So today we leave Vancouver, but I’d forgotten we have one more night back here before we depart on the Rocky Mountaineer in early August. Now that’s something to look forward to!
Meantime, we await our pickup to take us onto the ferry across to Victoria, on Vancouver Island, in glorious sunshine.
I’d just got a leetle bit twitchy and phoned the office, when the bus turned up, 20 minutes late. The driver had to park illegally, and he was obviously very stressed, with a heated altercation with some jobsworth just adding to it. He won.
After having checked that we were headed for Victoria Bus Depot, he unceremoniously bunged our cases in the hold and we got on the bus.
I hadn’t realised that the terminal we were leaving from was 20+ miles south of Vancouver! I thought it was just downtown. The driver made four other stops after collecting us, then we were bowling down the highway.
He was a Brit, with a much more sardonic sense of humour than the average American is used to. He kept us informed about the areas we were passing through, and we got to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in plenty of time. He knew exactly what he was doing, which was very reassuring. He drove all 50 passengers on the bus into position with considerable aplomb, and we will be in pole position leaving the ferry in Schwartz Bay on Vancouver Island. It’s then a 35 minute drive to Victoria, where we will stay in a hotel for a couple of nights before picking up a car to drive round the very large island.
The ferry is huge – its maximum capacity is 2,100 people. It was a lovely sunny day, so there were many people taking advantage.
Some nice scenery on the way:
Disembarked with no trouble, and half an hour later we were driving through the outskirts of Victoria. Rather ugly and industrial, to be honest. However, he dropped us off right outside of our hotel. Or at least that’s what we thought…..
The hotel is the Fairmont Empress. It is huge. It’s also attached to the back of the Victoria Conference Centre, which is also massive. Trying to find Reception proved extremely baffling and frustrating on a very warm day. Eventually, we found our way there, but it took us at least half an hour. We went in the wrong way – there must be an easier way, but we ain’t found it yet…..
Went exploring, and found our way out of the hotel by a less circuitous and more agreeable route onto Victoria Bay. Much more congenial here.
Stopped for tea and cake at a local café, then went a-wandering. Booked a table for dinner at a local restaurant – the hotel prices are hideous – then visited briefly an official looking building, which turned out to be the HQ of the local legislature. Victoria is the capital of British Columbia.
Rather against my will, we went inside (it was free). Some interesting stuff with a very British colonial flavour.
After locating the place from which we hire a car for our jaunt round the island the day after tomorrow and confirming the booking, we somehow found ourselves on the roof of the Sticky Wicket pub, which may well repay further future investigation. Nice beer, too – most welcome in the heat.
Had a very brief look round the hotel to find the pool and gym (just looking), then back to our very nice air-conditioned room – Trailfinders got us an upgrade – to prepare for dinner. Well, Jean did…..
Perfectly decent meal at Milestones, a grill bar five minutes away from the hotel. The wine was a belter – an absolutely cracking Negroamara, one of my favourites. The price was, by Canadian standards, reasonable. And they do a brunch. Might favour them with our custom again….
It was an early start (for us, anyway) and it’s been a long day. Early night, then.
No idea yet what tomorrow will bring, but hope you will join us to find out.