Friday, 16 February 2018

Canadian Rockies

Canadian Rockies

After being on a ship for a week and feeling seasick for most of it – I was glad that a coach was going to be my home for the next week. We set off through the state of Washington, and were soon in Canada, our first stop being Hope, a beautiful little town surrounded by high mountains. There were Canadian maple trees, Douglas fir trees and the loveliest river, it was a pretty powder blue, with bleached shingle along its edges; I sat by the river, in the sun, and it was heaven. 

As we drove further, I could see snow on the Cascade mountain ranges ahead; the scenery was getting more and more dramatic, the mountains higher and higher. Apparently, snow-falls here can be as deep as sixty feet, and up to twelve inches of snow can fall in an hour. Shortly after leaving Hope, it became foggy, and was rainy and cold - we had been told about Canada's changing weather - but this was unbelievable. The pine forest became denser and I noticed massive areas of dead trees, not killed by fire — but by a beetle that only eats pine trees. 

We passed Kamloops, a large Indian town in the middle of prairie country, the grass looked scorched, with intermittent trees and rocks dotted about. In the summer the temperature can get up to forty-five degrees here, and drop well below freezing in the winter. Our stop for the evening was a ski resort, Nancy Green's Cahility Lodge - Nancy was a former Olympic ski champion, who came out to greet us. 

The sun was still out, and I couldn't wait to stretch my legs and do some exploring, walking through the town and into the nearby countryside, before returning to the hotel. The trees were just turning yellow and bright orange, and I could see the chairlifts that would soon be taking skiers to the snowy mountain tops. After having something to eat at the hotel, I went to bed, as we were having a 6am start tomorrow. When I woke, the view from my bedroom window was stunning, there was a frosty mist just on the lower half of the mountain, as it was minus 3 degrees; and the sun was shining on the colourful trees higher up.   

Today we were travelling all the way to Banff. We passed Kamloops again, and followed the Thompson river, which was lined with impressive homesteads like those in the TV programme Dallas! The river was so wide, so calm and peaceful, winding through the grasslands, with osprey and eagles hovering above; but it wasn't long before the grasslands gave way to pine forests again. We past a series of lakes, and seemed to be following the Canadian Pacific Railway line, some of the trains on it are over a mile long, with well over a hundred carriages. This area is where Sockeye salmon swim to, to lay their eggs before dying. They travel up to five hundred miles from the ocean and once they enter freshwater, they stop eating until they lay their eggs, (within half a mile of the place they were born) and then they die. Brown bears eat the dead, floating carcasses of the salmon - they don't eat fresh fish, only meat and fish that has been dead several days and is decaying. We passed the town of Salmon Arm — famous for its namesake, where the forest was even more dense, the sun was shining and more eagles were flying about. We drove through Canoe, known for logging and saw its mills and factories; they don't move the timber by river now as too many people were being injured. There were luxurious house boats at Sycamouse (meaning narrowing of the waters), where the feel was even more autumnal.

We stopped for a coffee at the Last Spike CafĂ© and the lady serving us had had a black bear and its 3 cubs in her garden last week — eating her carrots! Better keep a look out! We followed Eagle River, and Crazy Creek with its waterfall, and went through snow sheds that were tunnels designed to make avalanches go over the top of them, so not to block the roads. Now we were in the National forest, the dense trees were so many shades of yellow and green, and the white boulders in the rivers, gleamed in the sunshine. 

Lunch stop at Rogers Pass had dramatic views all around, of enormous mountains with fresh snow on their tops, the sun was out and it was pleasantly warm to sit outside. With each new corner we past, there was a new mountain, and it wasn't long before we had our first view of the Canadian Rockies in all their glory. We followed the beautiful Colombia River, and kept seeing the Rocky Mountaineer Train, taking a very similar route to us through the mountains. 
Now we were now in the state of Alberta, in the middle of the Rocky mountain range; previously all the rivers had run towards the Pacific coast, but from now on they would all run the opposite way, to the Atlantic or the Arctic Ocean. We arrived at Banff (which is about a mile above sea level) at 6pm and luckily it was still light. The sight of Banff was as amazing as I had always imagined, it was surrounded by mountains reaching well over 8000 feet, way up into the clouds — with a covering of snow glistening on every one of them. 

I didn't even wait for my suitcase to arrive at my room, I was off exploring. Although it was still sunny, it was so very different to an hour ago when we had stopped, it was only 5 degrees now. I walked the mile into Banff town centre, and varied off to find the train station, hoping to see the Rocky Mountaineer, which had arrived into town about the same time as us; but unfortunately, I missed it, as it had continued on towards Jasper. 

