In a word: bland
In more words: nice but bland
We left you last time whizzing away from the delight that is the Turtle Hostile (sic) in Victoria, this time heading to Nanaimo, toward the Painted Turtle Guest House. They love their turtles over here, something to do with being safe under the shell!
We arrive in Nanaimo on a sunny but windy day. We found the hostel on the corner of the old town, parked up Jeremy and headed in with fingers crossed for something better than the previous two nights. We’d already had good reports about the place from Paul in Kelowna, even so, we were so taken aback after the last place: it was more like a swanky B&B, beautiful dorm rooms (with only us in a 4 dorm, happy days :), clean bathrooms (!), free internet (which was later to become so frustrating as the managers didn’t have a clue how to reset a router – arrrgh!) and a lovely kitchen with a free shelf of delights, well mainly vegetables which believe me are a delight, Tim wasn’t as thrilled.
We booked in quick before they could change their minds, then headed to the harbour (err… this stop was on the coast) for a wander round our new home…and how very lovely it was too with lots of sea planes coming and going (Vancouver in twenty minutes rather than our winding road journey taking hours). We found a lovely ice cream shop where Tim had his first cone as we walked along the harbour, happy boy :-) We came across a grassy knoll where there were two real Easter bunnies, not your normal run of the mill bunnies, we’re talking black and white ones of the kind you get in pet shop, just being bunnies roaming around and not long after we saw there were many more bunnies (just for the record NO easter eggs were to be found).
The following day, after a great night’s sleep I got up early and ran along the harbour which was great; lots of boats, the odd dog walker, a “good morning” to the Easter bunnies and that was pretty much that, great morning run. Head back to get Tim, have a quick shower, then out to a cafe for breakfast before we are forced to volunteer to join the jolly Easter Sunday brunch organized by the hostel managers. Now don’t get us wrong, we like the hostel… and the brunch was a great idea, but when you’re only there for one day and you can’t get in the kitchen to make breakfast as it’s full of the rest of the hostel painting boiled eggs, we’re heading out to find food! Had a lovely breakfast in a lively café, where someone at the next table pulled out an early ‘80s mobile phone, about the size of a house brick, to the delight of his friends… a funny reminder of the past and I thought it was quite ironic that someone else at the table took a photo of it on their iPhone.
Back to the water-front to find a little ferry that would take us over to one of the two islands near Nanaimo called Newcastle and Protection. When the ferry eventually arrived, it was only going to (the smaller) Protection Island and as we had been told Newcastle Island had more interesting walks etc. we hopped-off to find the Newcastle ferry – which was actually more like a floating parmesan cheese grater (you know the one that Bodum make!), only to be told by some locals crabbing on the floating pontoon (and getting some really big snapping beasties too) that the ferry to Newcastle wasn’t making any more trips due to sea conditions… so we head back to the first ferry (with a presumably braver captain). He remembered us from our previous wait (an hour previous) and told us all about Protection Island; what it does have is a beach, a light house and wait for this the only floating pub in Nanaimo….a selling feature indeed. We hand over $8 for a return ticket and head out onto the choppy sea crossing which thankfully only lasts 20mins. We get dropped off at the floating pub, but decided to explore the island before exploring the bar.
Off we went with our photocopied map (which was almost 1:1 scale) … we ticked off beaches and the light-house but also noticed almost every driveway had a beige golf cart (like I said it’s a small island). We ended up in some ones garden by taking a wrong turn through the woods, but yet another friendly Canadian couple put us back on track in time to hit the floating pub, where we were to be picked up by the friendly captain… a much more amenable waiting room. So we get to the Dinghy Dock pub, decide against food, as the water is a tad choppy out there and the interior was swinging away with the lapping of waves against the hull/pub, Tim goes for a beer and I get a glass of wine, which after a few sips my legs were gone, honestly it’s official, I don’t have sea legs or drinking legs. We get our boat back to the main land, stop briefly to watch a golden retriever go sea-kayaking, head back to the hostel, have dinner, read books, get really annoyed by the internet connection and head to our beds and that’s really all there is to say… a nice place but it won’t be one of our most memorable stops. Could have been great, but was actually just pretty bland after all the other places we’ve been to.
Next stop: Tofino where we should hopefully have a whale of a time (Geddit? No? Oh, I forgot to mention it’s a top spot for whale watching).