USA ROAD TRIP | TREK AMERICA: DAY 2

NORTHERN BLT

DAY TWO:
Today started at 7am. After charging our cameras and phones overnight for the day ahead we were almost ready to go. Most of us made use of the free small breakfast in the lobby of the hostel, toast and bananas and then we gathered to start our 150 mile drive day to the first big stop on the Northern BLT...

Niagara Falls, NEW YORK, USA:
Niagara Falls is made up of three waterfalls, Horseshoe Falls (largest, mostly Canadian side), American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls (American side).
When we arrived we walked to a viewpoint to get a clear view of the falls but it was closed off so we couldn't get very close. We went to another viewpoint and it felt like we were standing on top of the American Falls, amazing view. It was very cloudy and quite cold, so we headed to the visitor centre and picked up some lunch, with most people choosing the all american chilli dog, too messy for me so I went for a regular hot dog!
Next we went to pick up our tickets for the Maid of the Mist tour of the falls. This tour was incredible, we all boarded the boat and took the slow sail across to the biggest waterfall, Horseshoe Falls. We had great views of the other falls but up close and personal with the huge Horseshoe, sailing straight into the spray from the falls, a big bucket list moment! We sailed slowly back closely passing the American Falls for another amazing view!

After exiting the ferry and taking the lift back up to the top of the falls we spent some time admiring the view and then our group split up into smaller groups based on what we each wanted to do.

TOP TIP: There will always be people in the group that want to see or explore different parts of the area you stop in, and almost always someone who wants to look at the same as you.  There are many opportunities to split off and see different things. This is your trip - make sure you see the things you want too. Some people went solo, but there are always opportunities to stay in smaller groups, don't be concerned about being on your own and equally if you want that there are chances to do both!

Some of us explored more of the New York side of the falls but the rest of us went to...

Niagara Falls, ONTARIO, CANADA:
A large group of us decided we wanted to see the falls from the Canadian side as we'd been told the views were better. Jake had already explained that if we wanted to do this it was fine but it was all of our individual responsibilities to make sure we had the appropriate authorities to enter Canada and re enter the USA as he couldn't help us if we got stuck across the border.
We made our way across the rainbow bridge leaving the USA and after immigration entering Canada and it was well worth it!




We made a pit stop for some Canadian souvenirs and then walked along the path at the edge of the falls. Although it had been cloudy most of the day the sun came out and the views of the falls were incredible, particularly of the largest - Horseshoe Falls.
After spending some time here and getting some amazing photos we made our way back to the bridge. We walked across again and noticed the sign in the middle of the bridge that showed the boundary line with one side being Canada and the other USA. This became a check off the bucket list - standing in two countries at once!

Once we had made our way back into the USA some of us went to get some drinks. After chilling for an hour and having some afternoon drinks in the Hard Rock Cafe on the New York side of Niagara, we reconvened with the rest of the group back at the van to make our way to where we would be staying tonight...

Buffalo, NEW YORK:
After arriving we checked into the Buffalo Hostel in downtown Buffalo. We pulled our luggage out of the van while Jake got all the room keys sorted and I was happy with the hostel as this was the first one of the trek and I wasn't sure what to expect but the quality was better than expected. We went in small groups in the lift to our floor and picked a bed in the 15 bedroom dorm. We had all picked bedding downstairs and so set up our beds to suit ourselves and I got my camera and phone on charge as there were plugs by most beds…so handy!
The room was large with a bigger section with out ten beds and a curtained off smeller section, both with multiple bunk beds, which were a bit creaky but fine nonetheless! We each got a key card for the room and security wasn't a problem as we were only sharing with our group.
We had a couple hours before we would be heading out as a group into downtown Buffalo for dinner, so some people used the chance to shower, but like some others, I used the downtime opportunity to lie down for a while (I must be getting old) and update friends and family on social media with photos showing where we had been so far. I also used the time to repack my backpack and case a bit so I was all set up for the evening out and the next day.
We all gathered and walked down to the famous Anchor Bar in Buffalo. This is the home of the original Buffalo Wings, so most of our group had these for dinner. We were seated in a side part of the restaurant with another big group and I overheard that they were a well known baseball team. The atmosphere was great and there was a bit of banter between to two large tables.











Following dinner and the second nights challenge of splitting the bill we all started walking back. Most of the group headed to a bar on Allan Street for some drinks, but as a few of our group were under 21 and a few of the older ones in our group, myself included, were tired, there were about four of us that went back to the hostel.
After getting back I checked out the communal bathroom for a shower. This bathroom was shared between all the rooms on the floor, but wasn't busy and as everyone at hostels are on different schedules and with most of our group out I didn't have to wait for the shower. If you're concerned about how hostels and the bathroom situation will be on the BLT trek tours, don't be! They really are fine, this one was clean had about 5 toilets, 3 showers and a large mirror area with 2 sinks. Each shower stall had a lockable door with a small changing area and the shower within it.

TOP TIP: I would recommend taking some bathroom flip flops, I used these everywhere to wander round places we stayed in and it does help you feel a bit more comfortable in the bathrooms if you're at all concerned about it. You also need to remember to carry everything with you to the bathroom that you need. There will be times when you keep having to go between rooms because you've forgotten something - invest in a large ish travel wash bag to carry your shampoos & toiletries and don't forget to take your towel and fresh / bed clothes with you.

I also spent time sorting my case out a bit more and settled down to bed, before our early start the next day...

TOP TIP: If you do prefer getting a good / earlier nights sleep like me, try and bag a bed in the corner of the room, so you are not disturbed as much with people coming in at different times of the night! You'll also be tired from all the walking, so it shouldn't wake you up too much, I was out like a light at the end of every day - the benefit of being in your thirties when travelling!



© CAROLAND

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