Wednesday, September 4, 2013

My 25th Birthday

So you guys... it has really been a while.  On August 29th I turned a quarter of a century old.  I never thought I would be 25.  It's like some huge milestone for me.  :-)  I can't help but think of how much more mature my mom was at 25 than I am.  I mean, she had two children already.   And me?  I feel like an immature teenager still some days.  HA.  Anyway, I can't even begin to tell you how awesome Brandon (and many others) made my birthday.  He planned way ahead of time a trip to Victoria, BC - That is in Canada for those who are not the best with world locations.  Well, first off, on my actual birthday I was woken up at the crack of dawn (LITERALLY) by my family calling me to sing happy birthday.  It's a funny and messed up tradition in the family we have had for years. I am pretty sure I was half asleep when I answered the phone.  Unfortunately I had to go to work and the day took a turn for the worse.  I was working on a very time-consuming project which made me neglect something I was supposed to get done that day, which made my boss kinda mad at me.  Then I had to catch the bus and it didn't even show up even though I showed up at the bus stop early so I had to wait for 45 minutes in the rain and I was SOAKED THROUGH before the next bus came.  I ended up getting home around 7:00 pm.  Usually I am home by 6 at the latest.  Thankfully I did receive some lovely phone calls from family and texts from friends with lots of birthday wishes so that cheered me up.  Also at work a lovely patient of ours sewed me a homemade water bottle holder by hand.  WHAT A SWEETHEART.  She also mailed me a birthday card.  Wow, I was so taken aback by that.  When I came home I was surprised with an oversized Hello Kitty balloon.  I mean, seriously this ballon was HUGE!  At least that is the first thing that caught my eye.  There was also a bouquet of flowers, a VERY romantic card, and the same kind of cake we had for our wedding celebration.  I was so happy and pleasantly surprised.  After that, I packed our bags for our trip and only ended up getting to bed at 1 am.  At 4:30 am we woke up to drive up to Seattle and get on our ferry to get to Canada.  Brandon and I were so groggy and exhausted, but SO happy.  We needed this vacation.  When we got to Canada we took a ride on a tour bus that had a guide (his name was Joe) with THE most relaxing voice I have ever heard in my life.  Brandon and I both fell asleep on the bus because of Joe's voice.  Then the bus stopped at the Butchart Gardens.  WOW!!! Is all I can say about that.  Those gardens are incredible.  I only wish we could have gone without a tour group because it was sooo crowded.  I could hardly snap any photos without someone walking in front of me.  Also, I ruined plenty of other tourists' photos from walking in front of them.  Not on purpose of course.  After that the bus took us to our hotel, where we took a nap for a couple hours.  It was called Hotel Rialto!  I highly recommend staying there if you ever get to visit Victoria.  The staff was so friendly and helpful.  From there on out, we explored downtown Victoria for the next two days.  Some highlights? Well this is where all the pictures I took come in handy.

On the ferry early in the morning.

Another ferry picture.  I can't even begin to explain how tired we were since we woke up so early.  

Our tickets to the Butchart Gardens... Notice my hot pink nails?  That is my first Shellac manicure.  I am LOVING it.

SERIOUSLY!!! This view was incredible.  And I might add, it was literally breathtaking in real life.

I felt like I was in the Garden of Eden or something.

There were many bodies of water in these gardens as well as beautiful plants.

The colorful flowers made me feel so cheerful!

Doesn't it look like a painting or something?

Elephant bushes having a tea party.

More colorful varieties of flowers.  Did I mention I am kind of obsessed with plants?

This flower was gigantic, bigger than my hand.

More HUGE flowers.

There were even giant sunflowers.

I had never seen a flower like this before.  It felt very unreal being around all these oversized flowers.

In the center of these flowers are little black bees.  They were SUPER cute.  I am not scared of bees like a lot of people.  My fears are more reserved for spiders and electric powerlines.

There were acres and acres of gardens.  I could have taken hundreds of photos, but I didn't.

a cool fountain surrounded by plants...

Japanese gardens.  I didn't take as many pictures here because we have been to the Portland Japanese gardens already and took TONS of pictures that were similar to these.

