Niagara Falls: Family vacation shenanigans and Canadian quirks

Last week I took the first real vacation I’ve had in years! Sure, I’ve participated in the minor roadtrip here and there, the mountain hiking excursion or beach weekend. But this trip – including a plane ride, rental cars, and even crossing a border – counts as a bona fide vacation experience.

In celebration of my grandmother’s 85th birthday (work it, grandma), my mom used her coordinating superpowers to wrangle the family together for a trip to Niagara Falls. The plan was to stay on the Canadian side, so out came the ole passport, which was happy to be of use to me after a long stint of neglect since I last traveled to Italy at age 18.

Niagara Falls: Comical Mishaps

The trip itself was full of several comical mishaps, from last-minute flight delays, to getting sent to the Canadian Immigration office while trying to cross over (that was an interesting experience). Then there was the fun had by all when broken hotel elevators couldn’t be fixed because of an International Union of Elevator Constructors strike, and the fire alarm that woke us all up at 1 AM. Despite my sarcastic tone, I was actually quite amused by these incidents. They made for interesting vacation memories.

Niagara Falls Canada Vacation

The Canadian border, just minutes before the immigration shenanigans.

Canadian Quirks

Canada was a mysterious land filled with many wonders. Okay, not really. It was mostly like America, with a few interesting little differences that I took note of. Among them:

  1. The doors. In Canada – or, okay, at least in most every building in Niagara Falls I visited – the doors were abnormally heavy. It was really weird. Who knows if it was coincidence or some kind of ‘thing’. Google has shed no light on this. It’s probably just me!
  2. Serving sizes. America is known for its super-sized portions, so I wasn’t too surprised to see smaller glasses, smaller meals, smaller bottles. It was kind of refreshing.
  3. Tim Hortons. Is everywhere. No really. It’s like the McDonald’s or Starbucks of Canada in the sense that there’s at least one on every street corner (there were also Starbucks on every street corner, it should be noted).
  4. Everybody is attractive. Every Tim Hortons or Starbucks cashier. Janitors. Cops. Maybe it’s par for the course in any tourist spot. Maybe there’s something in the Canadian water.
  5. Unions! Yes, there are unions in the United States too. But – and perhaps I’ve just been sheltered or unobservant – my experience with Canadian elevators was the first time it seems like I’ve observed my day-to-day life being affected by one. This isn’t really a political statement. Just something interesting I pondered.
  6. Drinking and Gambling Age. It’s 19. That seems like a fairly arbitrary number to me, but I guess it’s no more or less arbitrary than 21! That said, getting carded before entering the casino was just a tad more gratifying as a result.
Niagara Falls Canada

Ah, Niagara Falls.


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