Victoria is BC’s capital, and is located on Vancouver Island, which, confusingly, has nowt to do with Vancouver. I got there like a true poor backpacker- skytrain, bus to Tsawwassen port, ferry to Vancouver Island, bus from Swartz Bay and on to Victoria and rock up in a hostel.
The plan was to arrive in Victoria for 1pm. I turned up at 3, as the buses have stupid timetables. The ferry was great. I was starboard on deck, eating a beautiful cinnamon bun from Marketplace IGA, in the glorious weather as we approached Vancouver Island. Very pleasant location with inconspicuous wooden houses nestled in trees as they lead steeply to rocky beaches. Plenty of leisure boats. What a life people must have here… shame about the dickhead on that jet ski boat thing fucking about racing the ferry.
The bus to Victoria was packed. I arrived at the hostel – laid back, very colourful. I had a private room, the room just slightly bigger than the bed, and no window. Vented apparently…
I headed straight out to the waterfront to check out the beautiful architecture there. The Parliament buildings in their baroque style, green coppered roofs, and the Empress Hotel designed by the same young Francis Rattenbury fella, who lied about his portfolio which landed him the job of building some of the most impressive buildings in Canada.
The gardens of Parliament are immaculate, with Queen Victoria watching over those who pass by. I went on the tour there, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Amusing seeing a portrait of old Liz and Philip, wielding their power over this province from thousands of miles away. Fascinating building.
I carried on to the BC Museum. To be honest it wasn’t anything special – I saw copies of the very bones of dinosaurs that I saw for real in New York just a few weeks ago. The Royal Family photograph exhibition they had there was interesting though. Still, a museum is a museum so I just had to go!
At night, the parliament is illuminated using rows of bulbs which line the outside and main features of this building. Looks ace!
My room… christ! It was like a sauna. The vent was shit, the fan was a bit bigger than a side plate. I slept bollock naked, no sheets, hugging an ice cold bottle of water, getting about two hours sleep max. However the room was clean and tidy, but the heat… maaaan.
As I woke up early, I had a Tim Horton’s breakfast, and headed down to the Architectural Institute of BC (AIBC) meeting point for a tour around James Bay, a really old neighbourhood. No tour guide turned up, so ended up chatting to a few old ladies, one of which visited Birmingham many years ago.
Victoria is beautiful, full of architecture that would be deemed ‘old’ for North America. Tidy, unspoilt. I took a quick look ‘round James Bay myself, full of well looked after wooden Victorian homes. Quaint.
The weather over the two days here was impeccable. As I walked to the bus stop to leave this pretty city, I watched the dragon boat races happening in the harbour, watched by thousands of people on what seems a well celebrated summer sunday in Victoria.