Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Victoria, British Columbia

A couple years ago, I asked for my birthday gift
to be a weekend in the "City of Gardens".

Getting to Victoria: We took the COHO foot ferry which leaves from
Port Angeles, this is the cheapest, quickest route and arrives at the 
downtown harbor.  A lot of travelers prefer the convenience 
of the Victoria Clipper leaving from the Seattle waterfront, 
their package rates that include a hotel can be worthwhile.

The not so impressive, but prettily pink view from our room.
Ocean Island Inn was a memorable experience. Our first impression
was that by the end of the weekend, we would contract a foreign disease
and with awkwardly thin walls, whispering would be required. In the end,
not having a TV, we talked more and played tons of gin rummy. 

We decided our vacation budget would be spent on the ferry, 
lodging and dining, so we filled our itenerary with free things, hence: 
touring the Capitol Building.  It was pretty fascinating and educational.  
If you have the funds, Victoria has a lot of great museums. 

Everyone wants to have tea at the Empress, but $51 per person wasn't
for us. We really enjoyed our tea and scones at Murchies on Government
St. They bring you a tray with your own individual pot and the 
scones sprinkled with powdered sugar come with whipped cream and jam.

 We got some delicious rich lattes here a couple times, 
their beans roasted by Chicago roaster Intelligentsia
Sleek decor, you just feel cool being there.

 Old architecture

 Maybe the only two story McDonalds in the world, 
and probably the only one with a chandalier.

We rode the bus to the Oak Bay neighborhood, which tour guides
claim to be "more English than England itself". We got an AERO bar 
at the drug store and relaxed a few minutes in the park, 
I admired the Tudor homes surrounding us.

 Always interesting live entertainment at the waterfront.

 Love this guy.

This alleyway was so romantic.

 According to Wikipedia, the city's Chinatown is the second
oldest in North America after San Francisco.  They had a great 
farmer's market, I think it was on Sunday afternoon. 

 Bastion Square was probably my favorite filled with restaurants 
and outdoor seating. We ate at Irish Times on the corner--so much fun.

And of course, it's always good to get home.

Other stuff we learned:
  • The Blue Fox Cafe, recommended by locals, on Fort Street is worth the walk.
  • Don't get up early for breakfast, the entire town sleeps in.
  • Be prepared for panhandlers to approach you on every street corner, actually everywhere.
Victoria is a unique corner of the world filled with beauty and culture, I hope you'll get a chance to go!

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