VICTORIA BC – on the buses
Even though I don’t fly home for another 5 days – it is the last day of discovering new places and points of interest. We have decided to enjoy the Hop-on; Hop off bus tour of Victoria and surrounds but more about that later.
We breakfast at the hotel mainly because it looks nice and classy so we are sure the service and food will get us off to a good start. Mistake for the day.
The service was nothing flash and they seemed to be casually dressed for such a ‘classy joint’. There was little interest as she took our order; mine was the usual OJ, bacon and toast. The OJ tasted watered down and definitely uninteresting. The rest was, to say the least, dreadfully tasteless. The only good thing was my toast and vegemite and even the coffee was disappointing, but we survive and then decide to go into the city for some more sightseeing.
We don’t know what we will do today, just playing it by ear is always a good idea. Here we are going over the Johnson Street Bridge to the main part of the city. Of course there are road works – there are always road works no matter where we go. It is as if they do it deliberately when they know we are travelling. Never mind, it is not that bad.
The red things you see in the photo are Kylie’s Remembrance Poppies. They are in addition to the Travelling Clip on Koala that is always attached to the mirror. We park in the area we used yesterday and then the walking begins.
‘After two historic voyages to the South Pacific, Cook was cruising the waters of the Pacific Northwest on his third and final voyage. With his two ships, Resolution and Discovery he was searching for the Western exit to the legendary Northwest Passage.
In March 1778, they put into Nootka Sound for repairs and to trade with the native people. With him on the voyage were Mr William (Mutiny on The Bounty) Bligh as Master of the Resolution and Midshipman George Vancouver’.
Across the road from this statue is the Empress Hotel. A luxurious hotel and a place reputed to have great afternoon teas, it does not look all that flash on a cold and cloudy day and try as I may I cannot get any good photos of it so I give up. How depressing. On a brighter note out the front there is a Hop on – Hop Off Bus Tour. These tours are always a good idea no matter in which city you find yourself. They give you a great look at what is around and then you can decide for yourself if you want to get off and explore further. If it is a nice day the upstairs is the first place I head for, just so that I can get some uninterrupted photos.
Unfortunately it is not a very nice day but it doesn’t look as if it will rain so upstairs we go. On our cruise yesterday our tickets had a discount for the bus – so it is a bargain. I am not so good trying to remember the route of the journey as I am not writing this as we travel along – but I will do my best.
Off we go – down Government Street (photos above) and as you can see what was nice blue skies 10 minutes ago are now lousy grey ones. We are told that this is the end of the season so the bus timetable has been reduced to only 4 trips per day instead of the usual 9 or 13 in peak Summer season. Great if you are going around all the way on the bus – not so good if you want to get off and explore and then get back on!
Our journey takes us past some interesting sights including China Town and Fan Tan Alley. I would have thought that the bus would have slowed down a bit for a photo of this place of ill-repute but no we fly past.
Granted, we cannot slow down so that we interfere with traffic but we are travelling as if the driver has an appointment elsewhere. I will not go into details here about the alley – it’s a lot easier if you read it on the web.
Going past the Parliament Buildings, we have to slow down for road works – so that is good – we can get a photo or two.
I cannot remember much of an oratory but I am sure there was one. Past Beacon Hill and through the park – we are told to look out for the huge totem pole. Apparently it is the tallest in the world – but I have no memory of seeing it – so I would say we didn’t slow down even though there was no traffic in the park.
This is a rather disappointing tour to say the least so we decide to get off at Christ Church Cathedral and do things our way. This stop is about half way through the journey and it’s about 12.30pm. I don’t know how we are going to get back but we will find a way.
Christ Church Cathedral is a wonderful building. I love the feeling that a Cathedral gives you. This one has great stonework and that together with the bare trees gives it rather an eerie feeling. I would imagine that when the trees have their Spring leaves then it would be a different mood altogether.
There has been three Church Cathedrals. The original Cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1856 then another took its place in 1872 but was too small for the size of the congregation. Both of these were situated across the street from this one, the third. There was a competition in 1896 to design this Cathedral and the winner’s design was that of the Gothic style of the 13th century – a good choice.
Usually at the end are the magnificent stained glass windows but in this case, it seems to have a set of clear glass windows that open onto a room that you could say is on the first floor – and then you get the stained glass.
Of all the churches and cathedrals I have seen, and if you have followed me on my travels you would know that I have seen many; I don’t remember any like this. Still, it is a wonderful place. There are no other ‘tourists’ so we can walk around, take our time and photos, and learn the history.
I will not go into the history lessons that I know you all love, I will just put in some photos so that you can feel the solitude and grandeur of our visit.
Left to right below: Pulpit, Lectern; Baptistry
We meet a wonderful lady who is most helpful with the places of interest inside the Cathedral. We also ask her about the Crypt that is now closed off to the public. Unfortunately it got to the stage where the homeless and drug addicts would enter the Cathedral and go downstairs to the Crypt to sleep and it was becoming dangerous. Our lady friend offers to open the door and accompany us downstairs so that we can have a look. Another unexpected treasure discovered.
