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Canada - Vancouver Island - Day 17

Today we were rudely awakened at 5am with the alerts from Karen's Mum alarm going off at home. Despite being the other side of the world, Karen has to co-ordinate the response with everyone else. Both of our boys were in touch with us as they also get the alerts and were prepared to go round and find out what was happening. Fortunately Karen's brother in York managed to get a neighbour to go in who found that Karen's Mum had tripped in the hallway but was not hurt.

Our alarm had been set for 6am anyhow and by the time this was all sorted it was time to get up.

Today we were booked on the 9am Ferry for a day trip to Vancouver Island so intended to be up and out early as we were not sure how heavy the Vancouver traffic would be. It turned out that as we staying the right side of Vancouver the traffic was not so bad and we made it there so early they put us on the 8am departure with minutes to spare. It was all very efficient and impressive.

The Ferry was smaller than a cross channel one but had several lounges and cafes. We found comfortable seats and settled in with some hot drinks for the 90 minute journey. It was a bonus that there was a good Wifi connection initially but that became intermittent as I presume more people logged in. The crossing was very smooth as we never left the inlet as such and just sailed close by many smaller islands.

By 10am we were off and had driven the 20 miles to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. There was lots of parking although typically we found one that turned out to be 50% more expensive than the ones we subsequently saw.

We walked the short distance to the main drag and were very pleasantly surprised by what we found (apart from the number of Asian tourists who had found out that we were visiting today and thought that they would do the same). The area around the Parliament building and Empress Hotel was very pretty. The gardens with full of beautifully maintained flowers and everything looked lovely set against a clear blue sky. We wandered slowly around taking in the sights and taking all the usual photos.

I had read about Beacon Hill park which was only a couple of blocks over from the tourist hub. This had a scenic lookout over to America which was only a few miles away across the water. The park was indeed close, but was much bigger than the poorly scaled map we had and it was quite a trek to get to the interesting parts. We came across the worlds largest totem pole and finally the outlook across the sea which looked beautiful. The only failing was that the park did not have a cafe, not that Karen noticed or mentioned other than in passing!

We followed the coastal path back round the park and came to the Mile 0 marker of the Trans Canada Highway. Fortunately then we found a bustling cafe on this side of the park and had some refreshing drinks in the what was by now hot sunshine.

After this we walked back to the main shopping street and meandered along. As it was now after 2pm we stopped at a Subway to grab some food for Lunch. We explored a little more of Victoria on foot but found nothing more of real interest and so decided to get back in the car and have a drive.

I decided to head back north in the direction of the Ferry terminal as I had read about Sidney on Sea which sounded very pleasant which was close by. This turned out to be another real 'Brucie' bonus. It was a lovely little seaside resort with interesting shops and buildings. There was a street market taking place and it was very good and very well supported. There were bands playing at every road crossing and the locals were out in force. There was a stall selling scones that must have been fantastic. It had not even set up properly and there were over 50 people queuing. When we walked past later the queue was double the length and they had almost sold out. It would have been lovely to try one as they did look really good and were all sorts of interesting flavours.

We past a few good looking restaurants but settled on the Pier Bistro which as the names suggests was on a small fishing pier. We sat outside and it was lovely. We had probably the best meal of the trip as the fish was so fresh, delicious and well cooked. Karen celebrated by having a Champagne cocktail.

After wandering back through by now an even busier street market we drove the short distance back to the Ferry Terminal. We had a 45 minute wait before boarding and as before found comfortable seats. The Wifi was very poor this time but the ship was much busier. We were however treated to a fantastic sunset as we made the 90 minute crossing back.

This was a good day and we are glad we made the effort to catch the Ferry to go across. Not sure it has changed my overall view of Vancouver yet though, but tomorrow is yet another day.

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