Before getting to Victoria:
We landed in Seattle at 1:37 AM. Took a cab to our airport hotel with a very disgruntled driver (welcome to Seattle!) and laid down for a nap. At 5:00 AM we got up, ready, and packed as quickly as possible. We checked out of our hotel and shuttled to the light rail station. We got on, watched a very high gentleman roam about the train shouting and shooting invisible arrows at passing signs, then got off at the last stop. We weren't quite sure how to get to the pier, so we called a cab, rushed down there (this driver was VERY nice!) and managed to check in in plenty of time to board our ferry. We took some seats with a table, ordered breakfast and trekked out to sea.
This was not our first time on a ferry, but it was definitely the longest ferry ride we have taken; about 3 hours.We had taken the ferry from Quebec City to Levis, and from St. Ignace, MI to Macinac Island, both of which were considerably shorter.
The ship was clean and not too rocky. The breakfast was a bit of an odd assortment of things, a cheese wheel and crackers with yogurt and granola... but it was the first semi real food we had had in quite a while.
We enjoyed the views from the ship, so beautiful!
Not long after we both fell asleep. Which was much more comfortable on a table top than back in an seat on the plane. Toward the end of the trip I started to feel pretty nauseous... but I think that was more from the hunger and lack of sleep.
Victoria Day 1:
We got off the boat and walked to our hotel, which we packaged with our ferry tickets. Packaging our reservations actually lowered the price to take the ferry! The Royal Scot Hotel & Suites was very near the cruise terminal, which was very convenient. Upon checking in the staff was extremely friendly and welcoming. The held our bags for us and offered to let us use any part of their services before our room was ready. Perhaps my favorite part of the hotel was the kilted polar bear statue in front of the building. His name was apparently Stewart, and it was really fun and festive!
We took off in search of food, caffeine, and to explore of course.
Not far from our hotel was the parliament building. It is so gorgeous and evidences the British influence in this part of Canada.
Several statues are on the grounds (including one of Queen Victoria), a fountain, and a totem pole stolen from Alaska.
Seeing the European influence mix with First Nations culture is so interesting, and so very Canadian.
Not too far from the parliament building is another totem pole by the harbor. It is much smaller but still very beautiful planted into a bed of flowers.
Across the street is the Fairmont Empress Hotel, an iconic chateau style hotel that opened in 1908. It is beautiful, and autumn makes it the perfect time to see it; the stunning ivy turns plum and crimson.
Many people take high tea at the Empress during their time in Victoria, we however, didn't have time. Though, if we go again it is on my list!
The gardens were also immaculate at the Empress. On the corner of the block were two Orca whales shaped out of shrubs. Very impressive.
We then began to explore the city. We walked around getting the lay of the land, stopped in some shops and had some really, really bad coffee.
Then we sat down for lunch at a place called Meat & Bread where we had some very imaginative sandwiches. The place was very minimalist, white tile, sturdy wood furniture, simplified menu, and communal seating. Both of our sandwiches were extremely good. I had an eggplant, Italian style sandwich, while Kyle had a jerk chicken. They were very messy, but really flavorful, and unexpected. We really enjoyed this restaurant.
Next door was a board game cafe, which was really fun for people who enjoy board games so much! You can purchase games, check them out to play at large tables, and order milkshakes. I wish we had one of these at home!
We took in more shops, and parts of the city. There are so many beautiful green spaces in Victoria!
We walked back toward the parliament building and walked down along the inner harbor.
It was a beautiful sunny day, the views were spectacular!
After that we checked into our hotel and took a nap. I hated to do it, but it was so necessary!
Then we took the hotel shuttle down to LoJo (Lower Johnson Street) for some more shopping. I found some great postcards at The Regional Assembly of Text, and a few great thrifted finds at the Salvation Army. I was amazed by how stocked their store was! There must be many more people there willing to buy used items.
We continued to explore different streets and areas of the city. So many beautiful squares, shopping areas, gardens, and sculptures.
Next we took in the second oldest Chinatown in North America (second to San Francisco). I love Chinatowns, and I hadn't been to one since I was in Chicago maybe 10 years ago!
The part of Chinatown that we visited was just a few blocks, and was marked at its entrance with a beautiful gate called The Gate of Harmonious Interest.
Those blocks were filled with shops selling goods, and foods.
All along the streets were beautiful neon signs, hanging lanterns, and ornamental red trashcans, signs, and lamp posts.
After that we witnessed a very peaceful protest on the negotiation of Canada's involvement against ISIS. The group was marching in a circle with signs chanting, 'Yes to peace! No to war!' over and over.
We sat down at a pub called Garrick's Head for dinner. We decided to leisurely after a long day of travel and walking, it felt so nice to sit! We started off with an appetizer of poutine, which in all of our Canadian travels we've never tried!! It was absolutely as crazy delicious as it sounds!
For those who don't know about poutine: it is a bed of french fries topped with curds of cheese (not to be confused with the deep fried Wisconsin favorite, cheese curds), and then smothered in beef gravy. Just crazyness, but so tasty!
We ate the rest of our food, which was less impressive, but still tasty before heading back to our hotel.
Along the way we passed the Empress, the harbor, and the parliament building again.
The parliament building is just spectacular at night! It is lit up with white lights year round, which is such a treat!
Then we got back to rest up for another (almost) full day of exploring before we ferried back to the US.
Stay tuned for Day 2!
Have you been to Victoria?
What did you think?
All for now,