He wasn't quite so smooth when it was decided that the best way to get there was via Greyhound. A 10 hour journey that started in Kelowna at 11pm on a Friday night. Trust me, the greyhound depot in Kelowna on Friday night is NOT classy. At all. I'm getting too old for this shit! 2 people were refused boarding by the driver for being too drunk and another was arrested. And then the on-board toilet was out of order. For a 6 hour journey. Okaaaay then!
After a couple of hours stop-over in Vancouver at dawn and then a couple more hours on the ferry we finally arrived in Nanaimo. A long story short, the car was everything advertised and we bought it (because by that point it was going to have to have something majorly wrong with it to convince me not to buy it and have to get the Greyhound home again!!) So by mid-afternoon the weekend was ours and we had a new set of wheels to cruise in - yeah baby!
We drove down to Victoria and arrived at The Empress Hotel right on the harbourside. Our only other visit to Victoria was back in our second year of travelling - 2006 and we were still in the early years of our RV'ing adventures and long before we even considered emigrating to Canada. And I remember thinking how wonderful, grand and majestic the Empress Hotel was. And it was now our home for the next 2 nights!
At check-in time our room wasn't quite ready. They'd upgraded us to a Harbour View so to appease us they took out luggage and sent us to The Bengal Lounge for complimentary cocktails. Darn it, don't you just hate it when someone plies you with free drinks?! 3 hours later and long after the room was ready we headed upstairs. A shower was long over-due after the journey and we had brewpubs to visit!
Our first night we headed for The Swans brewpub. We scored a table in the conservatory area which was perfect for people watching and kept a slight barrier between us and the live music - it was good but, hey I was nearly 40 and that music was loud!! And O.M.G the burgers.....I ordered the Swan Song burger but switched out the plain beef patty with a cajun-style charred beef patty and then it was loaded with bacon, mushrooms, cheese, crispy fried banana peppers and beer braised onions. I was drinking their delicious Raspberry Ale - it was so full of berry flavour and in an medium coloured ale - not some dark stout as is so often the case. The berry was so intense it was almost like it was a regular pale ale that they'd then added a couple of shots of rich raspberry liquor in it! Intense, high in alcohol and one was enough to sip on all evening!
The next morning was grey and drizzling but I headed out for a run regardless. A gorgeous, invigorating 4 miles along the harbour on a Sunday morning. The spring flowers were out - I saw daffodils, crocus and snowdrops, a man walking his parrot and some funky driftwood art 'Fan-ta-sea-Isle' (which I vaguely recalled from 2006 but it's much larger and rather more established these days - the same sailor is there!)
For a late brunch we took a water taxi across the harbour from our hotel to Spinnakers Brewpub. More great local craft beers and a fantastic menu to choose from. We settled in and received fabulous service from our host (who was a fellow Brit!). And when I say we settled in, we sure did. We said goodbye to our friendly server at the end of his shift paid our 'lunchtime' cheque and then welcomed in the new shift for the evening and opened another tab. 8 hours later we took a slow, ever-so-slightly tipsy stumble back to our hotel!! I barely remember what we ate (for either of our meals) but it was good!
I woke on Monday morning with a 4 in front of my age. 40 does seem old. I was so excited to reach my 30's, but 40, nah.....not so much. After a quick bite to eat in a local tea room we hopped in our new car for the journey home. Our final gastro treat for the weekend was Moby Dick's Fish n' Chips in White Rock - I'm telling you ma' man is classy and smooth when it comes to 40th birthday dining!! (But it was a particular delicious choice which I could highly recommend!)
An awesome weekend to remember in a beautiful hotel in a beautiful city. So maybe turning 40 isn't so bad after all. (But how did Chris manage to end up with the new car for MY birthday?!)