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FlickR album of these photos   Part 1: Chicago to Detroit    

2022: Chicago to Toronto via all 5 Great Lakes

2. From Detroit to Toronto

Detroit ...

After a peaceful day's cruising across Lake Huron, we awoke the next morning to find ourselves moored in Detroit. As well as being the only US city from which you can look Southwards and see Canada, Detroit is of course famous for being the birthplace of Henry Ford and subsequently headquarters of the Ford Motor Company - hence its nickname of Motown, a name which is synonymous with a whole style of music. After boarding a coach, our first action was to pass yet again through US Customs (more paperwork required) because we had just visited Canada, and then we were taken to the Henry Ford Museum (where we waited for an hour because the Museum had lost all our tickets). So our early start to beat the queues at the Museum came to naught, and we started our visit by queuing for another hour to take a trip on a genuine model-T Ford. They have about half a dozen of these classic cars, in different bodywork styles from limousine to charabanc; ours was a late 1920's car, which proved to be remarkably smooth and comfortable, and we toured the whole outdoor area in it. This area, known as Greenfields, had originally been Henry Ford's family farm; he wanted to become an inventor instead of a farmer, and of course he was incredibly successful in this ambition. Later on he became an avid collector, and he collected a number of interesting houses (including a cottage from the English Cotswold) and assembled them around the old farm site.

 

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Model-T Fords run tours around the Greenfields site next to the Henry Ford Museum

After our ride in the model-T, we took a ride around the site on a beautiful old steam train before heading inside the Museum building to look firstly at the collection of steam engines there.

 

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The old steam engine haluled us around the edges of the Greenfields site
 W didn't sit too close to the engine, so our clothes remained clean
An old-fashioned level crossing
A much bigger engine, inside the Museum
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A couple of rather older steam engines inside the Museum
This one was a real classic
This giant snow-plough looked like the jaws of a fantastic monster

The remainder of the Museum, called the Museum of Innovation, contained an eclectic assortment of items including Henry Ford's prototype petrol-engine (which he built in the kitchen sink!), the chair in which Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated, and an amazing collection of cars through the ages including, of course, many more  model-T's.

 

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The explanation of Henry Ford's prototype petrol-engine ...
... and the engine itself, built on the kitchen sink
Abraham Lincoln's last seat
Yet more varieties of Model-T Ford (note that none of them is black)

The afternoon  consisted of a rather boring trip around the assembly line of the Ford factory. It would probably been more interesting had the factory not been closed for its summer holiday break, and we would much have preferred to spend the time at the Museum instead. Finally we returned to the ship and set sail on to Lake Erie.

Lake 4: Erie

The city of Cleveland lies on the shores of Lake Erie. Here we used the hop-on hop-off bus to visit their Art Museum, which was fantastic. We spent the whole morning there, including several minutes of sitting entranced directly in front of one of Monet's water lily paintings, before catching the bus back to the ship for lunch.

 

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This intersection had a wonderful chandelier for street lighting
A few motor bikes had turned up for a demonstration
There was a wonderful sculpture honouring the local Firefighters.

Our afternoon in Cleveland was spent at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This was absolutely fantastic, with wonderful tributes to many famous artists; my favourites were the ground-floor audio-visual journey through the history of Rock and Roll from the earliest plantation songs through the many other influences which turned it into the sound that we recognise today; and the giant (20ft-high) model of Pink Floyd's wall and the Teacher. Unfortunately I did not take my camera with me that afternoon, not expecting to be allowed to take pictures, but in fact there was no restriction on photography there.

 

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Tall ships at Cleveland

Walking back to the ship was fascinating in itself for there was a Tall Ships festival in progress next to where we were moored, and we strolled back to our own ship through the beautiful sunshine feeling very happy after our day in Cleveland.

Niagara ...

Now it was time to enter Canada again. Everybody had already completed the necessary paperwork and registered on the appropriate App to be allowed into Canada so there were no more formalities as we docked at Port Colborne - which is the entrance to the canal that by-passes Niagara Falls. From here a coach took us to the Falls  themselves, and we boarded the Maid of the Mist cruise which goes right up to their base; so close  in fact that we get soaked by the spray, even when wearing the plastic poncho's that they provide.

