May 2009 Victoria

Here are our pictures from our trip:

We did the B&B breakfast this morning – Edward made Croque Monsieur for me and scrambled eggs and bacon (really ham) for Lis (Binners had to be somewhere this morning and wasn’t our chef today). Once again, we came down to a beautifully set table – I tried to take pictures both times we had the B&B breakfast, but I don’t think they really do it justice. Edward started us out with a fruit cup, oatmeal bars and yoghurt, as well as hot water for Lis’ tea and decaf coffee for me. While we were working on this he came out to Lis and asked “Would you like your scrambled eggs moist, somewhat moist, somewhat dry, or dry?” We were both very impressed; neither of us can recall ever being presented with such a range of options for scrambled eggs before (Lis chose ‘somewhat dry’ – Lis: and they were perfect).

Then came our main courses – again, they were divine. The two breakfasts we’ve had here were quite glorious – delicious but also wonderfully gracious and pleasant. It’s been good to mostly be on our own for breakfast, but it’s also been great to do the full B&B thing a couple times, too. As before, Edward joined us with his coffee after serving us, and as before, we had a lovely time chatting with him.

I had decided yesterday that I wasn’t going to do anything other than procure food today, and so I didn’t – after breakfast we went back to the room and read until it was time for lunch, then we took me to Subway for a quick sandwich (I wasn’t in the mood for anything heavier, and Lis had leftovers from dinner last night), which we took back to the room. We had a nice little lunch in the room, and then continued reading. At 1:45 Lis left for her 2pm spa appointment, and I stayed here – I mostly read but also decided to take a bath in the large jetted tub – my own little spa treatment. It was a wonderfully relaxing day, just what I needed.

Lis came back from her appointment at the Sapphire Day Spa at around 4, reporting that her spa treatment had not been as satisfactory as mine. She had gotten the Abhyanga Massage, Swedana Herbal Steam & Exfoliationtreatment, which sounds great on paper but wasn’t as great in practice. I will see if I can get Lis to post more details, but I can tell you that she did come home with these huge red rashes on the backs of her arms from the steam chest that was part of the treatment. So she was disappointed (the rashes cleared up after a few hours).

For dinner we were torn between going back to the Jamaican restaurant that we loved, or trying out a brewpub called Canoe that is supposed to be good and where I could finally get the Hefeweizen I’ve been wanting the whole trip. We ultimately decided in favor of Canoe.

We liked Canoe well enough, but we also thought it was overpriced and not really anything out of the ordinary as far as pub food goes – though I did enjoy my beer very much. We decided that, since we were only a few blocks away from the Jamaican restaurant, we would walk over there and get some Johnnycakes to go. Turned out to be a semi-eventful few blocks – we were hit up by a fairly clean-cut looking couple with a long story of tribulation that ended with a plea for money for bus fare, passed a couple of biohazard containers for people to dispose of their dirty needles, were heckled by some guy driving by in a pickup (“Hey, sexy things!” – said ironically, to make sure that we knew that he didn’t really consider us sexy things), and passed several groups of people who looked like junkies. Apparently, we were not in the part of town where one goes for a nice little stroll after dinner.

We got back to the car and drove back to the B&B along Dallas Road. Lis said “Let’s stop and go to one of the benches on the path and eat our Johnnycakes looking over the ocean.” Which seemed an excellent plan, so we did. It was very enjoyable – it was still warm, the Olympics were visible, the people around us weren’t scary, and we got to say hello to a passing dog or two – nice little end to the day.

Then we came back to the room, watched a few episodes of Weeds (first TV viewing of the whole trip) and then packed in preparation for our return trip tomorrow. It’s been a very fun trip, and it will be very good to be home:)


Usually we come to Victoria in late April, for our anniversary. That was our intention this year as well (it was our tenth on April 28), but for a variety of reasons we needed to delay it a month. Which meant that this time we were going to be able to see the Harbour Ferry Water Ballet – today was the opening day of its summer run.

We have read about it before and it always sounded like a hoot – several of the little Harbour Ferries gather in the Inner Harbour and do a synchronized “dance” to the music of the Blue Danube Waltz. The ferry boats are small and very maneuverable, so, we read, they are able to do some fairly intricate moves.

