Niagara Falls

Niagara is certainly one of those iconic tourist destinations that doesn’t disappoint.

American Falls

We were very pleased to have allowed a full day for our trip to Niagara, and that we had booked both day and evening tours.

There is lots to see and the tours manage to fit in all the key elements, including many great viewing areas, without feeling too rushed.

The Falls

Horseshoe Falls

I am sure I’m not the only one who didn’t realise there were three waterfalls.

As well as the Horseshoe and American Falls there is the smaller but still impressive Wedding Veil Falls.

A must is a trip on one of the Maid of the Mist boats.

At Night

The falls look different again at night as they are illuminated by coloured floodlights.

There is also an impressive firework display during the main tourist season.

Niagara Travel Hack

Bridal Veil Falls

If you have got a good rain jacket wear that rather than those cheap ponchos that get handed out.

You can spot me in the Bridal Veil photo because I am the one wearing the red raincoat rather than an anonymous poncho.

I also noticed that the poncho wasn’t much use when you got on the Hurricane Deck as the polythene rips easily.

Meanwhile I stayed completely dry.

Bad Facebook Posts

Tigers Nest Bhutan

Do you sometimes get a little bit jealous when your friends go to all those exotic places, like Bhutan, and then rub it in with lots of photographs on Facebook.

Well I have an antidote to that because I make a point of posting bad holiday photographs on facebook.

Most people would post the above photo on their facebook page.

I chose this photo of me, in front of the same view, but with everything hidden by cloud.

Other subjects have been stuck in traffic in Kuala Lumpur, and Venice in the pouring rain.

I must admit I do feel slightly disappointed now if I don’t get one crap facebook post for every holiday.

Buffalo, New York State

My # 1 Under-Rated Destination

Hotel Lafayette

Back in 2017 we went on an eleven week world tour for our 40th wedding Anniversary, and one of our stops was Buffalo.

Most Americans we talked to said “WTF are you going there?”

I must admit we originally only considered Buffalo as a destination because it had an Airport close to Niagara Falls.

When we checked into the Hotel Lafayette and saw the Art Deco lobby, including the Elevators, we started to think there was more to this town than we first thought!

Martin House Complex

Martin House, Buffalo

Frank Lloyd Wright is probably the most iconic American Architect and I am a big fan, so when we found that one of his major houses could be seen that became a second reason to visit.

When we got there we found it’s actually the main house plus two smaller houses.

A local restoration society looks after the Martin House complex and runs regular informative tours.

Naval and Military Park

At Canalside there is an impressive museum.

You can look over three WW2 vessels; A cruiser, destroyer, and a submarine.

In the museum building I was also interested to find a model of USS Wolverine one of only two Fresh Water Paddle Steamer Aircraft Carriers.

You can also take a pleasant boat tour from Canal Side, which takes you along the canal, and around the only Marina that is shaped like a Buffalo (Don’t believe me then search Google Maps for ‘Erie Basin Marina’)

Some Things We Missed

Buffalo City Hall

It was only as we were in the Taxi on the way back to the airport we were told not only could we visit this impressive city hall; we could get a free lift to an observation deck on the top floor.

Exploring the many other Art Deco Buildings in the city

Visiting the Anchor Bar, where the world famous Buffalo Wings were invented in 1964.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of my favourite cities.

Hong Kong from the Peak

Since first visiting in 1997 I have been back six times.

Most people visit it for 2 or 3 days but I don’t think that is long enough.

Here are just a few of the things I love to do in Hong Kong.

Taking the Peak Tram

A spectacular ride up a funicular railway with great views from the top.

Best taken early in the morning as the queues can get very long later in the day.

Horse Racing at Happy Valley

Racing is every Wednesday night during the season at this spectacular location surrounded by skyscrapers.

Last time I went I had went on a tour organised by the tourist information centre including; coach pick up, meal and betting vouchers for a very reasonable price.

The Star Ferry

Star Ferry

One of the worlds greatest bargains is a trip across bustling Hong Kong Harbour on the Star Ferry for just a few cents

A little more expensive but well worth it is evening boat that stops in the middle of the harbour to take in the nightly light show.

Getting Tailor Made Clothes

In Hong Kong tailor made clothes is an affordable luxury.

If you don’t want a suit you can just get a few shirts and pants.

It’s worth checking a few review sites before you go. (I use Apsley Tailors but there are several other with good reputations)

Visit the Big Buddha on Lantau Island

The Big Buddha is in a great location, overlooking the South China Sea.

Make sure you get a ticket which includes a vegetarian meal at the adjacent monastery.

To get there you can take a spectacular cable car ride starting at Tung Chung Railway Station.

Best avoided at weekends.

Take a Bus trip on Hong Kong Island

Jumbo Floating Restaurant

Two of the scenic trips you can go on from the top deck of a Hong Kong bus start at ‘Central.’

One goes to Aberdeen Harbour where you can have an authentic Chinese sea food meal at the Jumbo Floating Restaurant.

For the shoppers Stanley Market is well worth a look.

Disclaimer I haven’t been paid or received any other reward for this post

Iran

I recently invited to Yazd in Iran as a representative of Disaster Aid Australia, the charity I volunteer for . . . . so here are some of the things I have learned.

Arriving

I applied for my visa in advance to be picked up at the airport.

What I wasn’t told was that the fee varies depending on your nationality.

As an Australian my visa cost 145 Euros to be paid in cash while someone from Mynmar told me she paid less than 40 Euros.

If you haven’t brought evidence of your travel insurance you will also have to pay an additional $14 compulsory travel insurance.

One good thing was once you have paid the visa permission was electronically recorded and my passport wasn’t stamped. (I believe you can have big problems travelling to the USA if you have an Iranian stamp in your Passport)

Banking and Money

Because of the American Embargo a western credit card or debit card is not going to work.

I would recommend that you take hard currency, either Euros or USA dollars.

Most banks wouldn’t change your currency to Iranian Rials but some shops, hotels, and tourist guides will change money.

Because of the huge inflation in Iran, which means people like to get foreign currency, I actually got a much better rate on the exchange than the official rate.

In January 2019 the official rate was 47,000 Rials to One Euro.

Because the Rial is worth so little most people quote prices in units of ten Rials called a Toman.

People

Overall I found the people very friendly.

There aren’t many westerners around so I am a little bit obvious.

Several times a day I would be asked where I was from.

Frequently the next remark was “Welcome to Iran.”

Tower of Silence, Yazd

Culture

Iran has a very strong Islamic culture.

This means all women are expected to wear a headscarf, long sleeves, trousers and a mid length Jacket at all times.

For men its long trousers and long sleeves.

Don’t expect to be able to buy alcohol!

Travelling Around

When I arrived in Tehran the organisers of the event I was attending had organised my transport to Yazd, over 700km away.

I was surprised to find the transport was by Airport Taxi.

On the 8 hour journey, including stops, I didn’t see many coaches so I can only assume taxis are reasonably cheap and a convenient way to get around.

I did talk to someone from the Austrian Embassy about flying which he said he did, but only on certain airlines.