6:55 PM: Departed San Jose, CA for Seattle, WA
8:35 PM: Arrived in Seattle, WA
10:58 PM: Departed Seattle, WA for Victoria, BC, Canada
11:34 PM: Touchdown at runway in Victoria, British Columbia: "Province #2"
11:36 PM: In the Customs area at Victoria Airport
11:38 PM: Out of customs and at the AVIS Car Rental Counter
11:44 PM: Out of AVIS Car Rental Counter and inside my rental car
11:51 PM: "On the Road Again!!!"
12:00 AM: "Happy Birthday to me!!!" (while driving... uh... "well above the speed limit")
12:14 AM: Checked in at Travellers Inn in downtown Victoria for 3 nights.
9:00 AM: Out of the hotel and headin' into town!
The hotel is about 20 minutes walk from the main tourist area (Victoria's Inner Harbor).
At my first sight of the Inner Harbor area, I was dazzled, to say the least! In the last
couple of months I had been doing some research on European cities (for a trip to Europe
sometime in the future), and this section of Victoria was distinctly "European". Specifically,
it reminded me of "the city of my dreams" -- Paris, France (even though I have never been
to Paris). To me, Victoria did not look anything like the photographs I had seen of Victoria,
but more like the photographs I had seen of Paris! Around the harbor there were several
street performers, many of them getting large audiences. There were people singing, dancing,
playing musical instruments, doing stand-up comedy, acrobatics, painting, sketching (as in
cartoons) -- and -- one thing I noticed immediately -- people-watching. There was a great
deal of just "people-watching". Relaxing on one of the many steps leading up to the road,
and simply watching other people walk by!
Well, who am I to go against the status quo? The first thing I did in Victoria -- before seeing
any of the tourist attractions -- was sit down in front of all the flowers that were arranged
in a long sign that said "Welcome to Victoria" -- and I did some people-watching of my own!
That took me about an hour. Funny how time flies! Also, to keep up with my "established tradition",
I ordered an ice cream cone and a few chocolate pastries from a couple of street vendors. And
suddenly the memories of Niagara Falls and Lincoln Memorial from my second cross-country trip came back!
Well, the first tourist attraction was "Miniature World" -- which contains miniature models of
historical scenes and places from around the world. Starting with the entire battlefield at
Waterloo, moving along through time and space to the American Revolution, the American Civil War,
and into other exhibits such as "Toronto in 1815" and "London" (the entire city of modern-day London
recreated in miniature), the castles along the Rhine River in Europe... suffice it to say that I got
a world tour (in four dimensions) in under an hour! I gave this place a
rating as per the ratings system I had developed during my 48-state
Next on the agenda was the "Royal London Wax Museum", but of course I was in no hurry. I did some more
people watching for about another hour (I dont recall the times here -- the individual events of this
day all sort of blend together in my memory).
The Royal London Wax Museum was also nice. . The wax figures were
very lifelike, especially in the "Chamber of Horrors" section! I still have a mental image of
the "Pit and the Pendulum" scene from this place -- ooooh, the blood was incredibly realistic!
Hmmm... enough about the Chamber of Horrors. There were also scenes from "The Wizard of Oz", "Snow
White and the Seven Dwarfs", "Pinnochio", and "Little Red Riding Hood". The people in wax section was
the most diverse, and included (among many others), the entire British royal family, including past
monarchs such as Henry VIII (and all of his wives), Charles II, Julius Caesar and Cleopatra (but not
Anthony), Mark Twain, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Charles Chaplin (but
not Sean Connery--grrr!), Mahatma Gandhi, Babe Ruth, William Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, the entire
scene from "The Last Supper" of Jesus Christ, several American Presidents, and a tribute to Princess Diana.
The next stop (after lunch and some more people-watching) was the Parliament Building. I got there at about
12:40 PM, and the next tour was supposed to begin at 1:00 PM. So I took this opportunity to once again
do that thing that most tourists do in downtown Victoria.
Once inside the building, the tour itself was not that impressive. However the interior of the building was
fantastic! . And I do mean five stars!!! There was marble! There was silver!
There was gold! There were murals! There were stained glass windows! All of this extremely beautiful! What more
can I say? This city continued to dazzle me throughout this weekend.
After coming out of the parliament building, I got an unexpected surprise -- there was a high school band
giving a concert in front of the building. (I later found out that this is quite normal on Saturday afternoons
during the Summer).
So... after hearing someone sing Celine Dion's song "My Heart Will Go On" from the movie "Titanic", I roamed
around the downtown area (Government Street) and returned back to the hotel.
