Friday, October 07, 2011

Final Cruise Day

I almost forgot the rest of Fri. night.  Jack was tired, so he went back up to the room and to bed, while the rest of us went down to the Stardust Theater for a montage of Hollywood musicals. The closest bar was also taking orders for drinks--2 for the price of 1--but I don't drink often, so DD chose Bahama Mamas for us and by golly, that was pretty good!  lol!  Once the show was over, many of the crew members paraded across stage for us to meet and applaud. Herbert wasn't up there--I'm sure he was turning down beds and making towel origami animals for us all.

We still weren't ready to call it a night, so we decided to hit the chocoholic buffet. O.M.G. There were chocolate sculptures gracing offerings of brownies and fudges and cakes and pies and just about every form of chocolate you could imagine. I wish I'd thought to take pictures of it, because it was unbelievable! Three of the 4 of us were diabetics, but we decided to forget that little detail for an hour. The only thing I couldn't find was a chocolate/peanut butter combo of anything. Between the Bahama Mamas and chocolate, I went to bed a happy camper that night.

Saturday we weren't due into Victoria, BC until 6pm, so part of the day was spent sorting and packing what we could. It was an interesting system--we could choose what time we wanted to disembark, in 20-min. intervals, and place the corresponding color-coded tag on our luggage. Then we would place it outside the door by 11pm and it would all be taken to a central area for storage, to be unloaded the next morning at the dock. The hard part was trying to find room for all the stuff I'd bought on the trip; remember the $100.00 worth of fabric?  lol The suitcases were bulging, but I sure didn't want to overload myself with the carryons.

Sat. evening, we docked in Victoria, and were greeted at the pier by a welcoming committee whose speech ended with "God bless America and God save the Queen!" I'd forgotten for the moment that we would be in Canada, and would need our passports.


DD had decided to do a hop on/hop off excursion--a very informal tour on a bus throughout the city. She got to see part of the museum that we only heard about, but would love to see some day.  We trotted past it on our horse-drawn trolley ride.

That's our guide, Jan, and our Clydesdales, Dolly and Molly, who were voice-trained. If they picked up the pace too much, Jan would simply say, "We're walking ladies, we're walking", and the horses would slow down again.

Jan drove us past a house similar to one that sold recently for $499,000.00! 

Not much to look at, was it? I thought examples like this were only found in California or New York.
I would have loved to stop in at this little place:

Victoria was a pretty little town, and very tourist-oriented. Passersby would wave and call out a greeting, and wait patiently for our little trolley to clear the intersection.

We passed a "state building", though I forget what the actual title was.  It was gorgeous, with a fountain in the middle and people just hanging out on the lawn. I would expect more security, but maybe the inside was well guarded. Or maybe that's just an American thing. I just didn't expect it to be so accessible.

The building faced the harbor, and perpendicular to that was the Queen's Hotel. It was also lovely:

We passed some parks that I would have loved to explore.

This one had a huge water pitcher playground for the kidlets:

There were peacocks strolling the grounds, too, but the best I got was a blurred pic as we trotted by.  (Molly and Dolly were feeling a bit frisky.)

Looking across the Strait towards Port Angeles, WA.  Twilight, anyone?

It was only an hour excursion, so within minutes we were back at the busy pier.

If we'd been a little less mobility-challenged, I would have loved to tour the Butchart Gardens, but there just wasn't an excursion that fit us. Next time, if there is a next time, I'll research non-cruise line excursions to see if there is some way to tour the Gardens.

As it was, I could feel a cold starting, and was just as content to go back to the ship, eat supper and finish the packing. Herbert, who had placed various origami towel creations on our bed this week (swan, puppy dog, penguin, monkey--we missed the elephant) had left a towel heart with a sweet note in the middle thanking us for being such nice passengers. I'm sure that was what he told all his customers, but it was a nice touch. Jack's back was really bothering him, so we persuaded DD to give up her firmer sofa bed for him and sleep in the queen-sized bed with me. Unfortunately, he was the only one who got much sleep. Between his snoring and my sneezing and coughing, DD didn't rest well, either. I'm sure if we ever do this again, DD will want her own room!

We were supposed to be out of our staterooms by 9am. DD didn't read that part of the daily newsletter, so she was a little miffed that I'd set the alarm clock so early, but as it was, we still didn't have time to get breakfast--again. My brother and his wife left early, but due to the weather pattern, part of their flight was cancelled, so their airlines put them up in a hotel in Vegas (!) and flew them the rest of the way home on Mon.  DD couldn't find a good combo of flights for herself, so she'd chosen to spend the night in WA and fly out the next day. I wish we'd done that.  The airport was so crowded, we couldn't get a wheelchair pusher, and getting through Security was a PITA. One of the gals at the ticket desk told us it is this way every Sunday during cruise season--not enough wheelchairs or pushers.  (Just warning you!)

I'm sure I was the most popular person on board the plane, what with all the coughing and sneezing. I offered to wear a mask, but the flight attendant said they didn't carry any. Seems like that would be a handy item to add to their stock, with the close quarters and re-circulated air. So I utilized my hand sanitizer and the tissues as much as possible, but I have to wonder how many of my co-travelers came down with a cold the next day. I apologize if you were on my flight!

We touched down to a warm, humid night in Charlotte--such a change from the week's 50s highs. Airport assistance was at a minimum, I couldn't remember where I parked, and I'd lost the parking receipt sometime during the week. The lack of sleep and my cold really did a number on my head, so halfway home, we pulled off at an exit and Jack drove the rest of the way. We brought in just enough baggage to find our meds and toothbrushes and gratefully collapsed into bed about 1:30 am.

Looking back, I'm so glad we went when we did. Parts of the trip were really hard, and I don't think Jack would have been able to do this if we'd waited another few years. Despite all that, we saw some amazing scenery, experienced things we'd never have the opportunity to do here, took far too few pictures, and made some wonderful memories.

I'd do it again in a heartbeat. 


AnnieO said...

Nice to see pics of Victoria--I went there on a trip with my grandparents in 1974 when I was 12, and we toured the Butchart Gardens after coming across on the boat where you drive your car onto it (word escapes me). The weather was very rough going over to Port Angeles the next night and took an hour longer than normal, but we finally got to our motel late late at night. The next morning when we got up and turned on the TV, Richard Nixon was resigning. Sounds like you all had the trip of a lifetime but I don't think traveling is ever easy, even with two good arms and two good legs! Hope your cold goes away soon :)

MightyMom said...

glad you had such a good time!

Pokey said...

Oh, so sad you came home sick! The trip and pictures are incredible, one you can linger on for years to come. I've enjoyed every minute of it ~

Lori in South Dakota said...

Oh Stephanie--hearing about your trip and seeing the pictures was wonderful. Ken and I have decided not to wait to do some things. Wait to feel better--hell--this is probably the BEST I'm ever gonna feel!!