Our Vacation…A trancendent journey into the past.

my restaurant career began here

The last time I took this route to Canada (of course that was from California) was 1974. That trip was in a 1964 Chevy Impala with two friends.

Our last journey consisted of trying to spend the least amount of money (because we had no money). In ’74 we went to Seattle and visited the space needle before continuing up to Canada. That was an 18 hour trip straight up to Vancouver, British Columbia.

Did I mention that we were a bit high at the time? I remember at the Canadian border the Canadian Mountie asking if we had any marijuana in our vehicle. We said, ” No sir.” Which was the truth… we had just smoked the last of it. Our eyes were as red as Rudoolph’s nose.

We went to “gas town” which was basically China town. There we discovered why they called it gas town. Needless to say we traveled with the windows down and doubled up on the pine scented christmas tree hanging from the rear view miirror.

After that we parked our car and traveled on the ferry. Unfortunately we got on the wrong ferry and had to sneak onto the correct ferry before somehow navigating to the harbor in Victoria. The highlight of the harbor was going to the wax museum where we discovered Vlad the Impaler.

Anyway some other nefarious activities took place before finally returning to the US. That was then… this is now.

Nancy and I started our trip with a less than memorable stay in Ellensburg Washington. Nothing really to mention about that other than it was a place to stay with unusually expensive rooms for what the town offered, which was not much.

Then we drove another 2 hours to Seattle. I was interesed in going to the world famous “Pikes Market Place” located near the wharf in downtown Seattle. Nancy and I navigated there and proceeded to look for “Pikes Fish Market”. You know the fish market where they throw the fish back and forth yelling out different cities that people call out to them.

We found the market and were a bit surprised how crowded the Market place and especially the fish market was on this rainy day in Seattle. Of course it was raining… the locals don’t even seem to notice. What fun that was seeing the flower booth displaying in full bloom, the many different booths from fresh mushrooms, exotic teas, apparel, coffee shops (what a surprise), and wonderful restaurants.

We ate at the Athenian restaurant noted for their seafood. With a beautiful view of the harbor we had a crab louie and clam chowder to share. Very good as I stepped off the vegan/vegetarian platform into the pescatarian water.

Next we were off to our hotel at the Edgewater. This was a wonderful room right on the water with a fireplace, jucuzzi tub, and a sitting room to enjoy the view. We had dinner that night in the hotel.

The manager was very gracious and accomodating. He provided excellent assistance to the server as we enjoyed our wine and food. The table was another view of the water and added to the dining experience. Breakfast was part of the package and so we were back at the restaurant with another fine meal literally under our belts.

Now we were off to Canada. I decided to drive so that we could experience the border crossing. As it turned out the crossing was efficient and easy. I had purchased tickets to the acquarium in Vancouver, BC as that was our first place to visit in Canada.

I’d suggest skipping this venue as it was the least enjoyable acquarium I’d ever visited. However, near the acquarium was a very special park we wouldn’t have seen if we hadn’t purchased tickets to the acquarium. Stanley Park is a mix of water features, hiking trails, and some of the most charming and lovely gardens I’ve visited.

Next it was off to the hotel, The L’Hermitage in downtown Vancouver. Nothing really special about this hotel other than the parking was the most complicated aspect of our travel. The best part of the hotel was its location. We walked (usually in the rain) to two very special restaurants. Hydra and Nightingale were two culinary highpoints on the entire trip. Both offered exceptional service with well appointed and creative interiors aesthetically adding to the plate presentations.

The next day we were driven on a wine tour in what was supposed to be a limo, which turned out to be an SUV. The wineries and lunch were included in this package deal. I would recommend not engaging in this “Pacific Harmony Logistics, Inc.” wine package. The wine was something you’d normally find in a spit bucket and the lunch was a charcuterie board with tired meat (which I didn’t eat) and walmart cheeses. Other than that, “How was the play Mrs. Lincoln?”

After that debacle we prepared for our next day adventure which¬† included a scenic ferry ride to Victoria. Little did I know that our destination at “The Butchart Gardens” would be a memory I will never forget. Now I know where I want to be buried. Attempting to be a wordsmith I can’t find any words to describe the incredible and magical time spent at the must see, bucket list, destination. For me, this was the highlight of our trip. Other worth mentioning places we visited were the Victoria Butterfly Gardens and the winery Church and State.

Next we stayed at the Abagail Hotel in Victoria. This was a rather strange room incorporating a confused designer pairing his lack of skills with a plumber/contractor that somehow couldn’t spend enough money on a tub no one could access. However, it did include breakfast which offered the same lack of skill.

The last major “bucket list” item was having high tea at the world famous Empress Hotel. It was blowing so hard outside as we walked towards the Empress for our high tea reservation that I had to tether Nancy to my arm to keep her from floating over the harbor.

The high tea was in a cathedral like setting and we were ushered to a very nice table near the fireplace. And that was the highlight of the high tea. This is another venue I would suggest you miss unless you want to spend a lot of money for a very average dining and tea experience.

Overall it was a very good trip with certain things, Pikes Fish Market, and The Butchart Gardens worth their weight in gold.