We got up and got ready, mounted our bikes and got ourselves down to the Inner Harbour in plenty of time for the 10:45am start time. We learned, during this process, that Victoria isn’t as bike-friendly a city as we thought it would be, or as we are used to. It’s a very pedestrian-friendly city – there are walking paths all over town. But bikes are often not allowed on these paths and must ride in the street, where there don’t seem to be many designated bike lanes – or at least not that we saw. So this meant that our pleasant jaunt in to town was a little more fraught than we were expecting – I’m glad we didn’t bring our bikes along, as we had thought about doing at one point.

The ballet started promptly at 10:45, and it was great fun. What I enjoyed the most was the sheer silliness of the endeavor – this is when I like people best, when they’re doing something basically nonsensical, just for the fun of it. At first the ferries mostly just went in circles, but then they started doing these intricate figure-8-type things, and then they would be in a line and then suddenly peel off and pivot on a dime and turn back, and then they were all 5 abreast and doing a large pivoting circle in unison – it was quite impressive. At the end they were in a line and heading at high speed (for a ferry – they don’t go very fast) straight for the harbour docks. A few yards away they stopped short (on a dime, again) and honked their horns and flashed their lights, and everyone in the harbour applauded.

The Harbour Ferry company was offering free rides around the harbour from 9am to 1pm, and at each stop some local establishment was offering some freebies. We were already planning to go back to Spinnaker’s for lunch (it is a quick Harbour Ferry ride from the Empress Hotel stop, which is where we were), and the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Hotel near Spinnaker’s was offering free hand massages, so we decided to go there first and then head on to lunch. There was a semi-long line waiting for the free ferries, and I balked at it, but Lis said No, it’s not so bad – let’s just wait. And so we did.

But, it turns out, we were tired from all our tourist exertions – we’ve done a lot of things, more than we usually do on a typical vacation, and we’ve gotten a fair amount of exercise – we’ve done at least a short walk every day of our trip, and on some days we’ve done long walks or both walks and bike rides. And, we were hungry. The result being, that we stood in line and quietly bickered about many a thing – including which of us was or was not being rude – and continued our low-level grousing until we got to Spinnaker’s and were able to sit down and eat. Lis did get her massage, though, and enjoyed it very much – it prompted her to schedule a full spa treatment for tomorrow. I was unable to bear the line (apparently I’m in no mood for lines today) and bailed out – I went and sat on a bench and looked over the harbour (actually, mostly played games on the IPhone, but “looking over the harbour” sounds so much more adult and sophisticated).

At lunch we decided that we were exercised out – we had been very good, and had earned a day or two off. So after riding back to the B&B, we loaded up the bikes and took them back to the bike rental place a day early. And then, in order to undo all our virtuous exercise, we stopped at Green Cuisine on the way back and bought a whole bunch of sugar free desserts. Then we returned to our room and lay about for the rest of the afternoon.

At 7pm we headed out on our dinner date with Binners and Edward. We went to an Italian restaurant called Pagliacci’s. Binners had a tortellini dish that she said was very good, and Lis and Edward both had a halibut dish that they said was very good, but I had foolishly ordered a salad, and it wasn’t very good – just some lettuce and a few things on the side and some indifferent chicken (and not much at that) – I was disappointed – it had sounded much more interesting on the menu. So I got a dessert – some sort of custard thing on a graham cracker crust with blueberries and strawberries and whipped cream – divine.

The band started about an hour after we arrived – a klezmer band called The Yiddish Columbia State Orchestra. The were having all sorts of technical difficulties (when we spoke briefly with the lead singer she said that two of their lead musicians were not there, and the guys filling in didn’t really know all the songs) but the performance was very good nonetheless. At one point we were all clapping and singing along, and at another point the trombone player got out a couple conch shells and played them – it was really amazing. They were two different sizes, one small and one large. He played them singly, and then he put them both to his mouth and played them together, and they emitted the most amazing sound – my mouth dropped open and tears came to my eyes, and then I looked at Lis – her mouth had dropped open, too. She leaned forward and said “I think that’s the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard in my life.” It was really something – other worldly and astounding.

