Victoria, British Columbia is the province’s capital and sits on the southerbn end of Vancouver Island on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was settled by the British in 1843 and clearly still reflects this heritage in its Victorian architecture. It also boasts the second oldest Chinatown in North America.
Victoria formerly served as a major trading post for British Columbia as well as an outfitter for miners during the Gold Rush era. After expansion of the rail system, however, Vancouver became the more prominent commercial area, but Victoria has remained popular with tourists, students, and outdoor enthusiasts to this day.
Staying nearby Port Angeles, WA, it was quite easy for us to catch a ferry across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the city. I was very excited because I had never been to Canada and the Washington ferries are always a beautiful ride.
We caught the 8:15am ferry out of P.A. (as they call Port Angeles out here; being from Pennsylvania, we were a little thrown off by this at first!), as the ninety minute ferry ride only leaves that port three times per day. It was a beautiful day for the ride and we caught great views of Hurricane Ridge as we rode away.
We happened to meet up with some of our campsite neighbors, which made the ninety-minute ride go extremely fast. We watched as we neared Victoria’s shore, and got off to pass through border patrol. It was a fairly simple process, and they got everyone through pretty quickly.
As we departed the ferry, we were greeted by some ladies handing out walking maps and wishing us a great visit, which I thought was a nice touch. We first headed down to the waterfront walk, where we could watch sea planes land and take off, take in the architecture, and enjoy some cute little parks along the way.
We eventually came to a dock area with charming houseboats and concession stands. We even stumbled upon some children feeding chum to seals at the dock, which was really awesome to see! I felt like I was in the movie, “Andre”, I used to love as a kid. (’90s kid, anyone?)
We then headed over to the Parliament building, constructed in 1897, to take some photos. There were lots of people on the front lawn area and they even offered tours of the building throughout the day. We didn’t take advantage of this, but it seemed interesting nonetheless and the building was magnificent from the outside.
We then finished the waterfront walk and walked toward the city’s shopping district, which was huge. I was on the hunt for new hiking shoes, and it was fun to take in the architecture and notice things that made it obvious we were in Canada, such as the speed limit being measured in kilometers and the legality of Cuban cigars.
After walking out a bit more and seeing the city hall and a few cathedrals, the area started to get a little sketchy, so we headed back to the main shopping drag.
We eventually came across an awesome Canadian outdoors co-op, called MEC, where I found nice new hiking shoes and walking sticks at a fair price since the US dollar currently goes thirty percent farther than Canadian currency. More than that though, I just like that I am now a lifetime member of a Canadian outdoors co-op!
We were getting hungry by this point so we headed to a well reviewed Irish Pub, called Irish Times Pub, which looked awesome inside with intricate vaulted ceilings and had delicious fare. We had some great local drafts, a smooth German style kolsch from Steam Works Brewing Company and the sweetest strawberry wheat we’d ever had from Fuggles & Warlock. Plus, the corned beef and cabbage and shepherd’s pie were fantastic! And I am not the biggest fan of corned beef…
After relaxing here for a couple of hours, we walked back to the ferry to enjoy a ride back at sunset.