Good Morning! Yesterday was a fun day exploring western New York and visiting Canada for an hour or two.
We woke up and got out early, heading the opposite direction of most Monday morning traffic and avoiding the toll roads – something we’ll have to get used to being back east! We stopped by Paula’s Donuts for breakfast since their Trip Advisor ranking was so high. While quite tasty (I had a cinnamon crumb and a lemon filled), I’m going to miss the airier potato donuts of Idaho, and William will always be a southern donuts man. Cake donuts can just feel so heavy.
We were at the Niagra Falls visitor center by about 8:30 and there were few other people there. We didn’t think about how it would be pretty empty this time of year, with most people visiting in the summer. It was wonderful to enjoy the views pretty much to ourselves all morning. We walked along the American side near the visitors’ center, but did not cross to the island; we figured that can be a summer visit adventure. Then we headed across the bridge to view the falls from the Canadian side, and I agree with the consensus of others that the view from Canada is the prettier view. It was great to get some walking and fresh air while taking in the majestic power of water. I always try to imagine what it would have been like to stumble upon the power of nature unwittingly in the centuries before and this place would have been awe inspiring for sure!
After the Falls, we headed up to Fort Niagra, which was my favorite part of the day. Fort Niagra served as an active military installation through World War I, being used for various training exercises after the Civil War before soldiers were sent to conflicts overseas. In the 1920s and 1930s, the fort was at risk of falling into the water, and local organizations lovingly restored the fort to what you see today, allowing you to step back in time to experience events of historical significance first hand. The fort was first built by The French as an outpost to give them control of the trade route that bypassed the great falls. The fort played an active role in the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812. It was rfortified during the Civil War, when both sides though the British would be coming to the aid of the confederacy, since the Great Lakes would have been the perfect second front, to control access to waterways and trade. The fort has not only gorgeous views, but allows you to visit each floor of the restored buildings, has a museum with the history of the fort, and interpreters who offer demonstrations and answer questions. Basically, days spent at places like Fort Niagra are my favorite and what sparked an early love of history as a kid and having the opportunity to visit places like historic Jamestown, Williamsburg, Mount Vernon and Monticello. There is something so important about preserving the past, to allow us to interact with its significance and encourage learning. The demonstration yesterday was an American Revolution era British soldier educating you about the musket, the bayonet and the canon. He was really fun and you could tell loved coming to teach visitors about history. I definitely look forward to returning to the fort at different times of year when more of the park is open, more interpreters are out educating and it’s the high season. The views of Lake Ontario from the fort really did feel like we were looking out on the ocean!
On our way back to Buffalo, we decided we wanted to try the Buffalo classic beef on weck. So, Google took us to Schwabls, a cute little German restaurant in West Seneca that’s been around since 1835! With it being restaurant week, it made ordering pretty brainless, but I definitely want to go back in the future! We split the basket of Bavarian pretzel sticks with their house made honey mustard sauce, which was incredible! Then we each had our beef on weck, and the rest of the country needs to get on board. That sandwich was delicious! The roll was the perfect compliment to the beef, the beef was perfectly cooked at medium rare and it just tasted incredible. I’ve always been a French Dip fan, but this definitely was better! They also had a local birch beer available which made me so happy! To be back in a part of the world where birch beer is a thing has my taste buds rejoicing. My favorite kind of coke is birch beer, but outside of the mid-Atlantic area, it’s hard to find. William ordered me a case of birch beer around my birthday because he knos it’s my favorite treat, so to be able to order it at a restaurant was so fun to me!
After our late lunch, we were pretty beat from lots of walking earlier in the day and the time change from Mountain to Eastern, so we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel. We did some reading and watched a movie and eventually ordered a Buffalo style pie for delivery. Buffalo pizza is a hybrid somewhere between New York style pie and Chicago deep dish, and I really enjoyed my couple slices.
Overall, day two was a lot of fun! I enjoyed all the walking we did to see new things and really enjoyed learning the history of the area. I look forward to visiting both places again in the future, and learning more about the history of western New York in the story of North America and the United States.