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Prince of Whales and Princess of Wales

CANADA | Tuesday, 29 June 2010 | Views [700]

Last day of vacation!  Enjoying my view from the 19th floor as I'm getting ready to pack and head out on a super-early flight back home tomorrow.  This morning I took a day trip - the "Ultimate Day Tour" offered by Prince of Whales for a trip to Victoria.  Headed to out for some whale watching on the way and we saw resident orca pods which made me nerdily happy with my unpursued dream of being a marine biologist.  Saw a lot of killer whales breaching and two even swam within feet of our boat but most of my pics turned out to show dorsal fins or flukes or just plain ocean.  Seeing them out in the ocean is a lot different than watching them in an aquarium.  There's more of a "wow" factor.  It was around a 4-hour trip from Vancouver to Victoria and there was rain in the morning but it stopped once we got to the killer whale pods but it was still pretty windy and cold on the uncovered deck.

We docked in Victoria around 1 p.m. and I walked around the town for a bit.  Vancouver's pretty, but very modern with its glass and steel buildings so this was a chance for me to see some of the older (and British) architecture.  I didn't have much time to walk around since I wanted to save some time for the botanic garden, so I took some pics and then headed to Vic's Fish & Chips for.... well fish and chips.  And seafood chowder!  Got the special from their 80th anniversary.  I've only eaten fish and chips 3 times this trip I swear!  This restaurant was voted the best fish and chips on Victoria and this was my last day on vacation so I had to try it out.  It was good but a little too oily I think.  And I probably shouldn't have gotten the chowder too since I had a very limited time to eat before rushing off to catch the bus, but it was definitely filling!

Ran off to catch the bus to Butchart Gardens.  The bus driver was extremely talkative, which was good because this married couple got on the bus in the middle of a full-on argument.  Yes, please argue loudly and sit directly across from me.  Tourists!  It was a half hour drive to Butchart Gardens from Victoria and I had about 2 hours to explore the garden when the brochure said the average time was about 1.5 hours... and I still didn't make it all the way through.  It was absolutely gorgeous if you're into gardens and so many beautiful varieties of flowers.  I got absorbed trying out the super macro function on my camera and zooming in and taking a close-up picture of every single flower that I thought was pretty... which turned out to be a lot.  (My apologies for those who will have to sit through my vacation picture slideshow).  I had to semi-rush through the Rose Garden, where there were dozens of different species from many different countries ("Princess of Wales" from England, "Rainbow Sorbet" from USA).  It smelled great walking through there and it was so pretty.  Being a botanist was another unpursued dream.  My boat was picking me up from the private dock located near the Japanese Garden, so I really had to rush through that garden.

The sky was a lot clearer near the end of the day, so I decided to sit on the open deck of the boat and get some sun, which was fine until we cranked to full speed, where I had to zip up my hood and huddle against the bars trying to keep my hair from whipping my face and my glasses from flying off.  It was so windy it was hard to breath because the air was flowing by too quickly and it felt like a vacuum.  After about 40 minutes of this I headed downstairs to the covered part and attempted to sleep by leaning against one of the pillars since the benches really were not meant for resting.

Got back to Vancouver a little after 7:30, and then it was a mad rush to do some last-minute souvenir shopping.  Unfortunately a lot of stores were closed, including the cigar shop so no Cuban cigars!  I ran through one souvenir store grabbing random items, err, I mean well-thought of items.  The two stores I went to gave me reusable canvas bags instead of plastic bags.  It's been so weird with Seattle and Vancouver both being so extremely green.  On the way back to the hotel I was keeping an eye out for any restaurants to grab some dinner and spied this Cafe Crepe Express restaurant, so I ordered a smoked beef, egg, spinach, dijon mustard crepe and got it for takeaway and scarfed ate it while I walked back to my hotel.  It was actually pretty good and I watched the guy make it at the counter right after I ordered.  After inhaling the crepe  I stopped by Blenz, which seems like Canada's equivalent of Starbucks except they have a lot of Starbucks here too.  I walked in and saw the menu and was completely lost.  Small, medium and large sizes?  What kind of strange foreign place is this??

So ends my last full day in Canada.  I know I said I was satisfied with this vacation already but when I was riding on the whale boat on the return trip to Vancouver and feeling miserable because of the strong cold winds I got dismayed thinking about how 36 hours from then I'd be back at work already.  Sigh.  At least it felt like a long vacation because of the ways the days were spent.  Seattle/Vancouver /Whistler are places I'd like to get around to visiting again, but if I don't make it back here I think I got a pretty good experience from this trip.

Time to pack!

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