Victoria, BC in December…

Whilst we were wandering aboot… um…  about (oh God… its started… eh?) the Southern Gulf Islands looking for temporary roosting sites to weather the winter wonderland up here, Victoria was high on our list.  We spent a week there this past summer with Jack and JoAnn Frater, and Bob and Birdie Feldman, great cruising friends, with the intention of being present for for July 1st, Canada Day. We were there, and it was a hoot.  Canada Day is the national day of Canada. It celebrates the anniversary of July 1, 1867, the effective date of the Constitution Act, 1867, which united the three separate colonies of the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada.  What better place to witness Canadian national fervor than Victoria BC.  Well… it was a lot of fun.  We recognized that it would be an interesting and educational city environment where we could spend the month of December.  There we would be able to avail ourselves to:  shopping for things that were not available in the whoop whoops (Australian for out in the sticks), sightseeing, photography, restauranteering for just about any kind of food one can imagine, and checking out multiple varieties of museums.

This is the view through our pilothouse windows: The Empress Hotel.  The Causeway Marina sits right in front of this world famous hotel.

Looking through the starboard windows (read swiveling your head and glancing to the right, we can see the Parliament Building:

Then one must swivel a bit further… say 45 degrees further…  This is a close up of the hotel where we found a reasonably priced gym membership for the month. It has a great lap pool and gym (For the record, Les and I both swam 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) on 12/4/2019, the first day of our membership  to celebrate our good fortune for finding a lap pool set at 82 degrees F within walking distance from the boat.

One of the reasons, amongst many that we wanted to spend time in Victoria in December was to experience the Canadian winter in a town known for celebration.  As mentioned above, we were here for July 1st, 2019, Canada day and knew that Victoria would do special things in December.  They do like their holiday lights…  The following are some examples, pictures that we took on 12/4/19 and 12/5/19:

The Empress

The Black Ball ferry terminal in the foreground with the hotel where our pool resides sitting proudly behind…

The marina with multi-colored boats.  They even light up the tower cranes here!  Just how do they get those lights up there?  Riggers… I just can’t imagine walking out to both ends of the crane standing 80 meters (265 feet) tall.  Makes my knees wobble just thinking about it.  Then again, the crane operators climb up vertical ladders welded to the inside of the crane supports every day for a living…  eeeeeek!

We know it is a bit pitiful in terms of imagination and time spent, but here is our Christmas lighting presentation… We only have 30 amp dock service, and we do plug in two 30 amp circuits. Even so, we’ve blown the circuits a few times by having two space heaters going and turning on the coffee maker just when the water heater decides to kick in. Imagine that… all of you who are lubs…

The Parliament Building prior to the tree lighting celebration . There is a large tree in front of the Parliament Building… You can barely see it as a large dark blob in right side of the picture frame. It is a Sequoia that was planted there in the late 1800’s.  It is over 30 meters tall (that’s over 100 feet tall at this point in time)  It grows around 1 foot a year.  Its lights are lit annually along with other trees across Canada similarly planted.  We plan on being part of the celebration when the lights are lit on 12/5/19…

A daylight picture of the tree’s large base…

So… we did attend the lighting ceremony and here are few snaps of the fandango on 12/5/19:

The speeches with choir music
There were apolitical speeches. A children’s and several adult choirs sang Christmas songs with altered lyrics that were actually quite funny.

The tree was lit in unison with many others across Canada

After the celebration, the most interesting thing happened. We were all invited into the Parliament building for cookies, tea and hot chocolate. Imagine that for a moment. About 200-300 of us took up the invitation and shuffled into the building through 2 entrances. Les and I each got a cup of hot chocolate and cookies and sat down at a bench in the hallway leading up to one of the refreshment stations. The interesting part for us being Americans… was that most people, kids and adults etc. had backpacks to carry blankets and bulky jackets. It was 5 degrees (41 degrees F) outside. There were strollers packed with goodies. No one was searched by the Parliamentarian police. In fact the police presence was very understated, smiling and obviously proud to be there for the celebration. There were no x-ray machines.. Hmmm…

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