Festive Fun in Freezing Victoria

Festive Fun in Freezing Victoria

I love this time of year. Not as much as I love summer (obviously)… but the lead up to Christmas is a close second. I love the lights, the decorations, the music, the food… pretty much everything except for the weather. I’m one of the very few snow haters in the world. That’s right you heard me… I hate snow. I give it a pass on Christmas day (because that is sort of magical) and when I’m skiing (because it’s kind of essential) but when I’m at home or travelling, snow just makes life more difficult. Sure, it’s pretty but it comes with a price that I have unwillingly paid time and time again. Here are just a few recent examples:

(1) Family vehicle stuck in snow bank and gets hit by a car √

(2) Sprained finger while falling down steep and icy driveway √

(3) Week of school cancelled with increased workload and reduced time to do it √

(4) Flight delays / cancellations √

(5) Falling in extremely wet snow and forced to go to work with soaking wet pants √

Running late? Good luck with that.

Running late? Good luck with that.

I could go on and on but you get the idea. Snow and I just don’t get along very well. So when I woke up on my recent trip to Victoria to hear that the city had just received a blanket of fresh snow… I was less than thrilled.

Fortunately, the snow mostly melted right away (I love the West Coast!) and my friend Katie and I could resume our plans to get our holiday spirit on… worry free!

We started the day by finding me the perfect Ugly Christmas Sweater at The Patch Clothing store downtown. I am so stoked to wear it every chance I get this season. It’s perfectly oversized with a gigantic scene of a bear riding a sleigh and other ridiculous stuff. Shopping Win!

Our next stop was the Fairmont Empress Hotel’s Festival of Trees. IMG_2556 The Edwardian, château-style hotel is one of the most famous sights in the city and quite pricey as well. But, you don’t need to be a paying guest to enjoy the Victorian decor, or in our case, the fantastic display of Christmas trees benefiting the BC Children’s Hospital. There were so many great themes and interesting choices that it was quite the challenge to narrow it down to our favourites. There was even an interactive Operation themed tree that would buzz and light up.

Can you guess which one is my favourite?

Can you guess which one is my favourite?

Just before the sun went down, we briefly braved the cold temperatures to enjoy the blissful golden hour sun, squeezing in a few pictures of the inner harbour before running for hot beverages. IMG_2552 IMG_2547 My inability to stay outside for longer than 20 minute increments during the day should have warned me that I was going to struggle with the Island Farms Parade of Lights that evening… but we foolishly decided to go anyway. I’m sure you can see where this is going. In the pursuit of festive fun I nearly gave myself frostbite just to see some vehicles covered in lights. Okay, I’m exaggerating but I definitely begged to just stand in the 7-eleven at one point. I’m a baby.

Alas, we ended up skipping out on some winter activities in favour of warmth but still managed to enjoy a beautiful weekend in the city. I’m sure I’ll be back soon… preferably in spring ;)IMG_2553

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The Happiest Place on Earth

What could possibly be better than visiting the happiest place on earth at the most wonderful time of the year?

After 15+ years since my last Disneyland adventure, I eagerly coerced my new SoCal resident, best friend into a day trip to remember!

Early on a mid-November morning we made the 75ish minute drive from San Diego to Anaheim. Upon arrival we quickly parked our car (FREE), stored our bags (FREE) and loaded up at the breakfast buffet (FREE) at our awesome hotel, the Residence Inn Anaheim Maingate, conveniently located just across the street from the park. We were off to a great start!

After the mandatory photo-stop at the entrance we quickly joined the throngs of people lining the sidelines of Main Street, U.S.A. for the filming of the Disneyland Christmas Parade special, which airs Christmas Day on ABC. It was great to see the park all decked out for the holidays, but the filming meant that the Parade was not running like normal. Sorry to burst your bubble, but Disney magic takes a lot of rehearsing, resetting, and rewinding. Instead of waiting around all day, we opted to take advantage of the minimal crowds and cross off a few of the big name attractions: Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, and the Haunted Mansion (with a spooktacular Nightmare Before Christmas dressing)!

For lunch we enjoyed a sit-down meal in New Orleans square – preparation for my upcoming trip to the Big Easy this December! The jambalaya was good, but I’m sure the real deal will taste even better.

The afternoon crowds were a bit bigger but we still managed to spot one of my childhood icons, Joey Fatone of N’Sync fame! A trip to California wouldn’t be complete without spotting at least one celebrity. We also managed to squeeze in a holiday cruise on the iconic it’s a small world ride, followed by the Storybook Canal ride where our tour operator sounded so robotic in her high-pitched Disney voice that I thought her head might explode. Kudos to all the ride operators at Disneyland for performing such a monotonous job while wearing those ridiculous fun costumes in the hot sun every day.

We capped off the day with the Matterhorn (my first time in 3 visits!) and my personal favourite Space Mountain. By 4:00pm we were ready for some adult time at the bar in Downtown Disney – something I certainly couldn’t have enjoyed 15 years ago. All in all it was an enjoyable day if not slightly less magical as an adult. The rides seemed less impressive while the attention to detail surpassed my previous recollection. November truly is a great time to visit – the weather was perfect and the crowds, totally manageable. I wish I could say that I’m dying to go back, but I think this travelista has come to appreciate a more mature way of travel. And, I hope this evolution takes me to some far off corner of the globe in the very near future.

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