Victoria, British Columbia

Even though I pretty much set the itinerary for this trip, I am not real excited about returning to Victoria itself. I recall it being too cutesy British in a fake way that quickly grew old. I am here now only because it is spring and I want to see gardens – Vancouver Island overflows with gardens and this seems like the ideal time of year to visit a few of them.As we wander about, I start to change my mind about this city – or maybe I am just realizing that now, 15 years later, I am visiting a very different city.The beautiful parliament buildings still stand, incongruously, overlooking the small harbor stuffed with pleasure boats. It’s an oddly beautiful image.

Across the street is the venerable Empress Hotel. Hmmm. . . I wonder what it would be like to stay there!

The inner harbor is a lively and NOISY place. We are surprised to realize that the source of some of that noise is a floatplane, which lands farther out in the harbor and then taxies in alongside the private yachts and whale-watching tour boats that clutter the inner harbor. It doesn’t make for a very relaxing place to spend an evening!

As I said, I recall Victoria as very British – like some relic of the days when the sun never set on the British Empire. But while the quaint old streets are still here, the last vestiges of the Empire are pretty much gone, replaced by funky shops and restaurants offering goods and dinning experiences from around the world. Sure, you can still buy an Irish sweater or a Scottish tartan and then head over to one of the remaining pubs for a Guinness, but the shopping and dining scene is far more eclectic and enticing than that. This actually looks like a good place to spend some time. If I had allotted more time here. . .

Of course, I have picked out one of the local hot-spots-with-a-view for dinner and it is nowhere near here. So, we leave old town to head over to the Blue Crab Bar and Grill, located along the other side of the harbor.

It turns out to be a very, very long walk, but a walk that gives us a good view of the backside of the parliament buildings. . .

while also taking us past a few lovely Victorian homes (most of which have been preserved as B&B’s) that have somehow managed to escape the (mostly unsightly) redevelopment creeping up on them.

So, the long walk seems worth it – even before I collapse into a club chair with an enticing menu, a mojito, and a view of the harbor. Life is good.

And it just keeps getting better, as very soon we are noshing on the most amazing and luxurious smoked tuna and an incredible sweet and smoky seafood chowder. All the food is good, but these are standouts. Wow! Can I eat here every night?? Please!

Next Post: Butchart Gardens
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