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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Niagara Falls, Fair City of Fat People and Sex Offenders (and an Angry Waterfall)

The Niagara is kinda cute when its angry
So this time I spent my Buffalo visit staying a rather pleasant and inexpensive guesthouse called wanderfalls  in Niagara Falls, USA, which does private rooms and small dorms (with about 6 people max) for about $25 a night, including pancakes and coffee.  I don't know about you, but I much prefer staying in hostels or some kind of similar thing than soulless chain hotels, so i met some great guys to have a beer with, run, and explore the wonderful City of Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls is of course famous for having the famous waterfall on its doorstep. It's also a working class suburb of Buffalo, which is a surprisingly good looking city (despite an Estonian style climate) If you are visiting Niagara Falls, most people go to the Canadian side, which is much more prosperous and geared up for tourism, with casinos, hotels, big viewing platforms, a much nicer view (of Horseshoe Falls, the bigger falls) and all the cheesy tourist things (you know the 'Ripley believe it or not, the 4d cinema, all that jazz which i've never seen anything interesting about personally)
Another 'what am i doing here' moment

The US side is mostly an industrial town of about 90,000 people, which grew up on the river business, with aluminium works etc. as the main employer. Now a lot of thats gone, the town is based round one large casino hotel, the Seneca, which is actually quite nice, but has sucked the life out of the town itself.

If you're looking for the real 'Niagara' experience, then the main 'life' is on 3rd Street, just off main street between Main Street and the Casino Hotel. Im afraid it's seen better days, but there is a good wine bar restaurant imaginatively named 'Wine on 3rd' some 'fish fry' and pizza places, and a few bars/clubs dotted throughout the street. I'd suggest not walking too far off this street up the street numbers, it's a bit dodgy at night sometimes. This Niagara link tells you more about local eating/drinking options.

So me and one South African guy, no stranger to urban violence, had a few beers in the awful 'Hard Rock Cafe' (there is one of these and also a 'Starbucks' downtown where all the hotels are. Thats about it.)  and decided to hit a club  ('Ultra Lounge' on 3rd Street) for a taste of life in Niagara Falls. There certainly was a selection of ladies, eager to speak to the 'new kids in town' but about wide loads! It's a real shame because some of the girls were very pretty, just when it gets below the waist and....woooop it's like a 35 yr old Spanish woman after 5 kids. I don't know what these girls are eating but it looks like its supersize....
I love the water this colour, was tempting to jump in

Anyway, the bars, I can safely say won't appeal to most except those with a taste for redneck men, or the larger ladies, so my clear recommendation is to walk across the Rainbow Bridge to Canada and there are loads of bars and clubs, it's more like a mini las vegas but at least there are a lot of choices. Otherwise head down to Buffalo and either go to 'Bar Street'  (Chippewas St in the downtown) for rednecks, dance clubs, frat girls, under-agers, or the western half of Allen Street, if you crave a more Bohemian/Live music vibe.

About the sex offenders, the owner of the Wanderfalls was nice enough to tell us that Niagara Falls houses the largest number of sex offenders in the region. So maybe not a great place to set up with your young family ;o)

One great saving grace about Niagara is the River. You can run all the way from the falls, along the path, down a few miles to the whirlpool park at the other end of town. The river is majestic. I ran along the path there just after some heavy rain and the anger and danger of the place was tangible.

€25,000 actually gets you a not bad house here (free plug for )

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