Posted by: TomA | 19 February 2007

Victoria, Vancouver Island

Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is located on a tiny island (the size of the UK) west of Vancouver. We’d been warned there wasn’t that much there apart from tea shops and microbreweries… but the lure of those two proved too much.

We got an early bus to Tsawassen, not far from the US border, to get the ferry early Saturday morning. The ferry proved to be particularly exciting, being reminiscent of childhood holidays to France. The scenery from the ferry is much nicer here than in the Channel, as it cuts a path through some of the numerous Gulf Islands between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

There were some lovely houses, set against the sea, all on their own islands with no way of reaching anyone else but by private boat. I can imagine living out there could be idyllic if you were of the reclusive type…

We left our Lighthouse spotter anorak’s guide at home, but saw one or two from the ferry.

Victoria itself is a strange, strange place. It wanted to be very English, but appeared to be English from an American’s perspective. High tea is apparently a daily routine here, not just the naff touristy gimmick it is in London. That said, it’s probably the huge influx of American tourists consuming all those delicately cut sandwiches and tiny scones. For high tea, you’re supposed to go to The Empress (below), but we didn’t. It was creepy enough from the outside, god knows what it was like inside (interior design circa 1910 and bumbags squashed underneath large bellies I’m guessing….).

The Parliament buildings are the other architectural gem in Victoria – impressive if you’re used to seeing modern apartment buildings and office blocks every day, but rather ordinary by European standards.

By night it becomes rather gruesome, illuminated in garish lights. If this is tasteful Victoria, I can’t wait for the vile neon to be found in Vegas.

There’ll be more photos and joy from Victoria soon as I get a chance to upload pictures etc… but for now I’m off to see The Shins…

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