We left Tofino on Sunday and were definitely sad to go. We had a 4 hour drive to get to Victoria in the very South of the island and it should have been a lovely drive. The girls decided differently though – they didn’t like being cooped up in the car and the windy roads through the mountains, although beautiful, led to 2 bouts of travel sickness. The second lot of sickness involved the complete stripping of the Little One and the material cover on her car seat and washing all of it (and my jumper which had been a pretty rubbish sick bag but was the closest thing to hand) in the next lake we came to!
Eventually, we got to Victoria and a very pretty seaside city it is too. It is the capital of British Columbia and one of the oldest cities along the North West Pacific coast. It has a very British feel to it, with pretty gardens and British looking homes and even the older buildings in the city (the Parliament buildings and the cathedral) wouldn’t look out of place if you transported them to London. It is also peaceful and quiet compared to Houston and other large cities. It’s a bit like Tunbridge Wells, but by the sea.
Our 4 hour drive to Victoria had taken far longer than we’d planned, what with the various stops and cleaning up children and the car, so after checking in to the Magnolia Hotel we headed out for some dinner. After a wander around to get our bearings we ended up at Il Terazzo for an Italian feast – an excellent restaurant if you’re ever out this way. (I’m only writing this down so we remember to visit again if we make it back here!)
The next morning, with two very tired children we managed to get them to walk about 1/4 mile before they gave up and were totally uninterested in seeing the city, so we hopped on a red open top London bus for a tour of the city. The bus was good fun but the tour guide come driver was possibly the most negative tour guide we had ever come across. His knowledge of the city seemed to be only of house prices (none of which he could afford, as he kept pointing out!) We were very pleased to get off the bus at the marina.
We always like to wander around marinas and imagine having enough money to own a boat. The excitement for the girls at this one was 2 very friendly seals who bobbed up out of the water as soon as we set our feet on the jetty!
We were able to buy frozen fish for the seals at the marina shop and I imagine this is how the marina shop makes most of its profits… The girls were surprisingly happy to pick up the frozen dead fish and throw it to the seals. And the seals were even happier! I’d never seen such fat seals before and it soon became clear why – every other tourist who visited the marina also purchased a bag of fish and fed the seals!
The seagulls at the marina are pretty fast flying birds. No sooner had a piece of fish left your hand then at least 1 seagull would arrive to fight with the seal over it, sometimes even winning!
We thought we’d walk to the next bus stop but after 5 minutes of walking (which felt like much longer due to the huge amount to whinging and moaning – renamed woaning – from the children) we turned round and went back to the bus stop!
It was a beautiful drive along the coast road and so much better from the top deck of the bus, but as we’d spent longer at the marina than planned, we ended up with the same negative bus driver again. Argggh! We got off the bus at the next stop to avoid any more cynicism about house prices and the city authorities.
Luckily we were at Beacon Hill park, which is a stunning 200 acres of park land and gardens. It hosts the worlds tallest free-standing totem pole, which you can just about see in this picture (we were on the bus and the negative bus driver mentioned it just as we’d driven past it…)
More importantly for the girls, it had a children’s farm with baby pigs, peacocks, guinea pigs and dwarf goats for petting, which provided a very happy hour of entertainment. The highlight of the farm for us grown ups was the ugliest dwarf horse we’d ever seen:
I doubt you’ve seen an uglier one, but go ahead and prove me wrong…
The play park there was also pretty exciting for the girls and after a very restful hour sitting in the sun watching them play, we headed to the Empress Hotel, another of the oldest buildings in Victoria, so the girls could have their dinner and we could have a curry whilst sitting on a very sunny verandah. Bliss!
After such an exhausting day I was expecting the girls to fall in to bed and go straight to sleep, so my Lovely Husband headed out to catch the sunset over the harbour. No such luck for me – the girls were still awake at 11pm. That’s 1am Houston time. I’m not looking forward to bedtimes when we get back!