We stayed for their first set and then headed out. As it was still light out (our favorite kind of night on the town – the kind where it’s still daylight when you head home), they drove us a ways up Dallas Rd/Beach Rd and showed us some of the sights, including an overlook where we watched the sunset. A most excellent dinner date, and a pretty good day, crankiness episode notwithstanding.

Last night while checking the links in my blog entry to make sure they worked correctly, we noticed a link on the Children’s Farm website called Goat Stampede. Intrigued, we clicked on it, and found that this is a twice-daily event, occurring once in the morning at 10:10am to get all the goats in to the petting area, and once in the afternoon at 4:10pm to get them back out again (where they are in between times I am a little hazy on). Well, we thought, what could be more fun than a goat stampede? And so we made plans to be there at 10:10 this morning.

So here’s how it works. They’ve got to get all the goats from the upper right part of the farm area to the petting area in the lower left part. They have everybody line the paths along which the goats will run, and then tell us that when the goats come we need to bend over and clap our hands and shout “Come on, babies!! Come on, babies!!” The purpose of this is two-fold: one, to encourage the goats, and two, to form a human fence to keep them from wandering off the path and in to other areas of the farm. So we stretched out to make sure we had the path covered (no gaps for babies to infiltrate) and then here came the goats.

Most of the babies were in front and were running full-tilt while we clapped and shouted (you cannot imagine how amazingly cute this was). Then the mamas came, also moving at a good clip. Then came another, smaller group of babies, but this group was more interested in testing our defenses, so we had to do more clapping and a little bit of cutting off escape routes and herding, but soon enough all the goats were in the petting area. It was really quite an experience – I highly recommend it.

We went in and hung out with the goats for a while, then walked back to the inn and drove over to Rosie’s Diner (in the Cook Street Village area near the inn) for lunch, primarily because they serve breakfast all day and I was in the mood for eggs, bacon and hashbrowns. We had read a couple reviews that said their breakfasts and burgers were good, so it seemed a safe choice. My breakfast was quite good, but Lis said her burger was just OK. The staff was really friendly and attentive, though – it seemed like a really nice place in that way. Several regulars came in while we were there and were very well taken care of.

After our busy morning of goat wrangling, we decided to just hang in the room, reading and resting, because we had another busy time scheduled for the late afternoon. We had read about this event put on by a local group called theater SKAM. It was set on the Galloping Goose bike trail, and involved riding your bike to various places along the trail for performances of mini-plays – up to 10, it said (though I think there were actually only eight).

When planning this vacation we had wanted to include some biking, possibly along this trail, so this seemed a perfect activity. We asked Edward if he knew of a good place to rent bikes, and he directed us to Selkirk Station. We went there at 3pm and they rented us two bikes with helmets, lock and little bags for our belongings, from 3pm Saturday to 3pm Monday, for $80 – pretty good deal. Plus, they were located right near where the SKAM event was, so once we’d paid for our rental and got the bikes all adjusted, we just headed up the Trail.

The tickets were $15 per person, and after we paid we were directed to the bike decorating station to “pimp our rides.” We did our best (decorating is not a strong suit for either of us), and they turned out pretty well. I was particularly pleased with the pretty flowing streamers I had on my hand grips. Turned out what was most fun about the bike decorations, at least for me, was being out on the trail moseying along on our silly bikes, in the way of the serious cyclists in their serious cyclist outfits. They probably didn’t give us a thought, but I had the idea that we were annoying them, and I enjoyed that.

The first 5 performances that we saw (each lasting 5-10 minutes) were very good. Some of them had messages (the best one was about the pine beetle threat to British Columbia’s forests) but they were delivered in a fun and entertaining way. The final 3 were dreadful – preachy and boring and irritating. But, the overall experience was very good, and we got a fair amount of exercise riding up and down the trail to the various venues – Lis thinks we rode about 6 miles altogether (with lots of stops, of course).

