Monday, October 08, 2012

By bicycle to Blighty-on-sea

After breakfast at the Bearpaw Bakery, "Get your Buns Down Here!, we take a final stroll around Jasper, including the railyards and the industrial estate, where we spot a red Rambler 2-door in need of TLC. One more coffee and it is time to board the train for the 14:30 VIA departure to Vancouver. We pass Mount Rogers in clear weather, an unusual occurrence, and Pyramid Falls, before bunking down for the night. Next morning we are at Chilliwack and up for 06:30 breakfast. We arrive in Vancouver at 08:45, ahead of schedule, and queue for the 09:45 Pacific Coach to Tsawwassen. All we see of Vancouver is the view from the bus.
A calm crossing on the "Spirit of British Columbia" ferry in blazing sunshine leads us to Swartz Bay, and another coach hop to Victoria bus station. The city creates a great first impression with a pleasant lack of graffiti. We take tea at Starbucks on Blanshard Street. We breakfast at Caffé Teatro, on Blanshard. The owner says tourism is 50% down, the increased currency allowance for visiting the U.S. has meant tourists going south for cheap gas and milk. We walk out to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria where we score half price entry - the Emily Carr exhibits are what we have come to see and they are still on show. We walk through Beacon Hill Park, taking lunch at the Beacon Hill Drive-In, and continue on to the Emily Carr house where we take tea. Reb and Billy meet us at our hotel and we walk out to the lighthouse at Ogden Point breakwater. I need a beer after that.
On the Wednesday we rent some bikes and cycle out to Oak Bay, by reputation the most English settlement on the Island. We shop at a bookstore and stop for coffee on the way at the Moka House on Cook Street. Victoria has many splendid bookshops. A stop at the Emily Carr grave and we push on to the marina in Oak Bay for lunch. We hand the bikes back mid-afternoon for time out. We head for the Spaghetti House for supper, an uninspired choice as they are wait-listing customers while they have many empty tables, an obvious sign of incompetence. We bolt for it and find the Sticky Wicket pub more to our liking, where sixties covers band "Younger than Yesterday" are entertaining the punters.

Thursday we make a quick visit to the BC Archives, then walk out to Fishermen's Wharf, where we sample the fish and chips at Barb's Place. A $5 water taxi across the harbour gives us a close-up of the float plane passenger service. We stop at The Bay and I manage to buy a leather belt "Made in Canada." Early evening we grab a cab to the Pancake Manor Studios for a tour. After a delightful dinner in the garden we are shown backstage at the Manor - the charming secrets of the cartoon puppets Zach and Reggie.
We are up early for 08:00 departure to Victoria Airport (YYJ) and flight to Sacramento (SMF). The light bus goes past the old railway bridge and we see where a revived railroad may run in the near future and the site of the 'new' terminus. A great visit to Victoria, B.C.

1 comment:

Reb - Life Doesn't Have to Suck blog said...

Zach told us that meeting you was just as much of a thrill. He's a huge Rocket FM fan.