Victor: Victoria

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While we were still waiting to hear if T got the job, we thought it would be nice to do a weekend getaway for T’s birthday either before everything got all crazy or to cheer ourselves up. (So happy it was the former!) We chose Victoria because I’d never been (and T was there in elementary school, which barely counts… ) Plus, it’s a pretty easy trip from Seattle on the Victoria Clipper. We bid farewell to gray, drizzly Seattle very early on Friday morning:

Victoria_SeattleHarbor

We landed in Victoria three hours later. It’s a stupidly charming little town. On Reed’s advice, we decided to stay in the understated Empress Hotel:

Victoria_Empress

Despite it only being 11 am, they were kind enough to let us check into our room. And is it just me, or do beautiful old hotels always have a Shining vibe to them?

Victoria_EmpressHallwayAnd PDX has nothing on the carpet at the Empress:

Victoria_HotelCarpet

The view from our room was not too shabby…

Victoria_WindowView

And I loved seeing the architectural details from the window:

Victoria_HotelExteriorView

We went out to grab a little lunch and walk around for a bit. Victoria is stupidly charming.

Victoria_HarborViewAnd has a surprising amount of native art around town. Such as these totem poles that date back to 1911.

Victoria_TotemPolesWhen I was a kid, my parents had visited Victoria and had high tea at the Empress and told many stories about it. I’d always wanted to go, so we decided to indulge as part of our trip. T was kind enough to go to high tea on his birthday. He’s such a good sport! (If you look over his shoulder, you can see the typical demographic for this activity… )

Victoria_HighTeaT

Our waiter was kind enough to take our picture:

Victoria_HighTea

It was quite the fancy affair, like something out of Downton Abbey:

Victoria_HighTeaChinaVictoria_HighTeaGoodies

It was definitely over-priced and a little too touristy, but it was fun. (Plus, isn’t a solid preview of your golden years the perfect way to celebrate your birthday?) Since we were on a tourist kick, I figured why not check out Miniature World? It was a quirky little museum full of dioramas, ranging from the historical:

Victoria_MiniWorld1To an interesting replica of the Trans-Canadian railroad:

Victoria_MiniWorld2Look, it’s old-timey Toronto:

Victoria_MiniWorld3And all sorts of other things. I didn’t get a picture of it, but there was a working model of a sawmill (that they couldn’t operate any more because it’s a fire hazard, but they had a video of it that was cool.) Some of the dioramas were really artistic:

Victoria_MiniWorld4

And some were clearly older, and a little… um… odd:

Victoria_MiniWorld5There was even a miniature car show:

Victoria_MiniWorld6And a circus that moved from night…

Victoria_MiniWorld7…To day:

Victoria_MiniWorld8We even saw Camelot!

Victoria_MiniWorld9

It was the perfect kind of cheesy fun. I made it up to T by letting him take a nap and them taking him to a legitimately cool cocktail bar and then an awesome tapas place for dinner. They light up the Parliament building at night. Look how pretty it is:

Victoria_NightMy phone didn’t capture the lights as well as I would have liked. Here’s a better sense of it from the next morning:

Victoria_Parliament

The next day, we got up and wandered around Victoria while we waited to meet up with Khai and his lady (Andrea). We walked through a cool park, where we saw a huge group of tourists taking a picture of a peacock in a tree. And we passed this statue of Terry Fox:

Victoria_TerryFoxStatue

We even got to see the Clipper coming in, with today’s batch of tourists:

Victoria_Clipper

We passed these strange stairs leading into the freezing cold ocean (later on, we’d see a second set, so apparently it was a thing… ):

Victoria_SeaStairs

And then happened upon this cool floating house neighborhood:

Victoria_FloatingHomes

They even let us wander down the dock:

Victoria_FloatingHomeDockThere were some cute retail shops mixed in with the homes. I loved these little guys:

Victoria_TheBirds

On our way back to the hotel, I stopped to take a picture of this super weird, (and kind of racist), statue. I particularly like the dog…

Victoria_WeirdStatue

We had an awesome brunch with Khai and Andrea and walked on a road high above the water. It was a surprisingly lovely day after the overcast, drizzly morning. Given how long it took them to get there, I was so appreciative that they made the trip! We ended our second day in Victoria at a cool Scottish pub:

Victoria_Pub

The next morning, we only had a little time to go get some breakfast before we caught the Clipper back home. While I was getting ready in the bathroom, I heard T talking to someone. I came out to see this:

Victoria_TandFriend

Meet T’s new friend:

Victoria_TsFriend

We checked out of the hotel and got into the crazy long check in line for the Clipper just as it started pouring rain. The trip home was decidedly more crowded and choppy than the trip out had been. It wasn’t the best way to end our weekend, but we will focus on all of the good parts instead. So begins our farewell tour of the Pacific Northwest…

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