Travel Lifestyle

The Tale Of Two Waterfalls: Victoria and Niagara

I was talking with my very best friend the other day and we were reminiscing about a very particular day from a few summers ago. Let me set the scene. My bestie was enjoying a little down time between Summer commitments and decided to take advantage of being close to the great Niagara Falls. She and her husband were hiking on the walkway when her phone rang.

Be sure to join us for the conversation! We are talking about this very topic on our podcast, Babcia and Yia Yia Travel The World. Click here to join in the fun!

Half a world away, I expected her to pick up from home. I had no idea that she was at the Falls as I called her from Zambia. My view? The Great Victoria Falls. I was standing just to the side of Knife Point Bridge watching the Zambezi water spill over the top. Who would have ever thought that the two of us would be standing in front of the power of two of the most famous falls in the world!

waterfalls under blue sky and white clouds
Photo by Anthony Rodriguez on Pexels.com
Victoria and Niagara Falls

Niagara and Victoria

Victoria and Niagara have a lot in common. They both provide a natural boarder between two countries. Both provide immense tourism for their local areas and both leave no doubt that the power of water is an awesome natural wonder on our planet. Moreover, both create moments of inspiration for every traveler that commits to experiencing them. However, it’s here that their two paths diverge.

Way over in Livingstone….

Way back in 1855, one of the most famous first tourists happened upon a place that locals called Mosi-oa-Tunya or the smoke that thunders. He promptly renamed the massive column of water Victoria Falls after his queen. (Ahhh… colonization.) These days, The Falls continue to thunder as they stretch just over a mile across and drop about a football field. They serve as the international border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and Zambia was exactly where I found myself the day of our phone call.

Victoria and Niagara Falls
The smoke that thunders from the upper falls

I was lucky enough to stay at Avani, a lovely hotel resort with free roaming animals and amazing Moroccan architecture. But, the true draw of this particular location is just steps from the entrance to the Falls. The Zambian side of the falls were easily accessible to anyone though the National Park Gate but Avani literally had a back gate entrance set up for its guests making it as convenient as possible. And P.S., it was not the most expensive hotel in the area!

Victoria and Niagara Falls

The Upper and Lower Falls

Without any other exploration except the ride from the airport (I’ll leave that amazing video below), I headed out that back gate and went right to the National Park. As soon as I was through the gate, a wonderful college intern offered to take me through the pathways and tell me the story of this wonder of the world. I live for people like this. People who have no other agenda other than to impart their knowledge to you and make your experience better.

My walk began at the upper falls. My guide, Isaac, led me down pathways and explained the scientific side of things as well as previewing the power yet to come. He reminded me that at night, there are hippos that love this particular spot and one must be careful! I will. I promise. As Isaac continued to lead the way past bubbling water that stretched as far as the eye could see, he pointed out the famous Devil’s Pool. Used by daredevils to get as close to the drop as possible. I had already made up my mind not to take that dip because of the aforementioned hippos and the fact that I can not do a back flip into water.

Victoria and Niagara Falls

Sam pointed out the visitors that were on the Zambia side had a bit more protection than the ones on the Zimbabwean side who had no safety rails or clear pathways between them and the 354 foot drop. No thank you! 

Victoria and Niagara Falls

While you could already feel the magic of the water in the air, it wasn’t until Isaac showed me the lookout over Rainbow Falls that I got my first glimpse of this massive force of energy. We continued walking around the gorge and into the pathways that become part of the micro rainforest. toward Jack Knife Bridge. This short span gives you one of the best views and ensures you feel your share of the water! It was in this very spot that I called my bestie…

Victoria and Niagara Falls

Meanwhile, in upstate New York…

If Victoria Falls had a little sister, it would be Niagara. Standing 187 feet tall and about half a mile across, Niagara Falls comes in at about half the size of its African big sister. However, don’t be mistaken, this largest drop in North America receives far more visitors. While the days of honeymooning in Niagara Falls are over, lots of fun is still waiting for every kind of traveler out there.

