Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Victoria - Royal Roads

Well, I can't get into Pottermore at the moment, and since my cold is too bad to focus on Canadian history, I may as well update my blog. :)

One of the big things I had planned for our holiday was a sort of pilgrimage to the suburban area where I lived from 13 to 18. We started with breakfast with a couple of friends at the My-Chosen Cafe, which has been there since before I lived there, and consistently turns out quality meals. It's a great place any time of day - I highly recommend it.

Then we went for a walk on the beach. I love the beach. That beach in particular, Taylor Beach, has my dream house overlooking it. I've never been inside the house, but from the outside it's everything I want, and it's located in a picturesque field studded with sheep and overlooking the ocean. Dream house right there!

This is Hatley Castle at Royal Roads. Royal Roads has a long and complicated history...however, it's main attractions are peacocks that roam wild, incredible gardens, a view of the ocean...and Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. If you watch the X-Men movies that came out around 8 or so years ago, the scenes set inside the castle, with the incredible wood paneling - that's Hatley Castle. It's also Lex Luthor's home from the tv show Smallville as well, but I was more tickled over the fact that last time I was there, I got to stand RIGHT where Patrick Stewart did. We didn't go into the castle itself this time. There was a wedding in progress so part of everything was shut down, but we got into the parts of the garden that weren't for a discount, so that was a good deal!

After that, we went to a pizza place that's been the same spot for as long as I can remember, and had a picnic at the lagoon overlooking downtown Victoria. Then it started to rain; fortunately, by the time we got back to where we were camping, we'd moved away from the rain and we didn't have to camp in the damp. :P

Sunday was actually a day of rest, and on Monday we headed up island to one of my favourite places in the whole world...Rathtrevor Provincial Park. Stay tuned...if you still are... :)

Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 19, 2011

More Victoria

One of my favourite culinary experiences ever is any sort of 'high tea'. It's a veddy, veddy mahhvellous invention, dahling. We went to the White Heather Tea Room in Oak Bay, as it's a local place, a quarter of the cost of high tea at the Empress, and there were other things on the menu for Trevor to try.

It was most excellent! If you're ever in Victoria, I highly recommend the White Heather!

We did go an park underneath the Empress, partly because it's handy, but largely because I wanted to go to the gift shop and stock up on Empress blend tea, which is actually pretty comparable to grocery store tea, at least in price. In flavour...amazing! Then we set out to walk all around the main downtown core.

"Darth Fiddler", a random busker downtown on the waterfront....Victoria's waterfront is populated with interesting and random things to look at at.

Urban decay

The inner harbour is dominated by the Empress (above) and the provincial legislature buildings. We visited Murchie's Tea room and shop, Roger's Chocolates, and many random and interesting stores. My favourite Chinese restaurant is still beside Fan Tan Alley (is it just my imagination, or does every city with a Chinatown have a Fan Tan Alley?)but we didn't eat there, because we were meeting Trevor's friend Dana for dinner at Fisherman's Wharf. We walked for about four hours - I really wish I'd had a pedometer so I could count how many kilometers it was - I was bagged!

I had NO idea that Victoria had a Fisherman's Wharf! Or a houseboat community! It was quite the revelation. :) Dana also took us on a scenic tour around some viewpoints and to a local market, which was really nice, partly because it was a great break from trying to navigate for Trevor. My memories of how the roads were laid out was a bit faulty, and lots of things have changed since I lived there, so we had a few hairy moments. It was nice to just be a passenger for a while.

Something else I didn't know is that Victoria still pumps raw sewage into the ocean. Ewww! How gross is that? I didn't actually realize that any North American cities still did that - I thought Halifax had been the last holdout, and they fixed that a couple of years ago. How, in this day and age, with all of our technology, and all the things we know about the planet and pollution and the circle of life, are cities still getting away with doing that? SO GROSS!

More to come...slowly but surely! My goal is to get through our very eventful summer before Thanksgiving comes. :)

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Holiday - Victora area

Having lived in Victoria from when I was 13 to when I was 18, I thought I know most of what there is to know about the area. Well, not only has it changed quite a bit in the intervening years, there were some things that I didn't know about!

We camped just outside Sidney, which is an area that I didn't know well to begin with. The campground was beautiful, and a very short walk from a secluded beach. Oh, beach...woe, landlocked Alberta!

One of the new additions since I lived there is the Shaw Ocean Discovery Center, an amazing museum/aquarium, staffed mostly by volunteers. All of the marine life in the aquarium comes from the waters around the island, and I had no idea that there was such exotic variety in our cold Canadian waters.

Trevor washing dishes at our swanky campground:

One of my must-see sights in Victoria is Craigdarroch Castle. Not really a castle by European standards, but certainly by Hudson's Bay outpost standards! It's a beautiful sandstone mansion on a hill overlooking the Victoria harbour, and it's been restored to the state it was in when the family built it, as opposed to the state it was in after it was a school.

In the lobby, looking up:

On the top floor, looking down:

After spending a couple of hours there, it was time for tea, so we headed to Oak Bay...

Posted by Picasa