The sun went behind a cloud, and it never came back out; the mountains took it away and darkness soon fell. The moon was huge, and as bright as I have ever seen it, and as much as I looked, there wasn’t any wildlife wandering about the streets. Back at the hotel, it was time for a nice cup of tea and a good rest. We had been told we could have a lie in the next day, as the tour wasn't stating until 9am, and we were stopping local to Banff. 

When we left the next morning, we were warned that the weather was very changeable and as the clouds were very dark, it didn't look promising. Our first stop was a view of Mount Rundell, at Two Jacks Lake, where we saw the dam that provided Banff with its hydro electricity supply. As we approached the clear blue Lake Minnewaka, we saw our first wildlife, a long-horned goat in the trees by the side of the road.   
Several people had seen wildlife in Banff last night, one couple saw 2 deer walking down the high street; and at 11pm on the children’s park, a wolf attacked an elk! It was drizzling now and the snow was not much higher up the mountain than we were.   The forest was so dense and apart from conifer type trees, everything else had turned the brightest shades of burnt orange and mustard yellow; our guide was there last week when they were all still green. I was so glad the trees had just changed colour, it was such an amazing spectacle. 

We were told that just over a hundred years ago, a couple of lads working on the railway, were out in the forest, when they came across some hot springs in this area. The Railway company and the Government cashed in on their find, and the famous Banff Springs Hotel and Banff National park was formed. Banff was originally called Siding 29, but was renamed after the town in Scotland, when the Canadian Pacific Railway built Banff Springs Hotel in 1890, to encourage its rail passengers to stop off at Banff and admire the scenery. 

The sun came out at our next stop, a look-out high up, overlooking Sleeping Buffalo Mountain, strange to be called that as there are no buffalo in Canada, only bison! Looking down over Bow River was breath-taking, how could water be that colour? This had got to be the prettiest river in the world, the water was such a lovely shade of turquoise and its banks were pure white, surrounded by multiple shades of green and yellow trees. An Elk walked across the river whilst we were watching – perfect timing. 

I walked as far as I could along the path, to get more views, and a stripy chipmunk ran in front of me, that was my close-up of the day with real wild life! By the time we reached Bow Falls it was raining; they were quite wide falls, and the water was thundering but they weren’t very impressive, and we didn’t stop there very long.   

Next we arrived at the Gondola Station at the foot of Sulphur Mountain and had a wonderful eight-minute ride to the top, with its viewing platform and restaurant. As you can imagine the views from the top have got to be some of the most outstanding in the world, the mountains, the town of Banff below, the beautiful Bow River, the colours - the colours will remain with me forever!   

It was wonderful, but freezing cold and snowing. I could only stay outside for so long admiring the surroundings and taking photographs, before needing a warm drink to thaw out! After returning to the hotel for a quick change, I was off to the Heli pad for the ride of a lifetime!   
The weather had been so changeable in the morning, no-one thought we would be flying this afternoon (three quarters of all flights had been cancelled this season), but the sun came out and it was all systems go! There were five of us in the helicopter, all very excited; but we had only been in the air for two minutes when the pilot announced that the weather was so bad further up, he would have to cancel the remaining flights for the day, and our ride would be rather bumpy! Oh, my goodness!  

The views up there were out of this world, it really was like being on top of the world, it was rather surreal. We appeared so close to some of the mountain tops, that it felt as if you could touch them, and there was snow everywhere, it was a picture. We could see for miles and miles - in between the blizzards! I just took as many photographs as I could, but I felt quite ill; I have been on several helicopter rides, but never in a storm like this and I was very glad to get back down to earth. 

Back in Banff, I was happy to have a gentle walk along the river, I did a little shopping, and headed back to the hotel to bed - it had been an exhausting day. Next morning, I boarded the coach ready for another day of wildlife spotting and amazing views! It was a cold, cloudy miserable morning, the temperature was below zero, and nothing looked very impressive in these weather conditions! 

Our first proper stop was Lake Louise (named after Queen Victoria's daughter) and its Five Star Hotel. It is one of the most photographed places in the world, and when you get there you can see why. To be there, felt as if you were on the set of a movie, the scenery looks as if it has been painted. The colours are so vivid, they don’t appear to be real. All the pictures I had ever seen of this place, did not prepare me for seeing it! 