Just like in Africa, Niagara serves as a famous border and has very distinct sides. The Canada side tends to be a better experience while others say that the magic of Niagara lies in its old school American Falls roots. Either way, there are plenty of amazing treasures to experience while you visit. And that’s exactly where Terri was when her phone rang…

Get Ready, Get Set

Terri drove in to Niagara Falls and made a beeline for the State Park. While the surrounding town is not much to look at, Terri says that once you park and get into the actual park, things are well worth your time. With plenty of pleasant and calm walkways, the state park gives you every opportunity to enjoy the falls from pretty much every possible angle. And it’s these walkways that tend to be overlooked the most.

Victoria and niagara
The Maiden of The Mist

Armed with a waterproof bag and a poncho to head for the marquee event, The Maiden of The Mist. Unlike many other waterfalls, Niagara allows its visitors to get behind the falls and see them from quite a different perspective. In turn, making it quite the draw. But, wait! Terri told me that you don’t want to miss out on the Cave of The Winds which, again gets you up close and personal to the water.

Victoria and niagara
On the way to the Cave of the Winds

Terri and I had our laugh and spoke about what we were seeing in that exact moment. Then she continued on her way to The Cave of The Winds with a great documentary and tons of information about what makes these falls so special.

Victoria and niagara
Terri taking my phone call with complimentary waterproof gear. Spoiler alert! It doesn’t work!

Top Of The Falls…

While Niagara Falls is not a foodie mecca, but the Top of The Falls may be a great choice if for nothing but the view. Otherwise, foodies will find better choices like great polish food. Or the famous Duff’s Wings not too far away in Buffalo. And PS- Buffalo has a lot to offer! Another great area is Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown.

Victoria and niagara
The bridge which serves as the customs checkpoint to Canada

From anywhere on the American side, the Canadian side certainly beckons. And Terri agrees! Her advice is to sincerely explore both sides of the falls. Don’t miss out on the different views and experiences that each have to offer. Just remember, you need your passport!!!!

Victoria and niagara
The Fallsview area on the American Side.

Moments when you feel the magic around you and you feel connected to someone who gets it like you do are rare. Terri and I were over the moon to have a chance to connect from half a world away at two of mother nature’s masterpieces.

Travel Lifestyle

Family Game Night: Travel Style!

We are always searching for ways to enjoy travel whether we are out and about or stuck at home. Join us as we check out some fun games for travelers! While everything is at your fingertips just below, don’t forget to join us for our podcast chat by clicking here!

Games To Keep your Wanderlust in Check

Check out these games that will keep you travel happy when you are grounded! Some are tech friendly and others are old fashioned.

  • The Backpacker App Super fun and easy to use. Backpacker tests your knowledge of different places around the world with tons of multiple choice questions.
  • Santorini Create your own private Greek island as you build with the iconic blue and white colors
  • Azul Immerse yourself in world and art of Portuguese tiles and use the patterns to beat your opponent!
  • Clue The original escape room! Do I need to say more?
  • When In Rome Use your Alexa to answer travel questions about all kinds of different places around the world.
  • Rules of Mahjong This ancient game is a great way to learn strategy and a bit of cool culture at the same time.
battle black blur board game
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Join us for the conversation on our podcast, Babcia and Yia Yia Travel The World, where we chat about these games for travelers and SO MUCH MORE!!!!!

Games To Travel With

For games on the go, check out these great picks that immerse you in culture or keep you busy on the road.

  • Menu Games for kids! We are big fans of setting kids up for success! This simple checklist game will let you try foods before, during, and after your trip.
  • Uno Easy, portable, classic.
  • Backgammon This centuries old game is popular in places like Turkey. Know the rules and join in!
  • Chess. This game has international rules and is a great strategy session. Find chess players in Poland.
  • Poker. A deck of cards and a simple round of 7 card stud makes friends in all kinds of places!
  • FIFA Football/Soccer If you plan on traveling in June and July, check out the scoreboard and countries in line to wine the world cup. It will be celebrated and be lots of fun, so being in the know can be a great experience!
woman with prosthetic leg lying down on the lawn
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com
Travel Lifestyle

5 Key Travel Words For Mothers and Daughters

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing two travelers who adventure with their mothers- my best friend’s daughter, Kacie, and my own sweet girl, Rosie. We were chatting about what it was like to travel with each other. Our girls impressed me with their thoughtful insights and I walked away from the experience for the better. And with these girls, I have a feeling that they will continue to impress and enlighten me now that they are adults and women who understand the world. So what did I learn? Five words. Five words to make travel between moms and daughters the best experience it can be.

