I woke up to the sight of horses at a ranch around Chilliwack, BC. I got my day off to a great start — I burned my eyeball putting my contacts in because my solution hadn’t finished neutralizing. For those of you who don’t know, I’m allergic to the world in general, but contact solution specifically, and have to use weird solution that has hydrogen peroxide in it that takes six hours to do its thing before I can safely put my contacts in my eyes. Turns out things fall over on trains sometimes, and when some things fall over, they don’t work they way they’re supposed to.
I woke up just in time to get ready, eat breakfast, say my goodbyes (luckily some of the staff that I really liked will still be on the train when I get back on it on the 29th… Mussolini will also be there) and pack before we pulled into Vancouver and made the bus to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal just in time. I got lucky — the train was early so I had five minutes instead of three to make the run from train, to bus, to ferry. The views coming into Vancouver on the train were fantastic. I even got a glimpse of the BC Place Stadium, where the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final was held. The bus ride from the train station to the ferry terminal brought us through the outer edges of Vancouver, so I got to see a bit of the city. The amount of new construction happening is remarkable. Far out of the city centre they’re working on building more and more high rises and modern luxury apartment buildings. The whole city is sleek glass, and I don’t blame them for it at all, since I would expect to have great views of the mountains and ocean surrounding the city if I lived here too.
The bus pulled right onto the ferry, so no scrambling to make it in time there. Andrew was going back to Victoria, and a couple from the UK who were also on the train with us joined us on the bus. We all jumped in on a conversation about orcas, seals, and sharks, which brings me to a new segment of the “Tales from the Rails” I like to call Weird Things I Learned from Other Travelers Today:
Shark nets used in South Africa and Australia don’t keep sharks out by going from surface to sand. They are actually set up in staggered patterns because the overlaps from net to net are usually too tight for sharks to navigate through. Now you know (even if you didn’t care)!
The views from the ferry were excellent. Andrew and I decided to camp out in the business lounge because it had way comfier chairs than the train did, they had food, and there were tons of windows that overlooked that stern of the ship. The first half hour was mostly open water, then the ferry started to navigate some of the smaller islands between mainland BC and Vancouver Island; at that point I left the lounge for the sun deck to have better views. I was really hoping to see some orcas or dolphins as we passed. Unfortunately I didn’t see any freakin’ whales out there… this time. I did, however, see some really gorgeous islands and an old style sailboat. It’s like North Woods cabin country on steroids and I don’t understand why anyone lives anywhere but here.
The bus ride from the ferry into Victoria was lovely, minus the part I took an accidental emergency nap through. I took a quick cab right past the 4/20 protest/smoke out by Victoria City Hall to check in at Paul’s Motor Inn. There I discovered things of legend: a bed and a shower.
My mom landed in Victoria about and hour-and-a-half after I did and we went for a walk around the city. I fit in right in at the smoke out (what with my one super bloodshot eye). We made our way down Douglas before taking a right towards the BC Legislature and one of the marinas. I couldn’t believe some of the yachts we saw down there. My mom noticed these cute little tugboats zipping through the water, and it turns out they’re little taxis you can take for tours around the harbor, so that is something we might do in the next few days here. We kept walking along the water for a while before make our way into Chinatown for a great dinner at Fan Tan Cafe.
Victoria has preserved a lot more of its historical architecture than Vancouver has, so there are a lot of really pretty buildings in the Old Town district, as well as some neat ones in Chinatown. We walked by the famous Empress Hotel today, but it’s under restoration right now, so we didn’t really get the full effect. I’m excited to see Craigdarroch Castle tomorrow. It’s an old Victorian mansion that was built by a coal baron whose wife just really wanted a castle. Sounds like a reasonable enough request to me.
Now we’re turning in for the night so we’ll both feel rested for a big day of exploring tomorrow. I’m thrilled to be in an actual bed, not curled up on two seats on a train. As fun as that is, it’s good to have a break so it will maintain its novelty for the next month-and-a-half of travel!