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Victoria on a Whim


view of the Empress Hotel from the harbor

The Empress Hotel from the harbor.

ne summer day last year, me and my good friend Jeremy decided to take a trip to Neah Bay and Cape Alava on the extreme northwestern tip of the peninsula of Washington State. Living in Seattle, this would be a full day's excursion with about eight hours of driving and several hours spent at each destination. This trip, I imagined, would essentially be a redux of my January 31, 1999 voyage. I was living in Los Angeles at the time, and put a great deal of thought into where I would spend the momentous occasion of a passing millennium. Now, when something happens once in a thousand years, it's a good idea to mark the occasion with something profound, I reckon. In my deliberations about this situation, I did my darndest to envision the best for myself. I knew that I would be in the Northwest visiting family at the time, so I set my sights on being at a geographically notable locale. This would be Cape Alava, the westernmost point of the continental United States. In my thoughts, I imagined an invisible demarcation line of the millennium sweeping grandly across America that New Year's Eve. I, being the notable fellow that I am, decided that it would be cool-as-all-cool could get, to be standing at the westernmost tip of the US at that moment, which would make me, esoterically speaking, the very last person in the United States to experience the millennium, as the invisible line swathed its way across our great nation. Make sense? No? That's all right, I still get it. So, on the last day of the last millennium, I drove my skinny little butt out there, hiked my way through the dusk to settle myself into a cold, wet spot on the edge of American occupied earth. It was going to be amazing. Sitting there in the darkness for hours and hours, pondering the profundity of a passing millennium, the moment of that opportunity occurring only once every thousand years, I felt privileged to be alive for this grand event. Thinking through all the lengthy depths of the issue, waves of profundity washing over me again and again…. guess what? Yes, I fell asleep.

the author's friend
Fugitive just before capture.

I awoke suddenly to the repercussive sounds of massive fireworks, those that could only have been purloined from clandestine military sources. To my chagrin, some derelict, insipid rubes apparently had hatched the same plan as me, and I quickly regained some semblance of consciousness to the sound of their chattering voices clambering somewhere beyond the edges of the rain soaked fabric of my tent. As I lay there thinking about it all, I couldn't be sure anymore that I was, in fact, that exalted person "Farthest West", and certainly knew that I was not at that moment standing with my toes peeking over the event horizon at the edge of the shore, frozen Pacific waters tickling my feet, at 12:00:00 AM, January 1, 2000, just as I had planned. Booooo! Understanding clearly that this was a possibility, I didn't peek my head out the tent to confirm my fears. This was intentional, as even now, I can still live with the possibility that my grand envisionings for that moment did occur, and I contentedly remain at this very moment intentionally devoid of the confirming evidence that would have disproved my dreams. Either way, close enough anyway, so whatever…dang it….

On this trip with Jeremy, I thought we would have another look around these grand little spots and then go home, simply because we were both bored stiff after the previous five days, as you are also very familiar with, because I know you have a job yourself. In fact, it remains as some sort of unfortunate fact that most workweeks will drive you and I to leave the house most every Saturday morning. Go figure. Jeremy lived in West Seattle at the time, so we decided to take the Southworth ferry, which departed just a short distance from his place. On the dock waiting for the ferry, I noticed that I left my sunglasses at home, which was an unappealing thought on that uncharacteristically sunny day. Jeremy said in passing, "Well, maybe we should jump on up to Victoria to get a pair then." I laughed and made some sort of vague mental note of it, appreciating the adventurous sentiment.

On the way to Southworth, the ferry stops briefly at Vashon Island. Vashon Island, as I understand it, is a sort of hippie paradise smashed right next to suburban Evildom of downtown Seattle. Many artist and hippie types live there, and the Island prides itself on being, as they repeat it over and over again, "rural," and passes much legislation within its domain to keep itself that way. As we approached the island, my stomach churning for Big Macs and Slurpees, I had visions of bumping the dock and being greeted by people throwing flowers at us, holding big signs that read, "A nice place to visit, but go home afterwards!" No such luck, no one was there to greet us with such interesting curses. In fact, it looked pretty sedate, but I have vowed to return in my big SUV with Dr. Dre thumping loudly out of the open windows, and studiously document, in the name of science, how the natives react at first sight of it.

