Monday, May 18, 2009

Adirondack - Back to Nature

The Adirondack, located north of New York State is an outdoor lover's playground. You can go hiking, moutain biking, boating (of all shapes and sizes), fishing in this 600 million acre forest filled with peaks, lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. Given our limited time on our New York trip, we could only spend 3 days. So we focused on the Southern Adirondack towns of Old Forge and Lake George.

In summer, Old Forge is extremely popular with families simply because there is so much to do. Bear that in mind when you choose your accomodation. We stayed at the Water's Edge Inn, which is located opposite the Enchanted Forest/Water Inn. So, there were lots of teenagers and children, which also translates to little peace and quiet.

We rented some mountain bikes and armed with a map of the area, set off on a bike ride around Inlet. It was a sunny day and once we were off the highway and in the trails, it was beautiful. We were disappointed that we were not able to cycle by the lakes as these were private property. So, we had to content ourselves sticking to the forest trails.

J, being the more adventurous type decided to attempt the uphill narrow track Vista Trail.

I was happy to stick with my wide and flat trail.

That night, we both agreed that we should treat ourselves to a nice dinner after our 20 miles ride. Based on Frommer's recommendation, we headed to the Seventh Lake House. If it weren't for our travel guide book, we would have driven past the restaurant located between Inlet and Raquette Lake and missed it altogether. As you can see by the number of cars parked outside, this was a popular dinner venue because the food is fantastic.

After burning all that calories earlier that day, we loaded up on protein with our orders of steak and lamb chop. Both meals were cooked to perfection. We couldn't ask for more.

After dinner, we caught a beautiful sunset at Raquette Lake. Now this is what life is about!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Niagara Falls - Romantic getaway

Niagara Falls - Close up view from Maid of the Mist
Did you know that Napoleon Bonaparte's younger brother, Jerome had his honeymoon in Niagara Falls in the early 19th century? Since then, this magnificent falls remains a favourite wedding and honeymoon spot.

J & I were thrilled that we would finally get a chance to visit this magnificent falls. My New York friend said that Niagara Falls was too commercialized. I suppose it's true to a certain extent. However, I felt that one person's experience very much depends on where one stays. And I couldn't have picked a better spot than Hillcrest Inn. It is located on a quiet street, far enough from the "commercial" activities, yet, close enough to walk to the Falls. The hosts are friendly and down-to-earth and really made us feel like home, going the extra mile to provide little touches to make our stay memorable. My only regret is that we only stayed 1 night at this beautiful home.

The living room done in sophisticated grey and white

The cosy sun room

The romantic Hillcrest Suite

It was hard to tear ourselves from our gorgeous room but we only had 2 days and we did come to see the Niagara Falls. So, we took a leisurely walk by the Niagara River and headed downtown towards the Falls. It was amazing to see how fast the river flowed and hear the sound of the river as it rushed down to the Falls.
But nothing could prepare us for the sight at the end. We went up on the Observation Deck to get a full view of the mighty Niagara Falls,in all its glory and splendour - it took my breath away.

I wanted to get a close-up view of the Falls and the best way to do it is to go on the Maid of the Mist boat ride. It is incredible to experience the Falls so close. The boat took us the base of the American Falls and then to the basin of Horsehoe Falls. Bring along a waterproof camera, a sense of adventure and be prepared to get wet on this amazing boat ride. Don't worry, they provide a blue raincoat!

Little blue people queueing up in an orderly fashion to board the boat.

Can you spot the rainbow on the left?

We somehow managed to find a clear view for a couple shot (which is amazing considering the boat was full!)

The Observation Deck, the Canadian Maid of the Mist and a rainbow.

We couldn't get enough of the Falls so we headed to the Cave of the Winds for Round 2. We took a 175 feet elevator ride down to the Niagara Gorge. It was cold and damp. We then walked on the wooden walkway to the Hurricane Deck.

Hmm...seems mild enough from here. I wonder why they provided us sandals on top of the yellow raincoat?

Now I know why...The strong gusts of wind and wild sprays of water is enough to make a grown man shiver!

J standing bravely next to the Bridal Veil Falls

We had enough of drenching but still not enough of the Falls. So we headed to the Horseshoe Falls on Goat Island.

We also managed to see a fat beaver, totally oblivious to the Falls and the crowd.

And to top off a perfect day, we had dinner at the Top of the Falls Restaurant, enjoying the view of the Horseshoe Falls whilst having a delicious dinner of pork chop and New York Steak.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Words of wisdom

Life is fragile. No one know what's round the corner. All you can do is to live each day and take it as it comes along. As the former president of the United States once said "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." ~Theodore Roosevelt