This past new year we decided it was time to change it up for New Years. Usually we stay home or maybe go out to dinner locally. This year, I wanted a change so after some Google searching we decided on a trip to Victoria, BC, which is close enough to get to relatively easily but far enough for us to feel like we are really getting away! It is also a quaint city with lots of history and lots to see so seemed just perfect for us. Plus, Canada turns 150 years old in 2017 so there was some buzz about Canadian cities preparing for this starting on NYE. Had to check it out.
So, on the 30th, we had to drive over to the ferry terminal and drive our car on to the ferry. My husband is convinced he gets seasick on any kind of boat so has always refused to get on boats but I told him he would be fine and he would love the journey. I was right. He loved it. The ferry ride is very beautiful and we got seats at the front which gave us a view of the ocean, islands we passed, and we even spotted a few seals. We stayed put inside for the most part since our brief walk on deck was all freezing wind and cold. Since it was holiday time there were lots of extra sailings and the ferry was busy. It did have wifi, cafes and food for purchase, comfy seats, arcades, and a gift shop but the best part is definitely the amazing views. After an hour and a half or so we got to Vancouver Island (upon which the city of Victoria is situated). We drove over to our hotel, checked in, and then went for a drive.
We spent some time in Beacon Hill Park which is along the ocean and has a lot going on, we drove by big gorgeous character homes which I just LOVE seeing, went to see the Abhkazi Gardens which were gardens created by a former Abkhazian prince and his wife when they settled in the area (and because my husband comes from the region), walked and drove around the harbour area, had dinner at a popular eatery near the Parliament buildings which were beautifully lit up for the holidays, and then went to do some shopping at the downtown mall as it was very cold out and snow was expected soon. It is a very walk-able city but I think much more enjoyable in the summer.
Once we finished shopping, we went to the iconic Empress Hotel which was built for a visit from Queen Victoria around 1908 and has been designated a national historic site. We were not hungry and not in the mood for the famous tea service so went to the Q Bar for some cocktails. There was live music, lots of people, and absolutely delicious complimentary popcorn that was served to all tables. We got a seat by the windows that overlooked the harbour and the crews that were setting up for the NYE festivities the next day. A strange project that involved projecting images onto the buildings was a big deal I had read in the paper.
After drinks we walked over to the IMAX theater which is situated in the museum. Each night they show one regular movie on this special screen. This time it was the Magnificent Seven which was okay. We then took a walk through the lit up harbour area which was all sparkly lights (for the holidays) back to our car and went back to the hotel where we watched some tv and went to bed.
The next day-NYE-we got up a bit late, had breakfast at the hotel, hung out a bit, and then went to enjoy some 75 minute massages I had booked earlier in the month. It was nice to de-stress and relax on the last day of a very stressful year. Usually everything is very booked up but I was very happy I planned ahead. My husband was also very appreciative.
After that, we had lunch at a Greek restaurant and did some wandering around. Back at the hotel we showered and got ready and then went downtown to enjoy the NYE festivities. Basically, there was a street party, a concert, food trucks, the light projections I mentioned already, and crowds enjoying. At 9 pm (which is midnight in the capital city of Canada which is in a different time zone) there was a firework display over the harbour which was nice. That was the end of the official celebrations.
However, I had made reservations at a local Italian restaurant (that everyone raved about online) called Il Terazzo. We went and I ordered prosecco based cocktails to start. It was very busy and lots of people seemed to be in town from Seattle and Vancouver. Anyway, dinner was amazing. I had a salad and vegetarian pasta dish that was really really really delicious (did I say really?). I ate every bite even though I was full half way through. Would definitely return to this place!
My husband had lamb chops over salad as his appetizer and then a steak which he said was the best he ever had. We could not manage dessert which was included in the NYE dinner menu so packed up tiramisu and cheesecake for back at the hotel. Once there, we rung in the new year, had a few bites of dessert, and were soon ready to go to bed totally content. Perfect evening.
The next morning, we packed up and decided to leave as the ferries were expected to fill up and there were less sailings (we did not want to get stuck in a 2 hour line). Once on board, we grabbed lunch (burgers and fries!) and enjoyed the relaxing trip although the weather was much worse and the ferry rocked much more than on the way over (which I love…and the husband was not seasick at all as he thought he would be so now I have proved to him we can take a cruise one day!). Once we were back on land, we made the drive back home which was also nice. Nothing like a trip somewhere else to make you appreciate home. All in all, a most welcome and great little New Year’s Eve excursion!