In February I will start teaching my communication class again. I have been teaching at a community college for about 30 years. I enjoy teaching speech, I work hard to help my students feel at ease and I try to add in interview skills since they all seem to be constantly job hunting. I teach only one day a week, but two 3 hour classes in a row. There is a break in between so I can have something to eat. Most of my classes are small group work, I have found that by sitting together, getting to know each other and speaking aloud to each other they become less stressed. I also have them do their first speech in groups of three. Every once in a while a past student will stop by to tell me how the class helped them, that makes me feel really good. The only part I don’t like is how they want better grades than they are willing to earn. I am not a hard grader, but assignments need to be completed, some of the students seem to feel simply attending class should result in an “A” grade. My friends who teach at a university say it is the same there.
We moved into this house because I needed more closet space and more house. It’s a great house, we have enjoyed fixing it up and it has my library. But, my secret joy is my walk in closet. With the help of my handyman husband and my own organizational skills (read obsession) I have a closet that suits me perfectly. We added a window and new lighting and put up a few extra rods. I bought inexpensive plastic drawers from Target and they are the perfect depth. I have filled the upper shelf with decorative boxes and other containers full of extra stuff that needs to stay, but needs to be put away also. Since I returned from Paris 2 years ago, I have worn only dresses and my closet makes it easy to look through them all and chose my dress for the day. I am in the process of designing a shoe closet, one where I can see all my shoes at the same time.
I have a beautiful home library, it is floor to ceiling, custom shelves with about 7000 books, almost all of which I have read. A couple of shelves are filled with Scholastic paperbacks that I bought in elementary school and junior high. I have most of my mom’s mysteries and about 10 shelves of science fiction. My prized Harry Potter collection of special editions, hard covers, a first edition and 3 editions in other languages as well as some figurines and two marionettes are on 3 special shelves. And my Jane Austin collection also has a special place to show off my 6 collectable Pride and Prejudice editions as well as my 2 complete sets of her work. An old desk and a comfy chair complete the room. There is a strong smell of books and a sense of peace in my library. And a great dinosaur lamp to light the words.
It rained all day for two days this month. It has been so long since we have had rain, it was almost a celebration. I stayed in my PJ’s and read, watched TV and played with my tech for two entire days.
I loved the sound of the rain, hard like coins falling and then soft like a weak shower head.
Lots of water in our backyard, but fortunately it drained away.
Tomorrow is supposed to be clear, so I will be running errands all morning. I have to go by the bank, pick up photos at Costco, attend my Weight Watcher meeting, get some picture frames from Michaels and a few Hanukkah pillows from Kohl’s. Hopefully seeing the other tempting items won’t take me off task.
Oct. 18, 2014 / Day 8 Last day
We woke up today to a lovely sunshine. It was still chilly enough that many people wore jackets, but I did not! We took our time in the room, showering and dressing and getting our stuff gathered and packed. We had been given a late check out but we were still ready to go pretty early. I was wearing my black and white dress today and my new, red maple leaf necklace.
We left our stuff in the room and walked to a nearby liquor store to see if they had the Race Rock beer we had both enjoyed. They did, so Terry bought a 6 pack to bring home.
We packed the beer, checked the room carefully to make sure we had everything and then took our luggage downstairs so the hotel could hold it for us. They assured us that the lobby was at our disposal as long as we needed it, including the coffee and tea. (I realized days later I had lost my diamond post in the room)
We had decided to eat at the Skinny Tato Polish restaurant again. We walked over and sat down around 11:30. The food was once again amazing. This time the owners were the cook and wait staff, but the warm welcome and great food was exactly the same. I had 5 perogies, YUM and a delicious smoked sausage. Terry had potato pancakes and perogies and salads. He also had a yummy potato leek soup. We ate slowly, shared, and savored every mouthful. Right after we ordered I had a bad hot flash and went outside to cool off. As we were leaving the owner, a nice older lady, took me aside to tell me about a natural remedy she has used for hot flashes, how sweet. I will try it.
After our meal we checked out the pawn shop across the street. They had a lot of Canadian silver and gold and 5 rolex’s and several rifles and handguns. My favorite item was a $3000 hand crafted little metal and paper circus. It had an audience, trapeze artists, a ring master, the tent and town parade. Very charming. We also looked for a shop I had seen, I wanted to check a sweater price, but we could not find it. As we stood at a corner waiting for the signal to change a young man was walking in our direction. His expression showed him to be mentally challenged. His gaze seemed to fixate on me and he came toward me, I clutched Terry’s arm but he continued coming so I bravely slipped behind Terry’s back. The man stood staring a bit longer and then wandered away. I felt a little frightened, but he was obviously not well.