After our time in The Cathedral we now have to decide how we are going to get back. Walking seems to be a good idea and it is not long before we start heading for Craigdarroch Castle.
Where? I hear you say. This Castle was built by the Scottish immigrant who became a powerful coal baron – Robert Dunsmuir – during the reign of Queen Victoria; it is now a National Historic Site. Overlooking the countryside of Victoria it has great views. Unfortunately it is now surrounded by houses on all sides.
The walk is mainly uphill all the way and trying to stay alive and dodge road / footpath works is really a great workout for the mind and body. Unfortunately my body wants to have nothing to do with it – but we press on. By the time we get there we need coffee; good, strong coffee but there is no where to get said coffee. Well, that’s a bummer.
The castle is on many levels, so we collect our brochures and away we go. The First Floor (or ground level) has The Entrance; Main Hall; Library (below left): Drawing Room (below right) and Dining Room.
We are told there will be a film shown on the history of the Castle and its inhabitants so we are very interested to see that and learn some more, but before we do, we venture to the last room on this floor, the Dining Room.
This room is very grand and has loads of wood paneling, It must have been a very elegant setting when the family sat down to eat. Servants would be busy serving the food and I would imagine there would be lots of it not to mention a carafe or two of the best wine!
After exploring this floor it is time to go upstairs for the film. Very interesting and it gives us an insight into the owners and their beginnings.
On the second floor there are bedrooms and Mrs Dunsmuir’s sitting room (below left) and on the third floor is the Billiard room (below right).
On the top floor is the Dance Hall and also a small alcove where you can get some stunning views of the city – well they would be stunning if it was a lovely clear day but the clouds will just have to do.
He is very knowledgeable and we are having a lovely chat – he is telling us about the stained glass window that depicts Sir Walter Raleigh who made smoking popular in Britain and how even the ladies used to come here for a puff or two. Fancy being cooped up in here with the lingering smoke.
Next thing, a child with parent in tow comes down the stairs and said child repeatedly and rudely interrupts our conversation. No manners – we put up with it for a while and then take off.
Further on our travels is the Breakfast Room. This is a nice airy room and once again it would have been filled with the sounds and smells of morning and servants with their dishes of sausages, bacon and maybe kidneys (yuk).
Once again, this room is full of clutter. I’m sure this would be a tad crowded with the whole family and servants.
Our walk through this piece of the past ends – you guessed it – at the Gift and Souvenir Store but it has come up market and is called The Museum Store. It doesn’t matter what the name is – it still has the usually typically touristy things. Of course we get a fridge magnet and I also get some Maple flavoured coffee grounds just in case I don’t see them again.
After our purchases, we exit into the fresh (and cold) air and wonder how we are going to get back to the city. Call a cab – that’s how. We have had a good day – not spectacular – but a day that has enriched our brains with some history.
When we arrive back in the city we resume the hunt for coffee and possibly some lunch – but first – some shopping. Exactly what I do not need to do but with the excuse that I am on holidays, I proceed with new found gusto. Entering a huge department store, we head for the bags. I am desperately in need of a new handbag to take on the plane as my current one is falling apart. Maybe it has something to do with trying to cram my laptop and some camera gear into it so that my carry on bag will get through at 7kg. I don’t see anything I like but Kylie has found something for her – now that’s a surprise. Being such a kind hearted person that I am – this is bought as a belated Christmas & Birthday present. Good old Visa – at it again.
Next stop is Murchies – purveyor of fine teas and coffees – – and what a wonderful aroma hits you as you walk in the door. The last thing I need to buy is tea and coffee but how can I resist. There are little tasters everywhere so a few tastes later; yep; I have some Canadian Breakfast Maple tea bags, a packet of Creme Brulee coffee grounds and also one of Hazelnut. I also succumb to a packet of Almond Biscotti. There are so many things to buy, but how on earth am I going to pack everything to take back to Oz? I wonder if I can order online?
Moving right along – I spy a shop that has a Bobby Orr jersey hanging in the window. Coming to a complete STOP and on closer investigation it seems to have everything to do with Ice Hockey. You most probably don’t know who Bobby Orr is and instead of going into detail – just click on the link; he was one of my heroes when I was younger. As the saying goes – in for a penny, in for a pound – so not only do I get that jersey, I get a Montreal Canadiens one as well. The shop is called Out of Bounds and it has done very well from me thank you very much. Kylie also buys a Vancouver Canucks jersey.
You may think I just buy on impulse, sometimes it is not good for the wallet but it is definitely good for the soul and that is more important.
With memories of the Shepherd’s Pie we had at the Irish Pub at Gettysburg I decide to give that a go and also an Irish Coffee. Now this is definitely a good idea.
Our tummies are full and the Irish Coffee has given me a new found glow, it is time to head back to our car – we stop at a few more souvenir shops on the way but I am strong and resist the urge to spend, which is hard to believe I know. It is late afternoon when we get back to the hotel and I have to check everything ready for packing as tomorrow we set sail again back to the mainland and St Helens.