It took about two hours to drive from Toronto to Niagara-on-the-Lake, a small town on Lake Ontario, surrounded by all the wineries a girl could ever want.
Welcome to Niagara-on-the-Lake!
We found our bed and breakfast with no problem. We stayed at Cecile's House B&B just off Queen Street, which is the "main street" of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The location was perfect: it was only one block from the golf course (Eric was psyched), and only one block from the shopping and restaurants on Queen Street (I was psyched). Not to mention, it was ADORABLE. It is run by a very nice French man named Chris, and the whole house is decorated with beautiful antiques and French style. He had a lovely front porch you could sit on, beautiful gardens in the back, a welcoming sitting/computer room with lots of books (built in shelves - my dream!) and a fireplace. When we arrived, Chris gave us a tour and pointed out many of the beautiful features of the house.
Living area with a fireplace
Stairs to the bedrooms
We stayed in the French Room, the smallest of the three rooms at Cecile's House. I just loved the decor - it was so pretty! We did not have an ensuite bathroom, but we had a private bath just down the hall. Our room was just perfect.
The French Room
We dropped off our luggage and got settled in a bit, then basically went our separate ways. Eric walked over to the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club to play a quick nine holes. This course is reportedly the oldest course in North America. It is a 9-hole track, which is played twice to make a par-72 18. Eric was very pleased to report that he shot a 38 without hitting a single fairway, so clearly, either vacation or Canada suits him, golf-wise.
Eric has now golfed in four countries: the U.S. (duh), Canada, Mexico and Scotland! And counting...
The second hole is a dog leg left
This hole was named "Little Misery," although Eric says it wasn't so bad.
Seventh hole - the green is behind the trees in the back
(Thanks to Eric for all the golf info! I don't really know this much about golf off the top of my head.)
While Eric golfed, I walked out to Queen Street and explored all the shops. As expected, Niagara-on-the-Lake is quite adorable. I had a wonderful afternoon just strolling along Queen Street, stopping in to any shops that caught my eye, and enjoying the scenery. My favorite shop was Cecile's Home and Gift, owned by our B&B owner, although I didn't buy anything there. I did end up with a few souvenirs from other shops, including a maple-scented candle that smells DIVINE, a Christmas ornament, and some peanut butter chocolate fudge. Mmmm.
A look down Queen Street
Shaw House Cafe & Wine Bar
Shops on Queen Street
This sweet shop had so many different kinds of candy apples, they had a menu! That's good stuff.
Shaw Festival Theater. I wish we would've had time to catch a show!
Pretty landscaping all along Queen Street
My timing was perfect, and I was just about done shopping as the time Eric and I decided to meet back at the B&B approached. In fact, I was done about 15-20 minutes early, so I went back to the B&B, poured myself a glass of wine, grabbed my Kindle and made myself comfortable on the front porch while I waited for Eric. Talk about relaxing! Wine, book, and beautiful peaceful setting? SOLD. I didn't have too long to wait before Eric came back from his golfing trip, and he was quite pleased with this score. He put his golf clubs back in the car and then poured himself some wine and joined me on the porch for a bit.
I could get used to this!
When we finished our wine we decided to head back out for more exploring. We walked back over to the golf course, then continued along the water to Queen's Royal Park. We spent some time enjoying the park and admiring Lake Ontario. If it had been a sunny afternoon, it would have been just perfect, but we loved it just the same!
I had to take another picture of Eric at the golf course. It's just who I am.
Sitting along the lake
Queen's Royal Park
We then walked back to Queen Street, because Eric still hadn't seen it for himself. We started at the far end this time, and made our way back to our B&B. We stopped to check out menus at all the restaurants to figure out where we might want to go to dinner.
Prince of Wales Hotel on Queen Street
Enjoying our time in Niagara-on-the-Lake!
We then went back to our B&B, showered and got dressed for dinner. We went back to Queen Street to Corks, where we had a delicious meal of calamari, seafood pasta (for me) and chicken pasta (for Eric). And wine, naturally.
At the B&B, dressed for dinner
Corks is the white building on the right, and we had a great seat on the porch in a prime people-watching location!
Appetizer and dinner
Enjoying our night out
After dinner we decided to stop for ice cream at one of the many ice cream/sweet shops on Queen Street.
Ice cream time!
Crazy Canadians and their "flavoUrs"
Unfortunately, that was the time the forecasted rain finally decided to show its face. So, we walked back to the B&B in the rain while eating our ice cream! Luckily, we didn't have far to go. When we arrived back at the B&B, Chris was putting out lanterns on the porch and we were able to meet his two pugs, Josephine and Antoinette, who were most excited about our ice cream. They were so cute!
We had planned to sit on the front porch and drink some more wine, but the rain nixed that idea. And just a few minutes after we got back, the lightning started up, too. So, we grabbed some wine glasses from the cabinet downstairs, shared a quick (and romantic) dance to "La Vie En Rose" in the living area, then retired to our room for some wine and conversation.
It was a good thing that was our plan, because that was all we would be able to do. Not long after we settled in, the lightning storm really kicked into high gear. I'm not sure we've ever seen anything like it, and we're both from the Tampa area - the lightning capital of the world. It was wild. And, it knocked out the power! The whole house went dark, as did the street lights, and stayed that way for hours. So, we had no choice but to sit in our room in the dark, drinking wine and talking. It was actually really nice and pretty romantic. Eric and I spend a lot of time together, of course, and we make time for nice conversation pretty regularly. But it is rare for us to have an opportunity to have nothing to focus on except each other - no TV, no computers, no cell phones, no worry about work or anything at all. Just us. It was really nice.
The power was restored that night, after we were already asleep. The next morning we woke up early to get ready before heading down to breakfast. Chris had a fabulous spread set up for us, including cereal, fresh fruit, fresh baked croissants, pain au chocolate and other pastries, French clafoutis, eggs, meats, cheeses and a selection of juice and tea. Everything was delicious, and we chatted with some of our fellow guests as we ate. Perfect start to the day!
Good morning, French Room!
The breakfast spread
Ready for another fun day!
My breakfast - YUM.
After breakfast we packed our things, loaded up the car and checked out. Before we left, though, we walked back up to Queen Street to hit a liquor store. Ha! Nothing like an early morning booze run. I was bummed that we didn't have more time to spend in Niagara-on-the-Lake, as I would have loved to spend some time touring the wineries and sampling the local wine. But, we had to move on. I had, however, heard it recommended that we try the local ice wine, so we picked up a couple sample bottles of that before heading out to Niagara Falls. (Icewine is a very sweet, rare dessert wine produced from the juice of grapes naturally frozen on the vine. They are picked when they are frozen solid, and the juice of these grapes separates into ice crystals and sweet concentrated syrup. Icewine is very rare, as it takes every single grape from an entire vine to make just one bottle of Icewine - that's ten times the amount used to make regular wines!)
And that ended our time in Niagara-on-the-Lake! It was such a beautiful little town. If you are going to be in the Niagara Falls area, I highly recommend spending a night or two in Niagara-on-the-Lake. In fact, it is only about 30 minutes north of Niagara Falls, so you might even consider staying there for your whole trip and just driving in to the falls. It really was a beautiful, relaxing, peaceful place. So different from our normal bustling, busy, loud hometown!
Tomorrow I'll be telling you all about our time in Niagara Falls, which was my favorite day of the whole trip! See you then!
Note: Don't forget - more pictures of Niagara-on-the-Lake can be found here!