Departing the ferry, the ride toward Highway 101 was filled with a thousand stop lights, highlighted with the wretched stop-and-go sights of modern coastal suburbs Starbucks strip malls crammed up against green country ghetto whiteboy tenement shacks. Finally delivered from this strange, languishing cultural incinerator, and on our way northwestward, we spoke little, listening to music and passing only an occasional interesting sight. We flew by a lonely, small, white, and abandoned church in the middle of nowhere that I wish we would have stopped at, but that was about all for two full hours. During that leg of the trip, I saw on the map of Washington we had brought with us the small dotted line between Port Angeles and Victoria denoting a ferry of some sort, so we talked some more about "getting some sunglasses there" and decided we'd check into it once we got to Port Angeles. If it all worked out somehow, if the timing was right, and all the other details seemed to arrange themselves, we thought we might make that trip instead of the one we'd planned. The excitement of this idea carried us onward in curious anticipation.

On the way into Port Angeles, we rounded a corner only to see white-gray smoke billowing from several outdoor barbeque barrels, those kind that lay on their side and are elevated to waist level, always painted black, with a crude smokestack sticking out of the top. They were pouring out the juicy alluring aroma of authentic barbeque, the kind that fat friend of yours from the South makes, whose invitation to an impromptu Saturday barbeque feast would make you skip a months-long-planned triple bypass surgery for. Needless to say there was little brainwork involved in our choice for lunch that day.

It turned out the place was called Blue Flame Barbeque, and I don't remember much of the menu specifically, other than the fact that they served brisket. I have found that you can walk into any barbeque place and know how good the food will be just by seeing that one word on the menu. No brisket… not authentic. As far as the experience of the meal itself went, other than my brain constantly being bathed in overwhelming waves of endorphins, I only retain a bleak memory of my hands furiously moving back and forth from the plate to my mouth, like some barbeque sauce vampire feasting after months of painful withdrawal. Jeremy liked it a lot too.

After lunch we very easily found the Coho ferry terminal via prevalent signage. The girls working the desk said the next ferry left in about an hour, and would cost, to our amazement, only $11.50 (US) one way. Jeremy and I looked at each other and then looked away, saying nothing, both scheming our own individual possibilities and contingencies. The girls also mentioned that Victoria had a tourist agency in a kiosk about 100 feet away, so off we went to investigate. On the way, we discussed having no change of clothing for the weekend, or toiletries, since we had made no plan for an overnight stay anywhere. This worry was quickly absorbed by the actual possibility of setting foot in a different country within a couple of hours. Jeremy nonchalantly stated in complete sincerity, "I can just buy new clothes." Amen. Also of concern for us was our lack of passports. As anyone looking into travel well knows these days, a passport is required for any trip of more than five miles from your home, due to recent federal restrictions. This is a bit of an exaggeration but you know what I mean.

The bespectacled and interesting gentlemen in the kiosk was completely helpful, and said it would really be no problem to get a room somewhere in Victoria, and that passports were not required until January of 2008, because of the huge backlog of applications. We made short work of deciding to go. This kindly and accommodating man booked a room for us, and we calculated we had just enough time to find parking, get some cash, and get on the boat. Indeed, as it turned out, everything worked out perfectly, which was our essential criteria for going.

