Leaving Vancouver, we headed south through sprawling and largely scruffy suburbs toward Tswassen and the BC (British Columbia) Ferry which would take us to Vancouver Island. Most hostel food storage has a ‘free’ area where people leave things they haven’t consumed before they head for home. As we’re not heading for home for some time yet, we are taking full advantage of the free-shelf! For the ferry trip we were lucky enough to have had an unopened box of brie so we stopped off en route for a bunch of grapes and a crusty baguette; to give you some extra chronology the bakery was full of hot-cross buns (HXBs if you’re in the business!). So as you can see, we are quite behind with these updates.
It was a sunny, blustery day and the ferry crossing was nice but uneventful. Dock. Unload. Remember which side of the road to drive on. Head to Victoria; the closest main coastal town and our next new home. As we entered Victoria it appeared to be another identikit town comprising the complete set of stores and diners (Walmart, London Drugs, A&W, Tim Hortons etc). We headed straight for our next accommodation: the Turtle Hostel. We nearly carried straight on. We met our new host Shu, a virtually incomprehensible Chinese lady (in fairness, her English was slightly better than my Chinese). She explained that whilst –technically – we could park on the street, it would be much more secure to pay her an extra $5 to park in the front of her place (or in her words, if you park on the street, you WILL get broken into). We paid.
One of the nice things about the trip is that we are always finding new and different places… this particular place was small and dark and best summed up by this photo. For the first time, we were staying in separate dorms. The men’s dorm was as stinky as you might expect but only four of the eight beds were occupied. I wedged the window wide open, safe in the knowledge that no burglar would make it through that fog. Katy had an eight bed room all to herself – result! Until an Israeli lady arrived: grumpy, even more incomprehensible than Shu and apparently with personal odour issues (I never got that close). Back downstairs, we met in the hallway to determine which of us had got the worst deal when the witch from episode three (Nelson) floated along the hallway. I suspect she recognized us (as we did her), but we all pretended we’d never met before.
Time for a stroll around town. We arrived on the same day as a massive storm broke across the island. Being right on the coast, Victoria suffered as much as any. Honestly they must have alot of wet weather here as we came across this camper that had definetly shrunk in the wash....Despite having all the right clothes for the weather, it was still pretty dismal, but all would be redeemed when we booked our whale-watching trip, so we squelched to the tourist office. One phone call later, we found out that whale-watching wouldn’t be happening until Wednesday (today being saturday)... hrmmph! Things could only be resolved by coffee and cookies, so we searched out Murchies on Government Street. The coffee was good, the cookie was even better and there was even a break in the weather, during which we listened to Darth Vader play violin.
After, we took a loooong walk along sea front. We saw massive starfish in the bay and harbour-seals would pop up every now and again, but what we thought might be a whale turned out to be two scuba divers. Earlier, I had obtained a metatarsal-pad to hopefully cure a very painful ball of my foot which had been with me since the start of journey. The pad cured the pain (yeah!) but I ended up with blisters upon blisters by the end of the walk. Due to our desire to get away from our abode as soon as possible, we missed the massive explosion from the power lines outside our building around 10:00am that morning (due to gales). What this meant for us was no power until 9:00pm that night, though bizzarely, Shu managed to find electricity for one light and the oven /hob still worked (though a pan of water took over an hour to reach boiling point). Strangely the conditions unified the spirit within the hostel and we had a great night exchanging stories between the various Scots, Aussies, Americans and Brits (including a woman who shoes horses in Birkhampstead!).
What people tend to do on a wet Sunday in Victoria is go to the biggest “thrift” store we have ever seen, really there are some true finds and some fantastic people watching, with plenty of “stuff” to view (as you can tell Victoria really isn’t a fun place with that much weather), but heading out along the road we did come along is this beauty of a BBQ, Katy insisted we take a picture for all you Percy Pig, M&S type people, (honestly she’s always working!) Hope you appreciate it, maybe an idea for the summer gardening range?
Gales and rain continued and people turned up looking for a bed all through the night. By morning, my previously half full dorm was completely full and for once I wasn’t the main snorer (some of you might remember my facebook entry from the time which was written at 2:30am as I lay wide awake sure that Jeremy was about to be broken in to). As a special treat after the previous night (and lets face it, the accommodation was pretty cheap),we treated ourselves to breakfast at a café… anything to avoid the hostel kitchen! Being Easter Sunday, the town was virtually closed but after some wandering we found Willies. A cosy eatery which wouldn’t have been put of place in Crouch End.
As you can tell Victoria in bad weather on a tight budget and dire accommodation really doesn’t have a lot going for it, so we arranged with Shu that we would be outta there first thing the following morning. Katy was up at 7am, getting her own back being loud and packing around the grumpy, stinky Israeli, by the time I got up Katy had packed the van and was waiting in the “reception area” for us to get the hell out of Dodge. So we did, leaving on a bonus that we hadn’t paid for the extra night parking and had more cash in hand as we we’re given an extra $10 for key deposit, so leaving Victoria on a high and heading to our new home, Tofino.. go go go, fingers crossed for a better experience……we’ll keep you posted!