Monday, September 3, 2007

Victoria, BC

C and I have lived around Seattle for about 7 years and have been wanting to visit Victoria, BC the whole time. We finally made it there over Labor Day weekend, 2007. We took the Victoria Clipper in the morning, experienced the Butchart Gardens and the fireworks. The Gatsby mansion is a really convenient and confusing place to stay. The Titanic exhibit and movie at the museum were pretty good. Getting home on the clipper that broke down was a disaster that we kept saying could have been worse.

Victoria is a tourist town, we saw and did all we needed to in 2 days and 1 night. It was nice, but we have no urge to go back anytime soon. We think we spent half our time waiting in lines. But we did pick the busiest weekend of the year.

The Gatsby Mansion is across the street from the ferry terminal. And we managed to check in as early as our boat arrived, which was great. It took us awhile to find where to check in though. There are at least 4 buildings that make up the mansion and they all look like the wrong one, because two of them have restaurants in the way. Several times a day we'd walk past the inside tables, then the bar, and then the outside tables to get to the street. I know a king sized bed is equivalent to two doubles side by side, but it's kind of lame when your king bed is literally just that. I also thought it was funny that our room had a full kitchen but no dishes or equipment to make it even slightly useful.

The Gatsby recommends a fish 'n chips place around the corner so we went there because we were in the mood and starving. The propaganda also mentioned a friendly harbor seal, but I didn't think we'd be that lucky. After sitting in a line to order for a half hour, and then another half hour line to pick it up, we did get to see the chubby seal with a blue eye.

Butchart is brilliant and absolutely disappointing at the same time. The flowers are so unusual and lovely I could shoot them for years. The gardens as a whole are awesome too. But there are always so many people around it's impossible to get a decent picture of any larger area without hordes of people in it. And everything but the solid pathways are roped off. So only the close up shots of flowers look good. The fireworks were strange. They had a wide area along the ground to work with so they used it all. Things were lighting up, and launching from, all over the place. That was the cool part. The very not-cool part was the whole thing choreographed to some Disney movie soundtrack, Aladdin I think. Had I not been occupied with shooting the fireworks, I would have left and been annoyed.

The brunch at the Gatsby was ok. The brunch sign that was draped across the main building looked really ghetto and made me laugh.

Next we were off to the museum to see the Titanic exhibit. I love how the IMAX film used a fisheye lens on the Russian scientist most of the time. For a film about a real tragedy, it was quite funny. The movie was good and so was the exhibit, but by the end I was falling apart like I'd been shopping for a whole hour! My back was killing me, my neck was tired, and my feet hurt. I didn't even have a camera bag!

Then we strolled through Beacon Hill park. It started out trashy, then turned into a lovely Butchart-like garden, but with a petting zoo. I didn't go in, but I admit I wanted to. We got some great pictures of each other amongst the flowers there.

We then walked around the city to find the shopping mall areas. We rode the escalator to the top of a nice one and talked ourselves out of buying anything because the exchange rate is about 1:1 right now, which is not very encouraging. So we strolled along the water front and found some greek food and gave up waiting on a mini donut machine that had broken down while the owner chatted away with some friends.

We checked into the clipper an hour and a half early because we got relatively bad seats on the way up because we were only an hour early. We found out later our boarding group for the trip back had already been determined back in Seattle when we checked in the first time. At about the time everyone on the boat realizes we're late leaving the dock, they announced that one of the engines won't start. And it never did. They sent another boat up from Seattle to get us. We eventually got home around 3:30AM the next day. But they did give us free sodas, so I had quite a few dr. peppers to comfort me in my misery. :)

Click here to see a ton of pictures from our trip!

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