Sunday, May 22, Victoria BC

Chinatown; Murchie's; Eddie Bauer

Harbour Towers



I slept reasonably well last night but woke up earlier than I could have, considering how little sleep I'd had the night before. I guess I woke up on Florida time as usual. I paid for the not expensive and quite good breakfast buffet in the restaurant downstairs after doing some unpacking, sorting out what I'd use while here in Victoria and then later in Seattle, and taking a shower. I learned that although the interior walls here in the hotel are pretty soundproof the hall door is not and neither is the outside window particularly–it's a bit surprising how well you can hear a passing seagull.

I also learned that there are groups of students from at least one the bands participating in tomorrow's parade staying here.

The hotel runs a shuttle service in the downtown area. I caught a ride over to Chinatown with a family who were going to the area around Craigdarroch Castle, which I want to visit myself later. The girl said this was the first time she'll have been here in Victoria for the Victoria Day parade without being in it. Her mom mentioned that many of the school bands in the parade tomorrow would be performing from 2 to 3:30 PM today in front of the legislative building, which sounded like a lot of fun.

I wandered around Chinatown for a bit, and found at least one place that looks very good to come back to for dim sum later this week. I walked back up Government Street towards the legislature, stopping in at Murchie's and the Eddie Bauer outlet along the way. I also found what look like a very nice Irish and a Scottish pub, too.

One of the school bands was practicing along the harbor walkway when I went past. I was getting kind of hungry again by then, so I had poutine for the first time from a small restaurant booth right along the water. I managed to snag one of their only two tables to eat at.

There really was no good place to sit and watch the bands. They played on the esplanade right along in front of the legislature, marching in from one side, stopping right in front to play, and heading on out the other side. There were lots of people in the very nice park a few stairs below the esplanade where the bands were playing but they couldn't see much at all from down there. I found a place along the wall separating the esplanade from the park below a bit towards where the bands entered but not too far from the center. I tried sitting in the small wall for a bit but gave that up when I could no longer feel my legs. I stood up the rest of the time, often leaning on the wall.

All 20 of the bands I saw and heard were quite impressive, and were from middle and high schools. All of them were much more serious than either of the two high school bands I played in. Although Highland Park did have a marching band and did routines at football games many of the bands I saw this afternoon also did choreography while playing, and most of them played from memory, which was very impressive.

I didn't stay to see the drum off featuring the rhythm sections or drum lines, though. By this time my legs were starting to bother me a bit and I wanted to see if I could find a small store on the way back to my hotel.

I did find the small and very nice liquor store in the neighborhood not too far away, where I got some local hard cider and beer, and also found a small convenience store where I got some chips for later as well.

When I checked my email after I got back to my room I found a message from Verizon that I had been billed over $250.00 from using my smart phone in less than 24 hours. I called and the rep switched me over to their Canada & Mexico international calling plan, which is only an additional $20.00 monthly instead, and also made the $250.00 in charges go away.

This guy was very helpful and very frank. I told him that next month I'm heading over to Ireland for over a month and then to Scotland and London for over three weeks and then almost three weeks in Paris before coming home. He said the best that Verizon could offer me for that trip would be an international plan that would cost me $10.00 for every day I actually used it. I pointed out that I would probably need to use the phone at least once a day, especially since I like to use the mapping app while wandering around strange cities trying to get not too lost so that would still cost me hundreds of dollars, which I was trying to avoid, which is why I had called in the first place.

I also asked him about buying sim cards locally to use in my iPhone while there, and he of course said that since they were not Verizon products he could not recommend using them. He did tell me that if I did use a foreign sim card in my iPhone I could not reactivate it to use it with Verizon again until I was actually back in the US. Since I'm going to need to call my home phone and my Florida cell number at least once a week to check for messages, I think I'll probably wind up just buying the cheapest smart phone and plan I can find in Ireland, the UK, and Paris.

I still wanted to do my daily exercise walking before dinner so I used one of the treadmills in the very nice exercise room here in the hotel. Afterwards I asked one of the guys at the front desk if there was a good fish & chips place in walking distance from the hotel. He recommended a place called Barb's about a 10 or 15 minute walk away from the hotel at the small but very nice Fisherman's Wharf. He was right about Barb's–the fish was excellent as was the chowder, and the chips and cole slaw were also pretty good too. While I was eating I watched and listened to a musician playing what sounded and kind of looked like an inside out steel drum. At one point he was surrounded by six or seven small kids who were enthralled by his playing and his instrument. When I finished eating I went over to ask him about his instrument, and I was pretty correct–he told me it had recently been invented by a steel drum player who wanted something he could play with his bare hands.

Tomorrow's the big parade, from 9 to 11. I plan on leaving here earlier enough to see if I can find a seat somewhere along the route. After that I have no firm plans other than doing my exercise walking as usual. Sometime while I'm here I want to go back to Chinatown for lunch, go to Craigdarroch Castle and to Butchart Gardens, go to the Provincial Museum, and probably have tea at the Empress Hotel. I also think I might take the Hippo tour, which uses an amphibious vehicle.

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