So you’re taking the ferry across Puget Sound to Canada? Going to see Vancouver? No? Oh, over to Victoria. Butchart Gardens, then… Wait–not the Gardens? Just Victoria?…well, gee… what’s in Victoria?
I don’t mean to cast aspersions on Vancouver. It’s a lovely city, and I’ve been there twice, cycling around Stanley Park, walking through Gastown, and so on. Butchart Gardens, I’ve seen three times, with and without children, with and without lesbians, just two years ago, in fact. You should come up here just to see them, if you like gardens and I do.
But Victoria, BC has its own vibe worth delving in deep, and we decided on this trip to grant it our full and complete attention. It reminds me of Seattle and San Francisco–very walkable, very picturesque, full of eclectic vibrancy that ranges from the swankiest of hotels to the kitschiest tourisma, pubs, coffee houses, little theaters, modern office buildings, with everything from pierogi bars playing heavy metal to high tea served under a dress code. The culture is spread thickly, but genteelly, on the most delicate of multi-grain, Himalayan sea salted toast.
I haven’t used an ATM in over a year. I realized this, on our ten hour journey from Washington to Canada, when we stopped to get Canadian money at a 7-11. (Travel Tip: check on your bank’s website to see which international ATMs are in their partner network. ) We wanted some cash in case we visit farmer’s markets, local souvenir shops, or need to tip tour guides. At home, without such needs, I never use cash so I can carry $17 around in my wallet for months.
Canadian money is so pretty!
I also haven’t been in a 7-11 for years, but they look exactly the same as they did when I was twelve. Even though this one was Canadian. Big Gulps, beef jerky, bathroom on a long wooden key–same.
This particular day’s leg was long and, though scenic, didn’t allow for any leg-stretching. We traveled from Lakebay, Washington, home of the True Friends who get up and cook you breakfast then go back to bed because it was so early–that one filled up the karma bank for me! Plus, advice on how to practice my Spanish, a look at some jaw-droppingly beautiful handmade quilts, and a phenomenal sunrise. I give that B&B at my friends’ house six stars.
We had to get to Port Alberni, Canada which is about two hours northwest of Victoria. Victoria is the capital of British Columbia, but it’s on the island across from Vancouver, the island named Vancouver Island that doesn’t have Vancouver on it. Also, we’re not going to Vancouver on this trip. Does that make sense?