It was about 7pm when we finished up with the last performance. Lis still had leftovers from the Jamaican restaurant, so we decided to go to the shopping center that Planet Organic is in, get some dessert for both of us and some take out for me in one of the adjoining shops, and dine in. I got a slice of Hawaiian pizza from Ali Baba Pizza, and we got some So Delicious Chocolate Mint Chip fake ice cream (made with coconut milk rather than regular milk). The store also had a bunch of free chocolate-dipped strawberries out – for us to help them celebrate something (a new store?). Lis celebrated enthusiastically with 5 strawberries – I had 2.

Then back to the room for dinner, and a bath in the jetted tub for Lis (she says it was divine, as was the heated floor and the giant soft bath sheet towel). And then time for bed – we’ve got to get lots of rest for the Harbour Ferry ballet on the morrow:)

Today we were on our own for breakfast – we had juice and Ezekial muffins with almond butter, which is our regular workaday breakfast. Then we just lazed around the room reading until about 11:15. We had amassed some leftovers and were going to have those for lunch, so I thought that maybe we could take a walk before lunch. I suggested this to Lis and she said “Yes, let’s go to the petting zoo.” What an excellent plan – so off to the Beacon Hill Park Children’s Farm we went.

The Children’s Farm is one of our very favorite places in Victoria. The B&B is just about 3 blocks from Beacon Hill Park, and it turns out the Children’s Farm is located on the side that’s near the B&B, so we were there in about 15 minutes. It was another gorgeous day, though the wind was up today making things feel chillier. The Children’s Farm has lots of peacocks and ducks and chickens and a big homely turkey, plus a pot bellied pig and a miniature horse and some donkeys and alpacas and sheep – and then the main attraction for us, the goat enclosure. I wandered around taking pictures for a while, and then noticed that I had lost Lis – she was in the goat area, petting a baby goat and conversing with an adorable 5 year old boy named Nicholas.

We spent about an hour or so with the goats. One of the great things about this goat petting zoo area is that the goats are calm. The other great thing is that if you hang out there long enough you will eventually have a baby goat in your lap. I had a little boy goat named Tosh and Lis had a little girl goat named Taylor. I also spent quite a long time with a little boy goat named Henry alternately eating my hat, munching my sunglasses, and nuzzling my cheek. Nicholas came and chatted us up every now and then (when we seemed to have interesting goats around us, it seemed – Henry also gave his hat a thorough going over). It was really a great time – we always have a marvelous time at the Children’s Farm. And, we actually got pictures this time – sometimes we get too involved with the goats and forget to take pictures. But we’ve got pictures of us with goats, and several painfully adorable pictures of mamas and babies, and babies asleep in a pile – I can’t wait to post them (damn that forgotten USB cable!!).

But, we were getting hungry – time to head back for lunch. The ease with which we got to and from the Children’s Farm made us decide to try to go back at least a couple more times. This is another fantastic thing about this B&B – it is so close to such great walking and such great views. Definitely my new favorite place to stay in Victoria.

We ate our lunch on our tiny little balcony and then decided to drive out to one of the local “Cideries” to taste some apple cider – if we could find one that we liked as well as the hard cider we had for dinner on our first night, we would buy some. Initially we were going to go to a place called Merridale Cider, because the pamphlet we had from there said they had lots of tours and things to do, but they closed at 4pm and it was already 2 and they were an hour away. So we went to the closer one called Sea Cider. There wasn’t really anything to do there other than taste the cider, but they are beautifully situated looking out over the water. We sat on the deck in the sun and tasted 4 different ciders, and eventually chose to buy a bottle of one called Kings & Spies. There was another very unusual cider called RumRunner that we almost got – it is aged in rum barrels – you can really taste the rum in it, and it’s really, really interesting. Ultimately, though, we decided it tasted too alcohol-y for us and went with the other. They were both really excellent, though.

For dinner we went to a Japanese restaurant downtown called Koto. We each had a miso soup and a salad, and then split an entree of tempura and ginger pork. While we were there these skater-dude guys came in and sat at the sushi bar. There were four of them, and we were a bit apprehensive that they were going to be loud and annoying, but they were the cutest skater dudes ever. They had interesting conversations and made funny jokes and were really quite delightful.

