Monday, July 19, 2010

Kickin' Back in BC

Well I guess you heard about my run in with with los torros in Spain by now. I am under strict orders from my doctors to get some rest and relaxation, whilst my injuries heal. Being in the rest and relaxation business, I've had no problems complying. I've made my way to beautiful Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. If you should ever be so unfortunate as to get gored and trampled by a raging bull, put it on your short list of places to convalesce afterward. Victoria, named for said Queen of England, is the capital of British Columbia and located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. It's about sixty miles from Seattle by plane or ferry, and even closer to Pt. Angeles, WA.

Hey, did you know that Victoria has some of the most mild weather in all of Canada? Yeah, it rarely gets hotter than about 86° F on summer days, and about 40° F on winter ones. And it receives about half the rain per year as Seattle. I think it is a closely guarded secret here, however, so I won't go on about it lest they give me the boot. Some of the top attractions in Victoria are Butchart Gardens, the Royal British Columbia Museum, and the Victoria Butterfly Gardens. For nature lovers, Goldstream Provincial Park is a must see for salmon spawning, bald eagle sightings, and cascading waterfalls. View grizzly bears, orcas (killer whales), and sea lions at the Knight Inlet wilderness. If it is culture you seek, Victoria offers up everything from opera to ballet, Shakespeare to street performers, and everything in between. And don't get me started on the world class cuisine options.

But perhaps one of the oddest attractions in Victoria is Miniature World, or "the greatest little show on Earth," as it dubs itself. It is a collection of some of the most painstakingly detailed dioramas I've ever seen, depicting scenes both real and imagined from early Canadian frontier life to space exploration of the future. All at 1/100th of the actual size. They even have the largest dollhouse in the world on display. You'll feel like Gulliver traveling through this place, and surely learn something you didn't know along the way. Although I must confess that I felt a bit like Godzilla at times as well, and had to resist the urge to fling a few city buses around or take out a skyscraper with the flick of my finger.

While in Victoria, I've booked a timeshare rental at the WorldMark Victoria Resort. This place is right in the inner harbor where the ferries arrive and is a great location for taking in everything this vibrant capital city has to offer. They have water view units overlooking the bay. RedWeek members give it five stars and I can see why. My two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit could easily sleep six, and the full kitchen, jacuzzi tub, outdoor deck, and walkable location is an ideal getaway for a family or large group. There are no resales available on RedWeek at present, so you might want to sign up for a posting alert when some do come up.

Well, I am off to afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel. It's a daily tradition in Victoria going back over a century. While normally a coffee-and-donut type of guy, I can't pass up this chance to mingle with fellow travelers, locals, celebrities, dignitaries, and royalty alike. They serve their own special blend of tea, and homemade goodies by award-winning pastry chef D'Oyen Christie. If you go, a "smart casual" dress code is in place. Which is to say that I'll be trading my Hawaiian shirt and Crocks in for a polo shirt and some penny loafers. A small price to pay for freshly baked raisin scones served with heavy cream and strawberry preserves, wouldn't you say?

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