I have to admit, I am still tempted to go live in Victoria, British Columbia some day. It boasts a temperate climate, beautiful old homes, a quaint downtown, an ocean view, friendly people, and gorgeous parks. My sister and parents had coincidentally visited Victoria only the week before and I told me I was in for a treat so I couldn’t wait to get there.
The ship arrived at 6PM so we only had a few hours to explore. Kristen and I had opted for a walking tour. The guide was a funny little British man who resembled a Dickensian character. He took us through some neighborhood streets at a brisk clip before steering us into Beacon Hill Park – an artist’s dream come true in my opinion. Everywhere we looked there were fountains, bushels of flowers, lily ponds, peacocks(in trees!), and willows. I’m not exactly handy with a paintbrush but if I were, I couldn’t think of a better place to find inspiration.
We also finally saw some authentic totem poles (I had missed the ones in Sitka) and, just as the sun was setting, we arrived at the downtown nestled by the harbor. The government hall on our left was an impressive European-style building glowing with thousands of lights, and on the right the sidewalks bristled with people out enjoying the lovely evening.
After the tour ended, we met our friend Bisma at the Empress Hotel for a drink. Despite being under dressed (jeans and the ubiquitous North Face jackets) we were welcomed into the dining room. All the furniture was heavy, wooden and reeked of 19th century poshness. It was the kind of place that makes you sit up straight in your chair and keep your elbows off the table. To take off the chill from our walk, I sipped a Tawny Port (selected from a gorgeous bar cart) and snacked on a few appetizers. Seeing that it was time to head back to the ship, I chose the 20 minute walk back so that I could have some more time to soak in the beauty of the town.
I regret not having more time to explore this beautiful town but I was also eager to get back to the Westerdam – a place I now considered a second home. Knowing that it was our last night aboard the ship made me sad. I actually felt a twinge of indignation when I saw the disembarkation paperwork on our door. I almost felt as though we were being evicted from our home. A little silly perhaps, but true. In the span of just a week, we had made many new friends, seen and done incredible things, danced until our feet hurt, enjoyed incredible live music, eaten amazing food, strengthened our own friendships, and overall had the time of our lives.