Victoria, British Columbia, what a beautiful city. I'm uncertain I have the words to describe how I feel about this awesomely peaceful yet vibrant city. I guess I'll start with why I went there in the first place. Victoria is the capital of the province of British Columbia, Canada and Located on Vancouver Island, which is just a short but very scenic ferry's ride from Vancouver, where I grew up.
So long story short, I met my wife during our stint at university in the USA, living in the foreign students dorm. I took her home (to Vancouver), we got married and had our honeymoon in Victoria. Now 20++ years later we're back, with kids! It was awesome that my brothers could come along to reminisce about our childhood trips to Victoria, unfortunately not all the attractions were around this time and our trip was limited to a weekend. I put up a couple of posts about the places we did get to visit if you're interested, Craigdarroch Castle
and Butchart Gardens
. So why Victoria? My wife loves Victorian (the era) culture and history so naturally Victoria, BC was the place to take her as the Victorian ambiance is still very much preserved. They still have horse and buggy rides downtown in front of the Parliament buildings which the kids really, really wanted to ride until they got closer and noticed the smell, hahaha.
So after a pleasant highway drive we get to the city, traffic is light and sparse and parking was readily available. We took our usual tourist walk to see the harbour, the parliament buildings of British Columbia, the famous Empress Hotel, wax museum and Undersea Gardens and some shops in the area. So much has changed, it shouldn't have come as a surprise, after all it's been 20+ years since we've been back but it was surprising nonetheless two instances stood out most. Now when it comes to making up stuff to tell the kids, I'm pretty good. So as I was telling my kids about the Provinces of Canada and the provincial shields from what I could remember from high school, my youngest says, "Dad, you said 10 provinces and 2 territories that's 12 shields plus the big one for Canada, then what's this one for?" She was pointing to a 14th shield, one I've never seen before or even heard of and I guess my loss of words and the "lost" look on my face gave me away because my eldest daughter says, "now we know how much attention daddy paid in class". So I had to Google and the thirteenth shield is for the territory of Nanavut created by Canada in 1999, phew, way after my high school days. We all had a big laugh at that. The other big shocker was when I went to pay for some souvenirs and the total was like twenty dollars and 41 cents. So I paid in exact change and the teenage looking cashier picks up the penny and asks me, "what's this?" I looked at him, he looked at me and I said "a penny", he looked at me weirdly as I was probably looking at him weirdly so I took the penny to make sure it wasn't some Asian coin that I didn't filter out of my travel wallet properly, but no, it was a Canadian penny, so I gave it back and said "ya, one cent Canadian." He says, "OH! Where did you get it from?" I said, "my pocket." Again we exchanged 'looks'. He asks again, in an accusatory voice "where'd you get it from?" I told him again, "my pocket but I can't tell you exactly which shop I got it from!" I'm getting mad now and he pushes the penny back to me and says, "we don't use those anymore, haven't for a long time, we just round up or down to the closest nickel." "Well, that's news to me," I said and pocketed the penny. My kids looked at me and I looked at them and shrugged. When I asked my brothers about it outside, they all burst out laughing and confirmed that pennies aren't used anymore.
The Empress Hotel I remember was totally covered in ivy, as you can see (in the image above), it's not anymore. I think it had more character when it was covered with ivy. Gone is the Wax Museum and Undersea Garden but we did manage to find some whale watching tour boats both large and small, some brick churches, totem poles and some First Nation landmarks (I love First Nation Arts and Culture). All this just walking around downtown Victoria with a limited amount of time. I think I would love to retire and live in Victoria, if I could ever afford to retire, lol. It's not crowded, people are friendly, it's spacious, not polluted, I can go on but I hope you get the picture. The only thing that wasn't so great are the prices, they seemed on the high side but maybe that's because we were in the tourist areas.
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