Friday, September 19, 2014

Tourism Day Eleven: Victoria (Not the Queen)

Thursday, 4 June, 2014. We arrived mid-morning at Victoria Harbor, in British Columbia. I'd been here a couple of times before, with The Bat, back when we lived in Bremerton, WA, but this was my first time without Mommy holding my hand.

And, it was not going as I'd originally planned.

The ticket I'd held in my hand was only for a bus ride around the city. There was no formal tea or garden tour waiting for me. My gang had booked a Hippo tour, which, initially, appealed to me, but, because my knees were already giving me more pain than I'd felt in a few years, the pain killers I took were giving me gastrointestinal distress of an extremely unattractive nature, and didn't want to inflict myself on anybody I liked. I was withdrawing from polite society.

Putting on my game face, I went up to the Windjammer (the ninth-deck buffet hall where we'd consistently broken fast during this cruise), encountered the gang outside having a puff-puff and shooting the breeze with other smoking passengers, and grudgingly gave them a few minutes of my morning before heading in to load up on what energy I could, for the day ahead.

(As always, click on any picture to embiggen it.)

Looking out, from Deck Ten, at the entry to Victoria Harbor
Our ship moored at a pier just shy of the inner harbor of Victoria, where, once upon a time, the big car ferries used to unload on a regular basis. The Bat and I had come up by high-speed foot ferry, back in the day, via the Victoria Clipper from Anacortes, IIRC, but we had then debarked our small ferries right down in front of the Parliament building, among other landmarks, and had walked to the Royal BC Museum, had ridden the double-decker bus to the Butchart Gardens, and had, in general, roamed the not-so-commercially-driven tourist sites, nearly two decades ago. I was going to retrace only a very few of those steps, on this day.

Pretty much just the bus ride. Up to a point. It wasn't the big loop, out to the Butchart Gardens and other distant posh quarters, but only around the city proper (I didn't have the opportunity to get any good pictures of the business district, though. There was traffic).

The ship, pier, and a duty-free gift shop

Strait of San Juan de Fuca
Yep. Wanda Fuca again.

Victoria's zoo (the petting zoo section)
with saucy peacock

Public parks

Yep. More public parks

And the the inner harbor. 
Public art. 

And not embarrassing public art, either

O! my tormentor, the Empress! (Hotel, that is).

Standing in clear view of the inner harbor,
wishing I'd dressed for tea at the Empress (right), after all

After strolling the quay, I made my way into the nearby business district (cough cough tourist trap) a bit, trying several times to turn around to get a good snapshot of the legislative building, or a better one of the Empress Hotel, or even one of the other local landmarks on my half-mile trek, but the sidewalks and streets were quite crowded on this balmy midday, so, mostly I did some window-shopping (except for my having twice –twice! – gone into shops to buy postcards and gifts for family back home).

And then there were the three times I sat on city benches next to signs informing me that there was free wi-fi ("Use At Your Own Risk!"), and tried to upload a few of the three thousand photographs I had already taken on this journey.

After roughly two hours, I had uploaded about a hundred pix.

I had also exhausted the effects of my pain killers, and really couldn't safely dose up again for nearly another two hours. So, I slowly, carefully, gimpily made my way back to the bus, and therefore, back to the ship.

The ten-minute ride back to the pier gave me enough rest to venture a few minutes (and a few more dollars!) checking out the postcards and gifts at the duty-free store on the pier, then, after the long hike to my cabin, I had a full hour of nap before dinner – our last dinner together on this trip, and quite possibly our last one together in my lifetime.

After dinner, the farewell show on the main stage, deck five. It made me laugh a couple of times. Speaking as somebody who spends most of her life in a blue funk, especially when the legs are in full revolt, a show which manages to squeeze out a real laugh from me is truly special. Somewhere in my notes, I wrote down the name of the comedian – who had boarded the ship at Victoria – but have since seen my notes vanish into the single-sock universe. At any rate, you might be able look up the ship's schedule, or contact Royal Caribbean directly to find out who he was. (The ship, again, was the Rhapsody of the Seas.)

After the show, I limped my way through the duty-free last-ditch sales, still found nothing I needed, so I returned to my cabin and watched the sun go down on Wanda Fuca.

Some time around three or four in the old ack emma (or, in more common parlance, at oh-dark-thirty), I was awakened by a different sort of light coming in my window. A small, high-ish-speed boat had come alongside, close enough I couldn't read her identification…

there was apparently some communication between our crew and theirs…

and, after about three minutes, the smaller boat

pulled away and eventually 

disappeared into the dark.

And then there was no more, until I awoke to our arrival in Seattle. I never did find out what that was all about.

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