Friday, March 22, 2019

A small taste of Spring in Victoria, British Columbia - a walk around Sidney

Even before I arrived in Victoria I knew that I wanted to revisit Sidney. Sidney is one of thirteen municipalities within Great Victoria and has a population of close to 12,000.  I had been there briefly in 2007 on a walk from the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay with some other crazies and I had been nstantly charmed.  On my third day in Victoria, I caught the double decker Swartz Bay bus at its very first stop which was a five minute walk from the James Bay Inn.  Of course, I had to sit on top at the very front!

After eating just a banana in my room for breakfast I was hungry so upon arrival I headed to the nearest coffee shop and had a ham and cheese croissant and coffee.  Feelng revived I headed over to the Travelodge which was one block away to sign in for the 5 km walk and get the instructions.  

The first part of the walk followed a path along the Patricia highway and then cut through a residential area before heading over to the ocean.  From there on it was pure delight.  




Well here you are again Mount Baker - showing off again I see. 



I walked along this path for quite a while breathing in the gorgeous sea air like a hound heading for the hunt...I love the salty sea air.  




Just in case I wasn't sure where I was.  Okay to be fair this was near the ferry terminal for ferries from the United States. 



This sculpture was called The Keeper



I'm sure this sea gull is quite smug that he lives in such a beautiful place



I'm getting closer now to the centre of town...this is the pier that many locals fish and crab from. 


Another sculpture..I resisted snuggling up to him like I did below back in 2007...












Cormorants just hanging out 


Then it was time for lunch!  I knew I wanted seafood of some kind so opted to go to the Pier Bistro for lunch and I was not disappointed.  




I ordered seafood chowder (their menu said "voted the best in Sidney" and iI must say it was really good) and crab cakes with pita on the side.  It was delicious.  I aimed to have one good meal a day and then eat lightly the rest of the time. (just in case you think I eat like this three times a day!) 

I carried on admiring all the different sculptures along the water front.  



I wasn't quite sure what this was supposed to be...




The sun wasn't cooperating but then I thought maybe this is the way it's supposed to be...a fisherman relaxing on a bench letting the sun hit his face after a long hard night out at sea...
.  . 

Nothing beats sitting on a bench reading a book but watch your purse lady! 



This is the one I most wanted to see and I had to go looking for it.  Thank goodness for a smartphone and google!  It had been moved to a new skate park from its original place. 



I had a snoop around the shops including a book shop (or two) and got myself a book about women adventurers living in Northern British Columbia back in the 70's and 80's. Sidney is known for its bookshops and there were three or four which is quite a few for such a small place.  Need I add I was in my element? 

By this time I was tired and it was time to head back to Victoria and my cozy little nest at the James Bay Inn.  

Another great day! 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A small taste of Spring in Victoria, British Columbia - Days one and two

I decided to end my housesitting gig in Vancouver with some time in Victoria over on Vancouver Island.  Victoria is a city of about 87,000 but that's just the city - the whole metropolitan area is much bigger and is home to around 368,000 people.  To say Victoria is beautiful is an understatement..it's a city I love visiting but I hadn't been there in 8 years...8 years!  Unbelievable. 

Now that the Greyhound is gone (RIP...that's a whole other blog post and trust me, there will be one!), the only option for having the convenience of a bus to take you from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria without the hassle of public transit is the B.C. Ferry Connector.  At $70 for bus and ferry cost it was a bit pricy but worth it.  As I wasn't moving around much on this trip I opted for my 24 inch "beast" as I call it.  I am used to traveling with a bag just above carry on size.  I just couldn't face two skytrains, a bus to the ferry and then another bus from the ferry on Vancouver Island hauling that monster...yes I did do a "bit" of shopping.  

So Friday morning March 1st saw Robert (the friend I was housesitting for) and I headed off on the sky train - he actually handled my suitcase for me which is a rare treat.  He had arranged to meet with someone in a restaurant at the train/bus station so it worked out well.  Boarding was smooth and off we went with no other stops down to Tsawwassen where the ferry to Victoria departs from.  