We headed back to the hotel to use the facilities and then set out again to enjoy the sunshine and cool breezes.We walked along the water and because the weather was so nice, the craftspeople were finally out. I fell in love with a small hummingbird that an artist was sitting and carving. It was $40. I told him I would come back for it for sure, and then we went on one of the Harbor Cruises. This one was called the Gorge Cruise. It was $26 each. The cruise went along the harbor and into a back area. We saw many condos and beautiful homes, some of the homes were over 100 years old. One interesting spot was where a tall diving tower had been. People jumped off it for fun and sometimes for coins from tourists. When a young man broke his neck it was torn down. The tour guide told us a sad story about a bridge. It had been replaced several times but once because it had collapsed. When it fell there was a bus load of people on it and most of them died. One who died was the young son of the inspector in charge of that bridge. We also saw an area of “squatters”. People who had old boats and had “parked” for free. The condo owners did not care for these boats to be in their line of vision, so they had passed an ordinance to make them leave. Soon they will be homeless I suppose. It was a fun and informative ride and lasted about an hour. When we got off the boat we walked over to the carver. My hummingbird was complete and beautiful. He signed his name and I paid him with my credit card using his square.
We took the hummingbird to the hotel and then walked to Fisherman’s Wharf again. This time it was bustling with activity. A small boy was tossing fish to the excited seals. One seal was very determined and would pull himself up and slap demandingly on the water with his fin. It was pretty cute. I got a rocky road ice cream cone and we went back to the hotel. We picked up our suitcases and took them to the Clipper Terminal and checked them in. Then we walked toward Government Street. We went to Murchies to buy sandwiches for our boat ride to Seattle. They did not have the delicious Portofino we had the other day but I got a Roma and a Fillone, they were both very good. While I waited in line for the food, Terry went back to Bard and Banker for another Race Rock beer. I joined him and shared his beer, it was really good. Next we went to 7/11 to buy some additional snacks for the trip.
Terry continued to the Clipper terminal and I went back to the hotel for my carry on. As I walked to the terminal I realized to my horror that my passport was in my suitcase. I told Terry, who snarled and then I threw myself on the mercy of the check in ladies. They were very nice and were able to find my suitcase in just a couple of minutes. I knew exactly where the passport was and got it right out. All was well. We chatted with other passengers while we waited to go through customs. We were happy to have numbers 13 and 14 on our return tickets, that meant we would board first and have a choice of seats. We breezed thru customs and then took seats near the front of the waiting area. Once we boarded we found a wide choice of seats and ended up with two in the center, lots of legroom and our own table. The ship is starting now and in 2 hours and 45 minutes we will be back in Seattle.
We are sitting in our room in Seattle, FINALLY! Our towncar was 20 minutes late, then tried to drop us off at the wrong hotel, he did not get a tip. Then, when we walked into the hotel we were surrounded by 45-50 really, really pretty girls, in their late teens. The hotle was headquarters to a beauty pagent! Terry perked right up as we squeezed past their firm, curvy, teen beauty pageant bodies. Then we got our room key and went up to the 5th floor. The room was far from the elevator and when we got there the key did not work. I needed coffee so I went back down while Terry waited with the suitcase. Turns out they gave us the wrong room. When I got back it we found that the room we were supposed to have was very close to the elevator and far from where Terry stood with the suitcases. Gosh, what an evening. Probably wouldn’t be so bad if we weren’t both tired. But one glitch in an otherwise great trip is no big deal.
Tomorrow we arise at 6am to get ready and have breakfast before we take a 7:30 shuttle to the airport. Our plane leaves at 9:10. We have a layover but do not get off the plane and then arrive at LAX at 1pm. Our friend Janeen will pick us up and then it is home to our own beds, my doggie Otis and the retirement grind. (love saying that).
Oct. 17, 2014 / Day 7
We woke up around 8:30 and got showered and dressed. I wore my new dress with the skyline along the skirt. We had been given 3 strong suggestions for breakfast by locals we have talked to and decided to go to the one that was least crowded. We still had the car so first we drove to Jam, long line, outside in the cold. Then we tried Shine, looked ok but no parking, finally we went to John’s. It had a short line inside so we stayed. I took a photo of the huge cinnamon bun in the glass counter.
Gosh are we glad we stayed! We were seated fairly quickly and our waitress was very nice and perky. She offered us medium or dark roast coffee, we choose medium and it was excellent! The breakfast menu was filled with delightful choices, but we both wanted the benny’s (eggs benedicts) we had heard so much about. Terry got his on crabcakes with breakfast potatos, I got mine on cornbread with salmon and asparagus, fruit on the side. They offered half or whole plates, we picked whole.
