Well my friends, the last day of my vacation draws to a close. Tomorrow I will arise, disgustingly early, and board a plane back to Toronto. Needless to say, I am substantially less than thrilled by this concept. Still, there are certain comforts that only home can provide, so my spirits are still high. I've had a fantastic trip, and I'll soon be home to the warm, loving... hmmm.... well, at least I'll be able to sleep in my own bed.
I spent today just trying to soak up the atmosphere of Victoria. I went downtown with Aunt Jeanette and just meandered about, popping into interesting looking stores, and taking photos at every available moment. One of the first stores that I came across was this gem:
I just loved "TOBACCONIST" in big letters on the front of this cool looking building, so I popped in. Apparently there was a huge controversy surrounding this very old building when the government demanded that the sign be taken down because it was illegal to publicly advertise tobacco. Fortunately this lovely old building was saved from being defaced when it was declared a historic site.
As we made our way closer to Victoria's inner harbour we came across the Empress Hotel, which demands to be photographed.
It's a stunning old building, and I spent a fair bit of time wandering around inside. Close by the hotel is another exceptional piece of architecture: the British Columbia Parliament Building:
That's another building that I got to explore of a fairly limited basis. Oddly enough it's not very impressive inside. Actually, that may be misleading; the building is impressive in terms of pure size, and the importance it plays in the governing of the province... it's just a bit ugly and utilitarian is all. Still, check out that exterior!
After leaving the government to take care of itself we continued shopping for awhile before retiring to Aunt Jeanette's place for a bit of lunch. Having eaten we continued on our whirlwind sight-seeing tour. We drove down to the beach which fronts the lagoon behind Hatley Castle. It's a beautiful beach, but what was most striking about it was... drum roll... the sun came out!
After a week of questioning its existence, I finally saw the sun. What's particularly funny about that is that the weatherman assured us that today was going to be the worst of it, a guaranteed festival to the rain gods. Sometimes it's really lovely when he's wrong. I wandered around pointing my camera at anything that would hold still for a moment, and some things that wouldn't.
I've always been amazed by bull kelp, and so I took a photo of some:
That piece is probably about 12 feet in length. I don't know why that surprises me; trees get much larger than that, but for some reason I expect aquatic plant life to be smaller. Don't know where that mindset is coming from, but there you have it. Kelp blows my mind. Moving on.
After all this sunshine-and-kelp-induced excitement I had to chill out for a bit:
It's so nice when driftwood is accommodating.
From the beach we returned to the downtown area of Victoria and resumed looking around. We came to my Dad's favourite store: Ocean River Sports:
In addition to a spectacular array of outdoor wear, the bulk of which I was tempted to purchase, they also have a couple of kayaks:
Might be why Dad likes the place. I'm not sure.
After continuing with our mission to meander we made our way back to the inner harbour. We walked, taking our time, around the harbour in the general direction of dinner. However, I still stopped on numerous occasions to make war on my camera's battery. There were a lot of sea planes coming and going, which I thought was pretty cool:
Also the weather, if not fantastic, at least continued to be less threatening than it had be the bulk of the week:
We eventually managed to reach our destination: Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub.
We spent a great deal of time here eating of their food and drinking of their beer. I'm a huge fan of restaurants that are making their own beer. It means that even the drinks are an exciting, new, and unique part of the dinning experience. Also, it seems like these places feel the need to prove that they aren't JUST a brewery, and so they go out of their way to make the food exceptional.
On a completely unrelated note, I think I may have put on some weight this trip.
By the time we left the restaurant it was getting dark and the rain, after a lazy afternoon, had decided to get back to work. Still, undeterred by the weather we made our way back to the Parliament Buildings for one last photo op:
After that we began to make our way home. One final note on Victoria though: they have double-decker buses!
So cool! The journey back to Aunt Jeanette's was also my first trip on the second story of a bus! (At least that I remember, none of this "well, when you were 2 years old..." nonsense.)
Following that exciting ride I've found myself back here and ready to wrap up my day. I'm going to do my best to get to bed promptly as I will be up at 3:45 a.m. local time in order to catch my flight home. I'm sure I'll manage to comment on the return voyage at some point, and at the very least you can count on me to chime in on Tuesday as usual, but I'd still like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading. I hope you've enjoyed reading about this trip as much as I've enjoyed writing about it.
Be well, and I'll talk to you all again soon.