Monday, June 15, 2009

We're Home!

Well the girls and I are home safe and sound. Dean was busy early this morning with his conference so we were on our own at the pool which was a little more challenging that way. Bella really wanted to go in the big pool for a bit so I figured out that I can hold Becca with one arm and hold my other arm out straight so Bella could hang off it like a noodle float and swim along. We were able to get away earlier than usual for breakfast and found a new little cafe at which to have hot chocolate and pastries outside. Bella found it too cold and Becca was asleep so I hurried through my chocolate almond croissant and we went back to the room.

I finished packing up except for a few last minute things - like wet bathing suits and we waited for Dean who thought he would have some free time around 10:15. We are all coming down with a cold, however Becca seems to be suffering the worst with a runny nose and cough. She didn't want to eat any breakfast food, only bottles and she was quite fussy. By 10:30 we hadn't heard from Dean so we decided to head down to the courtyard outside our room (which Bella cutely refers to as "the backyard") and I sent Dean a text to let him know. It's off of the Victoria Conference Centre so I knew it would be a good place to meet him. By the time I got the girls all packed up and ready to go, he was waiting for us in the hallway so we got to head out together.

Bella ran around and burned off some energy - however she still had lots, and then we walked around the grounds of the Hotel. The gardens were beautiful and there were lots of neat little areas to visit. Bella wanted to throw a coin in the fountain and when I asked her what her wish was she said "I wished for Becca to be a grown up." What a cutie - as an older sister I feel her pain, but all in all she has been a great girl on this trip and really helped a lot with Becca.

We walked down Government Street to Sam's Deli where we got some great, freshly made-to-order sandwiches for lunch. I got shrimp and avocado! We walked back to the courtyard to eat outside in the sun. It was about 11:30 and I wanted to leave for the 20 minute drive to the airport at noon so we headed back up to the room. Housekeeping was working on it, and since it was our third day there they were changing all the bedding - it's too bad we hadn't gotten back sooner to let them know they could just leave it one more day. Anyway, I know it's our room, but I just didn't feel comfortable in there while they were working so we waited a few hallways back (there's 5 in all between the elevator and our room) on a sofa and kept checking, but by noon they were still in there and I couldn't wait any longer so I gathered all my courage (it's our room after all) and I went in there to finish packing. After 5 minutes we were all ready to go and Dean helped us into a cab - what a great guy! I'm so jealous he gets another day in Victoria - I loved it there.

Both girls fell asleep in the cab which made for a relaxing drive for me where I could enjoy the scenery. We got checked in at the airport and through security with no glitches. We arrived at our gate 5 minutes before we boarded which was great since the less time we stand around waiting the better. We sat in the second row and had it all to ourselves. If only I had known I would have kept out Becca's car seat because I'm sure if I had strapped her in it she would have fallen asleep. As it was she drank her bottle (still no solids - or runny solids) and sat playfully on my lap. Bella watched Treehouse on the TV screen and was very well behaved.

The turbulents coming into Calgary were really bad and I actually got quite nauseous and just kept concentrating on holding it all together. The girls, thankfully, didn't seem affected at all. We got off the plane, grabbed our one suitcase (or suiscase as Bella has said all trip) and headed to our car in the parkade. Becca fell asleep on the way to the car and both were asleep by the time we got home.

Victoria was awesome and I can't wait to be back on Vancouver Island in 2 weeks, but for now it's great to be home. This trip was great in boosting my confidence for how the sailing trip will go - and we will have Rachel with us then to help out too, so it should go smoothly.

Join us for our next Adventure - Sailing the Gulf Islands - departing July 1st!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wax Museum and Walk

This afternoon wasn't very successful for naps in our room. We did get in some quiet time, but no real sleep. Dean came back and met us at 3pm and we headed out to the Wax Museum. The main floor was a lot of famous people from history and political figures. Bella was kind of creeped out at first, but by the end she knew they weren't alive and she didn't mind it. She even posed for a picture with Dean, Princess Dianna and Prince William. The lower floor had a lot of characters such as Snow White and Alice in Wonderland which Bella really liked. Overall I wasn't a huge fan, but it wasn't very expensive so it was an okay way to spend 30 minutes.
Dean still had some time before his 5pm event so we decided to walk around more than just the waterfront. We are so impressed with Victoria. Everyone is friendly and it is very clean. The whole place seems classy. We walked up and down retail streets not going in anywhere but just checking what was around. Eventually both girls fell asleep for a much needed nap. Dean headed back to the hotel for his event, but I kept walking around so that they would stay asleep. They slept for about an hour and I got many smiles from passers by.
After they both woke up I headed back to our room around 5:15. Becca had her dinner and we waited for Dean to come back. By 6:30 we were all together again and heading out to dinner. We just went across the street, down on the waterfront to Milestone's for a nice dinner and drinks. Becca was quite fussy for the first time the whole trip and she needed to be held a lot, but once we were finished and started moving again she was content in the stroller.
Instead of getting dessert at the restaurant, we opted to head to the Rogers Ice Cream and Soda Shoppe right next to our hotel. Dean and I each created our own sundaes:two flavours of ice cream, with a choice of toppings and sauces. It was very yummy and a nice treat. We headed back to our room and Becca was in bed asleep by 8:30 while the rest of us are watching Treehouse. Tomorrow the girls and I head home around lunch time while Dean stays on to continue his conference, and have some much coveted alone time.
I included a picture of one of the 5 hallways you have to walk all the way down to get to our room - as I mentioned in our first post of this trip - it really is an old hotel that reminds us of the Overlook in The Shining. (That is Bella you see running away, and Dean's legs on one of the sofas)