Their hollandaise sauce was so delicious it couldn’t possibly be good for us, but our mouths were very happy. Terry managed to eat most of his, I ate all of one benny and a half of the other. When I saw that half egg, bit of cornbread and pieces of salmon sitting on my plate, I wanted to eat it so bad, but I was full to overflowing! While we were in this tiny restaurant I was admiring a very large mural on the wall. It was a baseball stadium and field. I noticed that a man and two boys were painted so that their faces completely showed, all the other spectators were looking at the field. I asked a waitress about it and she was surprised and looked at the mural and admitted she had never noticed. Our own waitress came by and she was pleased that I had noticed. The three in the picture was father, son John and grandson. She also pointed out that the billboards in the mural advertised John’s restaurant and another restaurant that is their friends. And of course on the scoreboard, the home team was winning.
After this delicious meal we went back to the room for a while and then set out on our adventure.
We drove the Scenic Marine Route along the coast. We saw lots of pretty sights and enjoyed looking at all the homes. Many were for sale. Most were New England style and had big porches, and large shade trees. As we drove along we saw a sign announcing the town of Sidney, so we got off the highway to take a look.
This was a small town, the main street ended at the pier. I was pleased and surprised to see 4 bookstores on this short street. We parked near the pier and walked up to a Starbucks. After a pit stop, coffees and cookies we went back to the car. We took a photo of a very cute statue of a woman walking a dog and of a diver poised to leap into the water. The scenic route ended but Terry was undeterred and continued exploring. We spent some time on a driftwood and log covered beach.
We saw forests and homes that had to be very expensive. We also saw some very poor neighborhoods, but they were surrounded by forest and I think maybe that is nicer than a city slum.
It was getting late, so we let the GPS guide us back to the hotel. Once there, we hung out in the room a bit and then Terry took me downtown to shop and he returned the car. After he dropped off the car he was drawn back to Bard and Banker to have another taste of that yummy beer.
I was shopping and having a great time. The Bay (named for the Hudson Bay Co.) is a large mall, but had very few unfamiliar stores. I enjoyed walking around and finally spent time on the women’s clothing level of the Bay Department store. I tried on 3 dresses that were on sale, one looked crummy, one was just ok and the third looked good but was much too short. I also tried on a jacket, I know I am rarely cold, but it was soooooo cute. It looked great and was 40% off, so what choice did I have?
When I left the mall I hit a few of the souvineer shops but they were overpriced and kind of junky. I spent a happy half hour in the beautiful Monroe Bookstore. I resisted the books but found some cute pins with book sayings on them, I bought a few of those. I also bought a bookmark for my friend Ted.
I felt like any more shopping would be spending just for the heck of it, so I crossed the street to get an ice cream. This time I got a chocolate raspberry on a cone, oh it was good. I walked along to the hotel, umbrella up because it was raining, a coat, scarf and sweater to keep me warm and eating an ice cream.
When I got to the room Terry was tucked in bed with a “I am not going anywhere” look on his face. I rested a while and toyed with the idea of going out to get a sandwich, but decided to stay in and eat a little of the junk food in the room. My dinner tonight was a beef stick, a cheese stick and a cheesy pretzel bread. I had a molasses cookie and coffee for dessert.
The hotel is giving us a later check out for tomorrow and will hold our luggage and let us hang out in the lobby as much as we want. That’s great because the waiting area for the Clipper is outside. Brrr, too cold for sitting and waiting. Our boarding numbers are in the first group so we can wait till boarding is close to starting before we go over.
My laptop is not doing too well, I managed to get more photos up on Facebook, but it was not easy. It may be time for a new laptop, or maybe just a tech doc visit. I’ll see when I get home.
It is 7:13 and I just glanced over and saw Terry snoring gently, his reading glasses slipped down on his nose. My hub is a cutie.
Tomorrow we go back to Seattle on the 6pm Clipper, arrive about 8:45 and then a 30 minute drive back to the hotel. We have a 9:30am flight in the morning and arrive at LAX at 1pm and we are home, vacation is over. And then, well, back to the old retirement grind.
