Although I usually focus on all things Korean from time to time I take a vacation both figuratively and literally. My last trip was to Alaska and this time I chose Canada. My daughter can only take limited time off so it was a short trip, basically three and a part day in town.
People travel from all over the world to Victoria, especially during the summer, so there were a lot of tourists in town. As well as the pleasant summer weather most people come for the flowers, food, and fun. We saw, and did, and ate, and drank as much as possible for such a short trip.
We flew into Seattle and then had a short flight to Victoria. The skies in Seattle were smokey from the forest fires and there were even some flight delays.
Fortunately the skies were a little clearer over Vancouver Island. We caught a bus to downtown Victoria (1 bus change ) which takes over an hour as the bus winds though the countryside. We got to our AirBnB right at check in time and within the hour we were out exploring. We chose a waterfront apartment near Chinatown so we were a little bit away from the main tourist area.
Since it was so close we headed into Chinatown to explore. It is the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the 2nd oldest in N America. It wasn’t very large but it had a few old alleys to explore and of course a gateway at the entrance, plus a variety of restaurants and shops.
Fan Tan Alley is the narrowest commercial street in North America.
After grabbing a bubble tea we headed out on a trek to find a street market but got sidetracked into a quest to buy art. We stopped in a small gallery which had quite a selection of works by local artists. Most were well out of Elizabeth’s price range but one or two of the smaller pieces caught her eye. The lady in charge suggested we try the main gallery which was housed in an old Victorian mansion. So we walked a few more blocks and found the gallery in a quiet neighborhood. Lots of great art for sale, but we left empty handed.
The gallery had a lovely Shinto Shrine in the secluded garden.
Although there were restaurants aplenty we walked back to the Chimac Korean Pub. about a block from where we were staying.
I can’t pass up Chicken and Beer if it is to be found and this was a fantastic find. It was like being back in Korea for a short while. Highly recommend it. Then it was back to our room and a much needed sleep.
Friday dawned with clear skies and after breakfast at Jam Cafe, a highly popular breakfast place we headed along Wharf street to the Inner Harbor.
After a stroll around the Inner Harbor area, we walked past the Parliament buildings, the Empress Hotel and onward to find the Bug Museum.
Although quite small it was packed with bugs, some of which we were allowed to handle. The docents were very informative and knowledgeable. Even without having kids with us it was a fun experience.
A quick stop at an art gallery focusing on the artwork of the First Nations was enjoyable, but then we had to head back to the Inner Harbor for our Whale Watching trip. Elizabeth is not a fan of boats so a quick drink at a harbor side cafe strengthened us for the voyage ahead.
We got great seats on the upper deck. Be warned that even though the temperature on land was pleasant once you head out into open water it can get really quite chilly. We had brought jackets but had to borrow hats. It takes a while to find the whales and there are rules on how close you can get to them. (They can come as close as they want to the boat.)
We were fortunate to see a group of four humpback whales but as they were passing through the area they were swimming and diving so we never really caught up to them. I had brought my binoculars so I got a decent view, but Elizabeth’s phone camera doesn’t do justice to what we saw.
After our time was up, each boat is only allowed to stay near the whales for a limited amount of time, we set off to see what else we could find. We saw sea lions, seals, and a single sea otter named Ollie.
Later we stopped by a restaurant called OLO on the off chance we could get a table. ( reservations are really a necessity. ) However, luck was on our side and we got a table.
If I had to make a list of the best meals I’ve ever had this one would be near the top. The food was excellent and the presentation incredible.
The next morning we went to another highly recommended breakfast place called Mo:Le.
We then caught the bus towards Butchart Gardens, stopping at the Butterfly Garden on the way.
There were so many butterflies it was amazing. We even had a few land on us as the walked around.
Back at the bus stop we had maybe a 2 minute wait before our bus arrived. We were tempted by the vineyard next door which was just opening but the bus arrived before we could make up our minds. Next time.
Butchart Gardens are probably the most visited place on the whole of Vancouver Island, and it is easy to see why. The flower gardens are incredible. And no photos can really do them justice.
The skies had a slight smokey haze that increased as the day wore on, but the colors were still outstanding. Even the greens were amazing.
It was as if some of the garden were straight out of a fairy tale.
After a long day looking around the gardens we went to the main restaurant for dinner. (Reservations strongly recommended.) We were given the most perfect table.
Our meal was fantastic too.
For our last full day in Victoria we had a good breakfast at the Sour Pickle Cafe and walked down Wharf Street to the Inner Harbor and then on to the BC Museum.
Having got there a little while before they opened we checked out the native plants area, and then the park at the side of the museum with a lot of totem poles for people to look at.
Once inside the museum we found the First Peoples gallery to be fascinating, there was so much to see and learn.
I understand that there are still issues to be sorted out over some of the artifacts, but as a visitor I was overwhelmed by the quality and quantity of the pieces on display.
The Museum’s other galleries were cool and I enjoyed some of their discovery areas, particularly the ‘Jules Verne’ one.
After the museum, which we explored top to bottom including the traveling Egyptian exhibit, we returned to Market Square to find a shop that had been closed when we walked by on Thursday evening.
We then returned to our room before setting out again on one of the little ferry boat/taxis that ply the harbor area. We got off at the Fisherman’s Wharf area and checked out the house boats before talked the harbor side path back to the Inner Harbor.
On our last night we went on one of Victoria’s Ghost tours which was interesting. We ended the tour just after dark by walking through a park that had once been a graveyard containing over 1500 bodies. And when they turned it into a park they just left all the bodies there…….under us…..right where we were walking.
We had a fantastic trip to Victoria and were very glad we still went even with the smokey air. The day we left a fire had broken out on the island itself and our flights home were both delayed. So we also had a bit of an adventure.
Have a great day everyone.
Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to Elizabeth and Debora Marzec.