"The Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership is a government agency created in 1999 to partner with Ontario tourism operators to showcase Ontario as a four-season must-see travel destination at home and internationally."
The OTMPC Summer 2007 Brand Campaign had a 90 second "There's No Place Like This" ad that was shown on TV regularly during March and April. About 40 seconds into the commercial (watch here) you will see a ridiculously long suspension bridge. The first time lunato and I saw the ad on TV, we said "wow!" simultaneously and decided we must where that bridge is. It had to be in Ontario, but where ?!
Google search led us to multiple Ontario travel websites but the campaign was relatively new so we couldn't find any information about the suspension bridge. I called the Ontario Travel agency and inquired about the commercial and the suspension bridge but the agent didn't know what I was talking about. She offered to mail an Ontario Travel Guide and suggested that the guide might have pictures of bridge and I might be able to find more information there. Sure, thanks! The guide arrived within a week but unfortunately no helpful hints about the suspension bridge.
Lunato and I continued our search on the internet and our research seemed to indicate the bridge might be in the gigantic Algonquin Provincial Park. Now, months later, with more information online about the ad campaign, we know that the bridge is Canada's longest foot suspension bridge, 600 feet across the Eagle Canyon. Insane. We're planning on visiting it during the Fall.
During the Hunt For The Bridge, lunato stumbled upon the Whirlpool Jet Boat website. Before I go any further, click here to watch a video of the Jet Boat ride.
"WOW!", right ?
The Jet Boat ride starts from Niagara-On-The-Lake and travels along the Niagara River towards the Niagara Whirlpool, which is a natural whirlpool with a depth of about 38m. The water flowing from the Niagara Falls flows into the Niagara River and then takes a 90 degree turn thus forming the whirlpool. The water around this area is extremely turbulent with rapids all over the place.
Once boat engines became powerful enough to brave these rapids, it probably did not take too long for someone to realize that people would pay money to get soaked with water.
Since Harry was going to visit Canada soon, lunato and I decided that we will wait until he arrives and then go together. $56 CDN per person is a bit pricey but it was sure worth it.
We had reservations for 5 PM. Lunato was working until 2 and I had taken the day off so we were in front of her workplace at exactly 2 PM. Yonge and Bloor in Toronto to 61 Melville Street in Niagara-On-The-Lake is about 138 km and we had 3 hours until the jet boat left the docks. However, visitors are expected to arrive at least 15 minutes before departure for an info session. With the horrible Toronto Friday Traffic to contend with, I had to drive very creatively to reach our destination on time. Dooh and Harry fell asleep while I was driving.. what ungrateful punks. At least we got a funny picture of them.
The Jet Boat ride was amazing. We were lucky enough to be in the front row. Dooh kept saying "I hate you, I hate you" when I insisted we sit at the front.. but once the ride was over he was grateful that I had insisted to be at the front. The "Ten Thousand Gallon Nasal Flush" really felt like the 10k Nasal Flush. We were soaked to our bones from head to toe. Numerous times the water inside the boat was up to our chest. It's an amazing ride and well worth the admission price. Just make sure you take an extra set of clothes with you; shirt, pants, underwear, socks, and a towel too!
After the Jet Boat ride we drove along the Niagara Parkway to Niagara Falls, stopping occasionally along the way for pictures.
Lunato and I recently got in touch with Margarita through Lisa, our 2002-2004 roommates from Ottawa, and while browsing through her wedding pictures on facebook, one picture stood out in particular. It was so unique and nice that lunato insisted that we create our own version of it. After multiple tries, we succeeded. So here they are:
Niagara Falls is always fun. Lunato had been putting off going to Screamers until Harry was here so we went there right after parking and having a bite to eat. It was just as much fun as I imagined it would be. I led the way followed by Lunato, Dooh, and Harry. Harry opted to stay at the back
behind Dooh, his favourite position. We yelled and screamed in absolute darkness but kept inching forward. At one point someone breathed down my neck and whisphered ominously "Leave the girl behind." Hehe.
We took a few more pictures here and there and then it was time to head back. We were sleeping at my mother's house in Mississauga tonight. She had insisted that Harry and his mother should visit her while they were here in Toronto. They've known each other almost as long as Harry and I. Unfortunately she had already left for Ottawa by the time we reached Mississauga. Oh well, maybe next time.