Realistic wall paintings
Oct. 16, 2014
Though we had planned to sleep in, we were up fairly early this morning. For a change, Terry showered first while I slept a little longer. Once we were dressed and had everything we felt we needed, we walked over to Budget Rental Car to get a car. Terry choose a Ford Fusion with GPS for 2 days. Once that was taken care of we programmed the GPS to take us to the Royal Oak Shopping Center so we could attend a 10:00am weight watcher meeting and weigh in. We both weighed in (don’t ask) and skipped the meeting which was almost over. We then we let the GPS help us find a Starbucks. This was a crowded one and a girl I talked to said it is the second busiest in Victoria. We got drinks and Terry got an oatmeal cookie and I got a molasses cookie. It is hard to resist these treats now that they are no longer available in California. Sipping and munching we headed to the Butchart Gardens.
We parked in the “Seahorse” area and entered the park. Terry had his camera out as we strolled through this incredibly beautiful place.
It is hard to imagine that this was all developed to be the real backyard of a wealthy family. It is all designed to look natural and yet, each area has a specific feel and theme. “Look at this!” was a constant refrain on the lips of all the visitors. The sounds of birds and small creatures filled the air for a while, then a bus load of Chinese tourists came into the gardens and the sound of excited voices and clicking cameras drown out nature. We walked slowly to let the crowds get ahead so we could get pictures of larger areas and enjoy the relative solitude.
There were ponds and fountains and trees galore. And of course there were flowers. The roses and tulips were hiding from the cold weather but there were so many other flowers in bright colors that they were not missed. We saw a huge redwood that had been planted in 1934. The Dahlia path was by far my favorite, these were gorgeous flowers, they seemed to be trying to out do each other by having the brightest color. There was pink and red and orange and yellow, so brilliant that it seemed as if they had been painted. And perhaps they were, on God’s canvas. The Japanese Garden had many hidden grottos with benches and small fountains. One large area with a lovely dancing fountain used to be a limestone quarry, to bring such beauty from something so ugly surly took a great deal of talent and money. There were small statues throughout and lots of forest animals, made of plants. We strolled for a few hours, and I know if I lived in Victoria I would have a 12 month pass.
When we had finally seen every path, we went to the coffee shop for a bite. I had corn salmon chowder and Terry had a sandwich. While Terry finished eating I went into the gift shop. The gift shop is very large and sold quite a variety of items, including seed packets. I purchased a few things and then we headed to the parking lot. Just before we got to the car, there was another garden, the Mediterranean Garden. A few more snap shots and we drove away.
Once on the road we headed for Craigdach Castle. The GPS was helpful, but our bus tour the other day also familiarized us with a lot of the city. When we reached the castle we were not terribly impressed. We took some pictures from the outside but chose not to go in.
Next we did my favorite thing, Terry just drove around. He never worries about getting lost (even when there is no GPS) and just turns here and there to see what’s around the next corner. We saw two small does walking along in front of houses, just as we might see a cat walking along at home. Then we were on the coast and got out at an unnamed area and walked along a very rocky shore covered with large logs and bits of wood. Took two small rocks for souvenirs and several pictures. Our next stop was called King George Terrace and it was also an ocean overlook.
By now I was ready to go back to the hotel, so we let the GPS give us a hand and were soon parking in the hotel lot. We gave the license number to the hotel clerk, glad that there was no charge.
We rested and played on line for a while and discussed dinner possibilities. I wanted to try a place we had often walked past called Bard and Banker. It was in the top 100 out of 1000 on Trip advisor, so Terry agreed to give it a try. It is a very pretty pub inside of an old bank building. The bard in the name is Robert Service, a poet I am very familiar with. He wrote one of my favorite poems, that is also a reader’s theatre called “The Cremation of Sam Mcgee”. We sat in the Robert Service room with the poem on the wall above our heads. I ordered fish and chips, with the potato chip crust. Terry got a crab salad. My food was ok. Terry’s crab was shredded like tuna and seemed canned, it was to the side of the salad in a mound. He did not care at all for his, and found mine to be just ok. One thing that was delicious was the beer. This place is a pub and has craft beers. Terry ordered Race Rocks Amber Ale and it was so good, that I, who never drinks beer, liked it. I had several swallows of Terry’s and he ordered a second.
Our waiter was very nice and after paying we headed out to get me some ice cream. Speaking of paying, most places have a small credit card machine that they bring to the table and when you are doing the transaction the machine asks if you want to tip, if you click yes it offers you a choice of percentage or amount. I click percentage and then put in 20%. Very easy.
Out on the street we saw the Gelato shop I wanted was right across the street. We walked over and bought some salt water taffy, licorice for Terry and banana for me. Then I got a scoop of mocha almond. They had dozens of flavors, ice cream and gelato. The sweet treat was displayed beautifully and when I go back (which I will) I’ll take some pictures. We paid in cash and got our change in Canadian money. As we walked back to the hotel we saw a street performer that inspired us to tip. She was a cute young women playing a banjo and singing in a high, sweet voice. She was actually worth listening too. We dropped our Candian coins in the banjo case and continued on our way. We stopped to get me a coffee at a small café very near our hotel. Terry also got a lemon loaf, he loves lemon.
