Friday’s Quick Pick: Return to a True Love

cropped-victoria-trip-7-12-101.jpgVictoria, Victoria, how well and easily I am romanced by your exceptional character, your elegance and vibrancy never losing my attention…I find myself returning to those days and nights, to your intriguing vagaries, even your more pedestrian secrets that are revealed whenever I seek you out. It has been so long since I presented these eyes and ears, this heart and spirit to the enchantment of yours. When may we meet once more? 

Wait, I am not writing a romance novel, thrusting upon you a first overtly flowery paragraph. No, I am only daydreaming about another vacation on Vancouver Island and a stay in Victoria, its crown jewel. For today I am full of reminiscences and wonders of this small land parcel between the USA and Canada. I actually restrain myself from returning there in this blog so that readers need only put up with my praises and images once a year or so. But I find I can’t wait a few more months to share a spattering of pictures from five–or six?–trips to Victoria and all which thrives there. I can hardly post enough of the sights, but here is a teaser.

It is January, after all, and it’s remained simply too cold; my legs, hands and cheeks have barely thawed from an energetic afternoon walk. I must have relief and so I reach back to more temperate weather marked by color, movement and very good food (and chocolate). Some hear the siren call of the drowsy tropics or vast glittering ski slopes. I would happily settle for Victoria another visit, and if I manage not the actual flight from my chilled urban center, at least let me linger over past enticing moments. Some places just catch and hold you in a happy state. And, honestly, I have a thing about ferries…you may note there are a few shots of the rides.

Yes, Victoria, here I come–husband in tow.

Care to join me? (Click on bottom of photos for a pop up description and also to see full photo.)

The Light, Water, Flowers, Buskers and Boats of Vancouver Island

I missed a post last Friday as we were  on vacation. We have driven up and around the Olympic Peninsula several times, and this trip to Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, was our fourth. As you might imagine, there are good reasons for this.

The Olympic National Park is only the glorious beginning of things.

As the ferry emerged from thick, chilled fog, the light presented itself as a passageway through which we seemingly sailed from one dimension into another. Everything was vivid and  bright, the beauty so palpable that people braved the winds on deck, riveted by the study in blues.

We rounded coastal land and moved into the inner harbor of Victoria, a city deemed British in style but accented by many delights. The yachts lined up by cheerful yellow water taxis and sailboats, and the Empress Hotel seemed to proudly rise from the earth behind them.

I have come to think of the inner harbor as a stage, and have enjoyed countless performances by buskers there: musicians, fire eaters, jugglers, comedians and acrobats. As ever, the mammoth Government Building was imperious, hinting at all sorts of important work within. Everywhere the sidewalks and streets were filled with congenial energy, people speaking excitedly in many languages. Laughter wafted through the sunny air.

After we checked into our perfectly situated hotel–we could see the harbor, the Empress and were within three blocks of downtown–we headed out for dinner. I lingered at the end of Trounce Alley  and spotted a brightly lit Tapa Bar. I had a vague memory of reading about this Spanish style of eating and was ready to dig in. Sitting at our outdoor table, I felt as though I had truly left Portland and possibly North America to dine with Marc at a lively European cafe. The service was exceptional; the food, perfection. I left, satiated, a devotee.

It was with reluctance that we finally walked back to the hotel but sleep came easily and I slept soundly, the night sounds of the city left far beyond our casually elegant room. There was a loose plan for the next four days, the primary objective being rejuvenation physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  When we awakened the next morning we stepped onto our balcony and took in the glorious, clear light once more, the cool air so inviting that we sat with coffee and breakfast in hand, letting our  eyes roam over the stately buildings and sapphire water. It was hard to believe that I had nothing more pressing to do than simply breathe and be happy. Below are a handful of highlights from our trip (I took 700 pictures) to that lovely lady, Victoria, and the island where, I discovered, there is a greater concentration of bears and cougars than anywhere else in North America. The wilderness called me, as always. And at the end of five days: bliss. Come see a  bit of what we found.