One other reason to visit Toronto while I was in Canada is to see the Niagara Falls, a natural wonder of the world. And along the way visit the vineyards around the Niagara-on-the-lake, which is a Canadian town near the Falls, also famous for its production of icewines. I picked Hamilton which is approximately halfway between Toronto and Niagara Falls as the place to stay overnight as it has far cheaper accommodations and since I was renting a car, this arrangement was convenient.
I reached the hotel slightly before noon, and the hotel is located right in downtown Hamilton which is a small town, albeit a very quiet and old one. For anyone looking to stay here, it is very easy to access the town and the hotel from the highway connecting Toronto and Niagara Falls. The building is built circa the 1980s and is connected to a shopping mall, while the city’s art gallery is just opposite.
With the hotel’s underground parking, it was convenient for a stopover when using a rental car and the parking was definitely cheaper than those at Toronto or Niagara Falls. As expected, an upgrade to the Sheraton Club rooms was included with the SPG Platinum membership. Though there was no suite upgrade, and I did not bother with it either. The room was again a basic Sheraton Club room with a good view of the lake. Though the size of the room seems a bit smaller from the Sheraton in Toronto Airport. The bathroom was also smaller, but at least the room was clean, quiet and felt comfortable.
After checking-in, I drove out once again to the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, and my pitstop for food would be at one of the vineyards in the area. This town is home to many vineyards and they are famous as one of the largest producers of icewine, a delectable sweet dessert wine that I am a fan of. I stopped by Andrew Peller Estates first and they have a very nice mansion and vineyard grounds to walk around. They also house a restaurant and a terrace for snacks and refreshments while enjoying the summer sun. I got myself some cooling pear gazpacho and enjoyed it while lounging by the terrace before buying some of their wines.
Another recommended winery in the area is Inniskillin, which in my opinion produces some of the best icewines that are consistently good in quality year after year. This is why I made another detour to visit this winery. During the summer days, there large courtyard in the winery is converted into an al-fresco dining area with several stalls selling tapas, grilled corn and oysters. I had more snacks here and of course bought more wines.
However at this time the battery in my DSLR is running out of power, and thus I had to head back to the hotel for a new battery and in the meantime took a rest in the club lounge. The club lounge in the Sheraton Hamilton was pretty good as they served hot snacks as well during the evening cocktail hours. As one of the taller buildings in town, the hotel provided vantage views of the town of Hamilton. I would also have breakfast at the club lounge the next day and I find that the breakfast choices were more or less the usual lounge breakfast fare.
With the sunset, I drove out once again towards Niagara Falls and arrived just in time to view the wonder of the waterfall during sunset which made for a beautiful scene. Visiting the falls in the evening also allowed me to catch the illumination of the Niagara Falls in the night which was stunning! However the might of the waterfall is really shown through the specks of water that engulfs the road and sidewalk making for a chilly evening. Bring a windbreaker and waterproof shoes when visiting Niagara Falls as one does expect to get wet when trying to get up close the Falls.
The town of Niagara Falls has definitely become tourist epicentre with all sorts of activities geared for tourists like sightseeing towers, ‘Maid of the Mist’ boat rides to experience the Falls closer in person, and even casinos. Neon lights takes over from the sun in the evening highlighting the major hotel chains and other attractions in this bustling town. The crowded atmosphere with the lights makes it a bit like Vegas, and they do have casinos here too!