At Niagara Falls, Canada for the Festival of Lights!
Read all about visiting Niagara Falls (US & Canada)!
I love the fact that I live within driving distance of another country, and can just take a day trip across the border (assuming there’s no worldwide pandemic).
But for some reason I have a tendency to mess up when we try to drive to Canada…
Like that one time mom and I drove the scenic route along the river to Niagara Falls. Mom was convinced that we could pull up to the building on our right and get our passports stamped (I mean, what is the fun of going to another country if you’re not going to get your passport stamped???).
Somehow, in our effort to find the road that leads up to said building, we ended up completely turning around and in the lane facing the oncoming trucks that were coming through customs.
This is literally the most embarrassing moment of my life.
And that’s not even what this story is about!
We (Jason & I) were driving with a bunch of friends in two separate cars up to the falls for the annual Festival of Lights. When we got to the crossing, our two cars went in two separate lanes.
The other car, in the lane next to us, zipped right through customs and into Canada.
We were still stuck three cars back in line.
As we’re waiting for the line to move, I keep texting my friend in the other car, so we don’t get too separated.
And as I’m texting my friend, Jason finally pulls up to the window.
And immediately the guard leans out the window toward me in the passenger’s seat and yells, “Hey! Texty! Put your thumbs up!”
I stare at him dumbly for a moment. You want my thumbs up?
So he repeats his charge: “Put your hands up!”
I drop my phone and literally stare foolishly at him, switching back and forth between having my hands up and putting just my thumbs up in the air. What does this guy want with me???
Meanwhile, safely in the other car, our friends watch as a group of guards come out of the far building and SURROUND OUR CAR!!!
Ok, soooo this is not actually what happened. This is just how it appeared to them as they anxiously waited for us to get let through.
What actually happened is they were just changing shifts, and had to walk past our car to reach their stations.
BUT… we were still being questioned/lectured by the border guard.
“You have to put your cell phone down! You might attack me with it. You know like in that movie, “Despicable Me 2?”
And here, he strikes a pose and imitates this in a high pitched voice: “Lipstick taaaaser!”
Everyone in our car is just staring at him. Is he joking?? Or is he serious??? (I still have no idea).
“You Americans,” he went on to inform us. “You can just go into Wal-Mart and buy a cell phone taser” (apparently). “So when you come up to me, I can’t have you on your cell phone.”
Travel Tip—if you’re going to cross the Canada/US border (either side), DON’T be on your cell phone. Also the American side had gigantic signs that said this. Which was helpful.
He wasn’t even done, though!
“What are you guys doing here?”
“Well… we’re coming to see the lights…”
“Did you come last year?”
“Why didn’t you come last year?'“
No wonder this line was taking so long to get through! Finally he stopped questioning/lecturing us, and let us into Canada, where we caught up with our friends.
But the night was only beginning.
Breakfast for Dinner?
Not in Canada, apparently
You know it’s the worst when you’re out with a group of friends, and you have to decide where to go for dinner.
Am I right?
Since we all know that somebody has to make a decision, I 100% believe that it is not selfish to emphatically say, ‘I want to go here.’ So sometimes, when I feel assertive, I boldly steer the group in the direction of dinner.
This was one of those occassions.
We passed a HUGE sign for IHOP. And I LOVE IHOP. So we decided to go to IHOP.
Now, when I say HUGE, I mean, the entire building was a sign for IHOP. It was painted all up and down the side of the building.
I marched boldly in at the front of the group, because I was, after all, the leaderish person who decided we were going to IHOP.
And it wasn’t IHOP.
I stopped in my tracks right inside the door, blocking the way for all of my frozen friends behind me to get inside. But I was just… so confused! We were in an arcade!
Did I get the wrong building? Did I manage to read the gigantic IHOP sign wrong, and completely miss the entrance?
We stepped back outside. Nope. The building is literally labeled IHOP.
We step back inside (because it is so cold out!!) and stare mindlessly at all the arcade games.
And then someone spots a small sign for IHOP at the back of the arcade. We eagerly run toward it.
“IHOP—fourth floor,” it says. And right there are elevators and stairs. Great!
Half of us stumble into the elevator. The other half decide that the stairs will be faster (weirdos).
We get in the elevator, and someone (probably Jason) pushes the button. ‘Hurry, hurry, hurry!’ we secretly whisper to the elevator, because we are hungry (and trying to beat those “stairs” weirdos)!
The doors open. We rush out! We are in IHO… nope. Wrong floor. This is the third floor (Jason!).
We jump back in the elevator, push the right button, and end up in the lobby for IHOP right as our other friends are mounting the stairs.
Yay! We finally found it!
Aaaand… it’s closed. They closed at 6. Six! What kind of restaurant (in an insanely touristy area, I might add) closes at six? On a Saturday?
Now we are hungry hungry! And who even cares where we decide to eat, as long as there’s food (and it’s warm!)!
So we find some random barbeque place, and eat, eat, eat!
And then we pay.
“Don’t pay with your debit card!” our friend warns. “If you’re out of the country, the bank will deny it.”
So… we brilliantly pay with cash. Yay us! A bunch of smarties!
And then we get our change.
Smarties may have realized that if you’re in Canada and you pay with US money (but, I mean, they take the US money, soo…), you’re gonna get Canadian money back as change.
And now we have a bunch of Canadian dollars (but really, why is everyone’s money so much cooler looking than ours??).
I guess it’s time for a spending spree!
Everything Closes Early in Canada!
Now that we are warm and fed, we can finally venture out and see all the pretty Christmas lights that we actually came to see.
We really didn’t walk very far (did I mention it was cold?), but we had fun.
And then we were cold again! And had lots of Canadian money to spend. So what do you do if you’re in Canada and you have money to spend?
You go to Tim Hortons of course!
And of course, there was one nearby. Right in the visitor’s center by the Horseshoe Falls, where we were.
So we head on in and get at the end of the very long line to get ourselves some hot choccy.
Fireworks started going off outside!! So what do you do if you’re inside and you hear fireworks going off outside?
You go outside of course!
This was the best part of the night. Watching the fireworks go off over the falls with all the Christmas lights in the background. *Happy sigh.
And then we turned around to go back in.
As we turned toward the door… there was a friendly Tim Hortons employee… locking it!
It was now 9:00. And apparently in Canada, on a very touristy weekend in perhaps the most touristy part of Canada, 9:00 seems like a good time to close (unless you already closed at 6).
I think they set the fireworks off as a trap.
Mwahahaha, look at all these chilly tourists in line. How can we get them out of here so we don’t have to serve them?? I know! Set off some fireworks!
That’s definitely what they did.
Luckily, this is Canada. And another Tim Hortons really isn’t that far away.
Time to Return Home
After that, nothing really adventurous happened. Other than driving around in a circle a few times until we found the right way to America.
Other than that.
But America had huge signs telling us to get off our phones (plus, we already knew that, like pros!), so once we got through we just had to figure out how to get back home (always a challenge with us), and stay awake long enough to get there!
Do check out the Christmas lights in Niagara Falls sometime though. They really are great!