A tunnel of trees in the Japanese gardens.

A wishing pond with thousands of coins at the bottom.

Stepping stones in the pond.  Funny but sad story... See those people walking toward the stepping stone in the uppermost part of the picture?  Well, one of them slipped off one of the stones and fell into the pond.  It was kinda traumatizing.

Brandon looks very appealing to me with this scenery... haha.

Yet another cool fountain.

The prettiest color of flowers in the Italian Gardens....

 I enjoyed myself thoroughly at the gardens and wish we had something like this in our city.

Our room at Hotel Rialto.  I LOVED the fact that this boutique hotel was super clean and didn't have any weird smells and was close to everything downtown.

The lobby was cute too!

There were lots of dragons around the city, so I started taking pictures every time I spotted one.

Victoria has a little Chinatown that was kinda fun to walk through and explore.

This tea place was AMAZING.  I kept getting the iced Rooibos - Green and Juicy flavored.  I promise if you try it you will not be disappointed.

It was so impressive to me how many varieties of tea they had here.  I was so in love and very disappointed not to have one next to our house.  So naturally, I had to buy some loose leaf rooibos tea to enjoy when we got home.

Also, for the record, these Ketchup Chips are the ABSOLUTE BEST.  

Downtown Victoria has some very impressive architecture.

These ten commandments statues were in the yard of a church.  CUTE!

Andddd this made me laugh.

There were cute little flea markets sprinkled around this area.

We also browsed plenty of indoor shops.

This dragon was kinda creepy...

When Brandon and I first started dating we bought these necklaces that make a heart when you put them together.  It has been a while since we wore them, so we wore them practically the entire duration of our trip, just to be cheesy and romantic.

This mall, called "The Bay," was really nice on the inside.

This sashimi was incredible.  I really can't remember the name of the restaurant, but it was so fresh.

This guava drink was really good as well.  I noticed almost all the food in Canada has the French as well as English labels on it.

 I couldn't help but notice that there were lots of totem poles around Victoria.  I considered buying a mini one just for kicks, but forgot to do it.

A view of the city.

We took a tour of the Parliament building.  It is a really beautiful historic building with plenty of beautiful stained glass windows and a little rose garden out in the back.

These doors in the Parliament building were built and reserved only for the entrance of the Queen.  Fancy Schmancy!

After the Parliament tour we got a fresh tropical fruit and protein smoothie from this stand.  IT WAS DELICIOUS.

A view of the waterfront.

Little flea markets and food stands along the beach.

The Empress Hotel.  I thought it looked really cool with all those vines growing on it.

The entire city had flower beds sprinkled everywhere that were just as pretty as this one, including hanging baskets and window baskets.

These lunchboxes were reallllly cute!  They were in a random shop that we went into.

At night, there are even more flea markets set up and lots of things to do and see.  It was so romantic and Brandon and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

They also light up the Parliament building at night.  This shot really makes Canada seem like a distinct country from the USA.  It really is a romantic place with a charm of its own.

You know how I am a sucker for street sculptures.  Well, this is one of the cutest ones I have seen in a long time.

This mosaic whale was pretty impressive.  Victoria has plenty more street art that I didn't even capture.

Also, no trip to Canada is complete without buying Nestle Smarties, Maynard's Wine Gums and other candy, and Cadbury chocolate.

I don't know if this is the longest post I have ever written, but it did take me the longest to organize it, whew!

On top of this amazing Canada trip, I have pictures of other birthday stuff, but seriously, I will save that for another day.  My mom got me some healthy flax cracker snacks, the entire series of the TV show "Jericho," and the movie "Overboard."  My mother-in-law got me lots of nice Lancome makeup to enjoy.  Also, Brandon got me an H&M gift card and in Canada he helped me scope out three brand new (perfect) dresses that I would probably have never found in the US.  I have also received some birthday cards in the mail and I am very grateful for that.  I had a wonderful birthday, one I will never forget.  Well, I am going to turn in for the night.  xoxox

~Sincerely, Ashleigh Son

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