Tried and True Niagara Falls

What’s not to like about tried and true Niagara Falls? Those of us who live in Southern Ontario and Western New York largely take it for granted. Living in Toronto, Niagara Falls is just a short drive down the highway. 90 minutes if the traffic is good; 2 hours or more if its not so good. From Buffalo, Niagara Falls is 30 minutes give or take. Over the years, I’ve probably been to Niagara Falls 25 or 30 times, maybe more. It’s intoxicating.

Niagara Falls USA

Before COVID-19 and 9/11, a quick trip across the border was a semi-regular event. Lunch, dinner, shopping, etc. Buffalo was normally the final destination but it’s always a treat to cross the border at Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls U.S.A. has the American Falls, the Seneca Casino, outlet shopping, hotels & motels. They also have some authentic American food restaurants like Villella’s Italian Restaurant (795 Rainbow Blvd), Buzzy’s (7617 NiagaraFalls Blvd.) and Sammy’s Pizzeria (1400 Hyde Park Blvd).

Niagara Falls Canada

Niagara Falls Canada gives you the full view of both the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls (the Canadian Falls), 2 casinos, not so great shopping and many more hotel & motels. The better side for falls views and other activities. There are 27 wineries within 20 minutes and several championship golf courses. There always been this “vaudeville” feel to Niagara Falls with the walks, jumps and plunges that have taken place for almost 200 hundred years. In 2012, Nik Wallenda walked across a tightrope from the U.S. to Canadian side and an unidentified man became just the 3rd person to survive an unprotected trip over the falls.

Beyond looking at the Falls, there are a couple of great interactive Falls experiences. “Journey Behind the Falls” takes you down a 150 ft. elevator into a tunnel to 2 observation decks and portal behind the falls. The rushing water and roar of the falls is something else. The other more well known option is the “Maid of the Mist” boat tour. The boat takes you passed the base of the American Falls and into the basin of the Horseshoe Falls. A short walk from the Falls, Clifton Hill and area gives you amusement rides, takeout food and a lot of neon. The glory days of “the honeymoon capital of the world” are long gone but you can still find a motel with a heart shaped Jacuzzi tub.

Summary – Niagara Falls

At the end of the day, it all comes back to the wonder of the Falls. I never get tired of seeing Niagara Falls. It’s the unofficial 8th wonder of the world. It’s well worth the visit any time of year. And almost in my backyard.

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7 tips for solo female travelers

woman in the desert looking at a map

If you are a free-spirited individual and you want to travel to a (not so) distant country on your own, you will surely hear a lot of cautionary tales about how precarious it is to do so, how you can get lost, bored, hungry, mugged, attacked, etc. Although there is an element of danger involved in traveling alone, especially during these turbulent pandemic times, we believe that the benefits significantly outweigh the risks. For this reason, we have noted down seven tips for solo female travelers which will equip you with the necessary knowledge about what it actually looks like to travel alone as a woman and, even more importantly, about what you really have to take into consideration in terms of accommodation, transportation, money, safety, local culture and the like.

Safety first!

Your personal safety should be at the top of your priority list every time you hit the road. Some women associate safety exclusively with potential attacks and muggings, so they make sure they take self-defense lessons before they go on a big journey to unknown regions. 

However, it is not only strangers that are potential sources of havoc. Depending on where you are traveling, you need to make sure you have all the necessary supplies. Avid female travelers note that it is helpful to research the topographic characteristics of the terrain to decide on the amount and type of clothing and shoes that you may need. You should also know what you absolutely have to have in your backpack – water, knife, lighter, first-aid kit, maps, insect repellent, medication, etc.

Listen to your gut

As any woman who likes to travel alone will tell you, eventually you will develop a keen ‘sixth sense’ for detecting potentially dangerous places and people. We all have it in us; you just need to get on the road to finetune your decision-making. Being too fearful can make the journey tedious and less than enjoyable, whereas having no inhibitions can naturally put you in tricky situations. Since we do not live in an ideal world, solo female traveling comes with its set of difficulties, but in most cases, these bumps in the road will make your journey thrilling and unforgettable.