We only had an hour here though, and I walked as far around the lake as was possible, listening out for rustling in the trees, in case a bear was close by! The colour of the water was the brightest shade of jade (made by the sediment of the glacier - called rock flour), the mountains surrounding were dark green with fresh white snow to their tops, and the flowers around the water’s edge! 

It was amazing, I just couldn't stop taking photographs, I got in all sorts of strange positions, under trees, clinging onto branches, there was always another shot to be had. I could go on and on about this place, and it is one of those places you cannot say enough about, it has got to be the most beautiful setting for a hotel ever! We were very lucky, although it was cloudy, the rain had stopped and the sun kept popping out just long enough to capture another picture. 

We left Lake Louise and headed off to Bow Lake with its little red cabin, where one of the original first settlers lived; and then towards Bow Summit. I felt rather ill and put it down to the altitude, we were almost two miles above sea level, the air was very thin, and we were advised to drink lots of water and not to rush about! 

When we arrived at Bow Summit it was snowing, and we had to make our way down a very slippery, ice covered path to the viewing platform; there we could see Peyto's Lake (another picture-postcard shot) which appears to be the shape of a wolfs head. The colour of the water defies description, it was blue, green, jade, turquoise, all mixed together and brightened up, it was spectacular! 

And the fact that it had snowed on us, made it so much more special. As we passed the Saskatchewan River Crossing, we saw the only wildlife of the day, a herd of long horned sheep!  

We climbed higher into the mountains, eventually arriving at the Colombian Icefields; the sun was shining and the Glaciers were huge, though unfortunately we didn't have time to go on the special buses that take you right onto the ice fields. But still, it was a spectacular sight to see, so bright, so white and very glary – you definitely needed your sunglasses on here!   

Next, we were heading towards Jasper National Park; we stopped at Athabasca River and Falls, which were the most impressive waterfalls. The top of the falls started as a beautiful wide, pale blue river, with water gushing over its white boulders, heading towards three steep drops or pot holes.   

The noise was thundering as the water crashed down each of the steps, towards the most beautiful calm pool at the end; like a jade green mirror, silhouetted with pines trees growing out of its rocky sides. 

I walked above the water over a wooden bridge, in the glorious sunshine and a temperature of 13 degrees, that felt so warm. It was hard to believe the amount of snow there had been only an hour down the road, this really was the most changeable place ever! When we finally arrived at Jasper the sun was still shining. My hotel was close to the Railway station, so I headed off hoping to see the arrival of the Rocky Mountaineer, and I saw it arrive at last. There wasn’t a platform at this station, so steps had to be bought for the passengers to get off, this made the train look even larger than I expected. 

Then I had a walk around the quaint, little town. I had been told that wildlife roamed around this town, eating plants in people's gardens and having the right of way on the roads; and on the way back to the hotel, I saw a female Elk munching away at the grass. It was too dark to take a photograph, but I had seen wildlife up close at last! After a good night’s sleep, I got up early and went out looking for more Elks, but the closest I came was fresh Elk droppings! 

We left Jasper, heading for Patricia Lake (overlooking Pyramid Mountain) and it was so cold and windy, there were waves on the lake. I went over to the island in the middle of the lake and saw some squirrels, but it was so cold I didn't stay outside for very long. After a cold, damp start the weather brightened up, we were still in the mountains and apparently, we were in black bear country now. 

We stopped at Maligne Gorge, which wasn't that dramatic; but the river leading to it was very picturesque. We had plenty of time here, so I walked by the river, with its boulders and gushing icy cold waters. It was very tempting to go for a walk in the forest, but when you saw trees where bears had recently made new scratches marking their domain - it was too scary! 

Off again, on the main highway heading for Edmonton and we saw lots of sheep, goats and a few coyotes by the roadside – nothing more exciting. As we left the Rockies, the bushes were now red and orange. The land in front of us began flattening out, although the yellow and green trees were still with us; we passed Pocahontas Lake and looked out for Hiawatha!
As we reached Edmonton, we were back in civilisation, the roads were full blocks of shops and takeaways, and we saw too many cars - no more wildlife! It was almost dark when we reached our hotel, the last stop. The following day, after spending a few hours at the huge West Edmonton shopping mall,  it was time to head for the airport and go home. It had been a wonderful trip, with the most fantastic, amazing, incredible sights – and I had loved every minute of it.

I hope you have enjoyed my adventure.


Please check out my other blogs ..............

