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.