Visiting Vibrant Victoria

Victoria is the capital city of the Canadian Province of British Columbia.  Located on Vancouver Island, you can get here by ferry or airplane.  For fun, take the float plane over from the city of Vancouver, itself a great trip destination and the topic of one of our previous blog posts.  Here we watched one of the float planes which has just landed, with the Fairmount Empress hotel in the background on the left.

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The inner harbor teems with activity during the day, but is quite peaceful early in the morning.  We stopped here to take in the view, complete with flowers and sunshine.  The impressive parliament building with its green copper roof occupies a place of prominence on the opposite side of the harbor.

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Victoria is a great city for food.  Dining options are everywhere, from lively sidewalk cafes…

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to elegant restaurants.  We really enjoyed our meal, including this watermelon salad, at AURA restaurant.  And the view of the harbor from the outdoor terrace was a nice bonus. Coming from our home in the southeastern USA, it was a refreshing novelty for us to appreciate a blanket for warmth on a summer evening in the middle of July!

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Farther along the waterfront is Fisherman’s Wharf.  This is an actual working commercial fishing marina, with some colorful floating houses and shops at one end making it a great destination for a stroll.

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Victoria has the second oldest Chinatown in North America.  Do you know which is the oldest?  Find the answer at the end of this post.

We took a great History and Architecture walking tour with Dave Mason of Come See Victoria, which we would highly recommend.  The tour route passed by the historic Chinese school, originally built by the Chinese immigrants to teach their children English to prepare them to attend the local public schools.  Now, in a reversal of sorts and an example of the ebb and flow of history, it offers after-school classes to teach traditional Mandarin to students in the current generation of Chinese-Canadian children, for whom English is of course their first language.

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Just outside of town is the famous Butchart Gardens, a horticultural dream.

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There are acres of beautiful landscaped gardens to enjoy, with manicured lawns and flowers so abundant it is quite breathtaking.  The gardens receive close to a million visitors a year.  If you know us, you could correctly predict that we got there early to miss the crowds!

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After visiting the gardens, we returned to town and took one last walk along the coast.  It was a glorious day; the sun was shining and the wildflowers were blooming as we strolled along in the cool ocean breeze.  Looking across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, we could just make out the coast of the Olympic peninsula in the United States (in the distance in the right upper corner of the photo).

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And what do you know?  The Olympic peninsula just happens to be our next destination.  We said a fond goodbye to Canada as we boarded our ferry back to the USA.   It was a great visit with our friendly northern neighbors.   Now, we are looking forward to exploring Olympic National Park.   We’ll be back next week with another adventure to share.

And the answer to the quiz question?  The oldest Chinatown in North America is in……..San Francisco.  Congratulations if you got the answer correct!

 


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