Now back in our room we are relaxing, watching TV and of course, writing the journal. We will go on a drive tomorrow morning and perhaps in the afternoon Terry will explore with the car while I shop.
Oct. 15, 2014
Before I begin todays adventure, I forgot something interesting that we saw in Seattle. We passed by the original Starbucks. The line to go in was at least 50 people long! We choose not to wait.
Now, back to today. We both slept in this morning. I got dressed first and rushed down to get breakfast for both of us before they put things away. I am wearing my dresses and tights every day, but I am using my special toe separators now, lots of walking. The sketchers are the perfect shoe for long walks and still look nice with my dresses. We again had hard boiled eggs, toast, fruit and cheese and meat for breakfast. The toast and fruit were for me. The coffee was good this morning, yesterday it wasn’t hot. Terry arrived in the lobby soon and we took our time over breakfast. It was raining outside, not hard but steadily. We decided it was a good day for indoor activities, so we picked the legislative building and the Royal BC Museum.
The legislative building was as beautiful inside as it is outside. Terry wandered on his own taking pictures, while I walked along on the tour. The guide was very knowledgeable and glad to answer questions. Most of our small group were Americans and we had lots of political questions. I am pretty sure he hears them all the time. The history of the building is very interesting and the tile work was stunning.
The house members were on break until Monday, but we got to look inside their meeting room. I asked if they holler at each other like we see the English Parliament doing. He said yes, but only for 30 minutes at a time during open questions. In one room they had a display for their earthquake preparedness day called the The Great Shakeout, just like ours. They have frequent small earthquakes here and are preparing for the Big One, just like we do.
I bought a cute patch in the office / gift shop. It says: Girls in Government. And they mean it, the current 3 main leaders here are all women. They also had a nice display about Women’s Suffrage in Canada. We both enjoyed this building and felt it was just the right amount of time.
Next we went to the Royal Museum, which is right across the street. It was $23 to get in and I think it was worth it. The ticket also allowed you to leave the museum and come back anytime on the same day. They also had a free coat check, which was great since I was wearing a coat, scarf and sweater and gloves and carrying an umbrella. The first exhibit we went to was a special limited one about Vikings. This was very interesting and I am sorry they would not allow pictures. I have not attended many special exhibits, but in my and Terry’s opinions this was the most beautifully designed display ever! The clever way the displays were arranged, the lighting and the interactive parts were great. On one display they had real Viking rivets hung on thin string in the shape of a Viking ship so you could see where every rivet went, really creative. There was a computer screen that allowed you to “dig up” artifacts and another that had you “collect” the materials for a Viking ship and then build it. That ship had rope made from 690 horse tails! All the components were pretty amazing. We spent a lot of time in the Viking area. The next exhibit we looked at was Natural History. This was also very well done. I really liked the stuffed owls.
I went into the gift shop and looked for a bookmark, but they did not have one. I did get a coaster with a picture of a Viking pillaging and he had an armful of books. My kind of Viking! I also picked up a few gifts, better to spend money in the Museum Shop and have my money support that great museum, rather than some random, tourist gift shop.
By now we were getting hungry and so, getting my coat, bundling up and opening our umbrellas, we headed off to lunch. Last night we spent more time on Trip Advisor, after that wonderful Greek dinner we wanted to get suggestions for meals. We had often passed a place called Murchies on Government Street. It was highly rated on Tripadivsor, #15 out of 1000. We went in, on one side is a tea place, with many different types of teas, on the other side is a coffee bar with a long counter with salads, sandwiches, and pastries. Terry ordered a grilled sandwich and fruit salad and I got tomato soup and a Greek salad. I did not care for the soup, though Terry though it was good. Both salads were very good, but the sandwich was amazing. Terry offered me a taste and I ended up eating the last third, it was extremely delicious.
I don’t usually like sandwiches but this was exceptional. The turkey was finely shaved, the cheese had a strong yet mild taste and the bread was a thin roll and really tasty. We both can imagine eating that sandwich every day for a long time and plan to go at least one more time. As we sat and ate, we could hear many people ordering the same sandwich. We did not try the pastries, but the looks of ecstasy on the faces of those eating them were a good recommendation. Many people who got pastries, also had small pots of tea. When we were done eating I went to the back area which was a store. It carried primarily coffee and tea stuff. In the very back was an old machine that had been made in the Black Forest in the 1800’s. Inside a glass case were 3 little old ladies sitting around a table drinking tea. When you pushed a button they lifted their cups and moved their heads. It was pretty funky.
