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Original photo by Peyton Gay
Life > Experiences

Traveling North for Waterfalls and Fast Cars

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

A year ago, I found a sport that wormed its way into my heart. Now I am sitting here, in Montreal, Canada, watching it take place in front of me. Maybe I should back up a little bit and tell you how I got here before telling you more about that. 

My family has been traveling to places on our bucket list since I was in middle school. It started with one cruise at Christmas and slowly morphed into big trips during spring break, the summer, Christmas break and small trips during the rest of the year. We rarely visit the same place twice, unless we are talking about New York City, which is a place we can’t get enough of. Nothing was ever off the table. When COVID came along, it halted our normal traveling habits. We planned to visit Alaska for my high school graduation. Canceled. A trip to Las Vegas for Christmas of 2021? Canceled. But finally, we made it to 2022 and we were back on a plane to a new place. This time we were going to Canada. 

Canada has been on the family bucket list for a while, mostly for my mom. She has always wanted to go to Niagara Falls, and after doing lots of research, she found that seeing it from the Canadian side was the best way to experience it. I, on the other hand, had been trying to find a way to attend a Formula One Grand Prix. The only two race options in the States weren’t possible because of schedule conflicts but the Canadian Grand Prix was doable. And after a less than stellar trip to Mount Rushmore (long story), my dad owed us. So, we booked a trip for a week in Canada with our main stops being Niagara Falls and the Canada GP. 

We flew into Toronto on a Tuesday and though we had been traveling all day, we were only spending a night in the city, so we decided to do some sightseeing. Since it was the middle of June, Major League Baseball was in season and the Toronto Blue Jays were playing the Baltimore Orioles. Tickets were surprisingly affordable so we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to go to the game. I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I can say that if you are in town when the Blue Jays are playing, you should definitely stop by the Rogers Center. 

Blue Jays Game
Original photo by Peyton Gay

We drove down to Niagara Falls the next day and spent the night there. Niagara Falls is about two hours from Toronto. But you don’t have to fly to Canada to see the Canadian side of the Falls. Niagara Falls is right on the border of the U.S. and Canada. All you have to do is drive across, get your passport stamped, and now you can experience the Canadian side. The Falls are without a doubt one of the prettiest things I’ve ever seen. It was a lot bigger than I imagined, which led to a lot of walking. But it is a very walkable town. There are a variety of restaurants and cheesy stores to visit just like in any tourist town. The biggest highlight of the restaurants is that they have a view of the Falls in their dining rooms. We stopped at what might have been the most expensive IHOP on the planet, but at least we can say we could see Niagara Falls while we ate! 

The biggest must-do when visiting Niagara Falls is the boat tours. They give you a poncho, but it can’t protect you from the large amounts of water that wash over you during the ride. Don’t make the same mistake I did! Wear shoes you don’t mind getting wet! After a couple of days of absorbing the beauty of the Falls, it was time to move on to the biggest stop on our trip itinerary. We drove about five hours to Montreal to watch the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix.

Niagara Falls
Original photo by Peyton Gay

The Canadian Grand Prix was unlike anything I had experienced before. I have only been following Formula One for about a year, so I really didn’t know what to expect. But I researched everything I could find out about other Grand Prix’s and older information about Canada’s previous races since they hadn’t hosted in two years and hoped that everything would work out. Since we booked a few months out from race day and months after tickets had gone on sale, most of the hotels in Downtown Montreal were booked, so we spent the majority of the trip staying in one of the neighboring towns. We opted to use the Montreal metro system to travel back and forth to the track. I’ve used the public transportation systems in many of the cities I’ve visited and Montreal’s is by far one of the nicest and most efficient. 

My biggest takeaway from the experience was to buy your tickets when they go on sale and plan to go way in advance. I bought one set of tickets while in the airport before flying to Toronto and was sadly disappointed to learn they were a scam. Thankfully, the tickets I bought the morning of the first day turned out to be real. They weren’t bad seats either! Formula One is something that you get as much out of the experience as you put into it. Race weekends are three days and there is very little time that something isn’t happening during those days. The rain prevented us from attending some sessions, but we spent hours at the track every day. From our seats, we got to see a lot of overtakes and wheel-to-wheel racing. Because of the hairpin turn in front of us, you could see the cars clearly as they slowed down for the turn. There were crashes, DNFs and even a groundhog running in front of a car. There wasn’t a dull moment during the weekend. Max Verstappen went on to take the win for Red Bull Racing that weekend but not without Carlos Sainz at Ferrari putting up a fight. 

To sum up the trip, we flew into Toronto, saw a Blue Jays game, visited Niagara Falls and attended the Canadian Grand Prix. Over the course of the week, we spent the night in five different hotels, got scammed out of a set of race tickets, experienced an entire spectrum of weather and had the best time doing all of it. If you ever get the chance to visit Canada, all I can say is do it! Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the U.S. Dollar is worth more in Canada! 

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Peyton is a senior double majoring in Communications and Editing, Writing, Media. She is a member of the Majorette Line with the Marching Chiefs and she hopes to one day be a sports reporter.