Victoria BC, 10 September 2012

Melody and I are on a quick trip to Victoria, BC. It's been about 25 years since I've been here, and longer for Melody. This trip started pretty early in the day for us, since we needed enough time to catch the bus on the way to the Victoria Clipper. This time of year the Clipper leaves at 7:30am, but they start boarding 45 minutes early. Taking the time for the bus into account, we set multiple alarms to make sure we woke in time; we were out of bed before the first one went off. Since we were carrying bags, we decided to not walk from downtown to the ferry dock. We fortunately only had to wait about a minute for our transfer, and three blocks later, we were there.

 Rainbow while nearing Victoria

Rainbow while nearing Victoria

While we were waiting to go into the boarding area, Melody saw a woman she knows from her ski bus who was going biking on Vancouver Island with her husband. Coincidentally, they'll be returning on the same boat as we will be.

Boarding was pretty easy, especially since we were in the first boarding group. We headed upstairs, grabbed seats by the window, and were soon joined by a couple from Kansas, who were going just for the day on a tour of the Butchart Gardens. I was wondering how I would do on the boat, since in the past I've gotten mild motion sickness. Ends up I was fine, even though we were hitting some pretty big swells. We enjoyed talking with our seat mates, who were also worked in education. The wife used to teach art, and it wasn't long before we were discussing the new Chihuly exhibit at Seattle Center, as well as Frank Gehry and his EMP design.

Arrival

On arrival, we proceeded directly to customs since we carried all our luggage onto the boat. We then found an ATM to procure some Canadian cash and then went to find where we were staying. Since we couldn't get our room yet, we checked in, dropped off our bags, then went looking for lunch, ending up getting mini pork tacos and a black bean huarache. Well-fueled, we headed towards the Visitor Centre at the Inner Harbour.

 Pork tacos

Pork tacos

Inner Harbour

We ended up starting at the docks in the Inner Harbour, which had lots of activity, both local and tourist. Next, we went back to the street level, right across from the Empress Hotel in all its ivied splendor. We poked our heads into the lobby, then went to check out the Hotel's rose garden.

 Empress Hotel

Empress Hotel

We then went across the street to look at the totem poles in Thunderbird Park, which has quite a collection. The next stop was the Parliament building, where things were timed well enough that a guided tour started a few minutes after we arrived. We saw both the lower and upper rotunda, as well as being able to peek into the legislative chambers. We also saw a stained glass window meant to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's golden jubilee (now 10 years old). There was also one for Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee, which unfortunately was forgotten in the basement for over 60 years. Fortunately they found it and are able to display it.

 Parliament building

Parliament building

After our tour, we started walking along the waterfront, hopped on the water taxi which made a quick stop at Fisherman's Wharf (where we went among many houseboats) and then across the harbor to Songhees Point. We then walked along the north shore, across the Johnson Street Bridge, then back down towards the end of our tour, which happened to be not far from a gelato shop. Naturally, we rewarded ourselves by sampling the local flavours.

Checking in and food

Our next goal was to get our bags to our room, so we returned to the inn to do so. We knew the room was going to be a bit on the small side, and it's impressive how much they fit into the space. It's about the size of two double beds with a chunk taken out of the corner. The double bed fits along one wall, and the foot of the bed sits on the counter which includes the sink. There's a small fridge tucked under the bed, which has proven convenient. We have to be careful, since it's pretty snug for the two of us to be standing next to the bed while we open or close the door.

Having completed the necessary contortions to get our things into the room, we checked out the wireless situation and found strong, quick connectivity, both in the lobby and in the room. Very nice. We went to the café downstairs to get dinner, so we placed our order and grabbed a table. It seemed to be taking a very long time to get our food, and ends up it's because their toaster broke. They had to go buy another one before they could toast the bread to go with our soup!

After dinner we wandered over to a grocery store to collect snacks and things for breakfast. Both of us were pretty tired, so we decided to call it a day and turned in early.