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Alaskan Coastal Voyage


Flying to Vancouver with Zoom airlines, a Canadian budget company, was better than I expected; it was the queue at Immigration that was a nightmare. After a good night’s sleep, I was ready to go off exploring - I only had one full day in Vancouver and wanted to make the most of it. First, I headed to Stanley Park, a huge park in the city centre. Starting at the Lost Lagoon, through the underpass, and then I walked around the “8km” seawall starting at the Yacht club. 

I passed a totem pole display, a lighthouse and a bronze statue of a girl on a rock, before coming to a damaged section of the seawall where I had to head inland through the forest to Beaver Lake (which was covered in a mass of water lilies).

This walk was never 8km! I headed towards the sea again, Third beach, then Second beach - a lovely area with a pool and lots of play activities.

After passing English beach, a favourite weekend spot for the locals, I turned back towards the city, through an area known as Gas town and saw the most unusual steam powered clock that played a tune and steamed every fifteen minutes.

I passed the Canadian Pacific Railway station and ended up in Chinatown — which was the most scary place ever! When I arrived back at the safety of the hotel, I had walked miles and was now looking forward to a rest on board ship tomorrow! Next morning, we were heading down to Seattle to catch the ship; but had to stop at the American border and waited there nearly four hours - it was dreadful. Someone on my coach was detained and we never saw him again! It was torrential rain as we headed through the state of Washington, and I could only imagine how beautiful the thick, green forest would have looked, that we were speeding through - finally arriving at the port of Seattle with no time to spare.

I was so excited to be directed to my "stateroom" - there were people everywhere in life jackets - it looked like I had missed the life boat drill! My room was far nicer than I expected, with a good-sized bed, settee, table, TV/DVD, bathroom etc; and the ship itself was more luxurious than I thought it would be. After quickly unpacking I went up on deck; luckily it had stopped raining, and I was able to enjoy watching us set sail.

You could hardly tell the ship was moving, it left Seattle so gracefully and the sea was very calm - I could cope with this! I had heard that if you felt sea sick, you could get some special tablets from the reception! I explored the ship, got rather lost, and discovered lots of bars and restaurants! I had a wonderful dinner - there was such a choice of food, I was going to have to be very restrained! And when I got back to my cabin, there was a basket of fruit and chocolates on the bed – more food!

Also, I had mail - a newsletter telling me of tomorrow's activities and letter saying that as I had missed the life boat drill I would have to do it tomorrow – so I hadn't got away with it! I woke often through the night with the rocking - the sea must have been getting rough. I found that on the TV I could see the front and rear view of the ship - that enabled me to check what the weather was doing and to see if it was light!

Next morning the rain had stopped and the sea looked a picture with the sun glistening and whales and porpoises spouting water into the air. After breakfast it was time for the “Explore Alaska Show”, but I had to leave early to attend the missed life boat drill; but I managed to see the next show which was all about Juneau and Sitka - our first two ports of call. Then I called in at reception for some of their very good seasick tablets – just in case! After lunch and a quick stroll around the deck (3 times around was a mile!) I enjoyed a show about Glaciers, before the formal dinner night, where I had to get dressed up and headed for the restaurant. I was seated with some ladies from the tour I was going to be on next week and it was a good evening and I really enjoyed their company. After dinner I walked around the ship again, stopped by the casino, and saw some of the cabaret; I couldn't believe how many people were seasick and hadn't even left their cabins - the tablets must have worked for me. All through the night the ship continued to rock - the winds had been gusting up to 70 miles per hour. 

We stopped at 4am to collect the Park Rangers at the entrance to Glacier bay, they were to be with the ship all day, and once they were on board the sea began calming down. I got up and excitedly hurried upstairs for my first view of the infamous Glacier bay.

What a change from the night before! The ocean was so calm it wasn't real - it was as if you were on a gigantic lake - not the ocean. There were porpoises, sea lions and seals following the ship - that seemed to be hardly moving at all, we were just drifting along. 

The sky was dull, and the clouds were so very low over the hills and mountains that surrounded us. It was so atmospheric. The dense forest grows up to within a foot or two of the water’s edge, with only a sliver of shingle separating the trees from the ocean. Humpback whales were blowing their spouts in every direction, and as I opened the door to go out on Deck, a killer whale rose out of the water in front of me – it was a heart stopping moment.

There were eagles and so many other birds following the line of our ship. Never before had I experienced such an expanse of calm, unspoilt wilderness, and felt so privileged to be floating so quietly through it. As the morning progressed the ocean began changing colour, was it getting bluer, or was it greener? 