Harbour Ferry Ballet and Tour

This morning was quite like yesterday, but Bella and Dean got to sleep until 7:30. We got up and went to the pool again and then back to the same cafe for breakfast: a round of hot chocolate and pastries. We decided to head out to walk around the waterfront and wait for the Harbour Ferry Ballet at 10:45.

This was a rather overrated, but still unique experience. 5 little Harbour Ferries did a 10 minute choreographed routine to The Blue Danube. A lot of synchronization and near collisions made it cute and entertaining and Bella had fun dancing along (see 3 second video below). After it was over we said goodbye to Dean who needed to register for his conference and we hopped on board for a 45 minute Harbour Tour.

The tour took us around the inner and outer harbour of Victoria and we got to see sailboats, float planes taking off and landing and learned a lot about the history of Victoria. While out in the harbour I saw an area that looked quite retail since Isabella had been asking for McDonalds for days so we when we disembarked we headed in that direction. We found lots of neat places including a McDonalds. We got our food to go back to the room, and while walking back we met up with Dean who was heading out to do some shopping before his first session at 2pm. We all ended up back in the hotel room where the girls and I had our lunch and Becca is now napping.

This afternoon we plan to head to the wax museum!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Beacon Hill Park and Royal BC Museum

Everyone had a nice relaxing rest - except for me who had too much caffeinated tea to actually sleep. We headed out again around 3:30 for Beacon Hill Park. We walked past the beautiful Legislature building and then arrived at the park, all in about 10 minutes. We walked through some beautiful paths surrounded by lush gardens and Bella had a blast playing at the playground. We then continued on to the Children's Farm where there were lots of farm animals to look at and pet. We saw miniature donkeys and a pony, tons of baby goats and sheep, alpacas, chickens, ducks, mice, guinea pigs and lots of peacocks. Bella had a lot of fun and she even got to stop at the playground again on the way out.

On the walk there we had noticed that the Royal BC Museum was open until 10pm so we thought we would check that out. It was approaching 5pm and we saw the museum had a cafe so we thought we would grab a light dinner there, but unfortunately it was already closed. We were directed across the street to The Old Spaghetti Factory by a very friendly security guard. Bella got chicken nuggets and I got seafood fettucini alfredo which was about the quality you would expect from a place of that sort, and Dean got spaghetti and meatballs. I fed Becca her jarred baby food and she was very good at not being messy. She even got to have a lot of bread from the loaf at our table and she really enjoyed that. As an extra special treat she got to try some of my ice cream for the first time. She would make the worst face because it was cold, and then immediately want more. Typical.
We headed back to the museum only now it was 10 minutes before the next on location IMAX movie and there was a huge lineup for admission. Dean toughed it out and after about 15 minutes we were in. It was quite spectacular. The visiting exhibit was from the Royal British Museum called Treasures. It was a collection of some of the most interesting treasures from around the world - mummies, statues, jewellry, etc. Then we entered the Natural History part of the museum and it was predictably my favourite part. The displays for the wildlife in the area were outstanding and looked so realistic that I felt like we were really there. I took one picture that looks like Dean and Bella were at the beach (except for the signs). Unfortunately, the museum was also playing realistic sounds which made Bella quite scared. On the third floor was the Human History section which was also quite well done, but hard to explain. The disappointing part about this floor was that many exhibits were up stairs and so were not accessible to us with our strollers - or those using a wheelchair.

By the end of the Museum tour Becca was sound asleep. We walked back to the hotel to get ready for bed. Because our room was hot we had been leaving the window open (with no screen) to get some fresh air and just 5 minutes ago a seagull landed on our window sill. Bella was the first to notice and although I tried, it took Dean to get up the nerve to walk over and close the window. Good thing he's travelling with us. Off to bed now!

Miniature World, Waterfront and Afternoon Tea

Today Becca helped us all wake up early at 6:30. We decided to head down to the pool for a family swim. What a great surprise to find out that it has a child's wading pool, along with a full size pool and hot tub. Unfortunately the water level in the wading pool is just at Becca's mouth when she sits so she kept swallowing water - but there were steps she could sit on that were the right height. She enjoyed splashing around on my lap too. Bella had a great time in both the wading pool and in the large pool with Dean.

