I call it the proverbial ‘dead week’. The space between Christmas and New Year when everyone fights post-Yuletide depression while waiting for a new cycle to begin. And, rather than lay and wait while dreaming of new beginnings, I decided to return to Canada with Mia and see what Victoria, British Columbia had to offer.
I’ve been extremely lucky so far with uneventful travel routes, but this one had quite a few bumps. A cancelled flight delayed our arrival though eventually we made our way to the Parkside Hotel in downtown Victoria late on a Monday. We made up by grabbing some ridiculously good food at a French/Indian restaurant called Fishhook, (get the Pondicherry!), some local brews and spent the rest of the day relaxing in the apartment style hotel. As the trip was meant as more decompress than adventure, it seemed fitting to veg out.
Adventures in Shirley
About an hour West of Victoria is a town called Shirley and a charming coastal beacon called Sheringham Point Lighthouse. Via some connections that Mia has with the Preservation Society, we were able to get a quick tour into the building itself. Up and down we went to view the building currently in repair as the Society gains donations to keep the historical facility functioning.
If you’re going to visit the lighthouse, don’t forget to sip on coffee and grub on snacks at Shirley Delicious, a very small and very cozy shop just off the main road.
With the highlight of the day out of the way, we wandered around the expansive Royal BC Museum, then meandered a bit more through several of the downtown streets, in the rain nonetheless! Ending our night with dinner and more gazing-out-the-window from the hotel room and I’d call it a successful day.
A chilly walk while waiting for family
With my sister and brother hopping up from Seattle in the evening, we needed to kill a few hours, so we headed straight for Beacon Hill Park, a nearly 200-acre open space park that reaches right up to the shoreline at the Juan de Fuca straight. Keeping up our pace to keep warm, we were rather impressed at the types of landscape in the park itself, all the way up to tiny details, like the crazy number of peacocks casually running around.
After that, over to The Empress Hotel for what they call High Tea, an exorbitantly expensive ‘royal tea service’, which ended up being quite good. What is worth it? Yes and no.
Considering the fact that were were there for my brother, Paul’s birthday, yes, though on any normal occasion, I’d have to question the price. We got a $60 price per head, rather than $75, by purchasing tea service with ferry tickets. Also, there was less pomp and circumstance than I would have wished for, but the tea and snacks were great.
A huge miniature world and Christmas gardens
I’m so glad we saved these two ultra-touristy items for last, as the unexpected surprise for each were even greater. First up in the day was Miniature World, which, if you hadn’t guessed, is a huge variety of miniature sets. When I say huge, I mean it, as the museum just kept going. World War II, colonial era scenes, those of doll houses, King Arthur’s knights, just to name a few; we spent at least an hour wandering through the corridors.
The Butchart Gardens might be a jog away from Victoria, but the sights are well worth another car rental, drive, and entrance fee to the park, especially when the place is decked out with Christmas lights. I have never seen so many in my life. As the gardens went on, so did the lights in any variety of color and twinkliness. No picture will do it justice, so if you’re undecided, let me and all the other visitors do it for you: GO!
Despite the chill in the air (you can see my lens starting to fog up in the last shot above) we all enjoyed it thoroughly. I only wish I would have brought a tripod to get some of these photos in lower ISO. Most of these were handheld at 6400 and shutter speeds of almost a full second. Still, I managed a few and below might be my favorite shot of the whole trip.
Always a pleasure, Canada! And, with that, I end my year as I started it, excited to travel more. Now let’s see how quickly I can put together my annual Reflections of a Year Gone By post…