When I was invited to take a group tour from Toronto to Niagara Falls, I wasn’t feeling it. I do not do group tours! If I can make it work on my own, I prefer to do so. I like to be on my own time and schedule. If it gets to where I want a guided tour, I prefer private tours so that I have some control over what I see and the time spent seeing it. When I think of guided group tours, in my mind’s eye I see 100 people following a tour guide holding up a sign, guiding everyone through in an Ikea-like fashion from one attraction to the next. No, thank you.
My feelings didn’t change when the driver who was to pick us up, and deliver us to the departure point arrived at my hotel 40 minutes early, and at the next person’s hotel 45 minutes late. I’m shaking my head thinking, “Terri, you should have just rented a car like you had originally planned.”
Once we were transferred to the van that was to take us to Niagara Falls, I, along with 21 other people, had the pleasure of meeting Saleem “The Ladies Dream.” This is how he introduced himself. It was so corny, and he knew it. I bursted out laughing and thought, ”Hey, maybe this thing might turn around.” And, it did.
Oddly enough, I started appreciating being a passenger. I hardly ever get to be the passenger on a road trip. I was freed up to take photos and enjoy the ride.
We were taken to various sites and I saw much more than I would have, had I driven myself. Would I have taken the time to drive past one of the smallest churches in North America? Or taken a moment to stroll the flower lined walkways and grab a bite to eat in the historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake? Or, would I have just rushed to Niagara Falls?
The biggest surprise was the additional option to ride over the falls in a helicopter. Nowhere did I read (perhaps I missed it) that there would be an option for a Niagara Falls helicopter tour. This meant our time at the winery would be cut short. And, we were slightly rushed during the wine tasting. But, who can be angry after having just witnessed the beauty of Niagara Falls from the air? It was spectacular!
Once we arrived at Niagara Falls, it was no less glorious. Another upside to the tour was not having to wait in line for our tickets to the boat ride on the the Maiden of the Mist. Saleem, The Ladies Dream, did the waiting for us, and we didn’t have to wait long. The Maiden of the Mist journey was fun, and the sound of the falls cascading down was like a roar emanating from somewhere deep within the earth. It was nature at it’s best – beautiful and pristine, yet violent and almost intimidating, all at the same time.
Oh yeah, the word “mist” is deceitful. You don’t get a misting, you get a soaking. Oh my Gawd! I was drenched. The water-proof poncho was only half sufficient.
At the end of the day, when Saleem dropped us off at the hotel, I said goodbye to the new friends I had met on the tour, and smiled all the way up to my room thinking I just had a great relaxing day, and I saw Niagara Falls…with a group tour. Was it worth it? Totally!
*I went to Niagara Falls with King Tours, one of the longest running Niagara Falls tour operators in Toronto. King Tours has been conducting Niagara Falls tours since 1995. http://NiagaraTours.ca/