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January 16, 2012

New Year’s Eve & Day in Victoria, BC

On New Year’s Eve we took the Clipper to Victoria, British Columbia. Victoria has been on my to-do list ever since we’ve arrived in Seattle and I figured the extended New Year’s weekend would be a good opportunity to finally make the trip up there.

We left early Saturday morning and after a comfortable three hour ferry ride, arrived in Victoria. Our hotel was just a short walk from the downtown area, where we spent most of our time. There is stuff to do in Victoria, like visit the famous Butchart Gardens, but I’m not really the garden going type, so we spent most of our time walking around with the occasional pub stop. We had brunch at Canoe Brewpub, where I had poutine for the first time in my life. Fries covered in cheese curds and gravy – yes, it is as wonderful as it sounds, especially when paired with a Red Canoe Lager.

After this we took a nap. Seriously.

We spent the evening at Garrick’s Head Pub, which was really laid back and served the local Dough Head Gingerbread Ale. We also smoked a Cuban cigar, because Canada is the land of freedom.

British Columbia Parliament Building

Victoria is known for its afternoon tea, especially the afternoon tea served at the fancy Empress Hotel, and since I acquired a taste for those delicious finger sandwiches and scones during my time in London, I was determined to have afternoon tea in Victoria. The Empress is ridiculously expensive, however. $47 for tea? WTF? So instead we went to the Venus Sophia Tea Room in Victoria’s Chinatown. It was half the price of the Empress, and did not disappoint. They have a million different teas to choose from (Monk’s Blend was pure heaven) and the sandwiches, scones, and sweets were delicious. I would highly recommend this place if you are looking for a great afternoon tea in Victoria.

After tea, we took a long walk through Holland Point Park and Beacon Hill Park.

Looking across the Salish Sea toward Port Angeles, Washington, USA.

And then, prior to heading back to Seattle on the afternoon ferry, we ate more poutine.

May 27, 2011

Day trip to Vancouver

Although I have traveled to some rather distant locations, I never crossed the border to visit our northern neighbors. Yes, I’ve been to North Korea and Azerbaijan, but not Canada. My friends tease me mercilessly about this.

So, when we finally arrived in Seattle, we decided to spend one of our days in Vancouver, which is about a 2.5 hour drive from Seattle. Upon arriving at the border, we encountered a Canadian immigration control officer who was, to put it mildly, a complete asshole. I wasn’t even sure he would let us in because he probably thought we were drug dealers or something. But now I finally know what it is like for my foreign friends who visit the U.S. and are constantly forced to deal with rude U.S. customs agents. Sorry, guys!

Waiting to enter

Welcome to Canada

Obligatory American pose

Vancouver harbor

Since we were only in Vancouver for the day, we didn’t get to experience much of the city. Still, a few observations: a) With the bay and mountains as a backdrop, this city is incredibly beautiful; b) it is also damn clean; c) parking is very expensive; d) it was not unusual to see people boarding city buses with their snowboards and gear.

Lions Gate Bridge, as seen from Stanley Park.

Ships in the Burrard Inlet and English Bay

More photos here.