At this point, complete excitement took over. We ran our little errands and queued up for the ferry. Waiting in line, the reality of the new trip took hold, and I exulted in the feeling of an unplanned international excursion. The ferry, named the Coho, was well equipped for the one hour and thirty minute trip, and it was a scenic ride, with many coastal sights in abundance: huge oil tankers laying just offshore, the ancient and alluring Port Angeles Coast Guard station, and a strange meteorological phenomenon, a fat stump of a rainbow poking its head out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca right at the moment of our departure. We sailed across the strait triumphantly, almost expecting to see myriads of unicorn-horned dolphins jumping out of the water by the thousands, blessing our impromptu foray.

The entrance to Victoria by ferry is epic. When we arrived, we were greeted by the odd sight of a large green and red Chinese type junk sailboat. Two mammoth cruise ships were docked just inside the breakwater, and boats of all varieties were either sailing or parked within the safety of the included marinas. Much to my astonishment, the Victoria Harbor passage snakes a very narrow path right smack dab into the heart of downtown Victoria. It was more like a fjord than a harbor, lined with ultra modern Canadian style apartment complexes contrasted with very charming early 20th century coastal homes, and so narrow was the passage, I wondered how exactly the boat would turn around to get back out after we disembarked. At the end of the Harbor was a magnificent cul-de-sac of sorts, lined with the grand Empress Hotel and the Victoria House of Parliament, huge brick buildings swathed in English ivy and highlighted by rustic green copper. A truly amazing sight.

the author's friend, Jeremy, posing in front of the Parliament Building
Jeremy adorns the Parliament Building

After disembarking, I found that I had been so dazzled with the grand entrance, I had left my digital camera on the boat! However, so happy was I to be on foreign soil, it didn't bother me a bit. I spoke with the girl working at the ferry desk, and she said she'd keep an eye out for it.
We walked a number of blocks to our hotel and after checking in, sat on our beds for awhile, becoming completely enraptured in an Islamic sermon on TV, broadcast in Arabic. We somehow knew that the imam was discussing our recent arrival into Canada, and despite this, feeling a bit more adjusted to our new host country after a brief rest, left our hotel room to get some dinner. We scoped around a bit, amazed with the smart, clean look and feel to the downtown area, and finally decided, on of all things, on a Jamaican restaurant named The Reef. The atmosphere was decidedly Caribbean and the menu was filled with all kinds of exotic and authentic-sounding Island-style food items: Chana, Trini Pakoras, and Bahamian Souse, just to name a few. It took me awhile to actually find something I felt wouldn't scare me once it arrived on the plate directly underneath my watering jowls, but I finally decided on the Bonaire Snapper. It turned out to be a good choice. A DJ was spinning unobtrusive and rather pleasant sounding hip-hop via turntables (Jeremy later described it as "island hip-hop"), which was a great addition to the atmosphere of the place.

After dinner, we walked around for quite a stretch, covering side streets and alleys, gathering the lay of the land and getting a feel for the town. The nightlife there was absolutely electric. The cruise ships were in town, which always adds to the fervor of any city's nightlife, but we got the distinct impression that Victoria was always hopping on the weekends, whether the cruise ships were in or not. It was as energetic a downtown as I've ever seen, with tons of cosmopolitan looking young women and men striding confidently down the sidewalks, chatting furiously, heading off to yet another exciting experience in one of the many odd subterranean nether-clubs of the city. The whole experience of walking around that night was completely engrossing.

The next morning, we woke up at around nine and headed out to find breakfast. Much to my surprise, the streets were essentially deserted. There were a few people about, but mostly, the stores were shuttered and I had a bit of a feeling of being in an old dying Western frontier town, with tumbleweeds rolling down the street, etc. That whole thing… you know the drill. I wasn't expecting it in Victoria so it was a kind of strange, nice surprise. It had a feel to it as if every merchant there was completely aware of the fact that most nearby residents and visitors were so hung over from the night before, none of them would dare open their shops before 11 am on a Saturday. Anyway, we eventually found a breakfast place that seemed open, with two college aged girls sitting outside, so we walked across the street to take a look. Upon spying our progress towards them, one of the girls smiled broadly, hopped up, and opening the door for us, invited us warmly to come inside to eat. She was all about it. Even so, we checked the menu before going in. Which reminds me, after having been in Victoria for a day already, her vibrantly warm demeanor actually didn't surprise me…

