Saturday, May 30, 2015

Weekend in Victoria, BC

Ah, Victoria...the capital city of British Columbia, a culture filled with a bright mix of eccentric, friendly people, a foodie's dreams, and a city that quickly escalated to one of my favorite places to visit. Craig and I took the Victoria Clipper from Seattle to Victoria on the long Memorial Day weekend. Taking only our bikes and what would fit in our panniers, we planned for a relaxing three days of checking out the capital and the surrounding area on our faithful, two-wheeled steeds.

The Clipper, although a little pricey at ~$150 round trip each, was a very easy way to get to Vancouver Island. Not only did we not have to drive the +4.5 hours, but we also would have to deal with border patrol and parking. Although we were in the last group to board, we got seats in the second row from the front with a great view out the bow windows. The seats were roomy and comfortable and we were able to walk around the ship at our leisure. It was also large enough that we didn't feel much motion from the water so I didn't get my usual sea sickness!

looking out, heading north

The view on the ferry.

I tried waking Craig to tell him we were crossing the Straight of Juan de Fuca, but he didn't much care. haha

As we arrived in Victoria Harbor, I think I used the word 'adorable' to describe the scene about 10 times before we disembarked the ship. The harbor was surrounded by Victorian buildings and waterfront businesses with lots of vegetation built into the urban landscape. Small sail boats and tour vessels zipped around the bay. You could tell it was a city, but it had a very small, British feel to it. Have I mentioned how adorable it was?   

Once off the boat, we spent the day pretty much eating our way through the delicious city and checking out the amiable downtown atmosphere.

View of downtown from Victoria Harbor

View of downtown Victoria with an artisan market

Having tea at one of our favorite places to eat, Rebar.

Biking through downtown Victoria

Lounging outside the British Columbia Parliament Buildings

Dichotomy of cultures in the PNW

A one bunny-marimba-band playing cover songs. He goes by Thump 'R Bunny! Street performers are the greatest!

Craig gets a Manhattan in a Mason jar....with a lime.

We stayed in a room we found on AirBnB. It was a great find and the homeowners whipped us up a delicious breakfast each morning with eggs from their backyard chickens. They also provided homemade soaps and kombucha! 

Creative landscaping

The next morning, we rode our bikes ~60 miles north of Victoria to the town of Sidney along the Lochside trail and looped back along the west side of the peninsula. It was a mostly flat, but peaceful ride transitioning from urban to forested wetlands, to agricultural farmlands, and finally to seaside towns. The drivers in the area seemed very accepting of bicyclists and I found it to be one of the easiest, stress-free places to get around via bike.

Enjoying breakfast from the girls (peeking out in the background) before our bikeride

A wetland along the bike trail.


Craig walking along the water during a break in our bike ride.

We saw lots of totem poles around Victoria.

A pet sheep a the road side farm house where we had lunch.

Looking out at one of the many bays we passed. We got a few rain drops after this photo was taken.

Biking in Sidney, BC.

Sea planes were a common site. This one just came in for a landing.

Biking through a painted tunnel. I love it when communities add a local flair to an otherwise boring, concrete tunnel.

Making our way back to Victora.

More tunnel paintings.

Good words to live by.

Our last day was brief, but spent mostly in the tiny Chinatown area of Victoria sampling teas and eating. We didn't have time for much else as we had to board the boat after lunch to return to Seattle.

A tiny China town where we had lunch before leaving for the U.S.

Boarding the Clipper to head back to Washington

On the deck of the Clipper with Canada behind us.

Our time in Victoria, though brief, was very relaxing. I'm not usually much of a city explorer when I go on trips, but this friendly, low-key, tea-loving, free-spirited place was an exception. I found an immediate and subconscious sense of happiness here and think it is definitely a place I could see myself living someday. I can't wait to return to the area and explore some of the other gorgeous places on Vancouver Island and throughout British Columbia.