After dinner I was tired and wanted to head straight back to the room, but Lis wanted to walk around a bit, so we did. We looked at some restaurant menus and checked out a candy store, and then went in to a souvenir store because I need a new Victoria t-shirt (my old one is threadbare and ratty now). The young man and woman working the store were very cute and chatty and told us stories about some of their cruise ship customers, and soccer, and where she was from in Ontario, and the time she went to New York and how great she thinks New York is, and her recent cruise to Alaska on the Volendam – it was very fun, though I worried we wouldn’t ever get out of there. Eventually I got my new shirt ($10 on sale) and we were on our way.

Back at the B&B we chatted with Binners and Edward for a bit, and made a dinner date with them for Sunday – we’re going to a local Italian eatery to listen to Klezmer music – how fun is that!

Lis: We’ve never made a dinner date with the owner of a B&B we’ve stayed at before, but we find Edward and Binners so enjoyable that we thought we’d ask. Mary said, “Are you allowed to have dinner with your guests?”

Edward said, “Oh boy, an invitation!”

Binners said, “Edward, you don’t know that!”

Mary said, “No, that is what we’re leading up to.”

Binners said, “It’s our own damn house, we can do whatever we want!” Then she said, “Which guests were you suggesting we have dinner with?”

I said, “The guests after us,” and we all laughed. They are a very cute couple.

We are going to be the only guests here for our entire stay, which I have to admit, is kind of fun. There were supposed to be other guests in the downstairs suite, but they cancelled. Apparently people are cancelling vacations to Victoria because of the Swine Flu. Mary: Go figure…

We had our B&B breakfast this morning, and it was really good (I think Lis mentioned in her post this morning that it was smelling pretty damn fine). We had a fruit cup of oranges, grapefruit and pineapple (I’m not a huge grapefruit fan, but the orange and pineapple were good) that had no sugar so Lis could eat hers. Edward also brought to the table a small pitcher of cranberry-apple juice, a carafe of decaf coffee for me, and a teapot for Lis’ special throat tea she bought on Tuesday in Port Townsend. Next came a dairy free muffin that was truly divine – it was dark and moist, like carrot cake or zucchini bread. I wished I could have had a second one, but I knew that more food was coming. The main course was oven-puffed mushroom omelet (I forgot to ask what that meant, and couldn’t find a good web site to link to, but scanning the Google search results seemed to indicate that it’s an omelet baked in the oven like a souffle) and three strips of bacon. After serving the main course Edward asked if they could join us (of course they could), and they sat down with their coffee and again we just chatted together for about two hours. We really enjoy these innkeepers very much.

We didn’t have much planned for today – we wanted to go to the bank and exchange some currency, we wanted to go to the health food store to get some Ezekiel muffins and juice for breakfast, and we wanted to go for a walk along the path next to Dallas Road. And, of course, we’d need to feed ourselves. Our first stop was the bank we’d noticed in the Cook Street Village area yesterday. There we received two pieces of bad news – the US dollar was down, and we’d have to pay a $3 fee for the exchange. The teller told us about the poor exchange rate by saying “Our Canadian dollar has gone up,” and I jokingly responded with “Dang you Canadians and your dollar!” At which he actually got his back up a little bit and said (trying to be friendly and joking also but obviously really a touch peeved) “Well, it’s not our fault.” I said “I know, I know,” which seemed to mollify him a bit. Then he said something like “You guys had a president that we didn’t like much up here.” We assured him that we weren’t big fans of that president ourselves (Lis: actually, I believe my words were, “We didn’t like him at all!” which, for me, is actually an understatement), and then he seemed to be our friend again. But I learned my lesson to be much more careful about such things.

After the aforementioned International Incident, it was time for lunch. We decided to go to Spinnaker’s, one of our favorite places in Victoria because they have the best fish and chips ever. We had heard that their quality had gone down a bit, but we are happy to report that we did not experience any drop off – the fish and chips were top notch as usual. I was also very pleased that I was able to get us all the way to Spinnaker’s and back without having to consult a map or turn on the GPS (OK, at the very end I was feeling a little unsure and thought we’d need the GPS, but by the time Lis had it up and running, I had figured things out and we were at our destination).

