We celebrated our wedding anniversary with an adventure to Vancouver Island in British Columbia. It turned out to be both a perfect bookend to our anniversary trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia last year and a great way to be reminded of our Honeymoon trip five years ago.
The Empress Hotel is part of what makes Victoria's inner harbour and downtown area. I couldn't resist taking many pictures of the empress from all angles. The Edwardian château-style hotel was designed by Francis Rattenbury (the same man who designed the Parliament buildings) for Canadian Pacific Hotels and completed in 1908.
At night the BC Parliament buildings are lit up by over 3000 lightbulbs, making it the most spectacular part of the Victoria night skyline (it dominates the day time skyline as well). This is the iconic view that most people associate with Victoria.
We almost took a carriage ride around Victoria... It really was fun to be like a tourist in Victoria while on our vacation, doing as the tourists do. But since I grew up on Vancouver Island I just couldn't bring myself to pay the amount of money they were charging the tourists for those carriage rides (99.00 each for 15 minutes!) so every time we did go to get a ride I changed my mind!
In sharp contrast to the carriage rides the money we paid to go on our whale watching tour was worth every penny - and I'd recommend anyone going to Victoria do it. For three hours we zipped around the waters off of Vancouver Island (and the San Jaun Islands in the USA) viewing spectacular scenery, jumping the wakes of bigger boats and, of course, enjoying the wildlife. We saw Killer Whales (two resident Orca pods that we stayed with for an hour), seals and porpoises (which were too shy for me to get a picture of). So much fun I wanted to do it again as soon as I got back.
Thunderbird Park is an awesome greenspace (of which Victoria has a lot) beside the Royal BC Museum and across from the Empress Hotel. It's a lovely place and we enjoyed laying in the grass here together, absorbing the sunshine and watching the people go by.
One of the reasons I wanted to go to Victoria on our next trip was to reconnect with the history of my unit, The Canadian Scottish Regiment, which has it's home and Battalion Headquarters here. In particular I really wanted to see Piper Richardson's bagpipes, which had recently been found. Richardson won the Victoria Cross for "most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when, prior to attack, he obtained permission from his Commanding Officer to play his company "over the top". As the Company approached the objective, it was held up by very strong wire and came under intense fire, which caused heavy casualties and demoralised the formation for the moment. Realising the situation, Piper Richardson strode up and down outside the wire, playing his pipes with the greatest coolness. The effect was instantaneous. Inspired by his splendid example, the company rushed the wire with such fury and determination that the obstacle was overcome and the position captured. Later, after participating in bombing operations, he was detailed to take back a wounded comrade and prisoners. After proceeding about 200 yards, Piper Richardson remembered that he had left his pipes behind. Although strongly urged not to do so, he insisted on returning to recover his pipes." I've often thought to myself I would follow bagpipes anywhere and this piece of history has always been close to my heart.
As you can see we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in Victoria (it's taken me this long to get the photos up online!), which was the first part of our trip. You can see the rest of our Victoria Trip here. Part 2 of the trip should be up soon.