North American Stress Reliever Getaway – Canada
After a big event like Wine and Roses, we like to get away for a quiet relaxing time. The Wine and Roses festival is full of excitement celebrating the beginning of spring, the new vintage, new wine releases, reunion with friends and the Brookwoods. The Fabulous Brookwoods formed in 1959 by Paul V Bonarrigo and his friends Sal Rizzo (the drummer), and Dan Depolito (the keyboardist and composer) and shortly thereafter joined by Frank Lawrence on Saxophone. More recently, John Miller and Billy Hillman on guitars have joined the group. Each year they come together to play their music for our extended Messina Hof family. You can find their music on YouTube at The Fabulous Brookwoods.
After a week of continual practice and then three full days of performances and all the other activities associated with the weekend of events, we are ready for a break!
This year we made a long-awaited trip to the Niagara area of Canada. Our good friends Becky and Michael McBurney met us at the Toronto airport and graciously hosted us sharing the best of the area for our first-time visit.
First stop was Niagara Falls – so much power, beauty, and moisture all in one place! Thunderous sounds fill the gorge, and the mist rises above the falls. Crystal clear aquamarine water flows 750,000 gallons per second over the falls! It is one of the natural wonders of the world and worth a visit. Electricity in the air is energizing, mist moisturizes and refreshes, and the continual rhythm of flowing water is soothing.
You can take Maid of the Mist (New York side) or Hornblower (Canadian side) boats out to the center of the falls pool. They do give you rain parkas but be prepared to get wet. You can also take an elevator to a tunnel that opens to water level for an up-close view.
The Table Rock Center offers gift shops, restrooms, and Falls view restaurant where you can get flights of Niagara region wines paired with local appetizers.
There are so many photo opportunities outside by the falls and inside the gift shop where you can pretend to be in the tunnel and be dry!
For those who want more action, there are Casinos along the waterfront.
The area around Niagara on the Lake is in southern Ontario and sits on the shores of Lake Ontario. May and June are beautiful months to visit. Tulips are in full bloom, baby geese roam with their parents, and you might just see turtles crossing the road.
There is an amazing little cheese shop there called Cheese Secrets at 38 Market Street where you can find the most interesting cheeses (our favorite surprise was the sweet taffy cheese!), local honey, maple syrup products, and an amazing collection of truffle products. Truffle Dust was our “tinker bell” find.
In Guelph, not far away, you will find a beautiful wooden walking bridge. There is an excellent ice cream shop nearby serving many flavor choices. Benches along the river provide relaxing places to enjoy ice cream.
If you are lucky, you will see the “bubble lady.” In her retirement she has found that sharing her gigantic bubbles (some 6 feet long and 12” wide) is healing not only to herself but to those who are alone. She invites them to make bubbles and shares her story. She says it became her unexpected retirement ministry.
The serene Music Garden along the waterfront in Toronto is beautifully orchestrated winding path of indigenous plants, thematic sculptures, and small amphitheaters. Spring and Summers bring musical artists and playful black squirrels.
Amphitheaters represent six “movements” – Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Menuett, and Gigue.
Niagara on the Lake is known for its wineries and well it should be. Not only are they beautiful properties but the wines are excellent.
We visited Peller which has four properties including Peller Estates, Thirty Bench, Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery, and Trius. Niagara has long been revered for its ice wines, but their other wines are excellent as well.
Strolls through the vineyards and outdoor wine tastings in red Adirondack chairs (Canadians call them Muskoka chairs) offer a peaceful afternoon of conversation.
Trius Winery also boasts an excellent restaurant with an outstanding wine list.
Whatever your pleasure Niagara on the Lake has something relaxing and special for you to discover. Enjoy the experience!