Niagara Falls Inspires Daredevils

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The massive volume of swirling, gushing water at Niagara Falls will immediately captivate any onlooker’s attention.

It sure captured the imagination of Annie Taylor, a 63-year-old American schoolteacher and, of all things, an amateur daredevil stunter who became inspired to secure her notoriety by being the first person to ever go over the Falls. As if that wasn’t enough, she was to do it riding inside a wooden barrel.

Racing towards the cliffs at high speed, water exiting the Niagara River tumbles off the crestline, covering 10 metres in a second and creates a heavy mist towards the end of its’ downward trip into the gorge. Niagara Falls, a series of three waterfalls (Horseshoe, American and Bridal Veil) that sit between the border of New York, United States and Ontario, Canada, is approximately 50 meters in height, allowing the water just about five seconds to hit the bottom.

Imagine what it must have been like for Taylor when she went over for a 50 metre drop — inside a barrel padded only with a mattress, and her lucky heart-shaped pillow — in what must have felt like a heart stopping blink of an eye. It was on 24 October 1901, that Taylor survived her barrel ride practically unscathed, and lived another 20 years to tell her tale. Continue reading

The Ceilings And Statues Of The United States Capitol Building

Heading up to the U.S. Capitol Building

***Just today, it’s been announced that the dome of the United States Capitol Building in Washington D.C. will undergo very intensive repairs to fix over 1000 cracks, leaks and corrosions that have occurred over the decades. The current dome is almost 150 years old and is a gorgeous piece of architecture. Touring the Capitol Building should be on your must-do list when you visit D.C. Here is a repost of the tour I took last year, from my old blog, dcexpat.com.***

I love love love the architecture of the Capitol Building, inside and out. If you love it as much as I do, you’ll be happy to know that you can tour the Capitol Building for free, provided they aren’t closed for special events. During off-peak season, it’s easy to just walk in and join a tour slot. I suggest advance online booking if you’re visiting in the summer.

Headsets, which are handed out after the obligatory welcome film, is how your tour guide will talk to you about the Capitol Building’s standout features, (as well as call to group members who straggle a little too long at one spot for the tour guide’s comfort.)

During the tour, don’t be surprised to find your gaze focused upwards more than half the time. Continue reading

Five Offbeat Ways To See San Francisco

Cable cars, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and Lombard Street — iconic, San Francisco landmarks that are a given on the must-see lists of first-time visitors. A few days of exploring those gorgeous sights are bound to have you hankering for more that the city has to offer, especially to places that fewer tourists know about. Here are my suggestions on how to discover the charming and offbeat side of San Francisco. Continue reading