As Jean noted, this past New Year’s Eve was our 14th together, this next year marking 15 as a couple and 10 as married partners. It is indeed odd to think that after next year, we will have spent more time together as a couple than apart as single people. It is some sort of mythical fulcrum that we are coming upon, and once passed, every day will mark another that we have shared making an ever-growing total of more days shared than not. Looking forward from here, I can’t quite imagine what the next 15, 30, or 45 years will have in store for us….
What I can imagine is how fabulous our trip to Victoria, BC. was this past week. (Nice lead in, eh?) While I had a slight inclination as to what was in store for us, I had no idea the holiday would turn into something of a second honeymoon for us.
Though the early arrival time at LAX on Tuesday morning was a bit difficult to swallow, we did indeed make our plane with time to spare and found that the flights were uneventful; Which is always a good thing. We also fell in love with Vancouver’s airport just based on the ease of movement throughout the place and the way everything functioned like a well-oiled machine. An entirely painless adventure through Customs, and we were on our plane to Vancouver Island.
As many of you know, when you book a hotel via the internet or any other method outside of visiting it yourself, you will often find the pictures of said place are a bit…. misleading? In nearly all the hotels Jean and I have stayed, this has been the case, the pictures are always taken with a “rose-coloured-lens” as it were. But not this time. In fact, the Brentwood Bay Lodge and spa exceeds what the pictures had led us to expect. Upon our arrival (in our rented Volvo XC Cross Country) we were greeted at the checkin-desk and offered mulled wine to sip. Checkin was flawless (Thank you Travelocity!) and we were escorted to our room by the Guest Services attendant.
I will leave you all to the rest of the pictures on your own so as not to make this post unbelievably long. Instead I will just recount some of the highlights from the trip:
Wednesday was our first full day on the island and we decided to stroll through Butchart Gardens first thing in the morning, then drive down to Victoria to see the parliament Building, get lunch, and walk around the city to see what can be seen. We then made our way back to Butchart Gardens in the evening to see the gardens with the Christmas lights on, and to have dinner in the “Dining Room” at the gardens as well.
It should be noted that the “Dining Room” is not just a tourist attraction’s restraint, but truly a fine dining establishment. They server me the best half rack of lamb I have ever had. Truly superb!
After a full day of walking Victoria and 3 trips through the gardens, we decided to head back to the hotel for a sit in the Jacuzzi tub in our room and to crack a bottle of champagne for desert.
Thursday morning found us stiff and sore from the day previous, so we decided to take it a bit easier. We woke a bit late and decided to skip breakfast and drive into Victoria for an early light lunch, so as not to spoil our appetites for the afternoon Tea at the Empress which we had reservations for. We lunched at the Gatsby B&B on the south part of the inner harbour, then decided to take some time to just drive around Victoria to see the houses on the south coast. LOVELY architecture and views they have there!
After tea, which was an outstanding array of finger foods and an amazing private blend of tea made specifically for the Empress, we high-tailed it out to the Fisgard Lighthouse so I could take pictures for my father (who many of you may recall is a maritime water-colorist). After that, it was back to the hotel for a late dinner and an early night to bed.
Friday morning was breakfast, then a trek out to the main part of the island to go wine tasting in the Cowichan Valley region. We stopped at three wineries on this trip and brought home three bottles (1 Black Muscat from Blue Grouse, 1 Blackberry Port from Cherry Point, and one blend of Merlot and Agria from Godfrey-Brownell Vineyards, though their website link does not seem to be working currently).
Upon arriving for our last tasting at Godfrey-Brownell, we met up with the owner and wine maker, who sat with us by the fire and chatted us up about the wine making process and other random tidbits for the better part of an hour. During which we were privileged to sample tastes from his recently racked Pinot Gris, and pure Agria vintages which should be ready for bottling in the next year. From the tastes we got, we will most definitely need to go back for more!
After the wonderful experience tasting the local wines, we made our way back to the hotel for our massages and then dinner. What a wonderful way to complete the week! Jean and I indulged ourselves with a wine lover’s massage which uses red-wine in the massage oils for its anti-oxidant properties. We were also lucky enough to get the couple’s suite so we were able to be next to each other during the hour-long massage. While I know I enjoyed this far more than Jean, she still had a pleasant experience which left us both very relaxed. I know I for one will be scheduling more massages as soon as I can!
We had dinner reservations at the Arbutus Grill and wine bar, which consisted of a 5 course tasting menu and a bottle of BC’s local NK’Mip Pinot Noir. For $39.95/person Canadian, this was by far the best value for the price on the entire trip, though this should in no way discount the superb quality of the dinner. Each course was designed to perfection, and at the proper portions too. For desert, I had my typical glass of Balvenie 12yr Doublewood Scotch, which was only one of a surprisingly strong scotch selection.
We then retired back to our rooms to pack and rest up for our early wakeup call and flights home in the morning.
Unfortunately, things weren’t quite as smooth on the way out as they were on the way in. It seems Calgary airport isn’t as well signed as Vancouver is for international travelers, which resulted in Jean and me wasting a good half hour waiting for our baggage at an incorrect carousel. Once we discovered that international connecting baggage was elsewhere, things progressed a bit better, but not by much. Suffice to say we made it to LAX no worse for the wear and happy to be off the plane, though not happy to be “home” by any stretch. Neither of us really wanted to leave Vancouver Island. We could have easily stood another month’s time on the island and been quite content at that.
New Year’s eve was quiet and an early night for us, since I was exhausted from traveling and fighting a cough/sore throat since Thursday. Sunday was fairly low-key as well just sitting around the house with Colleen and Dana, watching TV chatting, and of course, drinking, as I was still not feeling up to doing anything. Monday, I went to the doctor’s to get checked out since I had contracted this cough while traveling, only to be told that I need to take Robitussin DM… sigh.
Today is back to work, and I can’t really think of anything I would rather be doing less than sitting here trying to review FAQs while suffering through coughing fits and maintaining a manageable level of medicine head.
So there it is. For those of you that just skipped to the end, pictures of our trip are here: http://www.waywardcelt.com/postnuke-phoenix-0.7.2.3/html/coppermine/thumbnails.php?album=26