We left Murchies with the intention of going back to the museum, but when I suggested going to the hotel for a bit, Terry agreed and that’s what we did. I took a long, happy nap, it was cold and I could cuddle under blankets. Terry played with his ipad and dozed. It was so nice. This is what I enjoyed in Paris, staying in a place long enough to not have to rush wildly around.
When we finally headed back out into the rain, it was too late to return to the museum, so we headed to another Trip Advisor restaurant. This on is called the Skinny Tato and is a Polish restaurant. It is rated #17 out of 1000. It was fairly close and had just opened when we arrived. There were seats for 16 customers, but we were the only ones there for a while. Once again Trip Advisor came through. The food was wonderful!
We started with pickle soup! It was thick and creamy and had a very veggie taste with a hint of pickle. On the rainy day it was perfect. Terry ordered a large potato pancake stuffed with Hungarian Goulash and 4 different salads. I got a plate with 3 potato pancakes, 5 vegetarian pierogies and 2 salads. This food was delicious. We ate slowly and savored every mouthful. So now I must urge you to jump on a plane, car or boat, rush to Victoria to eat at Ithaka, Murchies and Skinny Tato. These are truly amazing restaurants. If they were close to home, we would be regulars.
After our very satisfying dinner, we walked back to the hotel. We stopped for some Starbucks and then snacks at 7/11 and now are sitting in the room, watching TV and relaxing. Tomorrow is supposed to be rain free so we plan to go see the famous Buchart Gardens. This is turning out to be a terrific trip.
Oct. 14, 2014 / Day 4
We slept a bit later this morning, but still made it to the free breakfast. Once again I wore tights, my boots, a sweater and my coat and a scarf and gloves, WONDERFUL! I have so longed for cool weather. Terry was bundled up also. The breakfast was interesting, but fine. There was a small amount of fruit; cantaloupe and watermelon. Bread for toasting, white, wheat and raisin. There were some slices of lunch meat and cheese. And hard boiled eggs. The coffee tasted ok but was not hot enough.
After breakfast we went back to the room, there was a housekeeper nearby. I asked her to replace our shower curtain, it was missing a magnet and I had flooded the bathroom. A few minutes in the room and we set off on the days adventure.
Yesterday facing the harbor we went to the right, so this morning we turned left. We both carried umbrellas, but I am happy to say we did not use them at all.
This was a pretty spectacular walk. There was a narrow path with beautiful foliage on our left side and the harbor on the right side. We saw incredibly beautiful flowers, unusual trees and the ground was littered with bright red maple leaves.
Our walk brought us to the Fisherman’s Wharf. All the shops were closed except the whale watching excursion. The people waiting to go on that trip were all garbed in big red jackets and black wind breaker pants. I was surprised and disappointed to see one man with an infant. It was cold, it was going to be wet, why would an infant need to go whale watching?
The best part of the wharf was the little village of homes. All these homes were houseboats. They were colorful and a wide variety of styles and sizes. Some were 2 stories and large, others were so tiny I am not sure the owners could stand up inside. There were about 24 of these homes. The only real drawback to living in one was that tourists could get very close, not much privacy.
We also saw an area where a few little seals hung out, waiting for tourists to buy some fish to toss to them. They were wild seals, but certainly knew how to beg.
We took a slight variation on the walk to our hotel back and found a mini rain garden. There were beautiful flowers in a wide variety of colors, a quaint bridge across an area that was shaped like a pond but was actually grasses. Apparently it had once all been an unattractive swampy muddy place and was changed into this rain garden. The info sign explained how to make your own mini rain garden, but obviously CA does not have a very necessary component. (rain)
We returned to the hotel briefly and then set off to walk through China Town. We kept our eyes peeled for the bicycle / kabuki guys but never saw them. I really wanted one to take us on a tour, I had done it years ago on my trip to Victoria with Mary Gil. When we got to China Town, it was pretty disappointing, without a tour guide to tell all the interesting history it was just a bunch of shabby looking little stores.
Terry was not thrilled with just walking along, tourist shops and boutiques all around. Funny how men don’t recognize earthly heaven. So, we decided to take a tour. A company called CVS does a 90 minute tour of the Victoria area and neighborhoods. It was $32 each and we highly recommend it! The tour was to begin at 1pm.
We had time so we walked through the Empress Hotel, the tour bus stops in front of it. Sure it is pretty, but neither of us can see spending so much money for a bed.