Be informed

Basically, it is essential to know where you are traveling to – weather changes, availability of potable water, food, healthcare, and medication in the given country or region are all important factors to consider. Another factor you have to take into consideration is the cellular coverage in the region. Although your phone and internet may work in the hostel you are staying at, that might not be the case once you leave urban areas.

woman pointing to a place on a map
Carefully planning your journey is more important than seems at first glance.

No woman is an island

Yes, traveling to a completely novel environment alone is a deeply gratifying experience, but it is a mistake to think that you have to be alone all the time. Be on the lookout for travel tours that offer assistance in the form of local guides. These types of offers provide you with the chance to seek help when you need it, but without forcing you into traveling in somebody else’s shoes, so to speak. For example, suppose you want to go on a photo safari. In that case, you have workshops led by wildlife photography experts who can brief you about the best timing and position from which you can take pictures of the savanna nature and wildlife. 

If you are looking to spend a longer period of time somewhere, it might be useful to join a traveling group. In this way, you can plan group journeys when you feel like it; you can meet like-minded travelers upon which you will be able to rely during your stay and still retain the sense of choosing your own itinerary for the day.

people jumping in the sunset
Solo female travelers are usually surprised to find that they have met so many amazing people on their journey. 

Meeting new people is part and parcel of traveling solo

From expats to locals, from flight attendants to hitch-hikers, be sure to delve deep into the melting pot of different faces and experiences that come your way. The journey to yourself is, for most people, actually the journey towards new friendships.

Talking to people has a practical side for solo women travelers as well. Especially if you do not speak the local language, you might miss out on important information of all sorts. People you meet will surely share their experiences with you, and you will most easily travel the country by knowing where to go and where you can go.

Meeting yourself is also part and parcel of traveling solo

If you are a sociable person, you might easily succumb to the urge to be surrounded by other people. It is understandable, and it may be tempting to form a group to travel together in unfamiliar surroundings. Although this is not necessarily wrong, at times, this approach to traveling might obscure the bigger picture – that you are traveling solo for a reason.

There are many things to learn about yourself that, perhaps, you cannot find out in your hometown. Learning to enjoy nature, silence, and your thought processes will be a life-long lesson that traveling solo will bestow upon you.

a woman standing between a gate made of rock
You might be more capable and adventurous than what you give yourself credit for

For instance, it may happen that you do not have any money left. You may find out that you can sell your photographs or artwork or earn money by doing land work. These kinds of revelations will reveal to you something you may not have known about yourself – that you are resilient, resourceful, and streetwise.

Book a bed in a hostel or private accommodation 

Immersing yourself in local culture by staying in a shabby hostel or renting a room from a local will widen your horizons and give you a more accurate picture of the local environment. There is a chance that you will meet someone who speaks the same language as you do – both literally and figuratively.

Furthermore, you will always have someone to ask for help or advice, even if you are not that into the idea of making friends. It is usually challenging to get through to hotel staff in such a way. Also, hostels are generally well prepared for solo female travelers, and they probably already have the answer to any of your questions.

The top 10 tropical islands in the world

emerald colored sea and a view of the beach

What is a better depiction of paradise than a tropical island? Long stretches of white sandy beaches, the sun reflecting off the surface of the crystal blue sea, the soothing sound of the waves collapsing onto the shore and the smell of salty water combined with the coconut scented body lotions. Can it possibly get any better than that? Tropical islands are dream destinations for many honeymooners, adventure seekers and world travelers hooked on the intoxicating thrill of visiting new places. If you are looking for some inspiration for your next holiday, you may be interested in the following destinations.

1. Ko Lipe

Thailand used to be a go-to place for those looking for seclusion. However, exploiting this mesmerizing destination for the film industry has attracted a deluge of humanity eager to experience this place’s wonders. Still, deserted beaches on nearby islands are reachable by longboats. On the way there, you might even spot a shark. The waters are full of life, so snorkeling here could be an experience of a lifetime. What makes this island interesting is that there are few roads, no cars and you can cover it on foot within an hour.

