A face in the crowd
Life lesson: Hamsters are NOT diswasher safe.
There are 10 types of people-- those who understand binary, and those who don't.
June 1: Victoria, BC
This is the capital city of the province of British Columbia and it is a wonderful and charming place.
Victoria is one of my favorite cities, anywhere in the world, and we’re starting off the Virtual Vacation there.
In truth, you could spend a whole month on Vancouver Island, skip the rest of Canada, and call it time well spent.
Best time of year to visit Victoria? Any time, although Spring comes months earlier there than it does for the bulk of Canada or the northern USA.
You can fly in, from wherever you live, or maybe even take a ferry from Seattle (or Vancouver).
Victoria lies one degree below the long border with the USA that is along “the 49th parallel” so if you look to the east you will see Washington State, not BC.
The city itself is on the small side, compared to some other provincial capitals, but it makes up for it by being very pedestrian friendly and the downtown area is compact and easy to navigate.
It contains a nice sized “Chinatown” plus all sorts of funky restaurants and shops. They have a lovely main harbor, where busy marinas operate along with the occasional private seaplane landing there.
You can take a “water taxi” across the harbor or a guided boat tour up a nearby tributary, but most folks will congregate along the upper harbor wall—called “Front Street”—between the massive Empress Hotel and the Parliament Buildings.
If you don’t enjoy the rain, however, make sure you have waterproof clothes and/ or an umbrella. Spring and winter is mostly rain and sleet; snow doesn’t stick around too long.
The rainy periods occur far less often in Summer and Fall but there’s always a chance of a shower.
As a result, the city is very green almost year round. I was there in February, once, and the cherry trees were blossoming. There was 4 feet of snow back home, just 1,100 km east!
Victoria- the Inner Harbor and the Empress Hotel
If you get down to Front Street and the harbor, you will find the Empress Hotel, where you can experience a “proper” English High Tea.
That is wildly popular, for some reason, even though the prices there make me shudder.
Then again, I don’t like tea. Nor cucumber and watercress sandwiches...
NOTE: I’m not sure how accurate their labelling is, but this is supposed to be the low-down from overseas:
A British Person wrote:
“There are 3 types of “tea” in the UK: AFTERNOON tea, CREAM tea, and HIGH tea.While in the harbor area, (with lots of unique shopping places) you can find independent companies offering whale watching tours to take you out into the ocean. There are a couple of different experiences-- the faster and closer to the water Zodiac speedboats, or the slower but more comfortable (and enclosed) ships.
The first two are white-collar experiences but a high tea is a blue-collar meal, probably no scones, but a variety of meat dishes, puddings, cakes, etc. — very filling, and designed to satisfy the factory worker or farm laborer as soon as he gets home and is too hungry to wait for the fashionable dinner hour of 8 pm.”
As well, there are tiny passenger ferry (City-sponsored transit) and on-the-water Harbour Tours.
Whale watching—killer whales almost guaranteed from May to November, but other whale species and wildlife can be seen year-round
Just around the corner from the Empress Hotel is the provincial parliament building and the Royal BC museum.
If you have time to walk and wander around, you can see swans, turtles, ducks, geese and Blue Herons in nearby Beacon Hill Park, or wind your way through a residential neighborhood to the very impressive Craigdarroch "Castle" and take a tour of it.
The main entry of the Craigdarroch Castle
Further afield (actually fairly close to the airport) are Butchart Gardens, which should not be missed— even if you don’t think that you’re a fan of flowers and gardens— and there's a (sort-of nearby to that) rather nice Butterfly Gardens (indoor) as well.
A small section of Butchart Gardens— full bloom in late Spring and early Summer
When the night time comes, you can get fresh seafood from the many restaurants along Front Street and the surrounding area, but my favorite place is a brewpub on the opposite side of the harbor (see the "Fun Facts" item, above, for details.
There are hotel rooms to rent, right beside the pub, and it is in a residential neighborhood so they close early and follow the noise restriction by-laws.
If you're looking for late light revelling then you’ll have to find another place.