#49 Victoria

Ahhh Victoria ... not just the provincial capital of British Colombia. This is one of the most captivating sea ports in the world. The "City of Gardens" is quaint, utterly beautiful and chock full of old-world charm. Victoria's namesake was the great Queen Victoria. The stamp of Victorian England is indelible. But stuffy? Anything but. Victoria is a melting pot of nationalities of all ages. The city is interesting and vibrantly alive.

Founded in 1843 as the old Hudson Bay fort, downtown Victoria was built around the inner harbor, literally surrounding it. It's a cauldron of commercial activity during the day. Ferries, sea planes, cruise ships, water taxis, sight seeing, whale watching, etc. etc. It's probably not the best place for a private, home-like boat like Eliana to be moored permanently. But Eliana isn't anywhere permanently, so for a few perfect days it was fun to be right in the middle of it all.

We were berthed on Ship Point Wharf directly in front of The Empress Hotel and Parliament. Adding to our enjoyment, we had guests come aboard in Victoria. Donna and Jennifer Boos traveled from home to share time with us. And as outings were often described in the Fairview (KS) Enterprise ... "And a good time was had by all!"

 
 
Eliana on Ship Point Wharf. Parliament nearby. Click to enlarge.

 
 
"The Empress" graces the inner harbor with a stately presence.

 
 
High Tea in the afternoon in The Empress' famous tearoom. Another check on the bucket list.

 
 
World's cutest water taxi's. Reminds me of the London taxi.

 
 
Rogers' Chocolates started in this store in Victoria and made famous by the delicious Victoria Creams. Yes, I bought several. OK, a lot.

 
 
Every boater should visit the BC Maritime Museum. It's in the original Victoria City Hall.

 
 
The Royal British Colombia Museum is the perfect place to begin a summer in BC. It covers science, history and culture. We also took in the IMAX theater housed within the museum.

La Loupiote

The day after our arrival in Victoria, a yellow sailboat, La Loupiote, tied up next to us. I didn't recognize it at first, but slowly my memory began to connect. A woman with a heavy French accent emerged producing a small piece of paper. It explained in English that she and her husband perform a circus act right on their sailboat. She stated that they use the mast for the aerial portion. OK ... this does ring a bell. Yes, this is the couple, this is the boat we saw in Puerto Vallarta last winter. Hailing from France, the man (Franck) and his wife (Delphine) were very charming and had two young daughters living on board. We saw them in PV and had every intention of seeing their act, but it never worked out. Life is full of coincidences, but we all realized simultaneously that somehow after 5 months and a few thousand miles (them via Hawaii), we were tied 10 feet from each other and once again given the opportunity to see their show, only this time in Victoria's inner harbor.

Despite the unusually cold temperatures, their shows went on and they dazzled the crowd with two performances. The first was a very funny comedy and the other a poetic love story. All the acting, dancing and acrobatics were done to music, but without words. Obviously they were well practiced and required incredible strength and skill.

I was impressed at the thought of this couple sailing around the world in a home-made sail boat funding the entire project with free-will proceeds from their circus act. To meet them and their girls, you can visit their website. If you ever get close to where they are, please see them. It really is phenomenal.

 
 
"La Loupiote" It's the stage and set as well as home and transportation. On show day they advertise by displaying a simple black and white sign "Two Circus Shows".

 
 
 
 
Franck and Delphine performed well-told stories to music, but without words. Click to enlarge.

 
 
One story was serious, the other a comedy called "Navigators" poking fun at how couples sometimes work together on a boat ... or not.

Butchart Gardens

Oh, yes everybody knows about Butchart Gardens. I did. Or at least I thought I did until I actually went. In 1904 Jennie Butchart decided the limestone quarries used by her husband's Portland Cement company needed some beautification. Over 100 years later the result is 55 acres of jaw dropping beauty amidst the remains of a cement plant. These photos are just a sampling. You'll want to enlarge them but it's hard to describe the gardens with photos alone. Even with other people around there is a sense of peace and tranquility. As you stroll along, the smells, sounds and sights are breathtaking.

 
 
Blue Poppy Restaurant surrounded by beautiful gardens. There isn't a bad view in the house!

 
 
The Rose Garden.

 
 
The Sunken Garden

 
 
The Bog Garden

Craigdarroch Castle.

One neat tour in Victoria is the Craigdarroch Castle. Completed in 1890, Craigdarroch was built by Robert Dunsmuir who was a coal baron who's business began on Vancouver Island. The interesting thing about Craigdarroch is that it epitomized the Victorian style of the day. It was only a home for a short time until Joan Dunsmuir died. After that it has been used a number of ways including as a military hospital during World War I, and later became Victoria College serving over 5,000 students from 1921 to 1946. Returning servicemen swelled enrollment to over 600 students. It's just not that big, so the college was moved. Today it's being restored accurately to the original Victorian style the Dunsmuir's intended. Here are three photos. These are also larger photos so you can click them to enlarge.

 
 
 
 
 
 
That's all for now. We are now beginning our northwest trek toward Alaska over the next few weeks. I encourage you to visit our website where you can post a comment or question. Thank you for reading Eliana's Journal.

Rick Heiniger

N7617 Eliana

Lying: Sidney, BC

Mileage: 5,267 Miles

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Comments

Roger 7/3/2011
Hi Rick and Debbie Looks like you guys are enjoying your selves, I picked up your AIS about 2:30 today you guys were out in the middle of strait of Gerogia passing Nainamo, enjoy your trip to Alaska! Roger
Adam 7/1/2011
Ha ha ha. I just realized I wrote "there's something special about exploring your own country" in a comment on a post about Canada. /afb
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Teri and Wayne 7/1/2011
Rick, We really enjoyed the photos from Victoria. Thanks for sharing. -Wayne
Adam Block 7/1/2011
Hi Rick and Debbie. Just had a chance to catch up on your adventures since our dinner in San Diego. What fun! I have to say -- and this will probably be considered wildly inappropriate if not downright heretical -- I'm a little jealous. Or perhaps homesick is a better word. As amazing a time as we're having (and yes, blog updates are coming), there's just something special about exploring in your own country. And of course we loved Roche Harbor too, the site of our first real Nordhavning. But Polynesia is absolutely incredible, as well as diverse in ways we couldn't have imagined. Debbie, I'm definitely not bored any more! Take care -- hope to cross paths soon. /adam (and eve)
Vic Lafrank 6/30/2011
Each one of your blog "posts" is more intriguing than the last! Keep living the life and providing motivation for the rest of us. I'd personally like to hear more about the unusually cool weather; down here in the DC metro area, temps are in the 90s, with high humidity as well. Not a pretty picture. Can't wait to see your pics of Alaskan glaciers and snow-capped mountains. Rock on, y'all! Later.
Mike Rankin 6/30/2011
Hi Rick & Debbie, I too am a Nordaholic and am a Dreamer that follows your blog. I have your beautiful boat on my desktop as a backdrop and am looking for the day I will be free to roam about as you folks do. Have fun and enjoy a little bit for me too. Mike Rankin Chula Vista CA.
Doug H 6/29/2011
Hi Rick and Debbie, I noticed that you're now in Sidney. Be sure to check out the Thursday evening market, from 5:30 - 9:00 pm, if you're still in town. Beacon Ave will be closed to automobile traffic and becomes a fun pedestrian mall. By the way, I love your blog. I'm a passionate Nordhavn follower and your entries are always very informative and insightful. Enjoy your trip up the coast! Don't forget to stop in the three bays, Cowichan, Genoa, and Maple. Doug H Victoria