Angela Fairbank Travel Writer and Travel Photographer
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Angela Fairbank
Travel Writer

Be a Tourist in Your Own Town” series

Victoria, BC, Canada and Environs - a Slideshow

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I took the 8:45am Pacificcoach bus to its terminus on Douglas Street, Victoria from downtown Vancouver (Pacific Central Station on Station Street). It was a smooth ride to Tsawassen and onto one of the larger ferries to Swartz Bay. There was time to film our passage through Active Pass and the Gulf Islands (not shown here) and we were delivered to the Greyhound station behind the Empress Hotel in downtown Victoria about 3 and a half hours later. I trekked up to my hotel the Ocean Island Backpacker's Inn on Pandora Avenue, where the bed just barely fit into my private room and the shared toilets were down the hall. After having dropped off my bag, I then walked back down to the harbour and checked out options at the Tourist Centre (photos 1 and 2). Then I had my picnic lunch on a bench looking over the harbour, travelled round the harbour by the Fairmont Empress Hotel (photos 3 to 8) and its larger-than-life statue of Emily Carr, her monkey and dog (photos 9 and 10) then over to the Netherlands Carillon (11), Thunderbird Park (photos 13-17), St Ann's Schoolhouse (photos 18-20) and Helmcken House (21-23), all part of the Royal BC Museum. Back to the harbour (photos 24-25) with its statue of Captain James Cook (photos 26-28) and west to the BC Legislature Assembly Building (29-36). Then past the horse-pulled carriages (37) to a plaza with a fountain, displaying the crest of all 10 provinces and 3 territories as well as that of Canada itself (photos 38-40) past the wild roses (41) and bleeding hearts (50) and around the path along the inner harbour to Fisherman's Wharf (photos 42-50) and its harbour seals (45). Sea planes and water taxis (photos 51,51) were buzzing through the water as I retraced my steps back to the downtown core and to the site of old Fort Victoria (53), Bastion Square (54, 55) and into Chinatown's Fan Tan Alley (56, 57), phone boxes (58), murals (59, 62), garbage cans (60) and Public School (61), then past the town hall and a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald (63), a former Prime Minister of Canada. By then my feet were tired and it was starting to get dark so I headed back to my accommodation for the night.

The next morning I headed south on foot once again, starting off at St. Anne's Academy (64, 65) and then continued south down into residential Victoria (66, 71) to visit Emily Carr's house (67, 68) and to the farthest point south, Mile 0 of the Trans-Canada Highway, the Terry Fox statue (69) and the Steve Fonyo (70) commemorative plaque. I then entered Beacon Hill Park to visit its Children's Farm (photo 72) (entrance by donation) to photograph its farm animals and, especially, its peacocks. You will gather from the next few photos that I rather like peacocks; you could even say I am fascinated by them (photos 73 - 101, interspersed by images of llamas, donkeys, sheep and peahens). I then chanced on a display of old British cars (102 - 106) and a gathering of their owners before returning North past the Fairmont Empress Hotel to buy my tour tickets for the afternoon and had a short - less than one hour - visit to a museum containing friendly (albeit large) insects, where the guides encouraged patrons to let them (the insects) sit on their hands, get used to their weight and overcome their fear (photos 107-111). There was just time to grab a sandwich at a local coffee bar before jumping onto the CVS tour bus, which dropped me off at the Victoria Butterfly Gardens and was then supposed to pick me up an hour or so later to take me on to the Butchart Gardens. However, they surely forgot I was there, because I was literally abandoned at the Butterfly Gardens for more than 3 hours until finally an employee of the Butterfly Gardens took pity on me and drove me to the Butchart Gardens himself and explained to the gate people what had happened. So, a word of advice, when you have a choice between CVS and Horizon to tour these two places, choose Horizon. The Horizon bus came by the Butterfly Gardens about 4 times during my long wait!

So back to the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, which advertises itself as having not only butterflies and moths, (some with very large wingspans) but also lots of birds, flowers and fish. Well, yes, it had some goldfish (coy) and it had two flamingos, but the other birds were not visible and the really large butterflies that it made so much hype about were not in season. However, I did manage to get a few photos that weren't too disappointing (photos 112 - 147). My final visit in Victoria was the Butchart Gardens (photos 148 - 176) during the debut of it summer display. It was a sunny evening and it was not crowded at that time so I managed to get a few photos without crowds of people, which was nice. So perhaps that 4 hour hiatus had been worth something after all.

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