In fact, for your information, all you young single fellows, I don't think they allow women over 40 into downtown Victoria. All I saw were hot 19-39 year olds. They may allow a few 40ish or even 50ish women in down there, but only with a Canadian-government-approved Certificate of Hotness. The place was amazing. In fact, one of the more surprising things about Victoria to me was the relaxed and friendly nature of the women there. Of course, being a healthy male, my eyes would certainly, in the way they do, find a hot girl walking down the street and glance/look/zombie-stare-and-drool, take your pick. To my surprise, I found that once eye contact was made, it was returned for a notably longer spell than the cursory glance you might experience here in the States. Also, smiles abounded and were also returned readily when given. Wow. It was great. Being single, I decided that after my trip to Victoria, I didn't even need to get married, I would just move to Canada and smile at girls all day, and go home to happily cohabitate with my Massively Swollen Ego, which would be no doubt be inflated to around the size my imagination currently ranks my biceps.

view of Craigdarroch castle
Craigdarroch as viewed from a kind man's porch.

Anyway, the breakfast was quite good. We had waffles and eggs and bacon. Mmmm. After that, we checked out of our hotel and decided to walk up to Craigdarroch Castle, information about which we had somehow collected and kept since the tourist bureau. It was quite a bit of a walk, but on that lovely warm morning we were happy to do it. Craigdarroch is lodged in a seriously nice neighborhood, but itself is so massive and amazing that it makes all the two and three million dollar homes next to it look like its servant's quarters. (Note to self: When you win the lottery, don't build your McMansion next to Buckingham Palace.) As amazing as the place was, we weren't actually sure about going inside for some reason, but finally decided to, and I'm very happy we did. The castle itself was built in 1889 by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir, who actually died before he ever got a chance to live in it.

Conveniently, he actually built the place for his wife, so all was not lost, she lived there raising their children for a number of years. After the Dunsmuir family was done with the place, the castle was sold a number of times but has spent most of its days within the clutches of the Canadian government, which made a military hospital and girls school out of it, among other things.

mannequin inside the Craigdarroch
The Clinically Documented Undead

Walking inside, you get the point very quickly. Extravagant wealth built Craigdarroch. Astounding woodwork and stained glass invade your eyesight right away. Even in the foyer, which these days houses a cash register, every nook and cranny was stylistically accounted for in the design process. After paying the $12 entrance fee, the first room you visit on your self-guided tour is a sitting room that could probably be best described as a library, with any number of books on the shelves which, if even one of which was sold on eBay, would probably pay for your master's degree. There were many stuffed animal heads on the walls and stuffed exotic birds in the corners. Moving onward, it seemed every room had a fireplace, and even in the late 1800's, they had constructed a system of pipes throughout the home that would allow verbal communication to many different parts of the building. Room after room came and went, each with its own absurdly detailed woodwork and other dazzling oddities. Somewhere in that giant multi-leveled maze, there was a room devoted just to cigar smoking. There was also a rather large dance floor constructed on the fourth floor. Rooms were filled with all the imaginable accoutrements of the idle rich; old oil paintings, vintage furniture, and era clothing. Unfortunately however, instead of hanging their interesting vintage clothing on hangers and racks, much of it worn by former residents of Craigdarroch, they used quite a few mannequins. Mannequins are of course, creepy. Lifeless facsimiles of you and I, faces frozen in an eternal plastic stare. I spent more of my precious time than I would have liked avoiding looking at either the clothing or into the eyes of the Undead, so as not to be possessed by spirits longing to be set free from their icy and accursed domains. Somehow, probably owing to the fact that they gave us a map of the place when we walked in there, we finally found our way outside again. Of course, before I left, I had to ask one of the employees if she ever got lost on her way to going to the bathroom. She laughed, but said "no, not yet". The castle is currently undergoing restoration, but is still completely worth a visit.

Outside, as we were taking our final pictures of the vaulted behemoth, a very friendly Canadian gentleman peeked out from his doorway from a house immediately adjacent to the castle, and beckoned me relentlessly to come over to him. Finally, my American reluctance caved in and I proceeded towards him. He offered for me to take a picture from his porch, saying it was the perfect spot to take a picture of the place. He was right. From this secret vantage point, Craigdarroch was framed in an array of his blooming rose bushes, and I snapped a great picture, with only a couple of 2005 era Nissan Maximas getting in the way of an epic shot.

We walked back into downtown and strolled for endless hours and miles and miles, soaking in the sights and sounds of all we could find, even making a complete grid search of the Chinatown area. Somewhere along the way, we stopped back at the boat dock to inquire about my camera. Sure enough, they had found it, and the girl at the desk beamed at me as she returned it, genuinely happy to have made my day. Shortly after that, I indeed found that pair of sunglasses we were after, and the prophecy was fulfilled, as usual. Unfortunately, I found after I bought them that the model name of these particular shades, printed on the inside of one of the arms, was the "Molesters." This made me uncomfortable, so I scratched off the "M" and they then officially became the "Olesters." We finally sat down for dinner at a nondescript Thai place, and I somehow wasn't hungry, eating only a chicken Satai appetizer. Curiously, I became convinced that a girl sitting across the restaurant from us was none other than Kirsten Dunst. I asked Jeremy to confirm this on two separate occasions, but was denied by his cooler, more rational approach to the concept of reality.

Exhausted from our ten hour Victoria Death March, we finally headed toward the ferry terminal, ready to catch the last ferry back home at 7:00 pm. When we got there, we simply collapsed onto a couple of the few remaining chairs available. We were so tired in fact, that we just sat there, and got up only after the long line of several hundred passengers going through customs had dwindled down to nothing. I made my way through the customs routine with no complications, and emerged on the other side, waiting for Jeremy. He did not appear. The remaining passengers were handing their tickets to the porter, and after they had all gone up the ramp and into the boat, Jeremy had still not appeared. I told the porter about the situation, and he went to check on the whereabouts of my trusted traveling companion. He returned with no news. He politely explained that I had a couple more minutes, and then they'd have to withdraw the ramp and let the ship sail off into the horizon, without us. It was exactly at this point that I started making very expensive plans to charter one of the sea planes or helicopters across the harbor to get us back home, once Jeremy had been cleared of all his international terrorism charges, which would surely occur 30 seconds after the boat had left. Just as I had almost given up hope of getting home that night or ever seeing Jeremy again devoid of Canadian prison garb, there he was. We got onto the boat with the ramp being withdraw at the very moment of our footfall onto the ferry, and he explained that the customs gestapo didn't like his answers to their "au revoir" questions. They took him to the felony room, questioned him further, searched his bag, looked at all the pictures on his camera, and even read his journal! I couldn't believe it. My favorite part of the memory of this conversation was Jeremy's response to one of the customs official's questions: "Why are you acting nervous?" To which Jeremy replied, with his demure, sardonic wit…thoughtful pause… and surely staring straight into the official's eyes… "Because you're making me nervous."

Finally delivered from international purgatory, and with that fantastic exclamation point resounding over the end of our excellent journey, the voyage back over the Strait was peacefully uneventful. While we were underway, and with my eyes fixed on the grand Olympic Mountains in front of us, a longtime and similarly adventurous friend called, so I was happily able to regale her with the tale of our unplanned diversion to Victoria that weekend. After getting off the ferry, back on the 101, a car passed us at breakneck speed. Seizing the moment, knowing that car was hustling toward the first ferry home and would absorb any high dollar ticket dealt out by any laying-in-wait WASP (Washington State Patrolman), we glommed onto this rabbit's track and made it, right behind him, as the second to the last car on the first Seattle ferry back home. By the grace of God, I was able to drop Jeremy off at his place at the completely reasonable hour of 11:00 pm, as he had to be up for work at 5:00 am, which was doable for him. New sunglasses still firmly plastered to my scalp, I made my way back home in the throes of glee.