Our hotel has free breakfast, wireless, parking, bicycles, coffee and a mini kitchen in the room. Why pay more for fancy but less? We also popped into a 7/11 and bought some not too junky snacks. They had Dr. Pepper licorice, which Terry was interested in trying. We also got some pistachios, jerky, chips and a beef and cheese stick. Chips were Terry’s. We went back to wait for the bus and I chatted with the girl selling tickets. I asked her about the kabuki guys and just as she was giving me a number to call, one pulled up to visit her. I talked with him and got his card, if the weather stays rain free we will take a tour with him.
The bus arrived and we nabbed two front seats, the weather seemed too cold for the open air upper deck. Terry went up to check it out, while I guarded our seats and returned to tell me he was going to stay up, so I went with him. Again we had front seats which were right by a big wind shield and that helped a lot with the cold. I wrapped my scarf around my head and neck (yay Paris scarf lessons) and I was fine. It was cold, but so clean and refreshing. The driver was also the tour guide and he was very easy to hear. He told “punny” jokes and had lots of information. He pointed out every restaurant he liked, told about celebrities who had homes on or visited Victoria. We went through a very ritzy neighborhood, and apparently they call the road that separates their neighborhood from the others the “Tweed Wall”.
It’s nice to know stuck up is not just an American trait. We saw some very beautiful cathedrals and several private schools. One area thinks of itself as still being part of Britain. Our guide said the residents speak with British accents, but I think he was kidding. He told us that when Canada decided to begin driving on the right side like the USA, this neighborhood refused. They had a gate and guard to remind people to drive on the left, but no reminder for when people left the area. After several head on collisions, the neighborhood gave in. He pointed out a mountain in the Olympia mountain range that is the snowiest mountain in the world. One year they had 95 feet of snow in ONE month and the next month an additional 105 inches. Brrrrrr. We really enjoyed this trip and found it to be the perfect way to get to know more of Victoria. When it ended we walked back to the hotel. I took a nap and Terry did computer stuff, including downloading pictures. I will put some up on Facebook later.
Last night we had looked up a lot of restaurants on Trip Advisor, to avoid a meal like the night before, and decided on one called Ithaca, a Greek restaurant. After resting we headed for this highly praised place. It was about 2 miles away, and walking in brisk, cold weather is a pleasure. We found it easily. We were given a nice table by the window and perused the menus. The prices were about $20-50 dollars and it all sounded yummy. I ordered the lamb chops (of course) and Terry had prawns. This food was almost too good to describe. The home made bread was thick and so tasty it would have been a crime to put butter on it. The avalemono soup was sweet and sour and better than any I have ever had. Terry ate every bit of his salad and had the last two spoonful’s of my soup, which he agreed was the best. Both our dinner plates had rice, veggies and red potato’s. The potato’s had a lemon flavor and were better than any red potato’s I have ever eaten. The veggies were so good I ate all of mine (to Terry disappointment). But oh, the lamb chops. I love lamb chops and find them to be great wherever I get them, but these, oh these were beyond compare. Five perfect little chops, cooked perfectly, seasoned perfectly. While we dined a young man asked how things were, he turned out to be Dmitri, the owner. He told us some of the family history of the restaurant and brought us a photo book he had made of his family. The dessert menu was tempting but we were both full, happily full. So, I say to you all, hop on a plane, boat or car and come here right away to eat at this restaurant. We rank it as the best food we have ever had!
a great love of Hockey
We had a nice 2 mile walk back to the hotel, and our food had a chance to settle. We passes the Legislative Building, which was all lit up and was beautiful. We took some different streets and when we got to the harbor we walked on the lower walkway. There was a long wall and it had orange lines and numbers on it. A sign explained that the natives of Vancouver Island have traditionally used this area as a place to trade their goods. Today it is restricted to native artisans to sell items to the tourists. It has been empty each time we have gone by, probably because of the weather.
Soon we reached the hotel and went to the lobby so I could get a coffee. I sat on our balcony and sipped my coffee while Terry downloaded more pictures.
We have spent the remainder of the evening watching TV and of course journal writing. We both agree it was a very good day. (I need to come up with more descriptive words, I keep repeating myself!)
Oct. 13, 2014 / Day 3
We work up early and showered, dressed and packed. I wore my boots and felt like I looked very good. We had a big breakfast, hung out in the room for a while and then went down to the lobby to wait for our ride to the Victoria Clipper. The towncar arrived promptly at 10:30. The trip downtown was pretty quick and we arranged for the same driver to pick us up on Saturday night. I liked having a towncar, so pretty and clean and just nice looking.
