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Thursday, 13 September 2012

Day 49 - Victorious Victoria (Vancouver Island)

For our last port, the beautiful Vancouver Island, we were doing our own thing, but with a 12:30pm back on board deadline, we opted for a prompt start after a hearty breakfast.  With fine weather and just walking straight off the ship and out, an 8:20am on land was easy and we opted for the coastal walk to town.   With a slight detour due to a closed footpath (gardening work being done) the estimated 40 minutes to town was cut back to just 35.
There was a Model A Ford Rally and several cars arrived at the Empress Hotel just as we passed.
A 9am start is too early for many shops as they open at 10am, but the attraction of “Murchies Cappuccino Bar” was far too good to resist.  Unlike the Juneau experience, this was one of the best establishments ever, anywhere.  With a massive range of teas and coffees down one side, the coffee bar was doing a roaring trade down the other.   The cake cabinet was one of two and even though breakfast had only been completed an hour or so earlier, their warmed up blueberry Danish was just heavenly and the coffee was excellent too.  Total cost – just $10.80, which is cheaper than the Juneau dive.  Very pleasant service too.
By the time we left, the queue of customers stretched right to the door and there must have been getting on for 20 people in it.  Bear in mind that Victoria appears to have an abundance of decent places to refuel, the long queue tells the real story.  We wandered outside and straight into M & M.  Meg was looking for a Post Office (as usual) so I hope the grandsons appreciate the effort she goes to, just to make sure they have a card from each port.
We wandered a bit further up the street and Paula did a bit of souvenir shopping but had to use US money as she only had $20 Canadian.  Pity, as the exchange rate was very much in favour of the shop keeper and I had wandered off to an antique and collectibles shop with the credit card.  Their prices for Dinky toys made me realise that maybe I had sold some of mine off too cheaply and he had a separate cabinet with some really good ones.
We returned to the ship via James Bay village but that was a bit of a let-down, especially when we found out that Thane and Tony had bought fish and chips at the attractive harbour-side, the loop we’d missed out on our morning walk. (See first pic)
Several cruisers took the horse and carriage option and others, one of the three Hop On Hop Off buses circulating the city.  Someone also took the Daimler limousine from the ship
We needed far more time here and this ranked as one of the nicest stops on the whole cruise.
We set sail (well, departed anyway) at 1pm and having talked about it often enough, Paula and I opted for the Pizzeria and left the others on the back-deck as the pizza place shuts at 2pm.
On the next table were three American ladies of mixed sizes, we hadn’t seen before and later on that night, we saw them again.  On stage...
We didn’t do too well in the quiz again (there we were too many Aussie questions) - 13/20.
Six of us for dinner and we cracked the bottle of champagne, well, fizzy wine, enjoyed the company and a somewhat lighter meal than normal.  I managed to avoid the dinner rolls; opted for the thinner of the two soups and only ate the meat from the main.  I can’t justify the large Italian calzone, a large breakfast and a large dinner.
Off to the theatre and an act brand new to the cruise circuit.  Billed as “The Wonderelles”, on first sight, with 1950’s pink skirts, white blouses, and what can be best described as not exactly a stunning looking quartet, they turned out to be an excellent act doing 1950’s/1960’s songs.  (Three of them were seen in the pizza bar earlier.)  The orchestra’s guitarists, drummer and Sarah on piano, had a lot to do, but in the background, trumpeter Bob didn’t, so he was cheerfully echoing all their hand movements.  Funny to us. 
The group also managed to grab a couple of guys out of the audience and by often referring to their names in their act, they really did endear themselves to the audience.   Well worth seeing.
No dancing for us and bed about 11:45.
A day at sea now before San Francisco, so this blog will get wrapped up when we get back, so for a few days, this will be the last post.
As mentioned before, often the table talk is of the regular inconveniences and hiccups caused by one or two passengers.   One well known awkward couple, referred to as Humpty and Dumpty by the knitters and natterers, apparently were on a Princess tour and as they are wide, they didn’t sit together, so whoever had to share got jammed into a smaller space.
As Paula said, “They couldn’t put Humpty & Dumpty together again...”  Funny girl.            

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