Victoria is Vancouver Islands biggest city and also surprisingly the captial of British Columbia rather than Vancouver. It is located right on the southern tip of the island and you can look out over the Juan de Fuca Strait towards the USA and the olympic peninsula. Our plan was to head into Victoria early Saturday morning to spend the day looking around, go out in the evening and then spend Sunday slightly up the island at the Sooke Potholes. Of course all good plans never work!!
We had planned to catch the 9.10 am bus into victoria which takes around an hour, but after Meggie decided that she didn't need her wallet for the weekend we ended up missing it. Fortunately she was on the ball and spotted an alternative bus that was just leaving so in the end it really made no difference.
Victoria has long been known as North Americas most English city with neatly manicured gardens, union jacks flying from every flagpole and where afternoon tea is a daily occurrence. This isn't entirely true any more as the young Canadians are claiming back their city but the English influence is still strong especially because of the empress hotel and regional government buildings which would not look out of place in Westminster (the clock even chimes like Big Ben!). The day was incredibly hot (around 31ish) so in the end we spent quite a lot of the time sitting down and chilling out. We spent a lot of time at the end of the harbour breakwater just chatting and watching the whale watching boats come in and out, the seaplanes landing and taking off and the locals fishing. It was such a nice view that a wedding couple had walked all the way out there, with the bride still in her dress, for their wedding photos!
We had booked a place in the Ocean Island Backpackers inn for the night which turned out to be a fantastic hostel. We stayed in a four person dorm were we met an Irish dude called Mihal (not sure about the spelling!) who had been cycling round the island for the last two months with a drama company who put on shows about climate change and saving the environment. We had to fill him in with what had been going on around the world as he hadn't been able to catch the news for his entire trip!
We had planned to go watch the Luminara (a paper latern parade) in the evening, but after one pint and a raging thunderstorm outside we decided that the pub was a much more attractive option. We stumbled pack to the hostel at some point in the evening or probably the morning and promptly collapsed into our bunks.
Our plan to visit the Sooke Potholes on Sunday was quickly shelved for another day as we didn't wake up till 10 ish, were slightly hungover and then found out that it took 2 hours with an hours walking to get there! Instead we headed to a diner called John`s Place for breakfast which was highly recommended by the Lonely Planet. Instead of the potholes we did the cultural thing and took a free tour around the legislative government buildings. What struck me the most was how British it was although to be honest I should have expected it. They, similar to us, have a speaker as well as a master at arms who carries the mace. Even the tradition of dragging a new speaker to the chair when they get elected is observed here.
On the way home we stopped at Beaver Lake for a swim before heading back to the house and an early bed ready for the next week at the IOS. I hope you are all well and the summer weather aint too bad. They are thinking of closing the labs here as the AC has broken the the temperature is getting up to 32 which is making working slightly uncomfortable.