Ahhhhh….it was all just great.

In the grand scheme of things, we didn't get to Cape Alava that weekend, but that was just as well. Living life right now, in the spontaneity of the moment, beats out trying to relive the past any day of the millennium.

Jeem!

Found ur Glacier trek (I will Destroy You Glacier Peak) to be serious kick ass. To be honest, I’m such a lightweight, I’ve never been more than a day tripper. When u really get out there on one of those long solo treks, and the water runs short … can u drink from local streams? I’ve heard that pollution is so bad that even places untouched by man are now off-limits.

VitoZee

Howdy VitoZee,

Great to hear from you and thanks for the complement and question. That is a seriously cool name, by the way: VitoZee. Just from the phonetics of it, I get the impression that you might be a very friendly and mild-mannered hitman working out of North Jersey. Really cool.

As for your drinking water from streams question, there are a lot of answers for it. The simple answer is that, no, you can almost never implicitly trust stream water sources, unless they are flowing straight out of the ground (via an aquafer or spring) bubbling up right there in front of you. That's your best bet, but you rarely see that in the wild unless you're looking for it, and even so, I have actually gotten sick from drinking spring water straight from the source at Panther Springs on Mount Shasta. You never know what you're going to get drinking untreated water from the wilds.

Most of the time the pollution you'll be dealing with out in the wilderness is not man-made, it usually comes from bacteria and parasites that inhabit the bodies of wilderness animals. For example, on this Glacier Peak trip, I drank from a stream I was confident was trustworthy. In the immediate vicinity were living quite a few marmots. A number of days after I got home I fell ill, and had to wonder if I hadn't picked up something from the water I drank, as there was not much of any other explanation for my symptoms. I knew a trip to the doctor would probably result in them sending me back home with a plastic cup that was required to be filled with my own poo, which would need to be delivered back to the lab steaming hot so they could figure out exactly what kind of bacteria or parasite they were dealing with. (Not a joke, remember Panther Springs?) After this diagnosis, I would then have to go back to the doctor and get a prescription, but by then, my body would have probably fought off the tiny invaders completely on its own. Not worth the trouble, and all of this would certainly = Jim minus $280. So I suffered it out, and whatever happened to be bothering me left my system in about 7 days or so. Yuck. No fun.

Anyway, I don't recommend drinking straight from the streams of the wild, but in a pinch, I do it everytime, unless I see a bear or a moose straight upstream from me pooping in the river, which has only happened about ten times. (Or zero times.) Anyway, sometimes I get sick, sometimes I don't. If I'm exhausted and thirsty, to heck with it, I'm drinking it.

All this notwithstanding, or withstanding, or notwithoutstanding, whatever, they just recently invented the coolest thing in the world though, so you might want to check it out. Previously, for treating your water in the wild, you'd always have to put a pellet of iodine or a congregate of other evil ingredients into your jug of stream water and let it sit there for an hour before you drink it while the chemical cocktail thoroughly treats your water. That is ridonkulous because when you're hiking and thirsty, you aren't going to wait a full hour for that pill to dissolve and work properly, you are going to guzzle. Anyway, they just invented this magic wand of sorts that you can find at any decent backpacking or outdoors store. You turn it on and dip it in your stream filled water jug, and the ultraviolet light it produces irradiates everything to death on the spot, after about 30 seconds or so. Kind of like my pinky finger, which I keep forgetting to treat my stream water with, because I'm always so dang thirsty.

Jim

Keep it comin' Jim. Sounds awesome.

