The Great Lakes and Upstate Overview


-- चार हजार पांच सौ उन्नीस --

It finally happened! Danielle booked the hotel for our night in Niagara Falls! And she spent $260 CAD on it -- which works out to about $195 USD -- at least based on today's exchange rate of 1.33. She booked the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Niagara Falls, Ontario. She told me last night she called to speak to a person first, and then booked online; even at that price she minimized cost by getting a room between the 10th and the 15th floor -- in a 36-story building (the second-tallest building in Niagara Falls, Ontario -- third-tallest tower if you include the Space Needle-esque Skylon Tower). As Danielle said in our text exchange, though: But, I can handle floor 10-15. I replied that, yeah, as long as you can see the falls then it's all good. And Danielle says the room has a view of both the American Falls and Horseshow Falls -- which would be the two major falls area there.

I have noticed something curious and kind of annoying, though. Check out this page of the Embassy Suites website showing their suites. The "views" out their windows look totally faked -- and I noticed this in other hotel websites as well. They make it look like the view is far better, from farther away from the window, than I'm sure they really are. The views are still spectacular, I'm sure, but I bet anything you have to be standing right at the window for it to be that spectacular. This shot on TripAdvisor, while still spectacular, is a bit more realistic.

Anyway! All pre-planning travel items are now booked for this trip! How about we run through them, with links!

Tuesday, May 28: Air Canada flights, first from Seattle to Vancouver (10:05 - 11:00 am) then Vancouver to Toronto (1:25 - 8:46 Eastern / 5:56 Pacific). One annoyance there: they charge a fee to select seats in advance, which was the only way Danielle and I could make sure we sit together. Between the four seat assignments (two people, two flights), that alone accounted for $67.

Tuesday, May 28 - Thursday, May 30: Stay at an AirBnB in downtown Toronto, which is an 11-minute walk to the world famous CN Tower (the world's tallest self-supporting structure for 31 years, it still retains that title for the Western Hemisphere), a view of which can be seen out the window of at least one room in our AirBnB (I don't know if that will apply to the room we stay in). This room has one double bed, so in a trip that covers five nights, only the first two nights will Danielle and I have to share a bed. Note to self: bring pajamas!

Thursday, May 30: To avoid the exorbitant price hike of driving a rental car from one country and dropping it off in another, we ride a Megabus from Toronto to Niagara Falls, Ontario -- the ride scheduled from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. This trip includes two stops along the way, in Grimsby, Ontario and in St. Catharines, Ontario -- so that drive will look like this.

The Toronto bus station is 1.7 miles from our AirBnB, so either a 22-minute transit ride, a 36-minute walk, or a 10-22 minute ride in a Lyft (which honestly makes me think we should just save the money and take transit). The Niagara Falls Bus Terminal is about two and a half miles from the hotel, so walking (45 minutes) is probably out as long as we're carrying luggage; transit will take us 29-35 minutes; we may just go ahead and take a Lyft, I imagine -- as there that would take 7-10 minutes. But we'll see.

Thursday, May 30: Check in at Embassy Suites by Hilton in Niagara Falls, Ontario; spend afternoon and evening exploring Niagara Falls, Ontario -- including, if there is time, crossing Rainbow Bridge to the New York side and back by foot.

Friday, May 31: Cross Rainbow Bridge into the U.S., again by foot; reaching the bridge from Embassy Suites by foot would take 31 minutes; transit would take 20 minutes; and just riding a Lyft would take 4-7 minutes.

Then, once on the U.S. side, we catch a Lyft for a 19-mile ride from Niagara Falls State Park to the Budget Car Rental in Amherst, NY, to pick up our two-day car rental at 1:00 pm. This will then be followed by either a direct drive from Amherst to Syracuse (between 120 and 150 minutes), or a drive including a detour through Buffalo (2 hours, 43 minutes), should Danielle decide we both have time for and she's up for seeing a second of the Great Lakes -- in this case Lake Erie. We just have to be in Syracuse by, I'd say 5:00 at the latest, to check into our hotel before heading to the Rehearsal Dinner at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Syracuse. (Apparently that dinner is paid for by the wedding party. Between that, the wedding, and free breakfasts at the hotel, I'd say our meals are all taken care of the last two days of our trip.)

Friday, May 31: Check in at Hotel Skyler Syracuse for the first of two nights. Danielle said last night she got confirmation the bus shuttle to the wedding on June 1 will indeed come to that hotel to pick us up. It will then take us to the wedding location at The Orchards at Rockinghorse Farm, about ten miles outside downtown Syracuse. ...Hmm. I guess Danielle's friend Elise and Sean are getting married in a barn? This is going to be the most rustic wedding I have ever attended.

Sunday, June 2 (my mom's birthday, incidentally): American Airlines flights, first from Syracuse to Philadelphia (1:40 - 2:52 pm Eastern), then Philadelphia to Seattle (3:50 Eastern or 12:50 Pacific - 6:51 pm Pacific).

I was telling Karen about a lot of this yesterday and I was like, "It's going to be quite the whirlwind trip." I'm okay with it though and I'm excited. As I told Karen, Shobhit initially felt -- quite strongly -- that it was foolish to shoehorn Toronto into this trip, and he thought the city was too big for only less than two days there. My attitude, then and now, is this: I have no idea how long it'll be -- it could literally be decades -- before I am in that part of the country and thus have such an opportunity again. And, as Karen replied, "Two days is better than . . . no days!" I'm not really into Shobhit's "all or nothing" perspective. As with refusing to vote for politicians who aren't perfect and the result is someone way worse -- when you demand perfection you never get it, and in the end what you get is either nothing, or something far worse. I'd rather seize opportunities where I can.

Now I need to itemize estimated costs of all the things I know I want to do while we're actually visiting these places.

-- चार हजार पांच सौ उन्नीस --


-- चार हजार पांच सौ उन्नीस --

As for the rest of my evening? Shobhit and I attempted to go to JC Penney and finally spend money on the liquidation sale of their closing Northgate store -- only to discover they now close at 6:00 every evening, and it was just after that. Damn it! So I guess we'll have to go back tomorrow.

We did still have several coupons we got from VegFest for a vegan place in Ballard called Papas Hot Potatoes. They were far nicer than most restaurants that are all about restrictions for coupons and deals -- in this case, even though the 2-for-1 coupon stated it was for "lunch," they still honored it and both the "free mac and cheese" coupons we had. So, Shobhit paid for dinner, but he got two potatoes and two orders of mac and cheese, all for the price of one potato.

It was all right. It certainly worked for the price. And Shobhit gets a Social Review point out of it so he'll be pleased with that.

From there we went to the PCC in Fremont to get only a few things, ultimately spending only $10 of the $50 I had budgeted for it, so I was pleased with that.

It was therefore about halfway through the evening before we finally got back home again. We watched a rather good episode of Modern Family, an old episode of season six of Cheers, and soon thereafter it was time for bed.

-- चार हजार पांच सौ उन्नीस --


[posted 12:18 pm]