A boat on the calm water at sunset
Explore the islands near Ko Lipe by boat

2. The Maldives

This collection of no less than 1000 islands is located in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Barely above the sea level, it is terribly affected by the climate changes, so hurry up before it’s too late. Although these tropical islands are expensive, it is possible to travel on budget with meticulous planning. The best time to visit is from November to May to avoid the monsoon season. Here, you can indulge in various activities. Diving and snorkeling first come to mind, but whale and dolphin watching is an absolute must.

3. Seychelles

Situated off the east coast of Africa, this group of 115 islands is a paradise for avid lovers of secluded beaches, sun and diving. Since it’s quite expensive, this holiday destination attracts the more upscale crowd. However, it is not a commonly mentioned fact that Seychelles used to be a pirate hideout. So, if you are feeling lucky, venture on a quest to find the legendary hidden treasure.

4. Bali

Surfing, hiking, fantastic food, vibrant nightlife, breathtaking beaches and the friendliest locals – is there anything this place doesn’t have? You can go white water rafting, volcano climbing, scuba diving, or simply sunbathing on either black or white beaches. Yes, Bali has it all. Due to the volcanoes, there are black beaches as well. There are also temples to visit for a more culturally oriented holiday. And that’s not all! Gili island is nearby, so you can easily see them both.

5. Tahiti

The Queen of the Pacific is the ultimate honeymoon destination and the veritable paradise. This is where those stunning photos of luxurious bungalows in the water are taken. In fact, this is the birth home of these gorgeous structures. It is also pretty pricy, so if it is affluence you seek, this is the place to go. But it’s not just romance and luxury you’ll find here. You can enjoy watersports, go on various boat tours or visit historical sites.

A couple holding hands on the beach at sunset
Tahiti is the ultimate tropical island for honeymooners

6. Fiji

Out of over 320 islands, more than two-thirds are uninhabited. With such a selection, it is virtually impossible not to find the place you will like. The waters are teeming with life, so snorkeling is spectacular. You can go diving, sailing, whale watching. Similarly to Bali, this is also an option for those into more active vacations. Therefore, it is more popular with the younger population.

7. Bermuda

Bermuda is the shipwreck capital of the world. Yes, you’ve read well. This heaven for banks and tax-avoiding businesses was first inhabited after a shipwreck in the 17th century. But despite this less than glamorous fun fact, it is extortionately expensive, so should you decide to visit it, you’ll need a sizeable budget. This island is the home of magical pink-sand beaches, warm emerald waters and enchanting landscape. Due to the reefs that ring the island, Bermuda is among the world’s unrivaled diving destinations.

8. Curacao

The moment you arrive in the town, you will notice the recognizable Dutch style. This island country is located in the Caribbean sea, home of many more idyllic locations. It has stable weather throughout the year, which is something its owner, The Netherlands, can’t brag about. If you are looking for a lot of sunshine and picturesque beaches, this is the place for you. If it’s fun and parties you want, Curacao is one of the go-to tropical islands. And it is no wonder, given that it is famous for an orange-flavored liqueur by the same name.

Palm tree and sun lounges on a tropical beach
Enjoy the picturesque beaches of Curacao

9. The Galapagos Islands

Much like the Maldives, the Galapagos is drastically affected by climate change. It’s one of the lushest places in the world with incredible wildlife. This is the home of the endemic Galapagos penguin, and probably the only place where you can see penguins in the wild. The fact that 97% of the islands is a national park, definitely says something. Unfortunately, because the ecosystem is fragile, if you want to enjoy the unspoiled nature and serenity it offers, hurry up.

10. The Cook Islands

The Cook Islands are another lush destination, rich with life. The South Pacific group of islands is less visited by tourists and has few amenities, making it a perfect choice if you wish to escape the hectic modern life. It doesn’t get more remote than this. The deep jungle, coral reefs and pristine beaches add to a more rugged tropical landscape than the other destinations.

Few things can make you feel more rejuvenated than treating yourself with a vacation to one of the tropical islands. If you have an adventurous spirit, you may want to consider making one of these places your home. Just imagine waking up to the sound of the waves, salty smell tingling your nostrils while the tropical breeze gently caresses your skin. Moving to such a place is a dream come true and a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with nature and enjoy life to the fullest.