The crossing was smooth and beautiful.  But first things first....I decided to have a bite to eat but the cafeteria line up was long so I headed to the buffet restaurant.  They featured a salad, soup and dessert buffet and it was reasonable and good.  I didn't take any pictures but let's just say it was good.  The fact I had a table beside the window didn't hurt either. 

Then I headed out to get some pictures once we reached some of the Gulf Islands....






The fellow who took my picture told me to say a word which made me laugh - I can't remember what it was.  Old age and all...but it was obviously funny.





All so very beautiful....sigh....

Upon arrival into downtown Victoria I made my way to the hotel - getting a bit "misplaced" along the way of course.  Finally I got to my home for the next six nights - the James Bay Inn.  I love this place and when I mention it to those who have stayed there they get a soppy look on their face saying "I loved the James Bay Inn".  It is less than a 15-minute walk to the ocean one way and even closer to downtown the other way, clean and friendly staff - what's not to love?  I managed to get the "small single" internet rate and it cost me $66 plus tax a night.  The longer you stay the cheaper it is.  I had stayed there on my last visit in 2011 and knew that would be the only place I would stay in Victoria.

I walked over to a nearby grocery store and picked up veggies and dip for my supper and some bananas and then retired for the night.

The next morning after a good hot breakfast in the hotel (sadly they have taken away the 15% that hotel guests used to get in the adjoining restaurant) I headed over to a nearby hotel to start the 5 km downtown walk.


Here is Fisherman's Wharf.  Seals hang around here but never did go down to see them this time.  Next time!  Apparently, it has now been made illegal to feed them.  Being as Barb's fish and chips was not yet open for the season I didn't feel the inclination to explore further.


I am liking this...


This is the side of the Legislative (Capital) building.


And before I knew it I was in Beacon Hill Park which is beautiful (and a 5 minute walk from the James Bay Inn if you aren't on a map walk like I was)




World's largest watering can?


I got a bit misplaced in the park following the instructions but I finally found my way to the World's tallest totem pole. 



And a close up of part of the totem pole..


And then I was on the Dallas Road path which is my very favourite area of Victoria.  When I was here in 2011 I cried...yes I cried as it was green with daffodils and I was visiting after a long cold hard winter on the prairies.


The beginning or is it the end...of the Trans Canada Highway.  I saw the other end in St John's, Newfoundland less than a year ago.


Here is Terry Fox, a true Canadian hero.  For more information on this legend click here.  I will let the experts tell you about him.



What's not to love about this beautiful walk?


Before I knew it I was back in the city centre...here is the famous Empress Hotel.  Can you believe I still haven't been inside the lobby?  I have to leave some things for next time right?  I always keep thinking they will boot me out as I look like such a scruff with my walking gear.


A beautiful totem pole on the waterfront.


I loved this sculpture of a veteran.


I loved this sculpture called "The Homecoming"


Look what he has in his suitcase for his little girl - so sweet!

Then it was through Bastion Square and onto Government St. where I couldn't resist popping into Munro Books and Murchies Tea.  Murchies has the BEST tea in Canada in my humble opinion and my friend Dorothy had asked me to buy her a pound of Murchies Afternoon blend (used to be known as the Empress Blend as they used it at the hotel)  I wasn't going to haul that home so bought some tea of my own and had them ship it home as shipping within Canada only costs 7.95 (now you know...)  The tea room was packed but I knew I would be back another day during the week...

On to Chinatown...




I loved this door!  I then paid a visit to the central library where I sat and wrote in my journal and relaxed for a bit.  I love visiting libraries wherever I go.  There was a method to my madness as the Tibetan kitchen was nearby but they didn't open until 5 p.m.  I wanted to have momos there for my supper.  And that I did!


And they were good!  These had chicken in them and came with a spicy sauce.  I think every ethnic group has their own version of dumplings but these are especially tasty.

I made my way back to my hotel room and relaxed for the evening as I was pretty tired.  I stopped to get a snap of the lit up Legislative Buildings...


