Part 1: A Walking Tour
After our British Columbia research trip last fall, Thor and I didn’t expect to be back in Victoria so soon, but moping around in the soggy super-rainy Northwest Washington winter, we splurged on a romantic weekend on Vancouver Island. It’s a short ferry ride across our Salish Sea “pond,” but it feels like a trip to all things British. Including more deluges of rain. The wind-driven wet stuff prevented a shot of the ferry, so here’s how it looked in September sunshine:
We settled into our luxurious suite at the Inn at Laurel Point, feeling very posh as we wheeled in our luggage and the door man insisted on providing valet service–quite a change from our usual getaway knapsacks and hiking or snowshoeing gear. The bathroom, faced in shiny stone, featured a huge soaking tub with spa salts (very welcome later after a lot of wet walking). We even had our own deck overlooking the harbor and the Empress Hotel, which we ventured onto exactly once during a brief break in the rain. (Are we seeing a theme here? Rain=Snuggling, so not all bad.)
Armed with hotel umbrellas, we set out on an afternoon ramble along the harbor and Olde Towne (as listed on the tourist map). First up, the Parliament Buildings and one of many totem poles.
Here’s Mr. Frog on the bottom, looking a bit grumpy, though the weather should have suited:
One of the many horse-drawn carriages clip-clopping along (this photo from last September; this winter they were looking a bit bedraggled in the downpours):
We admired the totems outside the Royal B.C. Museum, but since we’d spent a day touring the amazing exhibits in September, we opted for other sights this time. If you go, don’t miss this wonderful collection!
Geologist/Paleontologist Thor took a detour to point out the glacial striations near the harbor:
And the cast of dinosaur tracks:
Then–Ta-Dah!–it was finally time for High Tea. Those who have followed my blogs know that I have become obsessed with the elusive British tea with scones and clotted cream. My taste buds found heaven at the James Street Tea House.
We then braved renewed wind and rain to walk along the harbor, where shops and galleries provided bolt holes to admire imported linens, British Columbia jade, and beautiful art by First Nations natives. Thor fell in love with this cedar mask carved by Alfred Robertson of the Tsawataineuk Tribe–Wild Woman of the Forest and Sea. Stories about her are a common theme among Northwest Coastal people, and we recalled the story about her incarnation as Sniniq’ as told to us by Chris Nelson of the Bella Coola tribe on our September trip. Apparently stories of her are meant to scare children into behaving, but we found this version beautiful and mysterious, and her horse-tail hair looks exactly like that of my beloved horse from my girlhood, a feisty Arab bay named Star. Wild Woman now has found a new home with us back in Bellingham, along with an embossed print of Haida Frogs by artist Bill Reid.
We followed the “alley tour” through Olde Towne, along narrow cobblestone passages with pubs and historic trading zones, finally arriving at the gates to Chinatown, where we fueled up again on delicious Korean Barbecue.
Footsore and soaked, we made our way back past the lighted Parliament Building (top photo) to enjoy our luxurious spa tub and snuggle into our fleecy robes.
Next time, in two weeks: Our second day walking tour, encounters with the past and present-day “1 percenters and the 99%”
What are your favorite sights and places in Victoria?