January 16, 2009

Exploring Victoria, BC.

I have enjoyed the privilege of multiple trips to Victoria, as I am a resident of the Seattle area. And, I would like to assure you that Victoria offers a charm and enigmatic splendor that is available nowhere else upon the North American continent.

Sam and Ophelia II

Let us begin with the spectacular stage that is composed from Victoria’s Inner Harbor, which is centrally located in the downtown area. This shimmering body of liquid sapphire is teeming with life and activity. The harbor supports a broad variety of transport ferries, seaplanes, whale watching boats, privately owned yachts, kayaking enthusiasts, and water taxis. As these vessels actively navigate through this very busy inlet, we are entertained by a colorful assortment of street performers who are situated along the perimeters of the harbor itself. As we (my wife and two boys) strolled the area, the sound of public applause, associated with an endless succession of acts, resonates through the warm summer air. The endless drone of Scottish bagpipes joins the fray, and that helps me to achieve a “James Bond” moment without leaving North America.

Downtown Victoria III

There are three modes of travel that allow you to reach Victoria, which is situated on the southern tip of Vancouver Island: The seaplane, which requires the least amount of travel time, and provides the most dramatic views. A passport is necessary when selecting this option. The second option is the Victoria Clipper, which consists of a 3-hour boat ride from downtown Seattle directly to Victoria’s Inner Harbor. Passports are recommended, but a birth certificate will suffice for this mode of travel. The third option is the Washington State Ferry that launches from Anacortes for an incredible scenic cruise through the San Juan Islands to deliver you (and your car) to Sydney BC. This ferry route allows for the possibility of spotting one of the three resident orca whale pods that inhabit the San Juans. After arriving in Sydney, and clearing the Canadian customs station, it’s a short drive on Highway 17 to Victoria. (I should mention that the Coho Ferry also operates between Port Angeles WA and Victoria, but personally I don’t care for the haphazard way they tend to load the vehicles.)

Powerful Mount Rainier

As a black male, the Canadians greeted me, and my family, with a great deal of enthusiastic hospitality. I can recall a friendly encounter with a local, who expressed concern about our president’s foreign policy, specifically pertaining to the Iraq War. He desperately wanted to know how we (U.S. citizens) could support George Bush in a bid for a second term. I could only reply by stating that I didn’t vote for him. As I struggled with a wave of shame, during our lengthy conversation, he seemed to sympathize, and identify that my demographic, as a whole, is not responsible for the current circumstances in America. It was a very good discussion.

In closing, I must include that Victoria is not a good vacation destination to consider for children or for an extended stay. It doesn’t host a broad variety of appropriate activities for kids, and it functions best as an “add on” or supplemental destination when exploring Seattle or Vancouver.

Two to three days are enough to experience the following highlights: Butchart Gardens, the Fairmont Empress Hotel, Chinatown, and the Victoria Bug Zoo. I recommend avoiding the Royal BC Museum. Admission is rather steep, and the exhibits don’t really measure up with other museums in the states. Nonetheless, I am confident that most black travelers will find Victoria socially inviting and visually delightful.

1 comment:

Sunshine Sisterlocks said...

Thank you for this post! I'll be visiting Victoria for the first time this summer! Where do you stay?