A few weeks before her parents arrived, lunato made a schedule for how we'll spend each weekend while they're here in Toronto. Today we visited Niagara-On-The-Lake and Niagara Falls. Her parents visited Canada sometime in 1992 so this was not the first time for them to see the Falls. However, they were on a package tour at the time so they didn't get to spend a lot of time exploring the area. Today, on the other hand, we spent almost the entire day in Niagara and the short trip was pretty enjoyable. I was contemplating whether I should take them to Screamers but lunato rejected the idea. She wants to go to Screamers with Alidhooh and Harry when they visit us in Toronto from the 13th to 17th of June. She's made a detailed plan for each day for them as well. Phewh, it's going to be a very busy June of 2007!
we were on the way to mom's house and all of sudden sikander asked me "lunato, shall we go to Niagara falls?" "what, Niagara falls? just like that?" you know Niagara falls is world famous sightseeing place and people dream about seeing it in real at least once in their life..
sikander then asked me "lunato, do you have your passport with you?" hahaha very funny sikander. when we were just "good roommates", we, dooh, naraku, sikander, and I, went on a Toronto trip together. we stayed in sikander's house eating sikander's mom's food. (who could have imagined she would be my future mother-in-law). anyhow, during the 2003 toronto trip, we went to Niagara falls. sikander and I planned to visit the American side but we forgot to bring our passports. we were very disappointed and were sitting on the side of a path looking so pissed while dooh and naraku went to get coffee. all of a sudden a lady approached us and started talking to us. "this may sound a bit odd.. I am from States and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s so nice to be here. but I was looking at you two and I could tell you guys are unhappy about something. is there anyway I can help you at all ? it is just sad to see a couple look like this when they're on a trip"
Hehe, I was very embarrassed that we were displayed like that in public but at the same time happy that we looked like a couple not just roommates :D
On the way, we listened to the song "Eyes on me". I like the lyrics a lot.
Whenever sang my songs
On the stage, on my own
Whenever said my words
Wishing they would be heard
I saw you smiling at me
Was it real or just my fantasy?
You'd always be there in the corner
Of this tiny little bar
My last night here for you
Same old songs, just once more
My last night here with you?
Maybe yes, maybe no
I kind of liked it your way
How you shyly placed your eyes on me
Did you ever know
That I had mine on you?
When we got there it was almost midnight and rainy. It was pretty dark and cold as well but we could hear the sound of massive water falling clearly. and hold on, what is that on the American side of the falls ? OMG... Aku.. the core of evil is now at Niagara Falls USA.. where is Samurai Jack??? Help!
Standing by the falls for 5 minutes was long enough to feel the chill on the skin. We drove a bit more along the falls and then headed back to Mississauga at close to 1 in the morning. Talk talk talk, sing sing sing, yawn yawn yawn, coffee, coffee, coffee... by the way, I still think Tim Horton's ice cappuccino is the best ice cappuccino in the world (at least in my world)
"Hello, my name is lunato and I am Ice cappuchinholic."
the phone rang at 3 am. i woke up, grabbed the cellphone and heard shekhar tell me that he will be arriving with taemoor in about 10 minutes. ok. i made sure the guest bedroom had two of everything; pillows, male indian actors, and blankets and then went downstairs to open the door. they weren't going to ring the bell because everyone else was asleep in the house.
we all woke up again close to 9. after an excellent breakfast of parathas with some yoghurt sauce made by my mom we headed towards highway 400 to pick up shweta and her friend. shekhar and shweta usually visit toronto with their friends. i had met taemoor in carleton once before so i knew him but i had no idea who the fourth person was. they were at shweta's manager's house. he's the president of East2West Group ( website : beware of loud music playing automatically on the website ) and shweta is one of his artists. you can hear shweta sing at their website as well; go to music and shweta would be the first artist displayed in the list. click on MP3 then on TRACK 1 and press the Play button... excellent voice in my opinion.
someone named lalit sen was there too. i had no idea who he was but apparently he is a famous music director in bollywood, india's film and music industry. bollywood as in hollywood but in bombay, india.. so bollywood. pakistan followed suit and named their film industry lollywood. i guess it must be located in lahore... wikipedia confirms this. lalit was hillarious and made everyone laugh quite a few times. he was also nice enough to invite us to his office in bombay if we happened to be passing by.
