West Coast Part 2 / In the Capital

Travel article on Victoria

Copyright Mabuhay Calgary (Click image for entire article)

Published by:  Mabuhay Calgary

December 2010, 3rd Edition Volume II

Copyright: Mabuhay Calgary

West Coast Part 2 / In the Capital – Article and Photos by:  Jeff Cruz

Our next journey took us to the capital of British Columbia. Victoria is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.  Its metropolitan area houses about 78,000 people while the Greater Victoria population is around 330,000 (Source: Wikipedia).Victoria is named after Queen Victoria from the United Kingdom as the British settled in there in 1841.

As we arrived into the downtown core the first thing we noticed was the rush hour traffic along Blanshard St. also known as the Patricia Bay Highway. This was the main highway getting into the city. It’s best to avoid this road during rush hour. The side streets would be a much better choice during the peak times.

Despite driving in traffic we were able to reach our destination, the Harbour Towers Hotel & Suites within 15 minutes of the city limits.  Another thing we noticed about Victoria was the reduced travel times compared to cities like Vancouver.  We chose the Harbour Towers because of its location. We wanted to be in walking distance of the water. Upon checking in, the delightful staff there upgraded our room and before we knew it we were in our penthouse suite with separate living rooms and two balconies. The rooms were clean, comfortable and most of all a good value. Expect to pay around $125 per night and a little bit more during the weekend. Quite a bargain compared to other hotels in the same area.

Our first order of business was to walk around which usually leads to shopping. We walked around the sailboat lined harbour for awhile and enjoyed the sounds and smells of the ocean. Right on the harbour is Victoria’s Parliament Building. The Parliament Building and the Empress Hotel are visual reminders to the city’s rich British history. One can usually listen to a marching band or see horse drawn carriages in front of these buildings. Try visiting these buildings at night for a real interesting light display. Heading further north along the harbour led us to Victoria’s commercial and entertainment district. Bastion Square is at the centre of the Victorian themed district. Along Government and Fort Street you’ll find The Bay Centre. The Bay Centre, formerly the Eaton Centre, is two city blocks and four floors of excellent shopping. If you’re more into local and independent shops try the stretch of Johnson Street between Wharf and Douglas. There you’ll find fashion, records and even vegetarian fare.

The next day was dedicated to The Butchart Gardens located in Central Saanich which is about a 30 minute and 20 km drive from Victoria’s City Centre. Plan to be at the gardens for at least half the day. It’s advisable to get there early too, since you’ll avoid the large crowds that tend to get there just before noon. The gardens open at 9 a.m. and expect to pay anywhere between $16 to the hefty $29 during peak season. Butchart Gardens is worth visiting at least once especially if you are a garden lover. Spring and summer are the best months to see all the flowers. Victoria is a clean vibrant city with all the big city amenities. Oddly enough with all this, the city is still able to maintain a small town charm. It’s no wonder that Victoria is said to be home to the newly wed or the nearly dead. Our next adventure would take us further south along the coast to Seattle, Washington.

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3 Responses to “West Coast Part 2 / In the Capital”

  1. Pete Heck says:

    Love Victoria and the all of the Island!! One of the places I would live in Canada (if I had to have a home :)

  2. Jeff Cruz says:

    Yeah, what an amazing place it is!

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