Okay, I've made some significant headway! After dropping off dry cleaning and getting the laundry at home going last night, I spent nearly the entire evening working on my requisite photo digest email, which in this case included 24 photos -- 11 from Toronto; 7 from Niagara Falls; 6 from Syracuse.
I also separated photos into separate photo albums on Flickr: there are four for Toronto ("Maple Leaf Quay," for the AirBnB building we stayed in; "The One Eighty," our skyscraper-topped bar we went to the very first night we arrived; one for both Toronto Islands and PATH, Toronto's 19-mile underground shopping complex; and of course one for the CN Tower), four for Niagara Falls ("Embassy Suites by Hilton," where we stayed one night; "Journey Behind the Falls"; "Hornblower Cruise"; and one for both Skylon Tower and the American Falls), and three for Syracuse ("The City"; "Rehearsal Dinner"; "The Wedding"). All three of those collections are under one umbrella collection on Flickr here, representing 11 different photo albums and about 412 shots.
So this morning I went and copied and pasted text from the 24 photos in the digest email into captions on a bunch of the photos on Flickr. In many cases I split portions of that text into multiple photos online, so probably close to about 50 of the total photos (I guess that's just under 25%) now have captions, and if you tab through them all, you'll get to all those details eventually. Just a few photos are duplicated on Flickr in two different albums, for instance photos taken of the AirBnB building we stayed in, from the CN Tower, would be in both the CN Tower photo album and the Maple Leaf Quay photo album. I still hope to get captions on all the photos eventually, but that will likely take some time. Hopefully I can get that done at the very least by Thursday next week, when I'll be taking a whole new slew of photos for both Shobhit's and my anniversary trip to Portland, and at Britni and David's wedding we'll be attending on our way back.
I also still need to tag all the photos, which I haven't gotten done at all. Just writing up the captions for 24 photos last night took long enough; I must have worked on it pretty tirelessly between 6:30 and about 10:00, with some work on laundry interspersed. Shobhit, sweetheart that he is, made dinner and even brought mine to me at my desk. And then we finally watched the fifth and final episode of the excellent HBO miniseries Chernobyl, which didn't get done until around 11:20. It was around midnight by the time I actually got to sleep last night. But, either Shobhit or I or both of us will be busy every evening the rest of this week, so it was the best chance for us to get the episode watched.
So, perhaps now I should offer some broad impressions of Niagara Falls?
First off, this would be almost entirely my impressions of Niagara Falls, Ontario, the small city of 88,000 on the Canadian side, which I have heard for years is the best side from which to view the falls themselves. This is absolutely true, but that doesn't make the city itself much less depressing. Although its demographics history indicates slow but steady growth over the past forty years -- experiencing a slight population decline only once, between 1951 and 1961 -- that doesn't change the plainly evident fact that tourism is by far its most important contributor to the local economy, and the town would be pretty much nothing without it.
The city center has been built up to become a small cluster of high-rise buildings, fairly trying (and, ultimately, failing) to be a "mini Las Vegas," with several such buildings and tall hotels housing casinos. Danielle and I took a bus a little ways outside of the city center on the day we arrived (Thursday last week, May 30), though, seeking out "Smoke's Poutinerie" for a late lunch, and we found the town outside of downtown to be pretty blah. Aside from that, between the skyscrapers and the rest of town, there are countless tacky tourist attractions that actually have little to do with the falls, but everything to do with Niagara Falls being a tourist trap.
I can't speak quite as much to Niagara Falls, New York, which we only visited briefly after the border crossing on our way to Syracuse on Friday morning. It has its own small jumble of hotels, a couple of them relatively tall, but it's not nearly as built up; that city's population is about 50,000, all of half its peak population of over 100,000 in 1960 -- on the American side, the demographics history shows both significant and steady population decline over the past sixty years. I didn't even realize until comparing these two data sets that Niagara Falls, Ontario surpassed Niagara Falls, New York in population in the eighties, and the Canadian side has continued to grow while the American side has continued to shrink. Shrinking population has been happening to pretty much everywhere in upstate New York since the mid-twentieth century; I just don't know how to account for Niagara Falls, Ontario doing the opposite, aside from perhaps its much heavier focus on bringing in tourist dollars. It may be growing but it's still somewhere on the spectrum between drab and tacky.
But! We can't exactly complain about all that development on the Canadian side, given that Danielle insisted we get the more expensive room with a view of the falls, and we wound up on the 18th floor of the Embassy Suites hotel. I had actually been convinced they were doing some kind of deceptive photo shop in the photos on the hotel website, but after seeing it in person, the view was so stunning through the window, it was almost hard to believe it wasn't some kind of photoshop before my very own eyes. Getting that one room for that one night was arguably the best investment we made for this entire trip.
We still did some very touristy but essential things: "Journey Behind the Falls," which was much better for its outdoor platform basically right next to Horseshoe Falls than for its tunnels; "Hornblower Tours," basically the Canadian equivalent of the famed "Maid of the Mist" boat ride you can do from the American side; and on Friday morning Danielle opted to soak in the tub with the room's view while I took myself up Skylon Tower, which has easily the best, highest truly panoramic view of both Bridal Veil Falls (which is on the American side) and Horseshoe Falls (which is half American and half Canadian).
And don't get me wrong after I kind of talked shit about the towns: the Niagara Falls themselves, easily bar far the hugest waterfalls I have ever seen in person, are truly spectacular and make any visit worth doing. You can accurately call either side a tourist trap all you want, it doesn't dampen the allure, the grandeur, the majesty of the actual waterfalls themselves. They are stunning.
[posted 12:17 pm]