I’ve been wanting to check out the Victoria Clipper, and try one of the ziplines in the northwest, so this weekend, I did both. On the ride up, it was semi-amusing, to watch the lengths one woman went to, to keep from having to share her row with a stranger, up to being willing to delay the entire boat while people searched for the last remaining seat in the fully booked boat. I hope someone wasn’t forced to wait for another boat. If there is any justice in the world, that severe look of anger she used to drive people away will give her tons of wrinkles.
With a groupon for the fare, I stayed at the Chateau Victoria, a decent enough hotel, with an 18th floor bar/restaurant that featured live music Saturday night, by a trio doing jazz standards in a reasonable fashion. I did find it odd how there was a portable A/C unit, permanently installed in the room. Looking over the hotel booklet, it turns out that they have 3 different kinds of heating/cooling, depending on which range of floors you were on. My door was directly across from an elevator, so got noisy as people turned in after last call.
Victoria is distinctly Canadian. Despite being further south portions of Washington state, there was no mistaking it for a different country. It is also very dedicated to the tourism industry, or at least better than Seattle, at concentrating it all within easy walking distance. Their harbor is busy with purely tourist traffic, plus the ferry and floatplanes. There’s a pirate ship zipping back and forth several times a day, plus a constant stream of little water taxi/tour boats, and the waves of whale watchers.
I checked out Miniature World, a small museum of small scenes, some from American history, some Canadian, World War II, and some just every day life, in a range of scales, from completely custom, N-scale and HO-scale, and traditional dollhouse. I didn’t make it to the bug museum, I used the flash so much at the mini museum, I wasn’t able to take pictures past the 3rd hour in town. d’oh.
On Sunday, I got up near my regular, ungodly early, hour. I passed on spending $14 for a cup of yogurt at the hotel, checked-out, and went in search of a starbucks, where for half the price, I got the yogurt and fruit, AND a hot chocolate. Not a chocolati hot chocolate, but nothing is perfect.
Victoria is very quiet in the early morning, much more so than Seattle’s downtown. I saw a seal in the harbor, thankfully I had at least my cell phone to capture the moment. Eventually I found the shuttle van to the zipline. There are confusing directions that point you to two places. It turns out they go to both places because of said confusion, so I didn’t feel alone. The drive out is pleasant enough, when there’s no traffic. There was an accident on the only road to Sooke, while we were up in the trees, so we passed a long line of people waiting to get up the hill, on our way down. Adrena Line Zipline Adventure Tours seemed a nicely professional outfit, though they didn’t give me any discount on the video camera package, which is supposed to come with a print from their static camera, even though the static camera was broken, something they didn’t mention until we got to that particular zipline. The sign also says they put your video on a custom USB drive, made to look like a carabiner, but you actually got a 16gb SD card. whatever, the point is the experience, so any memory aids are really just gravy, and the videos did turn out (not ETA on upload, editing video is annoying). Two guides and seven people, including me, two hours in the trees, and one piece of maple sugar candy. Lots of standard adventure-guide patter (one of the guides mentioned how well the South Park episode on ziplines captures their spiel/attitude), and a good time all around. Even with the traffic issues, we were back in town in reasonable time.
Waiting for the return ferry, I checked out the Victorian floating homes. Unlike in Seattle, where they are private and just another way of living, the houseboats of Victoria seemed to have to work for their existence, sharing dockspace with tourist attractions, and allowing people full access to their entire dock. They also had quite a few for sale, all at the same time. They also have a more haphazard feel.
The one thing I wonder about most is their seagull poop situation. It is everywhere, and they don’t seem to make any effort to clean it off the buildings. We’ve got plenty of gulls in Seattle, but even at our fisherman’s wharf, I don’t recall seeing this level of splatter.
I ate poutine twice, I really don’t understand how this isn’t a thing in America too.
I found it odd, the way immigration is in Canada for both directions of the trip (canada border patrol on the way in, US on the way out), but customs was done on the home soils only.