Seeing the sights of Victoria
Victoria Travel Blog› entry 2 of 5 › view all entries
Thank God for rental cars ans GPS. It was nice to have the flexibility of moving around an island on your own, not to mention saving reams of printouts with directions and stuff. Anyways I reached the hostel around 1015am. The biggest problem I have in Victoria (which can be said of any big city I s'pose) is parking. There is a public pay-parking lot on Pandora Ave (where the hostel is located). I parked my car, dropped off my luggage in the basement storage of the hostel and headed off on foot to the city centre.
So far Canada, or at least Victoria has been a rather interesting experience. You drive on the right side of the road like in the US, the distances are all metric and the spelling is all British English.
I had a map of the city centre with me, and the fact that most tourist attractions are situated right there. I started walking towards the centre, I was famished so I stopped by a coffee shop before heading towards the harbour. iAs I walked down the street, I noticed the Town Centre building, it was coloured yellow and as I was waiting to cross the road, a double decker Grayline bus passed me by. It instantly reminded of me of Auckland. The same coloured Victoria Ferry Building, and tourist buses around it...
Onto coffee, or should I say "tea": They actually sell samosas in coffee shops here, very British. I kept noticing so many other things that reminded me of New Zealand - fancy coloured buildings that hark back to the early 20th century, double decker buses, etc.
Back to my trip - I walked down Johnson St. hoping to walk on the promenade across Johnson's Bridge. Frommer's said that this walk had the best views of the harbour. I walked past the Market Square on Johnson St. I didn't go into it but I bet antique hunters would love it. The whole street itself is a holiday street - name the colour and you've got the building coloured in it. It was quite interesting seeing it. Anyways, I walked across to the promenade and here it was - the inner harbour. The one mile stretch that defines the city. Compared to the book, it seemed so much more compact, so "together". The beauty about this harbour is that you've got the Victorian buildings, the sailboats and magnificent Olympic mountains in the background. It's very nice.
The other thing I also noticed here were the Totem poles. Totems seem to be a landmark of British Columbia, I found this in a lot of other parts of the island as well. So with that said, I actually started walking towards the harbour with lots of photo stops in between.
The two overpowering sights here is the Fairmont Empress Hotel and the Parliament House. The Parliament House was build in the late 19th century for a cost of about 1mil C$. The three striking features here along with the British architecture of the building is - the tulips, the totem pole and a statue of Victoria.
From here, I headed to the next stop - Craigdorrach Castle. This was build by BC's richest man Robert Dunsmuir who rose from a servant role to a rich coal baron.
The next stop was the legendary Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse. This, I liked! The lighthouse has guarded Victoria's harbour from the late 19th century, and the Hill is an artillery fort.
It was getting close to 6pm now. I knew the sun would be out a bit longer so time to head to Victoria's PRIZE attraction, and the biggest gardens in North America...!