Thursday, 14 July 2011

Ode To Cruise Food, Part II

Yes, I'm still reporting on the Alaska-Canada Sea Princess Cruise.

Our stop in Victoria, British Columbia, deserves its own post.  This was my absolute favourite day of the cruise!  (Truth be told, I had high hopes that it would be, and it certainly didn't disappoint.)

"Steeped in tradition since 1908"

Popular with royalty and common folk alike, this hotel is rather posh.

Note: I don't know why, but that man in the canary t-shirt (we are not related) would not move off of those steps.  We gave him at least 5 minutes, and he didn't budge an inch!  (Way to crash my photo, canary-t-shirt-wearing-man...)

Can I live here?

We enjoyed walking around the Empress's gorgeous grounds!

The Empress is known for its traditional Afternoon Tea service.  For the menu, look here.  Dining here is a somewhat of a luxery (roughly $50-$60 American dollars per person), but I'm told, well worth the money (maybe I'll take tea here one day, when I don't have to be back on a cruise ship in a few hours' time).  Apparently it's quite popular (touristy?), as reservations are often required one to two weeks in advance!  I wonder how many Canadians have made this a yearly tradition...

A few facts about The Empress:

  • Afternoon Tea was started by the Duchess of Bedford in the 18th century when she had a "sinking" feeling in the afternoon. She had her chef prepare a little meal with tea, and soon it became known as "Afternoon Tea".
  • The hotel has 477 rooms, and has been frequented in the past by such guests as Shirley Temple, Princess Margaret, Rita Hayworth, and author Rudyard Kipling (ahem, not to mention the Queen of England, Elizabeth II).
  • Until a 1989 renovation to the hotel, there used to be a tunnel (with no clear purpose) that ran from James Bay into the basement of The Empress. At high tide one was able to visit the basement and see the salt water flood the opening.
  • Nearly 100,000 guests are served tea annually with an estimated 500,000 cups of tea.

What an exquisite room!  Just think what fun it would be to dress up and host formal dinner parties in there...

Brunch is served!

The Irish Times Pub, just off the entrance to Bastion Square.

Walking around downtown Victoria is quite a sensory treat.  We meandered through quaint boutiques and peeked in various eateries along bustling Government Street for as long as we could before having to race back to the ship.  (Unfortunately, the Sea Princess had only allotted us a few hours to tour Victoria.)

The Bubble Tea Place, next to Dragon Alley in Victoria's historic Chinatown.  Why you would fashion the walls with a portrait (which looks like an Andy Warhol piece) of an infamous Chinese dictator is beyond me... At least hang it up side down.


Victoria's historic Parliament Buildings.  Beautiful, no?  After finding out that the tour was free (but would have to be self-guided that day due to visiting school groups), I wanted very badly to go inside; but only had so much time to tour the city.  It is definitely in the plan for next time!

This ultra-chic and friendly lady rode up as I was crossing the crosswalk, near the Parliament.  After complimenting her on her lovely style and chatting about San Francisco, I asked if I could snap her photo for my blog.  All she needs is a cute little Yorkie in her bicycle basket to complete the retro look!

Waterfront flowers!

Edge of Victoria's Inner Harbour.  Choosing to walk instead of take a bus, we ended up tracking roughly 4.5 miles roundtrip (from near the Ogden Point Port area all the way downtown).  Did I mention that I did this in flip flops?

Back "home" on the Sea Princess.  Time for lunch, and a hard-earned soak in the spa with the jets soothing my tired feet...

My fascination with Canada began years ago (it has been a lifelong dream of mine to go there!), and this little taste of the glorious country has further wet my appetite.

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