Beautiful British Columbia

6 06 2010

Splendor without diminishment

The long-awaited Memorial Day weekend brought along rain to the North-West. Despite the bad weather, we set out on our trip to British Columbia, Canada. We basically visited Victoria and Vancouver. Though we couldn’t get to execute our plan to the letter, the trip wasn’t bad.

It was raining hard on Friday afternoon on our way to Canada. Strangely there was no delay at the US-Canada border and we reached Tsawwassen bay well in time for the 7pm ferry to Victoria. The clouds cleared and sun came out. At last. The ferry ride was amazing. The scenery was breath-taking. The little island and mountains on the horizon were splendid to look at. I just couldn’t stop saying “Wow!” again and again for the most part of my presence on the deck. The hour and a half journey had been an awesome experience. We reached the Swartz bay in Victoria just as the Sun was getting ready to set.

The popular Butchart Gardens were our first destination the next day. The one word that came to my mind as I walked through the garden was “enchanting”. I don’t think I ever described anything “enchanting” before. It’s just not any other word for me. I have got a special vision and feeling associated with it, ever since I first encountered it in my English textbook around 15 years ago. It described the gardens that Aladin saw when he went down the mountain cave to retrieve the magic lamp for the evil magician. I was very much enthralled by the depiction of Aladin’s visual treat(he was forbidden to touch anything) that I couldn’t associate the word ‘enchanting’ with anything else. Not until I entered the Butchart Gardens. The beauty seemed ethereal.

Later in the day, we also visited a lesser known Abkhazi Garden. It was cute, small,secluded and, of course, beautiful. Royal Wax Museum turned out to be an interesting attraction. One thing that drew my attention was the presence of Hitler in the Chamber of Horrors section. It displayed the gory wax figures depicting the scenes of physical torture, bloody murders, dead handing by a rope, rats scurrying through the corpse’s flesh and…hope you got the idea! In hindsight, the presence of the  greatest human tormentor in the whole (at least recent) history of mankind seemed appropriate in that horror section. But at that moment I wasn’t expecting him.

It was so cold and windy that day but thankfully it didn’t rain. The next day, Vancouver greeted us with the prospect of rain all over it. We visited the famous Capilano Suspension bridge and then moved on to Stanley Park. We were frustrated as we didn’t find a parking spot in the whole park even after taking multiple rounds. At last we had to come out of the park and park the vehicle more than a few blocks away in the downtown. The walk back to the park along the sea wall was pretty. I hoped to avail the shuttle service to navigate the park but I was informed that the service wouldn’t start until June i.e. two days hence. My bad luck. We took the expensive Horse Drawn Carriage tour instead but to my disappointment it covered only a small part of the park. By then, it started drizzling. I was adamant in taking the miniature train ride for the benefit of my son and we could just make it to the last trip.

It was almost 5pm and we were tired and a little disheartened by our inability to cover more points in the park. And the prospect of walking back all the way back to the car loomed like a daunting task. My husband and I got into a heated argument as to which path to take and I grudgingly gave in to him at the end. That actually saved our day. 🙂 My husband wanted to take the main road and we reached a point where the footpath ended abruptly and didn’t know what to do. At that moment, as if god sent, a school bus stopped by and gave us a ride to the downtown. God bless the driver!

Encouraged by this good turn of events, we decided to stop by at Chinese Garden before heading back to the hotel. Dr. Sun Ye-Sen Classical Chinese Garden was impressive. I must say, the best thing of the trip happened at this place. Before exiting the garden we visited the gift shop and were just looking around. Naturally, I walked toward the books. My family followed me and guess what! My son demanded to get a book for him. I was so pleasantly surprised. To give you a brief context to the significance of this event – I have been trying for so long to read to my son and actually engage him and to make him enjoy reading books. He always has been impatient to wait for me to finish reading before he turns the page to look at the pictures on the next page.It has always been an effort for me to make him spend more than a few minutes on any book. And he has a tendency to handle books roughly and seems to take pleasure in ripping or tearing the pages off. So, you can guess my joy at hearing my son actually asking for a book. We got him one, brushing aside our skepticism about his motives and sincerity. But his need turned out to be genuine. He made me read the story again and again numerous time in the next few days. He really enjoyed it. And me too! 😀

Sadly, the rain continued to the next day and we didn’t know what to do. We just drove through downtown for a while and went to Canada Place. It’s a ferry terminal and convention center. It offered good views, as much as a cloudy day can allow. Just as we were thinking to return to Seattle, the rain stopped. We had lunch and then got to see the beautiful Vandusen Botanical Gardens before we headed back to home.

My conviction that gardens are most beautiful when wet has been made stronger by this trip. Almost always when we visit a new beautiful place, we vow to come back in future to take in more of its sights. It was no different this time too. But  much to our chagrin , we almost always never go back. What to do, there are many other unexplored beautiful places out there awaiting our arrival. 😛

One thing that struck me about Canada is that – it ‘s so peaceful. There are less people. It felt like a get away destination. Victoria seemed a good place to retire. And yeah, there were totem poles everywhere. 🙂

All in all, the trip was good. There is so much more I can write about my experiences but I guess this will suffice for now.

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