The weather was gorgeous – sunny and about 70 degrees – and we ate our meal and looked out over the Outer Harbour and watched the tide come in. The other patrons were primarily older to elderly well-dressed, well-coifed straight couples, and casual-Friday looking business type guys who had their Blackberrys in their hands the whole time – they weren’t using them, just holding them and absently fiddling with them. I thought that was kind of funny, though we have very little room to be amused since one or the other of us is usually pulling out the IPhone every few minutes for some reason or other. At least there is still a reason, though – we haven’t devolved yet to just absently fondling the damn thing.

After lunch we went to the store, and we did need the GPS for this trip. However, for the first time, it failed us completely – had us turn on to a totally residential street and then said “Arriving Planet Organic on left.” Of course, we were nowhere near a store of any kind, so we pulled over and handled it the 20th century way – pulled out our Victoria city map and plotted a course. We got to the store without incident and were also able to get ourselves back without GPS or map – we are very pleased with how familiar we are becoming with Victoria, and not just the downtown/Inner Harbour area either. Soon we will be like locals :)

We came back to the room and rested for a bit, and then took our walk. It was a gorgeous, spectacular day – late afternoon, completely sunny, Olympics visible in the distance, sun glinting off the water – really, truly, awesomely scenic. I took several pictures, some of which turned out pretty well – but I can’t share them here, because I forgot to bring the USB cable for the camera, and the USB cable for the IPhone won’t fit. So no pictures until we get home, unless I take a few more IPhone ones. Very sad, as I enjoy moving my pictures over at the end of the day and uploading them to our Picasa web album – ah, well… Lis: Very, very sad, as I do not enjoy handing the IPhone to Mary every 5 minutes so she can take a picture.

For dinner we went to a Jamaican restaurant downtown called The Reef – it was really good. They brought us some Johnnycakes to start with which were SENSATIONAL – maybe the best bread I’ve ever had – I could have just eaten those for dinner. I had a Jamaican stout called Dragon Stout, and Lis had a fruity rum drink with an umbrella in it, and I had jerk chicken with my Caesar salad, and Lis had a tilapia dish, and there was reggae music, and we felt very Caribbean. Plus it was all very good and the waitress was really friendly and cute. And, we again got back to the B&B all by ourselves – all in all, a pretty excellent day.

We chose to have no breakfast the majority of our days here at Binners, but we thought it would be nice to have their breakfast our first morning. It is 8:42 am and breakfast is at 9:00. I can smell it and it smells delicious. Mainly I’m writing this morning to correct a few things in the blog post that was written while I was snoring.

I pointed out to Mary that we are eligible for early bird specials right now, but she believes that early bird specials are for senior citizens – I think she’s getting confused from the Seinfeld episode where Jerry is visiting his parents in Florida and they keep having early bird specials. If anyone wants to comment and point out that I am right (or wrong) please feel free.

Also, sweetly, she was more disappointed than I was that Green Cuisine didn’t have the fruit crumble. I was perfectly happy with my meal. Ah well, who cares. This is how I drive my girlfriend crazy by constantly correcting her.

Binners B & B is absolutely lovely. It is very luxurious. Jetted tub and heated floors in the bathroom – Elemis bath products including a tooth cleaning kit! A gas burning fireplace, a flat screen tv with a dvd player built in, lovely soft towels and sheets. And the carpet feels really great on my bare feet. I wish we could have this carpet in our house, but because it is a berber our beloved, annoying cats would destroy it immediately.

There are some very cool birds here – they are constantly singing outside our window, and I actually remembered to bring my binoculars along. I have attached them to the side of my fanny pack, which also has a space for a water bottle. You can believe that I look like a total geek. But it has been so fun looking at all the birds. I am contemplating paying $19.99 for the IBirdPlus Iphone application which is a bird identification application. I have not yet paid for a single IPhone app, but this one is very cool. I downloaded the free one and the functionality is very cool, but it only had 15 birds, most of which I already know how to identify (crow, mallard, seagull)

We also learned from Binners yesterday that the two cruise ships that were docked here yesterday are going to be coming here all summer and that they have been rerouted from Mexico, due to the swine flu. I feel very sorry for the people in Mexico who depend on the money that comes in from cruise ship passengers, and I feel very sorry for the people who wanted a sunny Mexican vacation and are here instead. Victoria is FANTASTIC, but it is so different from Mexico.