We headed back to our room for some quiet time and to get ready for the day. Our first stop was Breakfast at the Liberty Cafe where we had yummy smoothies and split a scone and a croissant. We ate outside at a little table where small birds ate all around us and there was a couple at the table next to us where the guy was reading a book to the girl - it was very romantic.

Next we headed to our first stop - Miniature World. It was really cool. Lots of models of things like trains, dollhouses, scenes from books etc. plus a whole section on Canadian/US history with battles displayed. You could press buttons in the displays and it would make things "go" like the trains or cars etc. We were there for about 45 minutes and it was a lot of fun.

Next we walked around outside and saw great views of our hotel (see picture) and we walked down to the waterfront where we were able to see a couple of tall ships and many personal sailboats. Dean was in his glory telling us all about them and even had Bella pose beside one.
We came back to the room to freshen up and then headed out to our noon reservation for Afternoon Tea here at the Empress Hotel. They were turning people away so we were glad we had reserved a few weeks ago. They addressed Isabella by name and she was given extra special treatment as the Princess of our tea. (We had set this up through the reservation earlier). She even tried her own cup of Orange Pineapple Tea which Dean also had. I had the traditional Empress Blend and was not disappointed. We were brought tiered trays with sandwiches on the bottom (smoked salmon, cucumber, cream cheese, curry chicken, mushroom pate) a second layer with scones served with creme frais and strawberry preserves - very authentic. And the top tier was desserts (Earl Grey shortbread, chocolate cake with vanilla cream, checkerboard sponge cake, chocolate raspberry truffle, lemon tart). No diet today!
Bella ordered an apple juice and got her own tiered tray decorated with ribbons and a jelly bean covered chocolate cupcake - along with a cookie, scones and a real flower which she wore in her hair. Her sandwich selection consisted of ham and cheese, turkey and cucumber and she had pringles on the side. Before it arrived she said she wasn't hungry, but believe me it was all gone when we left. At the end she was presented with a certificate claiming her Princess of the Afternoon Tea and Dean and I were each given tins of tea to take home - so everyone is invited to our place for a tea party!

We are now back in the room for Becca to have a nap, but we will continue our adventures and update tonight!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Flight to Victoria and Check In to Fairmont Empress

Well we made it! Becca did a fantastic job on her first flight. She didn't sleep, but she also didn't cry so we are happy. We boarded at 6:30 but didn't take off until 7:20 which set us a little behind. Bella was so excited to be flying on a plane, and getting a treat of pop from the flight attendant was very exciting for her. We arrived at 7:30 Pacific Time. The Victoria airport is quite small and we deplaned by stairs outside. We had checked the stroller at the gate so it was waiting for us when we arrived. Our luggage was waiting for us - very unlike in Calgary where you wait for luggage.

We hopped in a taxi (a Toyota Prius!) and Bella was excited again to get to be in a car for the first time without a car seat. We had brought Becca's with us. It was about a 25 minute drive from the airport in Sidney to our hotel in Victoria. Becca fussed a little in the cab - wondering why it was 2 hours past her bedtime and she was still awake. Bella fell asleep leaning against me in the back seat and she got about 10 minutes of a rest. At the end of the ride the bill was $55.00

We drove up to our hotel - The Fairmont Empress and it is beautiful - I will take pictures tomorrow. I love that the front is covered with Virginia Creeper however I couldn't help but think of Wil and how he probably wouldn't be as thrilled as I was.

The Bell Hop took our luggage and brought Isabella a little doll to have - which I thought was very kind. We followed a crazy maze up to our room and I couldn't help feeling like we were in the hotel from The Shining. It's a very old hotel with gorgeous crown moulding above every single guest room door. I will never find my way back to the lobby.

There was a very cute little crib waiting for us which we finally got Becca to sleep in after lots of crying on her part and whispering on ours. Starving, we ordered some room service: Fish and Chips (so nice to be on the ocean again), seafood chowder, a burger and fries, veggies and dip and 2 cookies - of which Bella claimed both! We are now off to bed and I will add more details of our day tomorrow.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

June 7, 2009 - buying life jackets

This is the first post in our Naugler Family Adventures Blog! Inspired by my father's awesome blog of his trip to England, I wanted to try my hand at blogging and since we have a lot of trips on this summer, I felt that documenting our vacations might be a good area to start. And if you've ever travelled with small children, you know how interesting it can be.

Although we are not on an adventure yet, we achieved our first goal which was to get properly fitting life jackets for the girls. We set sail in the Gulf Islands on July 1st.

Our first adventure starts on Friday with Becca's first airplane ride as we head off to Victoria, BC for the weekend.

Check back for updates!