 

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The Maid of the Mist boat takes you right up to the base of the Canadian falls, passing the smaller rocky American Falls on the way.

 

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The Falls are spectacular as you approach and then enter their mist of spray at the base (at which point it becomes impossible to take photos)

After this incredible trip we were taken to the Skylon observation tower, which has a revolving restaurant overlooking the scene. This takes just an hour to complete one revolution, giving you  just enough time to see everything while enjoying an excellent lunch before coming back to ground level in one of their exterior lifts; I don't think Debbie liked that lift very much!

Before leaving Niagara we passed their amazing floral clock, and were then taken to see the cable-car which crosses the rapids and whirlpool in the 200ft high ravine below the falls. This amazing little cable-car was installed over 100 years ago, and I was disappointed that we didn't have time to ride in it. Instead we were due to visit a vineyard at Niagara-on-the-Lake and taste some of their wines, but unfortunately tat part of the trip was cancelled so we spent some time (and money) in the town before returning to the ship.

 

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The Skylon Tower with its revolving restaurant; near the top-left of the tower you can see one of their exterior lifts
Te giant floral clock in the park. It keeps good time too!
The cable-car across the rapids below the Falls - PLAY VIDEO

Lake 5: Ontario

The trip through the canal was quite interesting, particularly as it included a 3-lock staircase in the middle, We were soon crossing the last of the 5 Great Lakes, so that we awoke the next morning at the docks just outside Toronto. Our suitcases were already waiting for us beside the coach which was to take us on an interesting tour of the city before dropping us at the Hotel where we would be spending the last night of the trip.

We visited the CN Tower - and in fact revisited it the next morning to take a leisurely trip to the top for a glass of Champagne - and then went on to spend some time in the Distillery district.

 

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The CN Tower is seen here between the skyscrapers
A glass or two of Champagne at the top of the Tower
From closer-up you can see that the Tower is rather tall!

The first industry in Toronto had been the milling of grain to make flour; later it was found to be more profitable to use the grain in the distillation of spirits, so the whole area became the Distillery District. It was luckily saved from eventual demolition and turned into a tourist centre, complete with its fabulous collection of old industrial buildings. Unfortunately most of them were closed on the morning when we were there, so we did not see as much as we would have liked.

 

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In the Distillery District of Toronto
Can you spot Debbie in front of the sign by the fountains in the City Square?

In Toronto they are very fond of Street Art, and here are three examples that rather impressed me.

 

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Street Art turtle near the CN Tower
Is it Street Art when it's floating in the harbour?
I don't know what this one was, but I like it

A most impressive artwork is their Dog Fountain, near the City Square. We were told that the residents were not told of its planned arrival, and that it was installed overnight to be a complete surprise to people when they found it in place the next morning!

 

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The Dog Fountain comprises a collection of dog sculptures, each spraying water while they look enviously at the golden bone above it (there is also a lone cat looking the other way at a pair of birds on top of a lamp-post.

Next to the CN Tower is a superb modern Aquarium. We spent a very happy couple of hours there, enjoying particularly the subterranean glass tunnel which passed among the sharks; sea-turtles, and Stingrays.

 

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Scenes from the aquarium. We were also particularly impressed by the displays of the Jellyfish - PLAY VIDEO - and the Stingray - PLAY VIDEO

We spent an afternoon in the company of my cousin and her family, who live just outside Toronto and showed us many of the sights including the beautiful Toronto Island which is just a short ferry-trip away. Finally our holiday came to an end - finishing, as it had begun, with a problem that our Airport taxi did not show up; but after a few stern words from the Hotel concierge the company sent another car for us, getting us to the Airport with half an hour to spare (after which the plane was 2 hours late!)

It had been a fabulous holiday, and we were so impressed by the high standards of American Queen Voyages that we have already signed up to travel with them again in 2024 - along the full length of the Mississippi on a proper paddle-steamer. Watch this space ...

 

At the North Cape

Toronto from the Island

 

 

FlickR album of these photos   Part 1: Chicago to Detroit  
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