The Rambling Writer on a Valentine’s Weekend Getaway to Victoria, B.C.

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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:

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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.)

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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.

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Here’s Mr. Frog on the bottom, looking a bit grumpy, though the weather should have suited:

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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):

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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!

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Geologist/Paleontologist Thor took a detour to point out the glacial striations near the harbor:

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And the cast of dinosaur tracks:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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The Rambling Writer on a Valentine’s Weekend Getaway to Victoria, B.C. — 9 Comments

      • I was there as a panelist at Bloody Words in 2011, and my roommate and I had a splendid tea at the Empress at the direction of my mother, who’d been there some years before. It took us two hours to work our way through the sandwiches to the sweets, with seconds on the scones and clotted cream. AND we had no room for dinner.

  1. Oh . . . scones and clotted cream, how I love thee!

    That top photo is especially spectacular, but all are quite lovely. I once visited Vancouver in the eighties, during summer. Those long twilights were quite magical.

    • Yes, in summer here we are riding our bikes through the neighborhood in twilight at 10 pm. Then rainy winter brings sunset at around 4:00, and we start moping and pulling out the SAD light. And planning our next getaway to Mexico for sunshine and snorkeling!

  2. I haven’t been to Victoria since the 80’s either. They have a splendid Highland Games. On our last trip there we took the ferry from Port Orford, a bigger ferry designed for ocean travel crossing that wild straight. Love the museum. It’s laid out as a museum ought to be with lots of good information on signs designed to be read. This was at a time when some museum went all artsy and put gray letters on orange backgrounds in dim light. Victoria knows how to educate with grace.

  3. I’m of the firm opinion that it’s not a trip to Victoria without stopping at the Dutch Bakery and/or Russell Books, both on Fort Street.