Monday, August 13, 2007

My trip to Victoria, British Columbia

A few weekends ago, I attended a FABULOUS garden wedding in Victoria, British Columbia. Victoria is on the far western side of Canada between Seattle, WA and Alaska.

It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in the world.

My good friend (who is the Managing Director of the Opera Company of Philadelphia) and his partner are both from Victoria so it only made sense to have the East Coast US attendees travel to their hometown. Plus, American politicians are so into policing adults so, gay marriage is not legal in our lovely state.

I stayed at the Marriott Inner Harbor and EVERYONE there knew about the wedding - including the cab drivers! The hotel is really nice and walking distance from the downtown area.

The wedding was beautiful and very emotional. The weather was perfect. Both families were fully represented and lots of people traveled from the East Coast of the US to attend including patrons from the Philly Opera Company.

After the ceremony, we partied the night away with champagne, tasty hors d'oeuvres, and dinner - which was a series of food stations paired with wines. I always prefer food stations receptions rather than sit down dinner because it easier to mix and mingle with attendees.

I gobbled down the Asian noodles, curry lamb, and grilled salmon. We ended the night under a dessert tent where we were seated on dark brown leather ottomans as we enjoyed brulee, cheese, tea, and hot dogs.

The garden was so lush, I almost drove myself crazy taking photos. It was held in a private home that is listed on the garden tour for Victoria (due to its climate, Victoria is known for gardens).

In spite of the horrible travel experience the East Coast attendees had with US Scare...oops I mean US Air, it was well worth the trip.

I spent the night in Seattle - a city that I absolutely love, then took a ferry called the Victoria Clipper over to Victoria. I think it's always best to fly into Seattle and go directly to bed so that your body can get adjusted to the time zone change.

I was surprised at how chilly it was in Victoria when I arrived (64 degrees) and many people had on light jackets. The weather tends to not get much above 75 degrees in the summer.

After I adjusted to the climate change, it was really enjoyable. Afterall, it was 100 degrees on the East Coast so anything under 85 would have felt cold.

Canadian people are so wonderfully friendly and I felt very safe traveling alone. I enjoyed great oysters and Barry Bonds discussion with several Canadian men at the Executive House Hotel's Oyster Bar before racing off to change for the wedding.

The next day, I sipped tea at various tea salons and enjoyed chocolate chips cookies made with maple syrup. The seafood was also outstanding!!!

I also headed to Ric's for lunch one day and the food was just OK. It's in the tourist area of downtown Victoria so it's really no different than eating at an upscale Friday's or Chilli's in the US. The staff was friendly however and very accomodating.

I also met a ton of hot hetrosexual Canadian men! Because Victoria is a hub for gay couples, it's tough for hetrosexual people to meet each other. Alas, they are too far away but they were great eye candy. I now understand why they say that there are "men in trees" on that side of Canada and Alaska.

Canadians are so civilized that they can not understand why America does not offer universal health care and our crazy crime rate. I was asked several times if my family was concerned about me living alone in the city.

On top of all of the wedding action, it was also British Columbia weekend (their version of Independence Day). The Victoria Symphony Orchestra performed on a barge in the Inner Harbor and sounds incredible. More than 40,000 people were in attendance.

Here's the kicker...people placed their lawn chairs out two and three days in advance to "stake out" their area for the concert and left them!

I was shocked!!!!!!!!!!!

The Canadians were shocked that I was shocked!

They asked me why would anyone move the chairs since it is someone else's property. I told them in the US, not only would someone steal your chair but they would also argue with you as to whether or not it was your property to begin with!!

As I left Canada, I chatted with a Sister who is a Canadian Customs Agent about my visit (yes, there are Black people in Victoria). I told her that I would definitely return!

Barring no travel drama, it will take you between 9-10 hours to get to Victoria from the East Coast.

If you have the chance, you should definitely visit.