Little white “things” started floating past us; if you had been anywhere else in the world you would have thought that they were rubbish carrier bags — but these were little icebergs! And they were getting bigger and more frequent! As we got closer to the glaciers, the water became cloudy, it is the silt that travels inside the ice within the glacier that causes the colour change. 

Some of the glaciers were up to twenty-five storeys high - with electric blue and bright red streaks running down the front of them. The ship waited by each glacier and when ice calved off the front edge and crashed into the sea, it was like an explosion! And thousands of new icebergs were then floating in the ocean! 

Some glaciers are up to thirty-nine miles long and it has taken thousands of years for the compacted ice to reach the ocean, after originally falling as snow.

Excitement next when it was announced bears had been spotted! It was difficult to see them at first, these Brown Bears blended into the mountainside so well, but I saw one getting out of the water, and climbing onto a rock. 

When I next saw them, 2 young bears were following the “mummy bear” up a rocky slope. Everyone was outside watching this family scurrying up the mountain until they were mere specks in the distance - what a buzz around the ship – “we had actually seen real, live bears in the wild”!

I was absolutely elated, but there was still more to see - the magnificent view in every direction. The front of the ship was opened up so that we could get even closer to the front of the glaciers, the sun was still shining and my face was getting redder. 

Eventually, the ship turned around - a last look at the glaciers; they were left behind in the distance now, but their magnificence and splendour would stay with me forever. The colours of the ocean, the brightness when the sun shone, no-one could have experienced this amazing wilderness any better than it had been today.

I could not stop watching outside until it was dark.  A quick change before the evening meal and then to see an Elton John show and have a sing a- long. Then a stroll around the deck, the view was total blackness, no lights or stars anywhere to be seen – such a contrast to earlier in the day. What a day it had been!

When I woke up next morning, it was still dark outside, but we had already docked in Juneau - the remote Alaskan capital which you can only reach by ship or seaplane, but it has over one million visitors every year. After breakfast, we disembarked by the small gang plank onto the dock, which was next to the towering Mount Roberts with a cable car running almost half way up it, and lots of colourful shops close by. It was pouring down with rain - they measure rainfall in feet not inches in Alaska - that tells you something! I should have been going on a small Float plane flight over the glaciers but due to worsening conditions, the flights had been cancelled.

The weather was going to get worse — the storm hadn't arrived yet. So, I had to do some exploring in the rain; starting at the Alaskan state museum where I learnt about the history of the early pioneers and the lives of the various Eskimo peoples. I even did some shopping in the sales because it was the last week of the tourist season, before returning to the comfort of the ship.

At lunchtime the weather was at its worst, you couldn't even see the mountain and cable car, it was completely obscured by fog and rain. I was so disappointed, as I had been looking forward to the float plane adventure and to finding the special glacier gardens. I went back out in the afternoon and took some photographs of the colourful buildings, they were a colonial style with saloons that looked as if they were out of a western film. It was unfortunate that the weather was so awful, there are some superb hiking routes that start only a few minutes from the town, as well as glaciers, a lake and other water front activities.

That evening, after dinner I watched a show before going to bed but was woken about 2am by the movement of the ship, it must have been that storm! I felt so ill and needed a sea sick tablet whilst I was still lying down, I daren't get up! That went on until morning! As we approached Sitka the seas became calmer, and it was a lovely sight as we sailed past numerous small uninhabited islands full of dark fir trees that were silhouetted against the sky, and any houses, on the larger islands, were on stilts.

Sitka was the old Russian capital of Alaska, it is a small town and we were only going to be there for the morning. The town itself is spread over Baranof Island and belonged to Russia until 1867. There is still St Michael’s Orthodox Domed Cathedral and a Russian Bishop’s house there, from before it became part of America.

The lifeboats (tenders) were lowered onto the sea; they were completely covered in, with long benches and held up to 150 people. I could not believe the speed these lifeboats travelled at, and we were quickly on land. I hadn't booked any excursions here, so walked along the shoreline heading towards the National Park. As I passed the harbour there was the biggest splash, it was so loud, it sounded like it could have been a seal, but it was a salmon - huge salmon!

There was a stream, and it was alive with salmon trying to swim up it, and jump up the steps to get into the river further inland. There were thousands of salmon splashing about, I couldn't believe how noisy or how big they were. 

I arrived at the entrance to the park, where there were maps and totem poles, and headed off along the coastal path where there was a marvellous view of our ship. 

Sitka National Park is where Russia defeated the indigenous Tlingit people, it is very dense and the pine frees towered well above, obscuring most of the light and there were so many totem poles all telling different tales.