The sun shone to greet me as I peered out the window the next morning.  Another great day!  Today I was off to Oak Bay to do the 5 km walk there.  I ate one of my bananas and decided I would have breakfast along the route.  I caught the bus right by Beacon Hill Park.  A day pass cost $5 and could be used innumerable times until midnight.  I must say that having a smartphone and being able to access google maps is a lifesaver when you are taking buses all over the place.  I love the fact that most buses around the world now have a display and announce what stops you are at - very helpful for a confused tourist!  From the bus stop I walked over to the recreation centre to sign in and get the map of the route.  Once again I got a bit misplaced and had to ask where a certain street was but I found out I was there- I had just gone a different way as none of my instructions were jiving.  I am good at that.  I was able to stay on track for the rest of the walk and soon I found myself at the ocean and when reading the instructions me and my tummy perked up when I read there was a tea room at the beach.  I lucked out as there was a table available with a view of the ocean.  For $12 I had coffee, juice, bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and toast and being run by the Kinsmen it was good to know that profits went to charity.  Win, win.


With my tummy happy I set off to walk the beach and enjoy all the dogs...there were dogs galore.  I love the off-season when doggies are allowed on the beaches.



I love log-strewn beaches.  I am more a beach walker than someone who likes to go into the water.  I used to swim (or flail around which is my version of swimming) but not so much anymore as I keep thinking of all the creepy critters in the sea. 


Oh Mount Baker, you big show off!  I don't blame it, it's so beautiful and HUGE.


Everyone and their dog was out!


I loved this sculpture of sea otters!


The walk didn't go as far as the marina....I regret not walking further as I have since read that there are seals that you can feed there.  Ah well, next time!


It was time to turn my back on the ocean and head back to the end of the walk...the way back was through residential areas and on a path but not interesting enough to take photos of.  Once I reached Oak Bay Avenue I went into Good Earth coffee and ordered a turmeric latte as a treat for Thelma (my knee replacement) for being a trooper and I must admit I have developed quite a taste for them as well.  From there I got the bus to Ross Bay Cemetery (thanks google maps) - the cemetery is historic, on the water and bears my surname so it was a must!

Emily Carr is buried there but I could not find her (next time, Emily!) but I found something even better...lots of grazing deer who obviously were used to humans as when I approached they just looked at me.  I was so excited.  I've never seen deer in a cemetery before.






I got about twenty feet away from this one...I was shaking with excitement.

Oh yes and there were some interesting graves as well...



Even though I was getting tired I decided to walk back...I saw people walking along a path beside the cemetery so off I went.  It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and there were a lot of walkers out there.  There were benches to rest on and just admire the view and breathe in the gorgeous tangy sea air.  Perfect!




At one point I sat down and noticed there was a dog toy on the bench beside me.  A few minutes later a passing woman and her golden retriever came by and the dog grabbed the toy with a big grin (as only retrievers do..) and took off with it.  I had such a good laugh over that.  I headed over to Cook St Village which is full of shops and restaurants but didn't find much to catch my interest - okay I may have waited in line at a donut shop but came to my senses and left before I was waited on.  That doesn't happen too often believe me.  I decided to cut through the Beacon Hill Park on the way "home".


Spot the peacocks!  Again, I got totally lost - there are no damn signs in that park.  Very annoying.  A local directed me over to Douglas St.


I then walked by the home of Emily Carr, a very famous Canadian writer and artist.



Sadly it is currently closed for renovations so I couldn't visit.  Fun fact:  Emily died at what is now the James Bay Inn in one of the original buildings.  It is said she haunts the men's washroom in the pub at the hotel.

My Fitbit told me I had walked over 10 miles that day so I decided to treat myself to prime rib and yorkshire pudding in the hotel restaurant.  Well any old excuse will do you know.  This will be my last "Sunday roast" until I am in England again.


Back to the room to relax and watch the last episode of "Victoria" on PBS in Victoria! 

And that was day one and two - day three to five in the next post!








A small taste of Spring in Victoria, British Columbia - a walk around Sidney

Even before I arrived in Victoria I knew that I wanted to revisit Sidney. Sidney is one of thirteen municipalities within Great Victoria an...