Victoria With Victoria

At the risk of this turning into a travel blog, I’m going to take you on a second adventure in a row. This time, to north of the border and the picturesque city of Victoria, B.C..

Yes, it was a tad redundant going there with my wife, Victoria, but the trip delivered on the promise of being one of the best day-trip adventures available to those of us here in the northwest.

We went last Thursday after a busy week of playing tourists in town with some out-of-town guests.  Probably not the best planning, but outside of the time commitment, it’s a pretty easy undertaking.

GETTING THERE

OK, you could drive, heading towards Vancouver and veering off to the left to catch the Tsawwwassen ferry, which drops your car off on Vancouver Island. (yes, Victoria is on Vancouver Island, but Vancouver is on the mainland. Those wacky Canadians!)  That will take you 3 hours to get to the ferry terminal (if the border is kind), then there’s the boat ride and 40-minutes to Victoria.

OR you head downtown, catch the Victoria Clipper and less than 3 hours later, you’re getting off in the harbor, across from the Empress Hotel. We chose plan B.

WHAT TO DO

That’s pretty wide open. Shopping is a good idea, since the exchange rate has returned to the 1970s and you basically save 31% on everything you buy. In town, there’s high tea at the Empress (which is now missing its ivy covering after a $30-million makeover). Butchart Gardens is one of their most famous attractions and while they keept it attractive during the fall and winter, spring and summer is when you want to catch it.

CVS Tours offers a nice package that we took advantage of that included the bus ride to and from Butchart, along with a stop at the Butterfly Gardens.

That’s a perfect place for an added stop because right next door to the butterflies is a winery we absolutely love called Church & State. They’ve got the grounds, the growing grapes and a place to grab lunch. Oh, and of course, wine tasting.  We even tasted a Merlot that had received 98 points. It was $40 a bottle, but the exchange rate lowered it to under $28. You’re supposed to only bring back one bottle per person, we pushed it to two and all arrived home. All are under heavy guard.

TIPS

  • Pay everything with plastic (the Clipper doesn’t even accept cash on board) and let the credit companies do the exchange rate.
  • There is no Uber or Lyft in Victoria, so you’d be cabbing, bussing or renting a car.
  • Bring that baggie of Canadian change along that you’ve been saving. There are lots of street musicians performing and that’ll make you look generous.
  • Buy your Clipper tickets early and check in early. Seating is first-come, first-served and you’ll want those middle lower seats, in case it gets rough.
  • Double-check your passport. Did it expire when you weren’t thinking about it?
  • There can be Groupon deals, if you check before you go. More likely in the off-season.
  • As a Clipper passenger, you can park at the Bell Street garage all day for $10. Score!

I’ll bet it’s been five years since my last time in Victoria. Back when the Clipper first started making runs up north, I would host KLSY Listener trips to Victoria and I developed a fondness for that place. What a wonderfully clean, quaint city. And with this year’s stellar summer weather, it just doesn’t get much better.  I’m going to have to make a point of not forgetting about this excellent one-day escape.

When was your last time in Victoria, B.C.?

Tim Hunter

 

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