Monday, July 28, 2008

Alaska #9 -- July 28, 2008

On Monday we woke up in Victoria, British Columbia. My wife and daughter both felt this was their favorite port. Sadly, we were only there from about 6am to 2pm. This was the first really sunny day of the whole trip.
Canadian officials did not look at our passports when we got off the ship or got back on. We caught a shuttle bus from Pier A to downtown, across the street from the Empress Hotel. We stopped to look at the Inner Harbor (Harbour?) then crossed the street. A friendly doorman let us take a look around the Empress.
We walked up Government Street and found a nice coffee shop called Mirage Coffee. I had hot chocolate and an apple croissant. We continued walking out Government, past shops that were mostly closed. We noted three Starbucks within a few blocks. There were many nice old buildings.
People were friendly in general. A man saw us looking at a map and suggested places to visit. I do a lot of that in San Francisco. I saw a sign about a program for local people to greet visitors.
We paused to look around Chinatown, which was rather small. We went down by the Via station, then crossed a drawbridge, where I took this photo of the Inner Harbor.
We went back to Government Street and visited a Starbucks to use the restroom and wait for more shops to open. My wife and daughter visited various stores. My daughter particularly liked a tee shirt shop named Utopia.
On the way back, we stopped at a large shopping mall. Unlike malls with which we were familiar, there didn't appear to be a big anchor tenant. We had lunch upstairs in the food court and had a chat with a local lady about our cruise.
We took the bus back to the pier, and found some deck chairs facing the stern to watch the ship sail away from Victoria. Right after we backed away, we saw a small, red hulled boat making all speed towards, seemingly trying to cut across our stern. It turned out to be the pilot boat. This was the only time I got to see the ship take the pilot.
I don't remember much of the rest of the day, except that we were anxious to get home. We did not get to do high tea in Victoria, so we went on the ship.
We were forced to go to the atrium at 11:30pm to watch some sort of a ceremony where the poor waiters made a huge pile of champagne glasses and the maitre d' assisted people in filling them from the top. I felt bad for the waiters, all of whom had worked breakfast, lunch, and dinner and many of whom had also done afternoon tea.

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