Tag Archives: blogging

A Day in Victoria BC

Well, it’s been two months since we took this trip but my excuse is that you may find it more enjoyable to visit now that the summer high season has ended. (How’s that for turning procrastination into a benefit?) Fewer tourists and cruise ships make it a lot nicer to maneuver through downtown. On the minus side, though, it’s more likely to rain so the crossing could get a bit rough.

I won’t begin to attempt a comprehensive travelogue, especially at this late date. There’s a ton of info online, after all. The lovely thing about Victoria is that you leave the very American city of Seattle and three hours later it feels as though you’re in Europe. Heaven for an Anglophile like me.

We stayed in Seattle the day before and the day after, which made for a nice little getaway. There’s plenty to do in both cities if you have time.

But if you only have 24 hours, as we did, here’s a quick snapshot.

We board the Victoria Clipper ferry in downtown Seattle. Food and drink options, plus a basket of free chewable Dramamine. Because who wants to be sitting near someone who’s seasick for three hours? (Tip: half a tablet keeps your stomach calm without making you too sleepy.)

(Can we say “Bad hair day?!?”) Arrive at Victoria’s Inner Harbour around noon. Check in at our hotel, the Grand Pacific, which is modern and spacious.)

Lunch: Steamship Grill and Bar. Waterfront views and delicious seafood in a beautiful Beaux Arts building. A glass of wine and now I really feel that I’m on vacation. Check out this adorable water taxi!

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Walk off lunch: Victoria’s easy to get around on foot. Other attractions, such as the famous and gorgeous Butchart Gardens, are a short ride away.

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IMG_2573Up Government Street past Parliament and Royal BC Museum…

FullSizeRender (3)to Market Square, lower Johnson St. shopping area (LoJo to the locals) and Canada’s oldest Chinatown.

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After sampling a couple of chocolate shops, my recco is Pure Lovin’ Chocolate in twisty, cramped, Dickensian Fan Tan Alley, named after a popular gambling game from the 1940s.

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Rare photo of husband looking relaxed!

IMG_2561 (1).jpgThere are flowers everywhere!

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Amble back to hotel via Wharf Street to enjoy views of ferries and seaplanes.

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Cocktails and dinner: If you don’t opt for the Empress Hotel’s lavish and pricey afternoon tea — or aren’t staying there — grab a drink before dinner in the Q bar and scarf down their yummy charcoal-dusted popcorn.

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IMG-2563The restaurant is good too.IMG_2567.jpgIMG_2569.jpg

 

After dinner, stroll through the public spaces and lavish grounds of this venerable grande dame, and see the government buildings all lit up.

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The next morning, we grab some coffee and explore the neighborhood, which is quiet and peaceful. IMG-2578IMG-2577Winding up with a scenic walk along the Foster pathway, named for (and presumably funded by) David Foster, Canadian musician and ex-husband of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Yolanda.

We catch the 11:30 ferry back to Seattle, which arrives at 2:15 pm — time to enjoy the city!

Oh, What Fun!

Let’s re-name Black Friday, “Insane Driver Day”. The official start of shopping frenzy is less about the sales, whether online or brick-and-mortar, and more about the holiday fog that threatens to engulf even the mildest of revelers. Miraculously, it appears to lift on January 3rd.

I especially notice this at the grocery store. Austinites are generally considerate and polite. But come holiday season it’s every one for him/herself, cutting people off in the parking lot, leaving their cart blocking the aisles, and rushing about as if there will never be another opportunity to buy milk. Gah!

A few suggestions for anyone who wasn’t organized enough to have all their holiday shopping done in July (that would be me and 99% of everyone I know).

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1) Always have a back-up plan. If the sweater you wanted to buy Cousin Joe isn’t available, already know that he needs a new iPad cover, gym bag or shot glasses, and move on.

2) Keep some wrapped all-purpose gifts (fancy chocolates, imported cookies, small tins of caviar, champagne, wine, candles, pretty soaps etc.) in an easy-to-find location so you’re ready if someone you never exchange gifts with suddenly surprises you. (Do you hate that as much as I do?) This is especially useful at the office. Take that cardigan out of your desk drawer to make room.

3) Never shop on an empty stomach. You will be cranky and resentful. Keep some peanuts in your purse or car for a quick protein boost.

4) Buy something nice for yourself. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something that will make you feel pampered. A new lipstick always perks me up; men, you’re on your own as far as suggestions go.

5) Take deep breaths. I recently read that a quick trick to relax is to cover one nostril and breathe slowly several times, then repeat by covering the other side. Failing that, a glass of whiskey or a Xanax should do the trick.

6) Watch comedies and avoid dramas, especially if your family or romantic situation is less than picture-perfect. This is no time to feel inadequate.

7) Plan a vacation for January or February. It could be as simple as a spa weekend or exploring a nearby city you rarely visit. Keep reminders of your trip on your night table so you fall asleep with something positive to anticipate.

8) Don’t feel obligated to accept every invitation. Being over-scheduled will make you tense. General merriment is highly overrated anyway.

9) Call or write to the people you love, give something to charity, soak in a hot tub, and be kind to yourself. That’s the best gift of all.