Had breakfast at the B&B this morning – it was really good for me, but they didn’t handle Lis’ special diet as well. This was partly on them and partly on us, I’d say. The breakfast served to the non-special dieters was a bowl of granola and yoghurt with strawberries on top, followed by a scone, followed by an egg/crepe thingy – all of which was quite yummy. The Lis no-dairy version was the strawberries minus the yoghurt and granola, and scrambled eggs with ham. The part that is on us is that we only told them that Lis couldn’t have dairy – we didn’t mention the part about how she can’t have sugar, primarily because we don’t usually run across sugar for breakfast. However, the strawberries were in a syrup, which of course is mostly sugar, so Lis couldn’t really eat them – just had a couple of the least sugary ones. The part that is on them is that they should have been able to replace the scone with something, rather than just take it away. And the part that is on us is that Lis is really picky about eggs (it’s very easy for her to be grossed out by them if they’re not cooked just right) and doesn’t really like ham. So the upshot was that I walked away from the table full and Lis walked away hungry. We tried to run her by McDonald’s on the way to Port Angeles, but we missed the end of breakfast by about 15 minutes. So she had a cereal bar and cashews in the car.

We got to Port Angeles in plenty of time for the ferry, but not so early that we had to sit around for eons waiting to board. Once on the ship, we went up to the forward observation room where we had a good view of the crossing. The weather was much improved today but still a little chilly and morning-cloudy. But, by the final third of the trip the sun had come out and the temperature had warmed, and so we went out on the forward deck. Looking ahead we could see Victoria and the hills of Vancouver Island, looking back we could see Washington state and the Olympic Mountains in all their glory, and the sun was warm and the wind was down – it was truly lovely. There are few things as transcendently awesome as being out on the deck of a ship in glorious scenery and beautiful weather, even a plain ol’ no-nonsense gal like the MV Coho.

There were two cruise ships in port (Carnival Splendor and Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas) so the Inner Harbour area was pretty crowded and a bit of a pain to navigate through. However, as we have seen before, once we were about 5 blocks away from the Empress Hotel, things cleared up significantly. By the time we got to Market Square, only about 10 blocks from the Empress, everything was pretty quiet. We had lunch at Green Cuisine, but they didn’t have the regular Fruit Crumble dessert that they ALWAYS have and is the main reason we go there, so we were pretty disappointed (especially Lis – she was having a rough food day).

We had a couple hours to kill until we could check in at the B&B we will be staying at in Victoria (we have never stayed a week at a B&B – we are a bit apprehensive, as we like B&B’s but also grow tired of having to socialize with people. However, we are only having the breakfast part of the B&B on the first morning (tomorrow), so we’re expecting it might be more like staying in a boutique hotel.) so we drove around the island a bit and ended up driving along Beach Drive/Dallas Road on the east side of the island, which is way scenic. We got out and walked around for a while on this cool point with some wonderful tide pools and rock formations – that turned out to be about 5-10 blocks from the B&B. We hope to walk there a lot more during our stay.

The place we are staying is called Binners Bed & Breakfast. “Binners” is actually the name of our proprietress. She let us in and sat us down at the dining room table and we just chatted and compared travel notes and told stories and laughed for the next 2 hours or so. Her husband Edward came home about halfway through this time and joined us – we had a really great time and enjoyed them both very much – so much so that we completely lost track of time and pretty soon it was 7pm or so and time to try to find something to eat. First, though, Binners and Edward showed us to our room – they offered us an upgrade to the 2-room Cascadia Suite, but we found that we liked the light and feel of the smaller Harmony Room that we originally booked. They showed us all around the room, showing us where everything was and how everything worked – we appreciated the attention and the thoroughness.

