Friday, April 01, 2011

Visited Victoria and Vancouver BC

"Cross one off of my bucket list!"

How I did it: About 33 years ago I visited Victoria, BC in Canada while on a church choir tour through Oregon and Washington. We were only there for 3 hours, but I fell in love with the place with its European feel. I had been wanting to go back all these years.

Above pictures: Chinatown, Vancouver BC
Tim Hortons, fast food restaurant seen everywhere we went.

My dream was finally fulfilled recently when I visited my daughter who lives in Washington near the Canadian border. We drove to Vancouver the first day, visited Chinatown--my daughter's favorite hangout, walked up and down Granville Street in search of a shirt for my granddaughter, and went to a comedy club. We stayed the night, then headed back toward the border to Tsawassen to catch a ferry.
Ferry Terminal at Tsawassen, BC
Our ferry coming in. I couldn't believe how many big trucks could fit in it!
Lighthouse seen on the ferry ride.
The scenery was breathtaking.
Taking the car on the ferry would be quite expensive, so we parked at the dock in Tsawassen and caught the boat for the 1.5 hour ride to Swartz Bay. Once there, we caught a city bus to Victoria for another 1.5 hour ride.
Satin Moon quilt shop
Above photos: Chinatown
Old Vic Fish and Chips - in business for 80 years
By the time we got to Victoria it was mid-afternoon. Both my daughter and I had a few places on our agenda and, amazingly, the places were very close together. Satin Moon quilt shop was right across the street from Chinatown, and Old Vic Fish and Chips (lunch) was just a few blocks away.

The Empress Hotel
On the way to the Empress Hotel, we looked at the mall for a t-shirt for my granddaughter, but didn't find what we were looking for. At the Empress, we had hoped to get a cup of coffee and enjoy the atmosphere (in lieu of the pricey Afternoon Tea), but the dining room was closed until breakfast. Surprisingly, both of us decided that it was enough to have walked through the dining room, imagining what it would be like to dine there. Both of us have good imaginations!
Beautiful fountain
Metal work in the windows reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright
Having ticked off the items on our wish lists, we wandered up and down Government Street and through Chinatown in search of the elusive t-shirt and souvenirs. Meanwhile, we had to decide which ferry to catch and how we would get there. There wasn't enough time to catch the 7:00 ferry, and 9:00 was the last one. I considered taking a taxi, but that would be expensive.

We went back out on Douglas Street where Bus 70 had dropped us off. Despite the cost of international roaming, I called the ferry to verify that there was a 9:00 boat back to Tsawassen, otherwise we'd might as well stay in Victoria since I didn't notice any motels near the dock. Happily there was a 9:00 boat, and we flagged down a bus to ask when Bus 70 would come by again. The driver said eventually, and I grabbed a bus schedule before the bus left. As it happened, Bus 70 was finished for the night, and we caught Bus 72 instead. We got back to Swartz Bay with a half hour to spare.

Victoria seemed to be different than I had pictured it. It didn't feel quite as European as I remembered. Granted, in 30+ years things change. Nevertheless, I'm glad I went. I can cross that goal off of my bucket list!

Lessons and tips: Public transportation is inexpensive albeit a bit slow. BC Transit buses will pick you up at the dock and drop you off in downtown Victoria. Ditto for the reverse. Grab a bus schedule as you board. Plan ahead so you make it back before the last ferry leaves.

Ask locals where to get off the bus in Downtown Victoria. My experience is that people are happy to help.

Afternoon Tea at the Empress Hotel is at noon. It's pricey but I understand it's a nice experience.

Contact your cell phone company about international calls, texts, data, etc., to avoid expensive bills later. The call I made to the ferry was worth the money for my peace of mind.

Resources: BC Ferries
BC Transit

It took me 33 years.

It made me feel completion.

See more progress on: visit Victoria BC

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