Happy new year, all!
Sorry it has been awhile since I have posted; I was planning on blogging while I was IN Canada, but I ended up not really having time to do that. SO, you get blogs AFTER the fact. We did a lot of cool stuff, but not everyday. Our main purpose was to spend time with Chris’s family. I am so glad I finally got to meet that side of his family and I felt so welcome by them. We had a lot of good laughs, A LOT of good eats, and a great Christmas.
So, instead of giving you twelve day-by-day posts, I will just cover the exploring that I thought was the most enjoyable.
First up: Victoria!
Chris’s family lives in Campbell River on Vancouver Island, which is about 3 and a half hours away from Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. Chris’s parents gave me and Chris a night in Victoria for our Christmas present, so we drove down there for two days and one night.
We left at 7 A.M. It was DARK when we left. The darkness was the hardest thing to adjust to while we there, I think. I kept sleeping later than I normally would at home and I think it is because in San Antonio I have the sun creeping through my windows. It’s not like that in Canada during the winter. It also gets dark early, like 4:00 PM.
Anyway, we made the beautiful drive to Victoria and survived the Malahat! I was not expecting to see sun while we were in Canada (which I was ok with – I like grey weather), but we did have sun on the drive down AND the whole time we were in Victoria. I love dark gloomy weather, but I am glad we had sun in Victoria because we were exploring so much. After checking in to the hotel, we ventured over to the Royal B.C. Museum. This museum is a must see if you are interested in history. There are two floors – the first floor covers the First Nations history with masks and totem poles and a life size First Nations hut! I really enjoyed seeing all the artifacts. The third floor has been converted to an “Old Town”; basically how people lived in B.C. during the late 1800′s to the early 1900′s. They had old clothes and shoes and I was all over that. I was kind of rushing our visit there because I wanted to go to Butchart Gardens that night and we still had to grab lunch and do some other things, but I definitely definitely want to go back and spend more time in that museum.
From there, we walked around a bit and decided to just find somewhere to eat lunch. We stumbled upon a little restaurant called The Clay Pigeon. They had interesting sandwiches and salads and things. Chris got a reuben sandwich…which had “house corned bison tongue” as the main meat. That is weird to me, but I DID try it and it was pretty tasty. I had the porchetta sandwich, which was really refreshing! It ended up being a good pick with decent prices for being in downtown Victoria.
After lunch we walked over to the Fairmont Empress Hotel. The Empress is a gorgeous hotel that I want to actually stay in (someday when I am rich and famous and own a library) and have afternoon tea! We heard there were Christmas trees set up in the lobby, so I had to get to see some of the inside. The trees were all sponsored by local businesses and groups so they had themes – one was a hospital so it had blood bags and gauze hanging around. It was fun to see what the groups had come up with; our favorite was the Victoria Lego Club’s tree. Chris was so jealous that Victoria has a Lego Club.
I wanted to walk around the Parliament building because it is free to walk around, but we got a little side tracked. We were walking up the stairs to the door and there were two security guards hanging out. Chris literally had his hand on the door knob and we were about to walk in when he heard the guards say “..then a tesla drove by…” and I knew we were not going inside. Chris stopped, looked over, and said “Did you just say you saw a tesla?” Turns out, there was a group of people who decided to drive a Tesla from the East Coast of Canada (Newfoundland) to the West Coast (Vancouver Island) and there was a celebration for them outside of a hotel right down the street from the Parliament building. Chris looked at me, and I knew he wanted to go. Since I had planned everything we were going to do in Victoria and I didn’t really care about going inside the building, we went to go see what the hoop-la was all about. For those that don’t know, the Tesla is an all electric car; Chris has been going on about how cool it is for the longest time, otherwise I wouldn’t know about them. Chris had never seen one in person before, so he was really giddy. It was pretty cool to see the guys that had done all the driving – it is a big deal that they drove across Canada in an all electric car.
I wanted to leave for Butchart Gardens by 4:00 P.M. because it is a 20 minute drive and I wanted to see the place before the sun went completely down. We both wanted to go sit down and chill for thirty minutes before heading out there, so after gaping at the cars for awhile, it was 3:30 and I made Chris leave so we could relax for a bit.
I was so excited to go to Butchart Gardens; all the pictures I had ever seen of it, though, were in the summer or spring time. It is supposed to be fantastic during that time of year, but I am a firm believer that if you are somewhere and you want to do something – do it, because you never know if you will actually come back. So, it went on my list of things to see. I had looked into their holiday season information before we left and was pumped. As soon as you drive up, there are twinkly lights EVERYWHERE. When you walk in, there is a coffee shop that had hand made snowflakes all over the windows, a skating rink, and LIGHTS EVERYWHERE. I loved it. Everywhere you looked, there were lights. We walked through the gardens and saw the lovely greenery with red bows and lights…truly a winter wonderland! It was pretty magical. They had a “12 Days of Christmas” hunt; throughout the gardens were the twelve days (partridge in a pear tree, two turtle doves, three french hens..etc etc) and at the end there was a little stage set up where carolers sang and a brass band played. It was definitely one of my favorite things we did in Victoria.
When we got back to downtown, I wanted to walk around and see the Parliament building and the Empress all lit up. It was COLD, but worth it. We walked around down by the water, saw a swan swimming, and gazed at all the lights. I was, at this point in the trip, in the middle of a cold, so I felt awful and my legs were hurting from all the walking. I was starving, but I did not want to walk around to find a place to eat. We went back to the hotel and Chris tried to find a restaurant close to us that was reasonably priced with food we wanted. Sometimes, when Chris and I are deciding on places to eat, we both get really reaaaaally indecisive. I wanted to try an Italian place, but Chris wanted Chinese. We ended up just ordering room service since I wasn’t feeling well and it was freezing outside. It was nice to stay inside in my pajamas with a hot bowl of soup and a warm cup of tea and relax.
Masks in the Royal B.C. Museum
Chris with the Teslas
Parliament Building at night
Well, that was our first day in Victoria! I immediately fell in love with the city as soon as we got there – it really is a beautiful place. Tomorrow I will post about our second day there.