In reading the last two posts, you might think that we only saw gardens and museums on our recent trip to Vancouver Island. But you would be incorrect – and you should know us better than that! Although we spend four months in one place while we are working, we can still sight see at a lightning pace when needed. So here are the other things we saw and did in Victoria.
Victoria is the provincial capital of British Columbia and has a metropolitan population of 368,000 people. Like most cities that aren’t in the United States, there is an excellent public transportation system. We walked onto the ferry, got a hotel in walking distance of the ferry, and then took the bus everywhere we needed to go. The buses were clean, on-time, and frequent. When we went to Victoria we rode on the top deck of a double-decker bus, giving us an excellent view. The bus cost $5 ca for each ride which was a bargain.
We wanted to see as many historic sites as we could in Victoria. After all, we work at English Camp on San Juan Island and the people we represent came from and retreated to Vancouver Island. We walked through the Fairmont Empress Hotel, a National Historic Site. The Edwardian, château-style hotel was designed by Francis Rattenbury in 1908. Today the hotel is privately owned and the interior has been extensively renovated until it looks like any other modern hotel. We walked through the lobby and found the Tea Room where high tea is served every day.
The four of us did some shopping along Government Street. We found a wonderful bookstore, Russell Books, which has two locations because it ran out of room at the one location. It also has three floors that are accessed through three different buildings. Tom spent a lot of time in the used book section but managed to walk away without buying anything. Val and Johnny had never been in a Hudson’s Bay Company store so we walked through that. We also checked out a chocolate shop, a yarn shop, and a bakery.
Next we went in search of Fort Victoria constructed in 1843 by the Hudson’s Bay Company. We knew there wasn’t much left of it, but we wanted to find the historical marker that indicated where it was located. After a couple of wrong turns, we found the original mooring rings and the historical marker. We wanted to read the marker but a homeless man had draped his belongings all over it.
We walked through the historic Inner Harbour area to Holland Point Park. The walk along Government Street through this area was very interesting. This is where many of the houses were built soon after Victoria was founded. Victorian homes line the street in colorful variety. We walked by the Parliament Building, an imposing structure. Holland Point Park was a wonderfully restful place. We watched the ships navigate the strait with the Olympic Mountains in the background.
Finally we decided we had enough for one day and returned to our bus stop for the ride back to our hotel. Our feet were tired, but we felt we had truly savored a variety of activities in Victoria.