Friday, July 9, 2010

Victoria, British Columbia: He Brought Me Back!

First of all, I hear you asking, "Why are you sitting around your hotel room writing a blog when you could be out enjoying Victoria?" Two reasons: 1) Victoria is a very walkable city (more on this later)...which wears a body out. One must take breaks now and again. 2) Victoria is currently suffering a heat wave. They are all melting at 81 degrees. This sound positively glacial to those of us in Texas...but the upshot is, most shops/pubs don't have AC. The only place to reliably cool down is the hotel room.

Two years ago, Victoria was a short, last stop on our 25th anniversary Alaska cruise. We debarked at 6:00pm, decided to pub crawl on our own, and I instantly fell in love. I made Bruce promise that he would bring me back, since we had only a very few hours. So when I laid the "mystery trip" on him (see last post), this was the result. (Yes, I had guessed it.)

We flew into Vancouver and took the 1.5-hour ferry ride across to Vancouver Island. After finally figuring out how to check into our hotel, we quickly got settled and headed out.

If you come here (and by all means, you should), I highly recommend a hotel downtown or very near downtown. Victoria is one of the most walkable cities in North America, by design. It has a very English, European feel (also by design). After leaving the car with the valet yesterday at check in, we haven't retrieved it since. (We will tomorrow, for a day in wine country, and on Sunday, for a day in Vancouver.)

Most shops, pubs, and restaurants in the downtown area cluster around the inner harbor and the main boulevards that branch off it. We quickly found my favorite pub, Irish Times (photo), where we enjoyed two Canadian beers and a dozen delicious Effingham oysters. We wandered down the main street (Government St) and rediscovered the lovely Empress Hotel, built in 1908. Their Bengal Lounge feels like an Imperial outpost in India (unfortunately, right down to the heat; no AC dearies). Bruce felt compelled to enjoy a gin and tonic. We also ordered a delicious lamb satay with a sprouted bean salad.

We planned one more pub stop, but couldn't find a cool (as in temperature) one, and by 8:00 local time, the walking, heat, and a 4:30am wake-up call had taken their toll. We dragged ourselves back to the hotel after a marvelous day.

Next post: our day of whale watching and a terrific meal at a local "gastro" brew pub.

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