"Oh, you have to visit Clifton Hill! So much to do there! It's lots of fun!" Our Uber driver, on learning that I had not visited Niagara Falls for many years, that Marvin had never visited Niagara Falls before, and that we were having a difficult time finding things to do on the American side of Niagara Falls, directs us to the Canadian side, exclaiming that Clifton Hill is the place to be.
So later that day, we walk across Rainbow Bridge, enjoying gorgeous views of the Falls, and arrive in Canada. To our dismay, the Canadian border crossing agent does not stamp our passport. But, no matter, we're here, and we are determined to locate Clifton Hill. It doesn't take long. Clifton Hill is impossible to miss. The gaudy lights, carnival smells, and masses of people lure tourists in with its perpetual fun-zone feel.
We are instantly reminded of the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Here, taffy shops are replaced by ice cream and gelato stands. But the brightly-colored signs, fun-houses, wax museums, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not and Moving Theater scream "Atlantic City."
We find a diner and grab a bite to eat, finish the climb up Clifton Hill, and quickly move past it, out of the crowds, and into the quieter neighborhoods. Except for a quick trip to the Niagara SkyWheel the following day, our time in Clifton Hill is quickly over. For us, a small dose of Clifton Hill goes a long way!
And that's the way it often is. We avoid crowds and look for the places that are off the beaten path. We tend to shy away from the touristy glitz and glam and opt instead for the out-of-the-way places, the dives, and the local hang-outs. We take public transportation as often as we can, and ask the bus drivers where they would go if they weren't working. Sometimes locals will steer us toward the crowded restaurants that are popular with the tourists. But sometimes, when we are lucky, they will tell us where to find the best burger in town, at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant owned by someone known to everyone as "Pops."
Although there is much debate as to the meaning of Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken," Susan Magsamen's quote does bring to mind Frost's lines, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--/I took the one less traveled by."
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