Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Festival of Lights

Yesterday I went on a bus tour operated by Take a Break Travel Inc. to the Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls.

What a fantastic tour!

We departed London Mall at 9:15am. Following several pickups throughout London, our bus load of 56 headed off to our first stop! Shopping for 45mins at Coyle's Country Store. What a nice little surprise for us all! I bought a cute little plum pudding, and a few Christmas gifts!

From there we went to Woodstock for lunch at the Truck Stop. This was only a short stop to grab an early bite since we were having an early dinner.

Once fed and watered, we drove off to the next destination - Kittling Ridge Winery & Distillery. This place was awesome! Rich in history and rich in wine and spirits. Kittling Ridge is the only place in Ontario where you can experience the wine-maker's art and the distiller's craft in one visit. Although not a wine drinker, I did sample three delicious beverages at the tasting bar.

First was an exquisite and multi-award winning Icewine & Brandy! Not too sweet, with a lovely blend of brandy - it's mostly used as a dessert wine. I came home with a few gift packs of this!

Second was an Oh Canada Maple Liqueur. Since this is a blend of maple syrup and whiskey, it was not my cuppa tea. It's often used in baking and cooking, mixed with coffee, hot chocolate and egg nog, and brushed on meat after baking.

Last was a Bolivar Coffee Liqueur. This is an all natural liqueur made from deep roasted, freshly ground, South American coffee beans. It's less sweet than other coffee liqueurs, and somewhat like Tia Maria or Kahlua. It's often used in hot chocolate, over ice or any recipe that calls for a coffee liqueur. Delicious mixed with milk or cream and an easy dessert served over ice cream.

On the road again! Our next stop was the Niagara Parks Greenhouse. The greenhouses feature two ponds, a collection of plants from around the globe, and tropical birds flying around. We enjoyed a lovely Christmas Show of poinsettias, cyclamen, azaleas, and Christmas cactii.

Our next stop was Horseshoe Falls. Although very cold, this attraction never disappoints. You could take a hundred photos every day and still never capture the power, the noise or the vastness of the falls.

Dinner in the revolving restaurant in Skylon Tower was included in our tour. What a fabulous view! The restaurant completes one revolution every 1hr. We arrived just before 6pm, so we saw the city "light up". It was simply breathtaking! The food was great too - hot buttered bread and salad for starters, followed by chicken breast with potatoes and green beans. Dessert was a peach melba and that was followed by a lovely cuppa tea.

After dinner it was back on the bus to view the Winter Festival of Lights. There are over three million sparkling lights along a 5km route! Light displays included: Dufferin Islands Displays, Winter Wonderland Displays, Enchantment of Disney® Displays, and Displays in the City.

I made good use of all the bus travel - of course I knitted like a demon! I'm making another pair of felted mittens!

Although there were no more stops on the way home, we did enjoy a classic black and white Christmas movie "It's a Wonderful Life" starring James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. For those who've never seen it, the basic plot of the story goes like this: an angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.

9:45pm - buss pulls up again at London Mall! Exhausted, but exhillirated, we all shuffle out the bus, thank our driver, Darwin, our host Barb, and head for home!

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