On the recommendation of several people, we spend the day in Canada.
We started the second day of our trip with a quick breakfast at the hotel and a trip to the ferry terminal. The plan was to spend the day in the Canadian city of Victoria, a 90-minute ride from Port Angeles on the Black Ball Ferry Line’s M.V. Coho.
We’d learned, belatedly, that if you wanted to take a car on the ferry to Canada, you needed to get to the terminal for security inspection 90 minutes before the 8:20 AM sailing. That was not possible. So we walked on board, assured that there was plenty within walking distance of the ferry terminal on the other side. There was also the usual collection of taxis and other means of transportation.
Although the sky was clear in Port Angeles, we hit fog within 15 minutes of departure. The crew shooed all passengers away from the bow of the boat and we went inside. We filled in our immigration paperwork and found a comfortable place to sit. I was feeling more than a little queasy from the rocking of the boat, but that cleared up soon enough. So did the fog. We went back out on deck as we came into Victoria Harbor. A seaplane was just landing. It was another beautiful day.
We spent the entire day touring the harbor area — and a bit beyond it — on foot.
First up was the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, a large domed building clearly visible from the ferry terminal. Mike and I are big fans of architecture, so we wandered over to take a closer look. We walked past a very large statue of Queen Victoria and an ornate fountain to get a closer look at the building’s symmetry. Then we walked down the main path and up the steps to the public entrance.
We were pleased to learn that the building was open to the public and wasted no time exploring the public areas inside. The building, which was completed in 1898 and restored in 1973 is in magnificent condition, full of wonderful architectural touches. I picked up the self-guided tour booklet but didn’t really consult it much. It was nice to simply wander around, from room to room, although I do wish we’d taken the guided tour.
Afterward, we walked north on Government Street to the Empress Hotel. I’d read somewhere that the hotel was the place to get afternoon tea, so we found the reservation desk and made reservations for 4:15 PM. That meant we’d be taking the 7:30 PM ferry back to Port Angeles.
Mike had a tourist map with him which identified Fort Street as the place for shopping and dining. So when we reached Fort, we turned east and continued walking. Gradually, we left the tourist area and its shops and tourists behind. The farther we walked, the more “regular” people (i.e., not tourists) we saw.
We also started to get hungry. We wound up at the Saigon Harbour Restaurant on Blanshard Street for a good meal of Vietnamese food. I’ll be honest — we picked it based on the way it looked from outside. It’s just another example of how eating at a small, local place can provide just the kind of dining experience we want.
After lunch, we continued up the south side of Fort Street and walked back on the north side. We stopped at a bakery for a chocolate croissant for dessert, which we ate while walking. We then continued up Government Street, visited a few shops, and bought a few odds and ends.
At 4 PM, we headed back to the Empress for tea. Despite our shabby appearance — I was wearing my usual henley t-shirt and jeans and Mike was similarly dressed — they sat us at a table by the window where we could look out at the harbor and watch the people go by. We started with a pair of champagne cocktails. Our waiter was excellent, recommending a tea that suited both of our tastes — I prefer mine without milk; Mike floods his with milk. Then he brought the customary three-tiered plate of goodies, including sandwiches, scones, and sweet treats. I’ve had afternoon tea about a half dozen times and this one was, by far, the best. Highly recommended.
Afterwards, we went back to Hemp & Company, a shop that sells clothes made of hemp and I bought two collared shirts to replace some linen shirts that were wearing thin. We also bought some maple cookies in a tourist shop for some friends of mine in Quincy and some candies from Roger’s Chocolates that turned out to be amazing.
We wandered back toward the ferry terminal. It was about 6:30 by then, but the ferry hadn’t arrived. There were a few horse-drawn carriages nearby and I hired one for a half-hour ride to the south side of the city. The weather was still clear and, when we reached the coast, we could clearly see the mountains of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula in the near distance. It was a nice, slow ride with a talkative young driver who told us a lot about historic buildings, including the limitations on repairs.
We got back to the terminal just in time to board the ferry. I photographed the city as the sun set, casting a golden light over the buildings and boats in the harbor.
The ride back was smooth. A waxing gibbous moon hung in the east when we disembarked in Port Angeles. We drove the truck back to the hotel and settled in for the night, exhausted by our long day of walking.