As I wandered through the forest, it was rather worrying when I heard rustling in the trees!

As I left the park there was a bald-headed eagle sitting on a nest high up in a tree - what a sight. It was so majestic! When I reached the area known as "downtown" Sitka, with its quaint, colonial styled buildings, shops and churches; I was desperate for sit down and a drink.

But there was hardly anywhere open, and as I was too tired to shop, I headed back to the ship. I was cold and wet, it had been drizzling for most of the morning and I had completely run out of energy. The sea was getting really choppy now and the tender boats were struggling to dock next to the ship. After lunch we departed through Sitka Sound and the ocean was actually calm for an hour or so, and the resident wildlife spotter was on the bridge pointing out any whales he saw.

At one time a hump back whale jumped completely out of the water - that was amazing to see. As we left the calm waters, the ocean got darker and rougher and the temperature dropped – it even started sleeting! It was rather difficult to walk about that evening and the after-dinner show was by an Olympic gymnast, which was quite entertaining.

Next morning, we arrived at Ketchikan (Alaska's first town on the edge of The Inside Passage) nice and early and guess what - it was raining again! Apparently, Alaska have thirteen feet of rain each year. I was booked on a trip to see the best of this town and make the most of the short time we were there. Although this little town gets over 800,000 visitors every year, none stop there for very long. 

I thought we were going on a bus — but we were directed onto a little boat! We had an hour on this boat, travelling around the bay looking along the coast line for wildlife within the forest. This area is renowned for its wildlife including black bears, wolves and bald eagles but we only saw some harbour seals and an eagle on its nest. The pine trees were growing right down to the water’s edge, some were on rocky outcrops — goodness knows where their roots were!

We got off at a Salmon cannery that had closed down fifty years ago and was now a museum; and watched a film show about the history of the area, had a tour of the factory and were given some salmon dip to try. Outside there were more Salmon swimming upstream, and jumping up a waterfall - I have never seen so many fish — all trying to get back upstream to their spawning ground hundreds of miles inland.

Next, we were then taken to Saxman village, with the biggest collection of totem poles and went into a work shop to see someone making traditional totem poles.
We arrived back at the dockside with only 30 minutes to spare, so I quickly took some photographs of the colourful houses on stilts by the river - that used to be the "Red light area"- lovely wooden buildings! Back on board for lunch and then a Line Dancing session in the Crow's nest - that was a laugh! As we sailed into the open sea - the North Pacific Ocean - the weather was taking a turn for the worse. The Captain warned us that the waves could get up to 10 metres high and that we might have to hold on walking around the ship - just for a change!

I had a relaxing evening and tried not to tempt fate by walking around or doing too much. Although the seas were rough all night, I managed to have a good night's sleep. I think I was getting used to the movement of the ship, or the tablets were working!

I woke to a lovely sunny morning at last; and after breakfast sat on a lounger on deck – snuggled under a blanket. Then I went to the theatre to be told what would happen when we disembarked tomorrow, before a game of bingo and a lottery game - where one of the women from our trip won a Caribbean cruise! It was glorious sunshine as we docked at Victoria, the capital of British Columbia on the Pacific Coast.

It was named after Queen Victoria and is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, being a British settlement since 1843. It has some impressive Victorian architecture and historical buildings as well as the second oldest Chinatown in North America. Victoria is known as "The Garden City", as it has fifty-five acres of floral displays, water features and formal gardens – the most famous being Butchart Gardens. Unfortunately, these gardens were closed when we arrived – that was a real disappointment.

After disembarking, I followed the directions along the waterfront — heading towards the town where I saw the Government House and the Empress Hotel, and passed by a few interesting looking touristy shops. There were so many people about, mostly shopping and eating - I didn’t fancy doing either; so, I found a garden to explore and managed to see a great sunset.

Heading back towards the ship, I saw a quaint bus being pulled along by a horse with spiral lights on each corner and was so very relieved to finally see my ship -The Noordam. It did look a picture - all lit up. 

I was absolutely shattered and so glad to get back on board ship, to more food, and then off to bed. I can't even remember the ship setting sail about 1.30am — next stop back at Seattle in the morning.

We docked very early in the morning, the sun was out and everyone was eager to disembark. Luckily, I didn't have to wait too long and walked off the ship at 8.00am and made my way to the coach that was to be home for the next week……………………but that’s another story!

Thanks for stopping by!


Please check out my other blogs ..............