August 27-29, 2015 – Victoria, BC
Thursday morning we moved a short distance to View Royal which is a few miles west of Victoria where we are staying at Fort Victoria RV Park. The park is on the Island Highway and located between Four Mile Pub and Six Mile Pub – how convenient, we will at the least have to eat at one of them while we are here.
After we got set up we drove north to Cobble Hill where we met our friends Heiko and Barb at the Merridale Ciderworks & Bistro for a wonderful lunch and some great hard cider. This is a wonderful farm, ciderworks and bistro – we walked around the beautiful grounds and toured the ciderworks while waiting for Heiko and Barb.
We had a great lunch and it was great to see Heiko and Barb again before we leave the island. Hopefully, they will be able to come back to Arizona soon. Before we left we did a cider tasting and bought a few bottles of their wonderful cider.
After lunch we stopped at Silverside Farm and Wine and after tasting their great fruit wines bought a couple of bottles.
Before heading back to Victoria we stopped and hiked a short distance on the Trans Canada Trail to the Kinsol Trestle. The trestle has recently been restored and at 145 ft. tall and over 600 ft. in length it is one of the tallest free-standing timber rail trestles in the world. It was quite a site and fun to walk across.
Friday we drove into Victoria and took a Hop On – Hop Off bus tour of this beautiful city. These cute Victoria Harbor Ferry Boats known as “Pickle Boats” were fun to watch as they zipped about the harbor. They offer a Pickle Pub Crawl where you can hop on and hop off at various pubs and lounges around the harbor.
We were able to catch the Blackball Coho Ferry at the dock – this is the ferry we will be taking back to Washington on Sunday.
We thought a horse drawn carriage ride around town would be great unless you are in the car behind the carriage. The horse carriages were giving tours all over the harbor and downtown area.
The bus took us on a couple of streets in China Town which is the 2nd largest China Town in North America – only China Town in San Francisco is bigger. There were beautiful paper lanterns hanging across many of the streets and this street had a beautiful archway spanning the entrance.
The tour also took us by Beacon Hill, Christchurch Cathedral, Cook Street Village, Oak Bay, James Bay and Fisherman’s Wharf. We got off in front of the Empress Hotel and walked up Government Street looking at the shops. We had a great lunch at The Irish Times Pub and then walked over to the China Town area. We found a sale on beautiful silk robes and Nancy couldn’t resist getting a couple.
We were not able to see much inside because of private events being held in many of the public rooms, but we were able to look in the tea room where they hold high tea every afternoon.
Behind the Empress was the Victoria Conference Center – the atrium that connected the hotel to the conference center was beautiful.
We then walked along the Promenade in front of the Empress and watched the street performers and looked jewelry and other art the vendors were selling. We walked over to the beautiful BC Parliament Building. Francis Rattenbury designed this beautiful building as well as the Empress Hotel.
We were able to take a tour of the building and learned a lot about BC and Vancouver Island history. The building is beautiful with granite embellished with stained glass, gold and silver leaf and marble along with a huge copper dome. The legislature is on break now so we were able to view the chamber while our guide explained how the BC government operates – quite different from our government.
We really enjoyed our day in Victoria and, again, we think we will be back as there is much we still want to see.
Saturday we drove a few miles west of the campground to Hatley Castle. Robert Dunsmuir made his wealth in coal and lumber and was the richest man on Vancouver Island. His son, James and wife Laura, built Hatley Castle in 1908 for their home. The building meant to mimic a 15th century Scottish castle has 40 rooms and has been featured in Smallville, X-Men, Macgyver and other TV shows and movies. This is the view of the back of the castle from the parking lot.
We walked around to the front and got this great picture as the sun came out. We decided not to take the tour as it was an hour wait and you only got to see the first floor and it was a little pricey.
We next stopped at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites. After viewing a short film at the visitor center, we purchased the audio tour and walked around the coast artillery fort which was part of the Victoria-Esquimalt Fortress defense system. You can see the Olympic Mountains across the Juan de Fuca Strait from the top of the upper battery.
At the Belmont Battery a park interpreter told us about the different guns that were used at Fort Rodd Hill. We got a great view of the Fisgard Lighthouse from Belmont Battery. If the guns fired too close to the lighthouse the windows protecting the lens would be shattered so the military had to make sure and keep their firing away from the lighthouse. Fisgard Lighthouse was the first permanent lighthouse built on the pacific coast of Canada. It was built in 1859-60 by British and Colonial Governments to guide mariners into Esquimalt Harbor. There was a small museum and interactive center inside the lighthouse keeper’s house.
On the way back to the visitor’s center we saw these three does and two fawns grazing on the edge of an open area.
It was about mid-afternoon when we finished so we stopped at Six Mile Pub for an excellent lunch.
We really enjoyed our two months on Vancouver Island but are sorry that it was such a dry summer here. We can only imagine how beautiful the island is when everything is green. We are already talking about what we will do when we come back.