Steve and Mad's mini adventure travel blog

The Empress Hotel, Victoria (If you have to ask the price, you...

The view from our hotel room, complete with sea plane

The best pint of the trip. Pre-warmed glass, what more could you...

Approaching Seattle

A long drive today from Tofino down to Victoria but guess what? It was raining so we didn't mind! Victoria gets a bad rap in the guidebooks for being the home of the "newly-wed, over-fed and nearly dead" but it's actually really nice - perhaps that says a lot about us! We got a great deal on a hotel, it's really posh and our room has 2 huge windows and a little balcony all overlooking the harbour so you can sit in bed and watch seaplanes take off and land which is really quite cool. It stopped raining on the first morning we were there which made a huge difference since we could actually see the harbour! Still a bit too chilly for sitting on the balcony but you can't have everything. It was about this time that we realised we had packed nowhere near enough undergarments for a week and none of the places we were going to had laundries.....

A Steve geographic factoid - Victoria is actually nearer to Tokyo than it is St Johns on the east coast of Canada. Makes you realise just how flippin' huge Canada is.

We went to visit the Royal British Columbia Museum which houses amongst other items, John Lennon's yellow flower power Rolls-Royce. Apparently the act of painting this so enraged one little old lady that she beat Lennon with an umbrella whilst shouting "how dare you do that to a Rolls Royce". Ahh, those were the days! There was an IMAX at the theatre but we didn't go in since our one and only visit to the one in London made Steve feel sick. We also went to the Maritime Museum (every town has one!). There's a big display about British Columbia ferries and how they are dedicated to service and quality etc. Obviously not updated since one of them sank a few weeks ago - cause as yet unknown. There's also a display about the history of the ferry from Victoria to Seattle and it proudly shows a picture of the "M.V Coho" ferry which was brought into service in 1959. Imagine our surprise when the next day we got onto the bloody MV Coho! They only have one ship! And it's been doing that run since 1959!! And I'll wager that was the last time it was decorated as the inside had all the glamour of an oil tanker.

After the Maritime Museum we thought we ought to go and find a brewpub since there are 2 listed in the guidebook. The first one we found was the Swan Brewpub which was very nice indeed. I learned that you should have a shandy made of beer and ginger ale, since lemonade here is actually made from lemons. How unusual! There was an old Scottish bloke propping up the bar who mistook us for Australians. He had come over from Glasgow in the early sixties and hadn't been back although his accent was still really strong so God knows how he ever made himself understood in the early years. The barman was really friendly too and happy to pander to Steve's request for warm but not too warm beer by pouring it into a hot glass about 10 minutes before consumption. Pint count in just over 1 hour - Mad 1, Steve 4. Lurched out of the brewpub to find something to eat and lo and behold we ended up at Spinnakers, the other microbrewery in Victoria. Hmmm. Food was splendid and the atmosphere very agreeable which added another 3 pints to the days tally (none of which were Mads, she had cocktails). Had to resort to getting a cab back lest we fell in the harbour.

The next morning we needed to get the ferry to Seattle, the forementioned M.V. Coho. We'd reserved a place but somebody didn't read the web properly - apparently it says if you are not a US or Canadian citzen to turn up 90 minutes before sailing in order to clear US immigration. Oops. 90 minutes before sailing we were happily tucking into eggs benedict in the hotel cafe. Still, we turned up in enough time to get on although we did have an escort to the immigration office and he did look a bit narky. The US immigration "office" really was an over-size garden shed, but it still contained ample supply of the stupid green "moral turpitude" forms and the oh-so-neccessary finger print and photograph technology - there's no escaping Uncle Sam. Immigration wanted proof of when we were leaving Canada, Steve felt like saying "What's it got to do with you? In case you have forgotten, Canada is not a US state but a sovereign nation", but thought better of it. It was really sunny so we hung around on deck hoping for a glimpse of any passing sea critters, of which there was one seal and a load of gulls. We were afforded spectatular views of the snow capped mountains in the Olympic National Park. We were going to drive all the way from Port Angeles to Seattle but changed our minds and caught another ferry across from Bainbridge Island which cuts off about 3 hours drive. It's a super way to arrive in a city, the view from the boat was fantastic and the boat comes in direct to downtown Seattle. That's also fab until you realise you only have B&B driving directions from the highway and most of downtown Seattle is made of giant hills and one way streets. And the only navigator you have is Mad.

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