Flash forward to my thirtieth anniversary in August(a few years ago). My husband and I wanted to go somewhere special for that benchmark year. Somewhere cool, because Southern California was in the midst of a drought and continual heat wave. Since I wasn’t quite ready to make that plunge to fly eleven hours to Europe, we flew to what I had heard was another beautiful destination: Victoria, B.C.
We flew to Seattle, and then caught the ferry across. This ferry was only a passenger one, and it was reported to almost fly across the water. My husband suggested I take Dramamine like him, since I had never been on a boat that went out in the ocean and didn’t know if I would get motion sickness. I opted not to, because I didn't want to sleep the experience away.
While he dozed inside, I made my way out to the deck, where a few people with hearty constitutions were also meandering. I loved it. I loved the speed, I loved the wind, and I especially loved the scenery.
When I went back inside, I still didn’t get nauseous. While other people were running fore and aft to the various restrooms, I maintained smooth sailing with my stomach. For the rest of the trip, my husband nicknamed me Captain Jack, of Captain Jack Sparrow fame. He was amazed at my seaworthiness, since he wouldn’t brave venturing on deck himself.
We took one of those Prius cabs to the Fairmont Empress hotel. It’s noted for its tea time, but I wanted to spend our anniversary there, and eat in its amazing dining room instead. Compare it to any Ritz-Carlton that you’ve ever seen, and then add old-world charm and then you might be able to imagine it. It was the perfect anniversary gift to each other.
After staying at the Empress one night (because it was reeaaalllly expensive), we moved to another place right on the harbor, in a bit quieter area. We could see the boats coming and going, and all the tourists parading up and down the main street. We joined the stream of people, and took a “Hippo Tour” of Victoria, an amphibious bus that took us into the harbor as well as around the town. We had an amazing tour guide who made all of us feel like family.
I encourage everyone to at least take one such tour when they visit a new place. You get a complete overview of the area, that highlights places you may want to go to on your own. We saw totem poles, giant cruise ships that go to Alaska, and the Canadian Parliament buildings that you have to go back and see at night, when they are all lit up. Stunning.
You shouldn’t miss the downtown shopping area, where you can buy sweaters from Ireland, specialty teas, and souvenirs galore, as well as stop in for a spot of tea. And don’t forget the Canadian maple syrup. Once you’ve tasted it, you’ll be spoiled for anything else.