Fire & ice
Last month, our family of four made the trip from Milano, Texas to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Remember that movie, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles?” Well, we traveled by truck, plane, train, bus, boat and car during our nine day excursion, and fortunately for us, our four-year-old son Bradley and two-year-old daughter traveled well. Buck’s mom and step-father, Robyn and Chris, live in Victoria, as does his 20- year-old sister Aandarra, who until our trip, had never met her niece Hannah.
The plane ride from Texas to Washington took four hours. It was Hannah’s first plane ride and they both were so good that they earned their wings. We arrived at Crown Plaza late and had a quick check-in, very important with two young children who had been sitting for six hours. It was the most comfortable bed I had ever slept in, but I could have been a bit biased seeing as how tired I was from the long, non-stop flight.
We rose early and loaded up in a taxi to head down to the pier for our two and a half hour boat ride on the Victoria Clipper. When the taxi driver turned the corner from our hotel and I saw the purple-colored, snow capped mountains along the horizon on one side and the sparking harbor on the other, I quickly remembered why I was so fond of the area.
As we rode the water it was hard not to admire the beautiful views as we traveled up the Puget Sound, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, finally arriving at the inner harbor in Victoria, BC. A very excited “Grandma Gigi” was there to welcome us.
Victoria sits on the tip of Vancouver Island in the providence of British Columbia. It is a town of many wonders like the famed Empress Hotel, Parliament Building and Butchart Gardens, but the people are what make this town so different from what this Texas girl is used too—and I liked it. During one of our shopping excursions to downtown, our family took a carriage ride through the area to take it all in from a different perspective.
The love of the arts is depicted everywhere, from large sculptures worked into the facade of buildings, to artists selling their works by the waterfront, to the very entertaining musical street artists that were set up every so often on a street corner. My favorite was “Darth Vader.” The fiddle, excuse me violin, playing character dresses up in full costume each and every day performing for tips. No matter the weather, cold or hot, he’s always there astonishing the passers-by with his amazing talent.
During our visit we also attended a little known sporting event called the Winter Olympics. The 2010 games were held just a hop, skip and ferry ride away from Victoria in Vancouver.
The cit y was packed w it h people from all over the world– something I believe makes the Olympics that much more exciting. We ventured to the Olympic cauldron, through the historic Gastown district and along the outskirts of Vancouver’s Chinatown. It is the third largest Chinatown in North America behind New York and San Francisco.
We attended the Norway vs. Switzerland hockey game and met even more characters. I had never been to a hockey game, but am now a life long fan. Buck and I wanted to try our hand at curling as well, a popular Canadian sport, but just didn’t find the time.
The parks in Victoria are amazing as well. Our favorite was Beacon Hill Park, next to Mile Zero. Canada’s Number 1 Highway starts at Mile Zero and stretches all across the country. It was also the starting point of the Olympic Torch Relay prior to the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Fun for the kids
We left Victoria via passenger ferry to return back to the states for an extra day of sightseeing in Seattle. The Washington city is known for Starbucks and rain—we experienced both.
Bradley was such a trooper, trudging through the rain and up the hills, excited to see what was around the next corner and when we were going to “his store.” There was a pirate shop on the water front that he really wanted to visit. The pirate-lover got some “treasure” and a new sword. A just reward for all that walking.
Bradley was everywhere at the museum–in the Tinker Toy room, in the fake fire truck, running the sound and light board in the theatre or climbing through the logs at the “campsite.”
Hannah just ran and ran and ran. She wanted to play. She spent most of her time in the fake taco stand, serving up plastic tacos to her Daddy and I, and a couple of strangers too.
By the time we reached Seattle’s famous Pike’s Place Market, Hannah was sacked out and Bradley wanted to be carried. It was quite a sight seeing my son holding his nose as we strolled through the market. He was not too fond of the smell from the fresh seafood that lined vendors’ stands.
The fruit and vegetable stands were in abundance and not too expensive. The taste of the delectable raspberries and strawberries were well worth all the walking and the smell.
I love the freshness of the air and the food in the Pacific Northwest. I so yearn for a huge farmer’s market like those in Seattle and the breathtaking views of Canada. But next time, I think we’ll go in the summertime.