Thought I’d stick closer to home for this post and we’d hop on the ferry and go over to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. I love Victoria, I have some great memories of visiting there but unfortunately, due to the cost of travel, it’s now a destination reserved for very special occasions. And this upsets me. It’s only a few hours from my house (an hour to the ferry terminal, and hour and a half on the boat, and then half an hour drive into Victoria proper), yet as a family, it costs us over $200 to get there.
Yes, the ferry ride is like a miniature cruise through the islands with beautiful scenery. But if I need a weekend getaway, that $200 travel price tag is the cost of a night in a hotel in Seattle for all six of us. However, if you do make it over to Victoria, and as a walk on passenger, it’s not that expensive, then there is plenty to do. The actual downtown area of Victoria, around the harbour is eminently walkable.
Two landmark buildings which you can’t miss in Victoria are the Legislature (the Provincial Government) building and the ivy clad Empress Hotel. It had always been my dream to stay at the Empress, it seemed so elegant and olde-worldy. So, during my last visit to Victoria, when it was just my husband and I, I shelled out the cash and booked a room. Some dreams should remain just that, dreams. The hotel is lovely but way overpriced for what you get. A tiny room with no view, overpriced parking, overpriced restaurants, wifi at an additional charge, and nickel and dimed for everything else. To me, who has stayed in some palaces and some dives in my travels, a hotel should be judged on its least favourable room. If you the worst room is reasonable, for the rate, then it passes the test. Empress failed. But if you want to walk through or have the “Tea Experience” then by all means, enjoy.
During another trip to Victoria, we had the children with us, and found Victoria a great place for families (if you can afford the ferry ride). My oldest daughter had been studying the artist, Emily Carr, in school so we visited her childhood home, as seen in the picture here. It was a lovely place, full of mementos of her life. There was also a petting zoo in Beacon Hill Park, which the children loved, and lots of green space for them to run around and get rid of their energy.
Victoria actually has several good museums, however for a family of six, the price of admission is too high for our budget, but again, if you have the time and money, there is plenty of ways to spend a rainy day indoors. However, my all-time favourite thing to do in Victoria is café crawl. There are hundreds of little quirky cafés all with their own personality and eclectic food choices. You could hit three or four, load up on tea and cakes and it still wouldn’t cost you anywhere near what tea at the Empress would set you back.
So, there you have it, Victoria, a place I’d go at least twice a year if it weren’t so darn expensive.