The Provincial capital for the BC - and what a beautiful city on Vancouver Island. Eagles, great blue herons, ravens, orcas, buskers, tourists by the busload, and all the tour activities you might have time for.
Our stay on Vancouver Island was our next car camping stop, five days on the south east coast just ten miles or so from Victoria, fifteen minutes across farm roads to Buchart Gardens, and never too, too far from wine tasting. And as we soon realized, our five days would barely be long enough to see parts of the island's southeastern tip, foresaking the majority of the island for a future venture. Vancouver Island being the largest Pacific island east of New Zealand.
Buchart Gardens were a color extravaganza, in bloom to the max, with crowds of tourists freshly off the hourly ferrys from Vancouver. An easy day tour for those short on time. Throw in a few hours in downtown Victoria, also abloom, a quick pub meal, and its a full day return to Vancouver well before midnight.
Victoria is a treat for anyone having previously been to the UK. Downtown consists of many well restored and maintained hotels and buildings of late 19th century British colonial vintage. Most of those buildings today catering more to the touring crowd's needs for good pub foods, local brews, and lots of trinket shopping. A harbour centerpiece is the Empress Hotel, a major European grand hotel, sitting just diagonally across the marina from the British Columbia Parliament. And not to miss statues of Queen Victoria at appropriate intervals across the city. A yummy Indian buffet was feasted upon at the Empress for Sunday's dinner. Yumm.
As per every tourist destination, getting your 'activities' scheduled is most important. So, between sitting in on performances throughout the weekend's busker festival, off to find Orca we needed to go. But which of the hundreds of whale watching tour boats? Everyone boasting 'we're #1 on Trip Advisor, 'we're #1 on Yelp' , 'we track the most whales across the fleet', or 'we're the smoothest ride at sea'. Well the choice was easy, prior reviews on the BC Wale Watch tour group's site told us that Captain Rick was a 'whale whisperer'. Decision set, we booked, and Orcas we found. Wow!
A quick five days and ferry time once again, this time heading further south again, Victoria to Port Angeles, Washington. Yeah! Back to the USA we go!