And So It Begins


Yesterday, with a lot of help from my kids, I finally got myself, my luggage, and my three cases of wine on board the Holland America Amsterdam. Here’s the view from my balcony when I took a break from the exhausting work of unpacking three months’ worth of stuff.


And here’s what it looked like when I finally gave up on packing for the night and watched as we sailed slowly north, destination Victoria.


After a fitful sleep – bed unfamiliar, various aches from the rigors of hauling approximately two tons of stuff around – I awoke just as we headed into Victoria.

Victoria is a lovely town, and I’ve been here several times, so today I switched it up a bit by going on a winery tour of the Cowichan Valley. With just one fellow passenger and a friendly and knowledgeable guide, we visited the Cherry Point, Blue Grouse, Unsworth, and Enrico wineries. I tend to love British Columbia wines, and today I tasted a lot of really nice ones. Because I’ll be writing about them for Great Northwest Wines I don’t want to give too much away here, but I will say that there were many surprises along the way,


not the least of which was watching sparkling wine being bottled under pressure at 2° C., a process I’d never even heard of before.

The biggest surprise, actually, was how much effort folks at all the wineries put into showing me around and having me taste far beyond the usual range of tasting room offerings, once they heard that I would be doing an article. I’ll put a link to the story I write about them, and you can be sure that it will be a nice one.


Here’s our last stop of the day, and you can see why anyone might contemplate giving up whatever else they hold dear and relocating posthaste to the Cowichan Valley.

I had fully intended to head back into town for dinner and a walkabout after dropping off my inevitable wine purchases at the ship (because really, is three cases enough?) but no. The lure of relaxing in my cleaned-up and unpacked cabin was strong, and I succumbed.

And I finally got to meet my cabin stewards, Yoga and Bagus, who both seem charming. Until this afternoon our relationship had consisted of my leaving notes to the general effect of “please take this out of my cabin, and this, and these!” until it’s pared down to a manageable amount of pillows, no hint of fruit or chocolate or space-hogging wooden coat hangers, and all of the suitcases are stashed away.

And now they’re the people most responsible for my comfort and contentment over the next few months, and I’m happy to report that I think they’re going to do an excellent job of it.

Tomorrow will be another wine tour, this time in the Fraser Valley, after we dock in Vancouver. I’m so glad that one of the most important life lessons I learned in wine school is this: When in doubt, spit, don’t swallow. Really comes in handy at a time like this.


Explore posts in the same categories: Cruising


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2 Comments on “And So It Begins”

  1. Arielle Nickolisen Says:

    You’ve been on my mind, Abra. So glad to hear the journey has begun for you! I’m looking forward to following along here. -Ari

  2. Danielle Swan-Froese Says:

    Looking forward to reading your articles on BC wines. We love that area and are always looking for new wineries ( and varietals) to explore.

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