We checked our luggage and then went to the waiting area. Even though we were over an hour early, there were a LOT of people waiting. There was much jockeying for position in the waiting room, which turned out to be a waste of time because even though they did not tell anyone, we boarded by our ticket number. Terry and I had 152 and 153 so we boarded with the 4th group. There was not a great choice of seats, but we found two by a window and felt ok with the choice. Ok that is until we heard the very loud, never ending chatter of a man too close to not hear. He talked almost non stop and was very loud. When he had no one to talk to he made a phone call and read the entire alcohol duty free prices to whoever had the misfortune to answer the phone. Terry drowned him out with the noise canceling ear buds, but I was not so lucky. Terry also went out on the deck a few times, but it was too cold and rough for me. I mostly read, played solitaire and looked out the window. We decided to get some food on the Clipper and Terry had a turkey sandwich and chips. I had the lil sailor kids meal, with frosted flakes, crasins, Scooby fruit snacks and string cheese. We also got a diet pepsi for Terry and a ginger ale for me and a bag of pretzels and one of almonds. The food was fine, about $19 all together. I was glad to have the ginger ale and pretzels when the ride got very rough for about 40 minutes. Up and down, up and down, ug!
We finally arrived in Victoria and though people began putting on jackets and standing, an announcement told us we would de-board in a specific order, so everyone sat back down. Those without checked luggage got off first and then the rest of us. We waited in a line for about 5 minutes and then began to walk along a shelf-lined hallway to find our luggage. It was somewhat chaotic. Once we had our stuff we went through customs. Terry and I were singled out for further examination. We were asked a few questions and had our passports double checked on the computer. It was all very polite and friendly, but odd. Finally we were free to go, I say finally, but from docking to the end was only about 20 minutes. We could see our hotel as we exited the customs building, tall, white and pretty, the Admiral Inn.
We walked less than a block and into the lobby. A nice looking young man, who had such a cute French accent that he became instantly better looking, greeted us. We checked in and were given REAL keys! He chatted to us a bit about the policies and sent us on our way.
Our room is on the top floor, 307, and has a nice balcony with a harbor view. The room is biggish, with a queen bed and pull out couch. The bathroom is small, but very usable. We also have a small frig. microwave and coffee pot. We had some trouble getting the flatscreen TV to work but the cutie who checked us in came up and fixed it. I am amazed by the number of channels and regular US TV shows that are on. We were pleased to find the internet works very well and is fast and free. There is also a free continental breakfast, we will review it tomorrow. After having a good laugh when we opened a cabinet and found a very old TV, we unpacked and rested a bit. Terry sat on the balcony for a while. Finally we decided to go out.
I changed into my Sketcher Go Walks and put on a sweater, a scarf and carried my coat. THose cute little black Sketchers looked good with my dress and gave me the support I needed for walking. Terry wore his hoodie. We felt a bit of rain as we stepped out of the lobby, so we borrowed a couple of the hotel umbrellas, instead of going back to the room for ours. What a nice walk. Sure it rained lightly, but we did not care. We strolled along, pausing to take pictures and admiring the harbor views to our left and the beautiful buildings to our right. We saw sea planes landing and taking off from the harbor. We stopped at the Visitors Center and picked up a map and a few brochures. We passed the government building and the Empress Hotel. Then we passed mostly shops and restaurants. I saw one called Dog Gone, which was soda fountain style with hot dogs and shakes. We stopped at a Starbucks, I wanted a Canada Starbucks card, got 4, and I got a latte and Terry got a Pumpkin Spice. He did not find it to be very good. We also bought a couple of big, soft, cookies, Canada Starbucks, have not changed to the crummy new pastries we have at home. My molasses cookie was so good. As we walked, we were surprised and saddened by the number of homeless people. Of course, we were only in one, touristy area. After walking about an hour, we went back to Dog Gone to eat. Terry got a sauerkraut and onions dog, I had chili and cheese dog. I thought it was so so, Terry thought they were pretty crummy. I also had a chocolate shake which was yummy.
Didn’t taste as good as it looks
Stuffed, if not satisfied, we walked back to the hotel.
We are now snug in our room. We watched the second hour of Dancing With The Stars, Wheel of Fortune and now Jeopardy, but most important, the Big Bang Theory will be on at 8 – hooray! I have it taping at home, but how nice to catch it here. It is raining pretty hard outside and now and then we hear a deep ship horn from the harbor. The streets are lit with pretty 5 bulb street lamps and we have the sliding glass door open for the fresh breeze. It is cool, but not cold, I am ok with that, as long as it is at least sweater weather I am content.
As we strolled along earlier, I could not stop smiling, I really like Victoria, it has a special feel and I am happy to be here.