :D
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Re: Hoping to take my wife to Niagara Falls in August

Postby Des219 » Mon May 05, 2014 9:14 pm

Hi Andy,

Kelly was one step ahead of me. I can't imagine whom she got that information from :) however my wife and I stayed at the Sheraton that Kelly linked to and loved it. We were on one of the top floors and slept with our balcony doors open. The sound and view is amazing. Expensive, but worth it!

I believe Matt has said that he prefers the Maid of the Mist from the US side because it is less busy.

For me the activities on the US were better but the views, hotels, and restaurants on the CA side are better. I also really enjoyed the Cave of the Winds (my favorite) and the islands above the falls that you can walk out on from the US park.
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Re: Hoping to take my wife to Niagara Falls in August

Postby macnmotion » Tue May 06, 2014 2:40 am

Thanks to both of you. I'll get the application going for the Canadian Visa so we can stay overnight on the Canadian side. I'm heading to the Sheraton website now!

Andy
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Re: Hoping to take my wife to Niagara Falls in August

Postby macnmotion » Wed May 07, 2014 9:45 pm

I showed Pia some photos of the Sheraton on the Falls, and her jaw dropped. Then she got a bit sad, and when I asked her why she said that she thought that the Maid of the Mist would be fun too. I laughed, and told her we could still do both :-)

On another note, we began the process of getting the Canadian visa for our one night trip into Ontario. I can't believe the amount of paperwork required, about 5 times as many things as for her 10 year visa from the USA. Wow.
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Re: Hoping to take my wife to Niagara Falls in August

Postby Des219 » Wed May 07, 2014 10:07 pm

Sorry for my ignorance but why does she need a visa instead of a passport?

I am sure you will enjoy it. Our room had cool photos from the early 1900's of the falls.
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Re: Hoping to take my wife to Niagara Falls in August

Postby Matt » Fri May 09, 2014 2:57 am

Sorry I didn't catch this earlier.
A Thai citizen would need a Visa to enter the USA or Canada. Canada is tough to get into now. The USA has lightened up on tourist visas.

As far as hotels... Sheraton that Kelly Pointed out is Fantastic. There's another one, smaller and with no falls view, nearby. Be sure not to book that one. I stayed there last summer and didn't like it one bit. The Hilton one that is connected to the Casino is by far the best place I stayed. The Fallsview suites are superb. The breakfast lounge there is fantastic. Being connected to the Casino is great for money exchange (exchange at the Casino for the best rate and no fees - yes, they even take Baht) -- and the restaurants there are priced fairly. Especially the sports bar there. The problem with the Casino-area resorts is that there is a heck of a lot more walking involved, especially uphill. The Sheraton is on Clifton Hill- and right across from the American Falls, and adjacent to the QV Park there. If I can get out there this year, I'm going to book that hotel.

As far as photos... easy... The Skylon Tower is always the best elevated shot. 12 bucks to get up the crumbling elevators.
From ground level, climb the steps to the top of the lookout point on top of the concessions building near the Maid of the Mist attraction. I found that to have a crowd-free view a lot of the time. I brought my SLR on the Maid... worked really well. The problem is they pack those boats tight... year really have to rush to get a nice spot to shoot from. Bring a decent-sized soft, absorbent cotton cloth to wipe your gopro lens with. It's going to constantly get covered in mist and your shots will be blurry.

Our Niagara Falls Section is pretty comprehensive (though I need to update) and the USA v Canada list has a good rundown of all the attractions on the Canadian Side.

Niagara-On-The-Lake would be a great Day-trip too. If you aren't renting a car, the bus system will take you pretty much anywhere, but I found it to miss stops, be packed, and not the most convenient way to get around.