Tune in to our podcast, Babcia and Yia Yia Travel The World so you can hear the whole conversation!

Word Number One: Respect

When asked “What’s it like traveling with your mom?”, our girls said they loved it. I have a strange feeling that wasn’t always the case! It’s taken time for our girls to grow into the amazing travelers that they are and for us moms to recognize that. I’m sure when they were kids, we moms really didn’t try to include them in planning and decision making. For some, it takes time to adjust our mutual respect so that travel is the adventure it’s meant to be.

As for Rosie, she was able to dial in on a very specific trip where everything just fell into place. We were in Ireland and she felt that there was a clear shift in how her voice was heard. She got to do things that she loved and enjoyed time on equal footing with mom.

Mothers and Daughters at the White House
With Kacie at the White House

Word Number Two: Acceptance

When we asked the girls about struggles when it comes to traveling with your mom, both of them had great stories to tell. I noticed that both of them were clear on the deference that they felt they needed to show as companions to their moms. The acceptance that not every decision is going to be in their hands sat well with them. I think it’s because they have enough trust in us to know we have their backs.

So, what are three inevitable things that you have to accept when traveling with your mother? You won’t do everything on your list. Sometimes, you will do something that’s not your cup of tea. Your mother will always try something new to give you an experience.

mothers and daughter in Ireland
Rosie experiencing a little Irish victory on top of Giant’s Causeway

Word Number Three: Compromise

We asked the girls how travel activities have changed over time. They both said that we have gotten better at including them in the planning process. They said that while plans were good when they were little, over time, things have improved. As the mom, I thought that the key change was gathering input from them in a clearer manner. I always want to think about our girls’ bucket list experiences but I need to work on thinking of them more as an active partner and less as an afterthought.

Kacie told the story of going to Colorado and splitting up for the day to do separate activities. “I climbed Manitou Incline on my own and then I met back up with Mom and drove through Garden Of The Gods.” Perfecto!

mothers and daughters escape!!!!
Oh Yes We Did!

Word Number Four: Resilience

If there is one thing that I, as a parent, can honestly say I appreciate about travel is that it creates some of the most resilient people I know. That includes our girls. I actively attribute their ability to adjust their course based on the travel experiences they had and continue to have. Our kids all learned how to shift gears and adjust effortlessly whether in the workplace or with family. Travel allows us to practice that skill of resilience over and over again.  

What are three things to avoid when traveling with children (and or your adult children)? Over scheduling, over scheduling, and, most importantly, over scheduling. Sometimes we need to just go with the flow!

What are three things I actively seek out? I always look for one down day, something active like rafting or zip lining, and some sort of animal experience. That could be horse back riding, visiting a zoo, or seeing a sheep dog demonstration, puppies included!

Mothers and daughters in Greece
Rosie literally played Greek Statues in Phillipi when the weather was getting to her.

Word Number Five: Experience

All in all, the thing that wraps all of our travel up in a bow is experience. With more and more trips between us, we have learned how to respect, accept, compromise and use resiliency to be successful travel teams.

A few last notes…

  • Take pictures but lose the selfie stick mom!
  • Balance time spent with each other versus apart so you do not get smothered while not having a feeling that you are taking two separate trips
  • Learn how to pair ear pods to one iphone or use a jack splitter to share audio tours and more.
  • Watch Travels With My Father and Mamma Mia! to have some fun while planning.
  • Download Find my iphone App to stay away from the lost device arguement.
  • Try out Tracking Tiles to avoid lost luggage and put one outfit in each other’s bags just in case.