Monday, May 21, 2007

By land and by sea Part Two

It’s been rainy and cool this past week and my thoughts drift back to the bright blue sky and sunny weather which graced our trip to Victoria. Even though we only spent one night in this lovely capital city, every minute was filled with rich experiences - from strolling to dinner with the little ones and settling them into bed to an impromptu Starbucks breakfast in our suite the next morning, then on to a morning of exploration at the Royal British Columbia Museum and, finally, sightseeing and shopping in the city itself.

I was a bit doubtful as to how two small children and a baby would handle a few hours in a world-class museum. Would there be meltdowns? Boredom beyond belief? My worries soon subsided as there were so many fascinating exhibits that all of us got caught up in different rooms and time periods.

We passed impressive dioramas of wooly mammoths and native wildlife, walked through a Victorian town peering into shop windows and living rooms, replicas of what life must have been like for the early settlers. Olivia was a bit leery of the darkened streets but was soon reassured that it was all just make-believe and no ghosts about.

There was a large totem collection along with many artifacts of the native tribes. The First Peoples Gallery was dimly lit and mystical. Its sense of serenity even put our little Iris to sleep as she clung to her momma, Katie, in a shoulder sling similar to how these native women may have carried their babes too.

Ben and I got to walk through a replica of the stern section of the HMS Discovery showing its captain’s quarters. He turned to me, quite excited, and said “This is where Captain Gruffy Face sleeps!” Ah, the power of a grandparent’s imagination on impressionable youngsters.

After a final stop at the museum gift shop (yes, I indulged the kiddies) we then walked into the heart of the city by way of the signature hotel in the harbor. Joseph obliged and took some photos of me and the munchkins in front of The Empress. This will probably be the closest I’ll ever get to crossing its portals as I cannot afford the royal prices.

Spring really was in the air and we enjoyed the beautiful flowers in bloom along the grand old hotel’s promenade. It seemed that everyone was out and about in shirt sleeves or light jackets. The locals confided that the sunny and balmy weather was long overdue. There was even a reggae band doing a bit of street entertaining to add to the upbeat mood. I wandered into a British department store to look at the tartans and tweeds but didn’t linger long as the warm temps and the street band lured me back outside.

Before heading back to the ferry, we stopped at an outdoor café for lunch and, again, the cheerful crowds and clear skies were producing a carnival atmosphere. I half expected the street band to break into a rendition of “Let the Sunshine In” from Hair. I would have danced down the main street!

We walked back to the hotel to collect our luggage and returned to the ferry terminal. Ben and Olivia were tired and Katie entertained them by reading a chapter of Nancy Drew while we waited. I looked at their faces, both engaged in the story, and thought how lovely that they like books, the joy of books. Joe walked baby Iris up and down until the ferry arrived and we all trekked aboard. I went on deck as we moved slowly out of the inner harbor and just missed a whale sighting on the port side. Soon the excitement faded and the Olympic mountains gradually came into view.

To be surrounded by the sea and mountains and those I love was just the perfect ending to a perfect trip. We came home on Good Friday. It was a very good Friday indeed.


slouching mom said...

My goodness, Mater; what a handsome family you have there.

I would love to visit Victoria.

geogirl said...

What a lovely trip! I am so jealous.

How cute that Ben associated the ship with your pirate stories. Love of books indeed! I just know they got that from you.

Anonymous said...

I have been enjoying you site for some time....I just returned from visiting MY Grandchildren in Oklahoma, I live in Canada. What was it, that made you decide to relocate close to your daughter??.....I am considering the same move, but wonder what my son will think of this.

Jp Amm

Terry said...

Oh, how I love Victoria, even though it rains and mists nearly constantly. A few years ago we bought a package deal that included a room at the Empress. What fun that was! We watched the movie "There's Something About Mary" in the room one night and I laughed so hard I fell off the very tall antique bed. The Museum is one of the most wonderful I have ever been to. Fun to take kids to. Love your trip and pictures.

BOSSY said...

Bossy thinks that first photo is actually a dioramas of Bossy's Great Dane carrying a branch. Great photos, great trip.

Mel said...

Mater, I've enjoyed reading your blog for a while (as well as Jenn's). I've especially enjoyed your stories of your trip to Victoria. Some of my family live there and we get to visit once or twice a year (sniff... not often enough). Next time you get to visit your son in Washington, if you take trip to Victoria, I recommend visiting Buchart Gardens and Hatley Castle ( The castle is now owned by Royal Roads University, but they offer tours. PS., it's also where they filmed X-Men.

The Mater said...

Thank you guys for some great comments and compliments.

Anon, I chose daughter over son because, practically and financially, moving up the east coast was much easier than relocating to the west coast. I love them both and wish some spaceship could just beam me up and over to have the best of both worlds!
Good luck with your decision ...

Terry and mel, so you love Victoria too? Thanks for the tips on what to do next when I ever get back there! I would love to return and stay much longer.

Amy said...

I lived in Victoria for 5 years while going to college and university and to this day contend it is one of the most incredible cities in the world!

Your pictures make me want to visit my brother, soon!