Today Morgen and I traveled to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Port Angeles is just twenty miles across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, so a ninety minute ferry ride was the easy option. We boarded just as the rain started coming down this morning, so the ride was pretty rough. Wind, rain, clouds and waves made it an experience. But despite the weather forecast, the skies cleared as we approached Victoria Harbour. We landed in Canada mid-morning with the sun out and the city in front of us.
Once we arrived in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, there was plenty to do. The first thing was to gaze upon the beautiful buildings that dominate the Inner Harbour area. The Empress Hotel and the British Columbia Parliament building rival any buildings anywhere in America. There were statues of Captain James Cook and the Queen herself, the city’s namesake. But what made Victoria all the more interesting was the inclusion of totem poles all over town. The obvious duality of cultures in the history of the city gives it a really unique mix of styles.
After admiring the Inner Harbour we took to Government Street to shop, eat, drink coffee and people watch. Obviously Victoria is a bit of a tourist town as visitors arrive by boat and air to admire it’s beautiful architecture and harbor. So it was understandable that there was a relatively high level of commercialism in town. But what thrilled us was the incredible preservation of architecture, especially on Government Street and the adjacent side streets. Whether they were book stores, restaurants, shops, condos or offices, the buildings alone made Victoria stand out.
There was also a very European feel to the city. It wasn’t just the colorful dollar bills but the style of dress, the furnishings of restaurants, the emphasis on the British heritage and French accents that permeated about as far a place from Québec as there is in Canada. We were both reminded of walking European streets and that made the trip all the more interesting, despite being just hours from home.
Eventually we had to leave our new favorite city and head back to the boat to return to Port Angeles. Thankfully the weather was much better, though the rain did return, so the ride was smoother. One of the highlights for me was when we passed two Orca whales surfacing nearby. We slowed to a drift and watched the whales move right across our face. Even after resuming speed and moving toward Washington we spotted a few more Orcas popping up. We weren’t able to get a good photo of the whales but it was cool enough to see them so closely.