We flew in from SFO aboard Alaska Airline on our way to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and again, I didn't I know we were taking Alaska and I was wearing my Grand Princess Alaska Cruise sweatshirt, too! Norman arranged this trip to Victoria a long time ago and I had no idea whatsoever about our itinerary. All these happenings have been pure coincidental! Or is there such a thing?
We're here in Victoria, Canada staying at the magnificent Fairmont Empress Hotel for our 25th wedding anniversary celebration - A milestone, and we're very proud!! And we're actually having the famous Afternoon Tea at The Empress -WOW! I told Norman I could miss lunch and dinner today but not the Afternoon Tea at The Empress. We arrived at Victoria past 1 pm. We had to go through customs. We didn't know how far the hotel was and we knew that the afternoon tea ends at 3 pm. Well, we got here at 2 pm and upon check-in, the receptionist immediately made reservations for us for the afternoon tea at 2:15 - Plenty of time!
This whole trip is special, deeply personal to Norman. In the 70's, he recalls, he was in Vancouver for a rock concert and someone told him to go visit Victoria, beautiful capital of British Columbia. The fare was about Canadian $7.00 one way by ferry boat. He didn't have the money. When he returned home, he read about it and saw a picture of the magnificent Empress Hotel and thought to himself, "I wanna be in this picture."
Two years ago, we went on our Grand Princess Alaska Cruise with his brother, Joel, and wife, Sarah, and one of our stops was Victoria, Canada. A dream come true for him! We strolled from the harbor enjoying the scenery, a truly beautiful promenade, although I bet, like a kid, Norman wanted to RUN to see the hotel right away. That was his dream for so many years! That's why he took this cruise - it was going to Victoria! He was going to see THE EMPRESS HOTEL - Finally!!
As we got a glimpse of the hotel, I was astounded! I looked at Norman, and I wondered... I wondered what he must've have been feeling at that very moment. As we got closer and closer and finally stepped on the ground, one look into Norman's eyes and I knew... he was fulfilled!
We had breakfast and asked for tea just to get a taste of the Empress tea. Our waiter was great, though. He went out of his way to even serve us mini-scones and other sweets to go with our tea - a sampling of the famous Afternoon Tea! But that doesn't start till 12 noon. We only had few hours stopover in Victoria. But it was alright. Norman knew... someday he would, he will, have the real Afternoon Tea at the Empress.
And here we are! But still, that wasn't enough. He vowed that one day, he would, he will, stay at The Empress Hotel himself. That day has come to pass - Today! Now he has money and with no hesitation, no reservations, he's splurging!
This is just the beginning...