lalit's cellphone rang while we were sitting in the kitchen talking to each other. it was someone calling him from india. asian countries are so far ahead of north america in terms of telecommunications. samsung recently released a cellphone with a 7 megapixel camera in it.. my god. anyhow, his phone was GSM-enabled something something and the phone had a smart chip inside it. anyone who wanted to contact him would simply dial his local phone number in india and the call would be routed to where ever the phone was. so a person in india was calling a local number but the call was being bounced around by satellites and was finally connected to a cellphone in a kitchen in toronto, ontario, canada. instant global communication!! i know this isn't something new and has been around for quite a few years but i just hadn't seen it with my own eyes yet. high tech stuff is so cool
i also met purnima there and it turns out she is aarti's sister... i met aarti last time shekhar and shweta came to toronto for another of shweta's performances. hehe cool. there was a dog in the house and purnima was terrified of it and everyone was teasing her about it.. lalit being one of the fore runners :P
the house was huge.. with a movie room and gym and pool table room and blah blah. very luxurious. they were selling it though and the asking price was almost 800k. we left after about half an hour and headed towards niagara falls. shekhar had rented a Pontiac G6 and i was driving so i enjoyed the long drive. it took about an hour and 15 minutes to reach niagara; highway 400, highway 401, and then highway 403.
we parked near the niagara observation tower ( which reminded me of the Seoul Tower because its not as tall as the CN Tower ) and as soon as we parked i saw an adjacent parking lot offering parking for $3 less than how muh we paid. doh.
niagara falls was almost the same as last time i visited it during the 2003 roadtrip. the only difference was that there was lots of snow around the falls. otherwise same same. still, the mist from the falls rejuvintes and refreshes me so that felt nice. it was the first time purnima visited niagara while shekhar, shweta, taemoor, and i had been there before. she left some evidence behind as well :P
after walking around the falls for a bit we headed towards the entertainment sector. i a bought a small souvenir magnet because i didn't have one from niagara yet. there were lots of amusement and entertainment places. we decided to buy combos and save using the coupons we had picked up earlier. there was a deal for Journey Behind The Falls, 4D Dino Island, and some 4D Marvel Comics ride. we bought 5 of those and went towards the rides eagerly... only to be utterly disappointed by the Journey Behind The Falls. it was a complete waste of money. don't buy tickets for it if you're ever at niagara.
Dino Island and the Marvel comics one was much better and quite enjoyable. the Dino Island one was the same as the one shekhar, harry, and i had been on during the Wonderland Graduation trip in 1999. the Marvel comics one was the same as the one lunato, harry, dooh, and i had been on during the Wonderland 2003 Roadtrip. the only difference was the upgrade to 4D from 3D. now one would wonder what the difference was between the 3D and the 4D version and exactly how would they depict the 4th dimension. well, they had these gadgets in front of the seats and riders could feel wind blowing at them and water being sprayed ( i hope to god it was water they were spraying on us .. and clean water ) on their face during the ride. a nice touch
there were lots of other amusement places on that road but it was getting late and we should start going back to toronto. however, thrawn had told us that we have to go to Screamers. so okay, lets do that before we head back to toronto. was he ever right... Screamers was amazing. the most terrifying experience of my life but at the same time one of the most enjoyable rides i have been on. wow. i haven't experienced anything else like this. i just have to go on this with lunato and with dooh. harry probably already has because he's been to niagara quite a few times with renny and others. purnima was reluctant to go into Screamers when she saw the notice board behind the counter saying that more than 48 thousand people have chickened out during Screamers. but shweta was quick to point towards the other notice saying that one has to be at least 8 years old to go in and surely purnima was braver than an 8 year old.. surely. the person behind the counter told us that if at any moment we're too scared just start yelling "Screamers" and someone will escort us out of there. okkay.. i wonder what this is like.
so we bought 5 tickets and headed towards the entrance. by chance i happened to be in front of everyone. and when i parted the curtains i couldn't see anything inside. it was pitch black. for a second i thought there was a major malfunction and the ride was broken.. but the guy told us to just go on inside and follow the red lights. so easy to say... so hard to do. purnima followed me followed by taemoor followed by shekhar and shweta. i stepped inside in the darkness and could not see anything at all.. literally. i dont think ive been in complete darkness before.