Once checked into the hotel, you can bill a Niagara Parks tourism package to your room. They all sell them. They include the bus, and if you take advantage of all the attractions it ends up working out so 2 are free. When I did this, two were closed for repairs/whatever, so they gave me a refund for the full price of those tickets.
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Re: Hoping to take my wife to Niagara Falls in August

Postby Kelly » Fri May 09, 2014 6:44 am

And.......here is a link to the Niagara Falls info Matt put together on this site. Doubtful you'll find such comprehensive info presented in such an organized manner elsewhere.

http://nyfalls.com/niagara-falls/
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Re: Hoping to take my wife to Niagara Falls in August

Postby macnmotion » Fri May 09, 2014 9:09 pm

Wow this is all great info! I think that even if I don't get a ring-side seat on the Maid of the Mist, using the GoPro on a monopod I can at least elevate it. I've been doing some research, and I think I will use Rain-X on the GoPro case to help bead up the water and have it blown away, but I'll also bring a wipe for it.

Matt, can you give any pointers on SLR photos from the vantage points you mentioned, e.g. what time of day I should go, etc.?
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Re: Hoping to take my wife to Niagara Falls in August

Postby Matt » Thu May 15, 2014 12:08 pm

For Niagara Falls, sunny is best. Mid day and decent winds is idea. When they built the large resorts on the canadian side, it began trapping the mist in the gorge, and it's near impossible to see all of the horseshoe falls now. I was there on a day (just happened to be a day i decided not to shoot) when the winds were just right to lift up all the mist and it was a very clean view of the falls. I haven't seen it like that since. A polarizer is give you the deepest of colors (in that case, put a clear filter over it to avoid scratching the expensive polarizer when you wipe mist away (which is always a problem when shooting from near the falls). I don't think a slow shutter looks good at all on Niagara. The faster the shutter, the better. At night, slow is ok, but not too slow. Half second at best.

The main problem with shooting mid-day is PEOPLE... way too many of them. The key is to climb and to take advantage of the spots that don't offer an ideal view... just capture the frenzy, not the falls. Make the falls the backdrop. Getting up early works, but the low light casts more shadows. People just tend to start being tourist around 10-11am. I had a great time shooting at 9 am. Very few people. When people pack in, you have to wait and be aggressive. There maybe will be a spot opened up for one person and a monopod... rarely for two people unless you are lucky or super aggressive.

I enjoyed shooting the whirlpool more than the falls itself, but that's just me. There were very few people actually down at water level below the whirlpool. You fall in there, you die. That's cool.

They won't allow you to take a monopod on the maid of the mist, but you may be able to get away with it by hiding it. You'll want to nudge yourself to the beginning of the line when you are below the cliffs waiting for the next ride. Go for the upper deck of the maid. Especially with the gopro. Even if the wide angle captures the people below deck, that will be an amazing view. You WILL, and should wipe down your lens with a dray cloth regularly. keep the cloth under your poncho and fold it to a clean part each time. a quick gentle back and forth is generally enough. don't press firm as the mist from the falls has a lot of particulates. There's very little room to move around on the maid. You will probably get nudged a bit.
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Re: Hoping to take my wife to Niagara Falls in August

Postby macnmotion » Wed Aug 20, 2014 8:40 pm

I wanted to thank everyone for all the information about Niagara Falls. We spent last night at Sheraton on the Falls in a Deluxe Falls View room, and it was great. We were on the 20th floor, third room from the end of the hall (2072). The balcony was really just a protective bar in front of the window. I was able to use the bottom of the balcony railing to take stabilized photos of the American falls but the angle to the Horseshoe falls was such that I could not take a clear photo from that same position -- instead I had to balance on top of the railing -- which wasn't great for the night shots.

I had no problem with the GoPro and monopod on the Maid of the Mist (NY side). They saw me take it on and never said anything. Additionally I was the last person on the boat, at about 2PM on Tuesday, and still got a railing spot -- it was not full at all!! It was clear that at the same time the Hornblower on the Canadian side was much more packed.

It took 40 minutes getting through customs to Canada -- a very slow line on the Rainbow Bridge. And it took almost an hour to get back (on the Lewiston Bridge). We walked the edge of the river on the Canadian side as the sun was going down and we were treated to spectacular rainbows connecting the American and Horseshoe falls.

Every decision we made based on the advice here was perfect. Thanks again.
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Re: Hoping to take my wife to Niagara Falls in August

Postby Des219 » Sun Aug 24, 2014 8:00 pm

Glad our advice was helpful. I am jealous :). I am not sure when we will get back there. It sounds like the two of you had a great time. Anxious to see some of your photos and videos.
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