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Niagara

Visiting Niagara Falls was a massive item ticked off my "to see" list, and they really are every bit as spectacular as you imagine. There are photo opportunities galore but no photo can really do them justice, they really do have to be seen. We were advised to visit the falls on the Canadian side, since this grants the best view of the so-called 'Horseshoe Falls' or Canadian falls, and this was definitely the right thing to do. On Tuesday, we took the Maid of the Mist, a boat tour that has been running for decades that gets up nice and close to both sets of falls. You get soaked by the mist of the falls, but they do give you a complimentary poncho so it's not so bad. It is tricky to get many photos though when being sprayed with water!
 
Aside from the waterfalls, the town of Niagara Falls is an incredibly commercialised, fairly tacky place, with "attractions" that lie somewhere between Blackpool and Las Vegas. Across the course of the day, we visited the Guinness World Records museum and the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum, which were both good. We did a "maze", which took literally about 12 minutes to complete so not particularly involved, and we also tried a "Haunted" House, which took even less time and was pretty lame to be honest! A 4D simulator movie and a round of glow-in-the-dark golf rounded off the day. It was enjoyable to do, but not really anything you couldn't find in Skegness or Great Yarmouth - apart from obviously you aren't a few minutes away from some of the biggest waterfalls in the world at those places.
 
Niagara concluded part one of our trip, and a 4am start on Wednesday morning meant we were up in the air and on our way to Phoenix, Arizona just after 7. Arizona is pretty much a hot, arid desert, with temperatures somewhere near 100F (late 30s C) at the mo. It's generally quite flat with a number of peaks, which offer some great views but aren't particularly comfortable to climb in this heat. Apart from that, there really isn't a lot to do in Phoenix - even the USA guidebook says Phoenix doesn't have much to offer! So we went to a Sea-Life centre, and for once this was an occasion where America doesn't do things bigger - it was a fraction of the size of the London or Birmingham Sea-Life centres, so it was okay but nothing better than we've seen before. We saw the Barenaked Ladies (who you may remember from 'One Week' or the theme tune to The Big Bang Theory) in concert last night, and then got out of Phoenix! The Grand Canyon now beckons...

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Niagara Falls posted by Aaron

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