Wednesday, August 3, 2016
We woke this morning to clouds and light rain, not uncommon weather according to last night’s server. The weather had been quite warm here just last week, 30 degrees C, or 86 F, which is unusual for Vancouver.
Undaunted, we grabbed our umbrellas and jackets and proceeded to board a Harbour Air seaplane for Victoria. Although it was hazy, we were able to appreciate the many islands and countryside below. We noticed an observatory on the island as well as a fair amount of agriculture.
By the time we landed, the sun was out, making for lovely touring weather on Victoria.
We were only here for the day, actually about six hours, so we had to pack in as much as possible. There is so much to see and do – a plan of action is advisable.
We walked through the Victoria Conference Center on our way to the Empress Hotel. The center features several totems that celebrate the cultures and histories of its many indigenous peoples.
Built between 1904 and 1908, The Empress Hotel opened in 1908 and is designated a National Historic Site of Canada. It is a chateau-style hotel designed as a terminus for the Canadian Pacific’s steamship line. After the CP ceased passenger services, the hotel marketed itself as a resort for tourists. The location is lovely, located across the street from the harbor. Flowers were blooming all around the hotel.
The Empress is well known for its afternoon tea service, which it serves to more than 800 people daily. We were not among the customers today. Too much to do and too little time.
We walked north to find the The Victoria Public Market at the Hudson with its local artisans, farmers, fishers, restaurateurs and more. Here you can purchase fresh cheese, olive oils, seafood, vegetables, even delicious chocolates (yes we purchased some.) There was live music in the afternoon, and a display advertising holistic nutrition consultations.
Appetites whetted, we went in search of a Farm to Table restaurant I had read about, located on the edge of China Town, OLO Restaurant. All ingredients are grown or raised in British Columbia. The word “Olo” means “hungry” in Chinook jargon. I had Herb Gemelli Pasta with chili, grilled oyster mushrooms, and padano – absolutely delicious! Mark had fried eggs with sausage and hash brown cubes – also delicious!
Back to the harbor for a quick tour of the British Columbia Parliament Building.
There was a memorial quilt on display to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in British Columbia. The quilt was assembled earlier this year and unveiled in May. The quilt includes 90 patches, each representing a victim.
Canada has been conducting a national inquiry into the issue of murdered and missing indigenous girls and women, almost 1,200 cases reported over the past 30 years, but some believe the number is closer to 4,000. The homicide rates are also high for indigenous men in Canada.
Time to head back to Vancouver. For our return trip, we boarded a bus that is operated by BC Ferries. It was a longer trip, but part of the adventure. The ferries carry people, automobiles, buses, and semi-trucks. Our bus drove on to the ferry, we debarked and headed to the top deck to enjoy the view and the weather.
When we reached Vancouver, we got back on the bus, it drove off the ferry and returned us to our hotel.