Thursday, July 5, 2012

Trip to Vancouver Island.

 The first leg of my Canada trip was to Vancouver Island. The city of Vancouver which we are familiar with is actually on the mainland and Vancouver Island is a large island in British Columbia. In fact the island is the largest island on the western side of North America. To visit the whole island would definitely take a long time so I only planned a short trip to Victoria on the island. Victoria is actually the capital city of British Columbia and is located at the southernmost part of the island. To get to Victoria from Vancouver by public transport, you can take the BC ferry from the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal , a ride which takes about 1 hour 40 minutes. The ferry leaves every 2 hours daily, so it is better to find out about the departure times before you go. If you come from Vancouver Airport or from Downtown Vancouver,  you can take the Skytrain to Bridgeport on Canada Line and switch to Bus #620 to get to the Ferry Terminal. From the Airport you only need a one-zone ticket but from Downtown you need a two-zone ticket. One ticket can be used for the whole journey (train and bus) which costs $2.50 -$3.25. It is even cheaper if you buy fare saver booklets.  The ferry fare is around $14 and sometimes there are special rates on offer. You don't have to book in advance, just buy the tickets at the counter or through the vending machines
The ferries are large and spacious. There are a few decks including the decks below for the vehicles. If you prefer to, you can bask in the sun and enjoy the views on the open decks or enjoy a meal at the restaurants on board. 

The ferry weaves along the waterway through many small islands. If you are lucky you may even see whales along the way.

 On reaching Swatrz Bay on the island, we took bus# 70 to Downtown Victoria (bus fare $2.50). Then we checked in at Helm's Inn, a hotel very conveniently located and very nice and clean. I spent about $160 (including taxes) for a suite which has 2 queen beds and a sofa bed. Just nice for the 5 of us. Nearby is the Royal BC museum and the waterfront area. The scenery is simply awesome. Lots of "calendar pictures" and postcard scenery to capture.

The legislative building

The Fairmont Empress Hotel

The night view of the legislative building

Totem poles near BC Museum. We'll see many Totem poles this trip to Canada.

Legislative building during the day.

More Totem poles!

Waterfront of Victoria, scenic isn't it? More shots below.

This is Fan Tan Alley in Chinatown, famous for being the narrowest street in Canada.
Bastion Square, near the waterfront area where we had our brunch.
The Sunday Market at Bastion in Victoria.

This is a floating globe in Chinatown, Victoria.

One of the must-see places on Vancouver Island is Butchart Gardens. From Downtown Victoria, we took bus#75 for a 45 minute ride to the Gardens. The bus leaves every 30 minutes during peak hours. Butchart Gardens is simply lovely. They have different flowers in bloom during different times of the year. Spring and summer  of course are the best times to come. It is definitely worth a visit even though the entrance fees are quite high., around $31 including taxes. 

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