shweta started getting scared right away and purnima wanted to get out. i wasn't too sure about going on inside either but i took a step. and then another. and another. either the red lights turned on or we passed some kind of barrier because all of a sudden i could see a very faint red light on the ceiling. there was no glow from the light.. it wasn't shining on anything else.. just a lonely red dot in a sea of darkness. okay now i know what do. come on gang lets go towards the red light. we might even be on a yellow brick road without knowing it. and then all hell broke loose. we heard horrible horrible growling sounds from the right, left, top, bottom, 45 degrees, 73 degrees.. everywhere. and someone grabbed my ankles. omfgkjdhgsdkjhgiurendf.. i stared running towards the next light and purnima and taemoor followed. but i bumped into someone and whoever it was pushed me away and everyone is screaming and running and theres howling noises and grunting noises and holy crap it was terrifying. finally, after two thousand years had passed by i reached a safe spot without anyone lunging at us or breathing down our necks. i started laughing.. couldnt stop laughing. and laughed throughout the rest of the journey. i guess thats my way of dealing with fear. laugh in its face :D
after taemoor, purnima, and i stopped there we realized that we had lost shekhar and shweta. we could hear shweta yelling her head off and we could hear whatever monsters were around them growling at them but they were eons behind us. we yelled their name and urged them to come up and join us but all we heard in return was shweta's screams. after a few seconds i decided to go back and get them and relayed my plan to my fellow adventurers. i turned as best as i could in complete darkness and started heading back... only to be grabbed by the shoulders by something or someone so close to me that i could feel its breath on my face and i was told with as much menace and evil he could muster into his voice, "follow the red lights" .... okay sir, whatever you say. just dont kill me and sell my body parts to doctors trying to clone human beings. we turned around and started following the red lights. the rest of the journey was quite awesome. i think we mustve spent 10 minutes in there. the truck and the crypt parts were the coolest and most scariest. awesome awesome stuff. at the very last turn we can see the exit a few paces ahead of us.. but at the same time you hear someone starting a chainsaw and you just know theyre not going to let you walk out in peace :)
but we did make it out alive. purnima wanted to quit quite a few times and was even asking me "whats the secret word ? whats the secret word ?" but taemoor and i somehow managed to convince her to continue on with us on this insane journey. and she completed the whole thing.. awesome :D
when we walked.. i mean ran out.. of the exit we saw shweta sitting on a chair sipping water and shekhar standing near the entrance with a sad look on his face. shweta completely lost it and started yelling Screamers just a few steps from the entance so someone led both her and shekhar out of the maze. they have a special Chicken Exit and they both walked out from there hahahaha. it just shows how powerful our basic emotions can be and once the flight switch is turned on and the fight switch is turned off the brian doesnt listen to any rational arguments and wants to get out as soon and as fast as possible. theres a caveman and cavewoman in all of us.
the management was nice enough to let shekhar go in again. so i bought another ticket and went with him. taemoor and purnima declined to experience it again. but i went again and shekhar told me to shut up and stop laughing hehe. he was terrified.. especially during the crypt part.. he fell on the floor and was yelling like a little girl :) :) but wow.. what an experience. have to have to do this again. i only wish i knew of it earlier than now.
after Screamers we kept talking about it all the way back to the parking lot and then finally headed back to toronto. the sun was going down but the day wasn't over yet. in toronto we headed straight to gerrard street and had some snacks there. after buying some music cds and some dvds we headed north on DVP towards scarborough for dinner. we went to Lin Garden restaurant and had some indo-chinese food. excellent stuff. the chinese waiters there actually spoke in hindi... which was one of the weirdest things i have seen in my life. a chinese person speaking fluently in hindi. whoa..
after being fully-filled up we headed back to mississauga and everyone came upstairs to my room to relax for a bit. we went through Merivale Highschool yearbooks and looked at how young and stupid shekhar and i looked in them. i had graduated from Merivale when shweta joined it and purnima and taemoor aren't merivaliens... boooooo. they left at around 1 in the morning to go back to ottawa. i suggested staying here for the night because it had been a long day and a 5 hour drive wasnt really the best of ideas.. but shekhar has done this numerous times before so he was confident they would be fine. okee. and yes, they are fine :)