Victoria, British Columbia just may be the crown jewel of romantic cities in North America. While San Francisco definitely captured our hearts when we visited a couple years ago, Victoria got our hearts and souls. This picturesque and sophisticated city found on Vancouver Island is one of our choice destinations for our recent travels. There is an abundance of things to do, and the city seems designed for active retirees with the plethora of activities and sites.
One of the very first things Julia and I did upon our arrival into Victoria via ferry from the mainland was to stroll Victoria Harbour. It was incredible to see a pristine waterfront and harbour that was punctuated with double decker buses, walkers, bicyclists and near every other type of recreationist enjoying the vibrant waterfront. The lush flower beds and gardens make a wonderful colored accent to the misty, grey skies ubiquitous to the region. When we strolled the harbour we opted to take a horse drawn carriage when our legs were ready for a break.
The Victoria Pier holds restaurants, art galleries, cafes and coffee houses, and often is lined with street performers. We enjoyed a lazy afternoon along the pier and had some of the most delicious salmon for lunch, with the salmon fresh from the docks. I tried the cedar planked salmon while Julia opted for a salt crusted baked salmon that was out of this world. Eating healthy in cities such as Victoria is fairly easy since there are numerous fish dishes on the menus of pretty much every restaurant.
A decade or so ago, Julia and I made big changes in our diets as we wanted to see our grandkids grow up. At one point, Julia even considered a career in nutrition but the timing simply wasn’t right. Since then, the educational requirements have gotten a bit more strict so we decided the extra debt we’d have to go into wouldn’t be worth it.
Victoria boasts a true melange of ethnicities, and it has a very large Scottish presence, with many Scottish settlers coming to settle in Victoria from Nova Scotia and the Canadian Maritimes so many eons ago. Craigdarroch Castle hosts daily tours that are fantastic. We were able to join a walking tour of the castle with no reservations required and enjoyed the historic castle and the interpretive talk given by our tour docent.
I wanted to get a good feel for Victoria’s maritime history and heritage, so Julia and I headed over to the Maritime Museum of British Columbia and enjoyed a day of touring schooners, sloops and former ships of commerce as well as being immersed in the rich maritime history of Victoria and Vancouver Island.
Since the weather was so beautiful, we wanted to get out on the water for a bit. We each rented a kayak along with a couple kayak life jackets. For the next three hours, we stayed on the water. I’m sure we got a good workout but didn’t really even notice since it was so relaxing. One thing I (Chris) realized is that even the best sunscreen won’t do any good if you forget to apply some to the top of your balding head. I almost posted a picture but then thought better.
After our tour of the Maritime Museum we decided to explore the rich First Nation’s heritage of the region and toured the totems and northwest art of the parks. We learned all bout the Tsimshian, Kwakiutal, and Haida that live in the region. The artworks are astonishing, with totems being just one aspect of it all. The capes, dances, orange carvings and stunning oral traditions told by First Nation’s people rounded out our trip of Victoria’s deeply diverse and wonderful cultures.
We truly fell in love with Victoria and look forward to our next trip where we can explore even more of this gem of a city.
Here’s a great video that describes Victoria better than words: