I am very excited this morning, because as of yesterday, Eric and I are officially making plans for our next trip together. We had been making tentative plans prior to yesterday, but were waiting for confirmation from Achilles' "camp" that they could accommodate him for our dates. Now that the dog has a place to go, we can start booking things! Considering that this trip will take place next weekend, we're not wasting any time.
We have had many, many discussions about what we want to do travel-wise this year. For the first time in a few years, we have total freedom to decide where we want to go. For the past couple of years, our "big trips" have been decided for us thanks to family weddings and such. Please don't misunderstand - I am not complaining about this in the least! Two years ago, my cousin Jacob's wedding took place in Hungary, which got us over to Europe for the first time, and from there we went on to Scotland (St. Andrews, Edinburgh and North Berwick) for a week. We loved every second of it. Then, my sister got a job on a cruise ship, and I went to visit her for a two-week, nine-island Caribbean cruise. Oh, such torture. Most recently, my dear cousin Molly got married in Mexico, so we spent a week in the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo sun last November. All of these were fabulous trips, and I wouldn't trade them for anything. I'm so glad that my family's jobs/weddings have taken me to places I otherwise might not have gone!
But this year, with no weddings and no sisters on cruise ships, we have been having a terrible time deciding where to go. We debated all sorts of ideas for a "big trip," ranging from Australia to Italy to Hawaii to Greece. Those all sound fabulous, but we decided on something much less exotic: we'll stay on this continent and do a bunch of small side trips from NYC, rather than one big trip. We're lucky to live in a place where a number of great cities are within driving distance, often only a cheap bus trip away. Since we have moved here we have been meaning to get to Boston, Philadelphia and Niagara Falls. So, we decided that this year, instead of one big trip, we'll take care of all these little ones. That still gives us the freedom (and budget) to also head home sometime during the holiday season, go to my family reunion in Pittsburgh this summer, and maybe even jump on a great travel deal to some other unknown place if a deal pops up (like we did last year when we went to Los Angeles).
So, the first trip on our list this year: Niagara Falls!
In actuality, Niagara Falls itself will be a very small part of our trip, but that is the destination that got us working on this itinerary. Our plan is to leave next Friday and come back on Tuesday. We will be renting a car and having a nice little road trip with several stops. Check it out:
First stop: Cooperstown, New York.
Cooperstown is about four hours north of NYC. Our sole reason for stopping there comes at Eric's request: Cooperstown is the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Baseball Hall of Fame
We will arrive in Cooperstown around lunch time and will spend a few hours there enjoying the Hall of Fame and the town itself, as time permits. I've heard it's an adorable little town, and judging by the pictures I am seeing online, that is not inaccurate. I wish we had more time to spend there, but alas, we must move on.
After leaving Cooperstown, we will drive about another six hours northwest to our second stop: Toronto!
We will stay in Toronto from Friday night until Sunday afternoon. We have booked a room at the Strathcona Hotel, which is located downtown within walking distance of some of the major attractions.
The Strathcona Hotel
Our tentative Toronto itinerary includes hitting a museum on Saturday morning, possibly the Royal Ontario Museum, Hockey Hall of Fame or Bata Shoe Museum. (Seriously, did you know Toronto has an entire museum devoted to shoes? Toronto gets me.) Saturday afternoon we'll catch a Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre (as you may recall, Eric is trying to visit as many baseball stadiums as possible as a bucket list type goal), and that evening we'll go up to the top of the CN Tower. We'll find a nice place to have dinner out, and if we're not too exhausted by the end of the day, we'll go for a nice evening stroll along the Harbourfront. On Sunday, we'll take a ferry over to the Toronto Islands for a casual, relaxing morning before checking out of our hotel by 2:00 p.m.
Top row: The Royal Ontario Museum (source), the Hockey Hall of Fame (source), and the Bata Shoe Museum (source)
Bottom row: View from inside the Rogers Centre (source), the Toronto skyline featuring the CN Tower (source), and a scene from the Toronto Islands (source)
After leaving Toronto we will head back south for about two hours to our third stop: Niagara-on-the-Lake, a small town located on Lake Ontario, about 20-30 minutes north of Niagara Falls.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is in the heart of wine country and is surrounded by what I hear are fabulous wineries. The town itself is supposed to be rather quaint and charming, and you know how I like that sort of thing. We will be staying at Cecile's House Bed and Breakfast, just one block off the main street in the old town.
A look into our B&B, including the room we have reserved at top right (The "French Room"). Also, how badly do you want to sit and read a book by that fireplace in the bottom right photo?
We will only be staying in Niagara-on-the-Lake for Sunday night, and our plans while we're there are still pretty tentative. It will largely depend on how we feel and when we arrive. If we're feeling wine-y, maybe we'll hit a winery. Maybe we'll just wander through the shops and restaurants on Queen Street. Maybe Eric will golf while I go antiquing (our B&B is just one block from a golf course!). I'm sure we'll find a lovely way to pass the afternoon, and then we will enjoy a nice dinner out together and a leisurely stroll through the little town.
Does this not look like just the most charming little town?
Monday morning, after enjoying our delightful B&B breakfast, we will take off for our final destination: Niagara Falls itself, just about 30 minutes south of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
We haven't booked our Niagara Falls hotel yet, but we've got it narrowed down to a couple. We know we will be staying on the Canada side, in a room with a jacuzzi tub and a view of the falls. Helloooo, romance.
Yeah, buddy. Now THAT is a view.
We'll spend all day Monday doing your classic Niagara Falls tourist stuff: Maid of the Mist, Cave of Winds, the works. I also definitely want to walk across the the New York side to check it all out from there, too. The New York side is a National Park, and is supposed to be beautiful (and less touristy/commercial than the Canadian side). Plus, I think it's fun to walk across the bridge from one country into another.
We'll have a nice dinner out that night, and then wrap up our trip watching the Falls Illumination and fireworks, quite possibly from the comfort of our hotel suite.
And that will be it! We'll leave early Tuesday morning to drive back to NYC (about 7 hours, possibly stopping in Scranton, PA--shout-out to The Office lovers!--on the way), where we will return the car and retrieve our dog.
Eric and I haven't had a trip alone together since Los Angeles last May, so I'm looking forward to spending some romantic one-on-one time with my husband. Pretty natural wonders and quaint little towns in wine country sounds like just the ticket. I'm sure it will be a great trip!