The place itself is very different from the James House – a regular modern house in a regular modern neighborhood, as opposed to a grand old Victorian mansion. From the outside it doesn’t look very imposing at all, but the room is very comfortable and the amenities are much better – there is a little kitchenette-type area in the room with fridge, microwave, sink, coffee maker, kettle and toaster – at James House there was no way to have a cup of coffee or tea after hours. As we’ve often noted before, you do frequently have to sacrifice amenities in some of the grander older settings.

We headed out for dinner at about 7:30-7:45pm – very hipster cosmopolitan for a couple of dinner-at-5:30 gals like us (we can’t wait until we’re old enough for those Early Bird Specials we’ve heard tell of). There is a little neighborhood village area a few blocks from the B&B with some nice looking eateries, but they were crowded and loud and we almost punted and ate at Subway, but then we saw that the Pizzeria wasn’t too bad and had a table open, and so we ate there. The waiter was a touch attitudinal (I think I offended him by asking what beer he had on tap and then not wanting to order any – they had an ale and a pilsner, whereas I’m more of a porter/hefeweizen/stout girl) but the food was good and everybody else there was very nice. We had a hard cider instead of beer or wine and it was really good – very much hit the spot.

Then back to the inn, where we unpacked and hit the hay – Lis is snoring away as I type, and I hope to be snoring away myself as soon as I’m done here.

Rather than trying to get to Port Angeles in time for the 2pm ferry to Victoria, which we have done before but not without a fair amount of stress, as we are not girls who can easily get organized and out of the house at an early hour, we decided to drive to Port Townsend today and stay overnight, and then go on to Port Angeles in the morning. Good thing, too, as it turns out the 2pm ferry to Victoria is now the 12:45pm ferry to Victoria.

We had a pleasant morning, got out in decent time (for us), and had a pleasant, uneventful drive, alternately Learning Spanish Like Crazy and listening to This American Life and Fresh Air (brainwashed liberals that we are). We arrived at the B&B about 3pm and were able to check in right away. I had thought that we might then spend the afternoon and evening kicking around Port Townsend, but the weather today was a bit windy and cool and trying to rain, so we went to our room for a bit to unwind and then walked down to an Asian Noodle restaurant for dinner. We did walk around a little bit, but the weather wasn’t very conducive and most things were closed, so there wasn’t much to do. We did pop into a cute little herb store where Lis got some tea and a tincture for a tired throat, and Lis went and looked around a candle store (I had to wait outside as the scents in those kinds of places make my sinuses explode). The restaurant was cute and the food was good. Afterwards we headed back to our room at the B&B.

The B&B is called The James House. The literature in the room (which I liked a lot because it talked about the history of the area starting with the local Native populations and working through to the present day) says that the house was originally a mansion built in 1889 by Francis Wilcox James for his wife Mary. Mr. James apparently “made his fortune by making shrewd investments in the late 1800’s,” which I took as code for “gouged and ripped off the local citizenry like mad.” I did a quick Google search to test my theory, but didn’t come up with anything about the original Mr. James. However, I did find this cool photo of the inn.

Regardless of how he amassed his fortune, I will say that Mr. James had very nice taste – the inn is very lovely. Most of it seems to be original, and is in very good condition. There is lots of beautiful woodwork throughout the house – fir, redwood, oak, walnut, cherry – including the staircase, described in the literature as “the finest in Port Townsend [with] newel posts, spindles and banisters of wild cherry brought from the Virginias, around Cape Horn, as raw logs with the carving done here on the property.” It really is a spectacular staircase, but not overly ornate. The whole house is done very well – clearly a restored Victorian but not of the overly frilly variety that one often meets with on the bed and breakfast scene.

After dinner we retired to our room and did what we often do on vacation – surfed the web. Though now, with the addition of our new IPhone, our surfing bounced between the lap top and the IPhone. What was really cool is that when I attached the IPhone to the laptop via the phone’s USB cable, the laptop treated it as a camera and I was able to transfer the photos I had taken on it just like any other digital camera. Here are some of the pictures we took – pretty good for a camera phone, I’d say (needless to say, we LOVE our new IPhone).

Well, better hit the hay and get ready for the final leg of the trip tomorrow – looking forward to our breakfast:)