Matt Langley
Duvall, WA

Hey Jim,

Enjoyed your Victoria article. It was an intersting slant on a city that is generally just promoted as a destination for tea rooms, gardens and double-decker buses. Now let's get serious ... are the Canadian women there really that attractive, good-natured and open-minded? Maybe I won't get married either and just move up there. It sure sounds refreshing after having to deal with the smugness of all those LA starlets, trying to make it in Hollywood.

Gary
Santa Monica

Gary,

Thanks so much for the communique. I can honestly tell you that there was little exagerration involved in my description of the girls there in Victoria. God, in his infinite wisdom, has thankfully granted American mankind a few other places than the great old U.S. of A. to relieve our hearts of the burden of the eternally-self-absorbed, career-tracked, Bill-Gates-as-a-husband seeking beastly variety of female. I know, after living here in the States forever (especially in Seattle), how it is. I was recently researching a trip to Columbia, and heard the same news implicitly spoken about the women there, they are apparently of the same caliber of those that live in British Columbia. I invite you, before relocating, to take a trip up to Victoria, to see for yourself. I'll never forget it.

And my brotha', if you think you have it bad in the Los Angeles area (I lived there for six years), try Seattle (where I have lived for the last laborious three). Seattle seems to be crammed with nothing other than Ice Princesses, who live their lives completely within the confines of darkened cerebral domains, mental attentions locked firmly onto the goal of marrying the next Bill Gates, hoping to live in one of those big houses smooshed up against Lake Washington, hearts available only to the ultimate goal, the dream of all dreams ... being on Oprah someday...absorbing the jealous attentions of the millions of suburbanite women watching, all hoping to sit right there across from Ms. Winfrey someday, too, while regaling her with the tales of the good life, closets full of the savvy and smarmy garb purloined at Nordstrom's, their husband a virtual "Prince Charming," their family-owned barnacle encrusted yacht anchored firmly in some northern fjord. Oprah smiles back approvingly amidst a cacophony of applause, screen fades to commercials, all conduits nourishing The Beast.

You're my kind of guy, Gary. Hang in there, amigo. I look forward to meeting your smokin' hot wife someday.

Jim



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Travel Facts & Tips

1. The population of Greater Victoria is 345,000, which makes it the 15th largest city in Canada, in case you were wondering. Many retirees and young folks live there, birthing a local saying about Victoria: "For the newly wed, and the nearly dead."

2. Victoria's climate meteorologically falls into the category of "Marine West Coast," and is sometimes referred to as having a "Mediterranean climate." What-ever. The truth is, you can expect to be wearing a light jacket almost any day in the summer and a thick one in the winter.

3. Don't worry about hotels, there are a million of them. Just get to Victoria . Sleep in the street if you have to, just get there. Our decent but small room was around $120 ( US ) for two beds, this rate applying to a weekend stay. If you're not so much about shelling out the big bucks, there are two hostels right there in downtown Victoria also, which will cost you around $25 a night. Oh, and you get to sleep in the same room as a smelly German backpacker.


4. Some ferries are on a summer only schedule, so make sure of their sailings before you go. It would be at least a six hour detour if you forgot that about the Port Angles ferry. You can take your car to Victoria via almost any ferry that services it, or you can park and ride like we did. Single passenger fare is $11.50 one way, for your car you'll be looking at $44.00 one way.

5. Transportation is as close as your feet. Or you can take a bus almost anywhere else. There are absurdly tall double-decker busses in Victoria that will take you to most of the outlying areas of town. Like, say, if you want to go to Butchart Gardens , for example. If you go to Victoria on foot, you can essentially stay that way without renting a car, and will be well supplied with cheap transportation for almost any Victoria-area excursion via city bus.

6. Mange on something different. Like Marigot Poisson at this tasty Caribbean eats joint rooted in the unlikeliest of places: "Vic," BC.

7. A Very exquisite Victorian castle Victoriously overlooking Victoria.

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