At 4:00 PM, I was back in my hotel room. Took some rest, watched television for about half an hour, then left
for the world famous Butchart Gardens, this time by car (they're about 20 kilometers North of Victoria -- certainly
not walking distance)
Well, my rating for this place was "only" (as opposed to 5). Partly because I
was a little dissappointed. (no, no -- dont get me wrong -- they're really nice, but the flowers were not yet
in full bloom). I guess the best time to go would be towards the end of June or beginning of July... (Hmmmmmmmm....)
Well, after walking through the gardens, I signed my name in the visitors guestbook and wrote in the comments,
"An excellent stop for my 25th b-day!". Technically, I was not referring to the Butchart Gardens, but the city of Victoria,
but there's no reason to tell them that, is there?!
After the garden tour, I drove back to the hotel, rested for a bit, and walked back to the harbor area for dinner.
Note: The remainder of this evening was far too special for me to recreate in words here, so I am not going to try. If
you watch my video from this time, it does contain some hints.
(Which reminds me... if you are over the age of 21 and "when" you go to the "Milestones On The Deck" restaurant in Victoria, try their special drink
called "Benini", which by the way goes wonderfully with Vanilla ice cream with a cherry on top!)
(Which reminds me... if you are over the age of 21 and "when" you go to the "Milestones On The Deck" restaurant in Victoria, try their special drink called "Benini", which by the way goes wonderfully with Vanilla ice cream with a cherry on top!)
After midnight: Went to sleep. This certainly was, in many respects, "a birthday to remember"!
There was one sightseeing attraction which I wanted to see yesterday, but did not get time for because of all the
people-watching. This was the "Royal British Columbia Museum".
I arrived at the museum at around 10:30 AM, and took the next two hours (approximately) to see it. On that day I
gave the museum a rating, but "WHEN" I go back there in October I'm sure that rating
would go up to four or even five stars. In October, they have a special exhibit on Leonardo daVinci. By then they
will also have opened the IMAX theater, and one of the first films they are going to show there is a movie which
I have seen before but can't wait to see it again -- it's going to be a documentary on whales, and looks
fantastic in IMAX!
All of the above tourist attractions were "planned". Most of them were recommended by friends who've been to Victoria,
and that is why I went to those places. There was one other tourist attraction not recommended by anyone, where I felt
like going "RIGHT NOW". And that was a place called "Undersea Gardens".
Undersea Gardens is exactly that -- gardens under the sea! It is a real vessel that is off the shore, and upon entering
you descend 15 feet below the ocean surface to see a protected area of the Pacific Ocean -- live. There is also a live
scuba diving show, which was also very nicely done. I saw my first octopus outside an aquarium (technically, this is not an aquarium).
There were also several crabs and starfish on the ocean floor. All in all, a attraction. Very
A small side-note: When I first told people I was *flying* to Victoria instead of driving, their reaction was always
one of surprise: "You mean you're NOT driving??? Are you feeling all right -- do you need to see a doctor?" Well, in the
next few hours I did the one thing that I truly love to do...............
Went up the coast of Vancouver Island, up to the town of Courtenay, BC. Then drove back to Victoria the same way I came
(with the exception of a 20 kilometer portion of the highway, where I chose an alternate route). The round-trip was
approximately 400 kilometers, and all of it was "beeee-uuuuuu-tiful!"
By the time I got back to Victoria, it was starting to get dark. I went back to the harbor area and
spent some more time there, walking around and watching others doing the same. Then eating dinner
at another outdoor restaurant and finally coming back to the hotel around midnight.
Rating for the entire city of Victoria as a whole = .
I already told you it was "dazzling", didn't I?
6:25 AM: Checked out of hotel and started driving towards Victoria Airport.
7:02 AM: At Gate 2A in Victoria Airport, all ready for departure
7:54 AM: "So long, Victoria! I shall return!"
8:25 AM: "Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to welcome you to Sea-Tac International Airport..."
8:30 AM: Entered U.S. Customs in Seattle Airport
9:30 AM: Out of the U.S. Customs in Seattle Airport
9:39 AM: Arrived at Gate D3 in Sea-Tac Airport
9:44 AM: Boarded Alaska Airlines Flight 498 for San Jose
10:11 AM: An amazingly quiet MD-80 aircraft at full throttle (or maybe quiet just because I was in Seat 8F and the engines are in the back of the plane).
11:48 AM: "Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to welcome you to San Jose International Airport..."
12:10 PM: Back to work at FORE Systems.