Thursday Sept 12, 2013

Captain Cook is the first known European to set foot in what is now British Columbia. Just thought you’d like to know that. Anyway, on Tuesday morning, abandoning our VERY comfortable beds in the Sheraton Wall Centre Hotel, we Kiwis grabbed a bus-ride to Tsawwassen (bet you can’t pronounce it?) where we caught a 1½-hour ferry ride to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island.

Ted (our funny, laid-back driver) gave us a short tour of Victoria, capital city of BC … then dropped us off for a leisurely-romp-plus-botanical-treat-plus-lunch in the world-famous Butchart Gardens … featuring the fragrant Rose Garden, the relaxing Japanese Garden, the unique Sunken Garden, the Italian Garden, the Concert Lawn and Ross Fountain, to name just a few.

Words simply cannot convey the loveliness and colour of this magnificent place. So, instead, grab an eyeful of some of the flowery photos we took. (Would you believe me if I told you these 50 glorious acres used to be an ugly quarry? Well, it’s true!)

Finally, we had time to explore the shops and shoreline of the Inner Harbour before returning via ferry to our Vancouver hotel.

Yesterday, after waking and downing yet another yummy breakfast, our Mad Midlifers ventured forth on their own in this stunning Canadian port … dabbling in a little exploring, sightseeing and shopping in downtown streets, or strolling in elegant Stanley Park.

Then, come midday, we checked-out of the hotel, drove to the cruise terminal, and boarded the ms Volendam for our long-awaited Alaskan adventure …

We got the rest of yesterday and all day today to enjoy luxury shipboard-life to the full. Our route, currently, is taking us North to Alaska (remember the song?) … deep into one of nature’s most isolated wonders, the Inside Passage (accessible only by sea or by air), and the up-close magnificence of the Ice Age. But more about that tomorrow …

PEOPLE NEWS: There’s been a Midlife Madness rush on our popular yellow Rubber Duckies – with three handed on to grateful recipients:

  • The ‘Forget-Me-Not Award’ was claimed by Margaret – who, having already left stuff on the coach on at least two previous occasions, managed, as we were leaving the Sheraton Hotel, to depart without her bright pink suitcase. The bag was spotted, fortunately, sitting sad and alone in the vast empty foyer – and soon thereafter was happily reunited with Margaret.
  • The ‘Pin-Up Girl Award’ was won by Graham – but, first, I need to give you some background. Graham’s main bag went missing the other day (rotten luck) in Banff or Kamloops or parts in between. And, when it failed to show up, Graham had no alternative but to go out (in Vancouver) and buy himself a new suitcase and a new wardrobe. Tonight, at our group’s cocktail party, Graham was strutting around in a fresh-out-of-the-packaging shirt when Yours Truly noticed a pin (which Graham had overlooked) in the armpit of the shirt … thus saving Graham from being painfully pierced asunder.
  • The ‘Funny Place To Keep A Camera Award’ was presented to Ruth – who brought her camera to dinner tonight, took some photos of a nice ice-carving in the entrance to the dining room, and then came to our table muttering, “I don’t know where I put my camera-case?” Then, a few minutes later, she exclaimed, “Oh, HERE is it … in my ARMPIT!”

TOMORROW: We’re going whale-watching in the humpback feeding-grounds out from Alaska’s capital, Juneau! Betcha wish you were with us – RIGHT?

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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