Vancouver Island

Trip Start Apr 15, 2008
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27
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Trip End Apr 01, 2010


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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Friday, August 29, 2008

Canada
Vancouver Island is a large island lying off the south west coast of Canada. It is one of several North American regions named after George Vancouver the British Royal Navy officer who explored the pacific coast of North America between 1791 and 1794. The island is 285 miles in length and 50 miles in width, at its widest point. It is the largest island on the western side of North America
This not the easiest island to get to. We took a 10 minute taxi ride, followed by a one and a half hour bus ride to the port of Tsawwassen. Only to find our 11am sailing had been cancelled due to engine problems. There was another at 12 noon so after putting the world to right with a local lady, we boarded the ferry for our 1 hour 40 minute crossing. As most of you know I'm not the best at sea, it's a bit of a standing joke but seriously I get sea sick on a pedalo!  So I headed straight for the outside deck at the top. I don't feel quite so bad if I am in the open air. I'd been advised by many people to take sea sickness tablets, so I'd religiously taken them, as the packet had said an hour before boarding the ferry. As it turned out the crossing was like a mill pond and I probably could have survived without them, the downside to the tablets was I felt so sleepy and heavy headed. In all the crossing was ok, it was a fine day, if some what chilly. The ferry initially crossed the straight and then wove its way between the gulf islands which made for a very scenic journey with just one downside, they do tend to use the deafening horn rather too frequently, but I guess it's better than hitting another vessel.
I had booked a hire car for us to pick up on the other side. We were not going back to Canada after our trip to the island so it was easy to arrange one for when we arrived. The international car hire companies were not available when I was searching so I selected a local company. I'd arranged for Terry the owner to meet us when we walked off the ferry. We arrived and waited in the mass of people disembarking, but no Terry. We gave it 15 minutes, by which time we were the only soles left on the pier. Just as we were about to find a phone this portly gentleman approaches us, it was Terry. We greet each other and he asks could we drive this jalopy back to the office for him, as he has another car to drive back. No problem, we follow him the 3 miles back to the office. I jokingly I say to Julie, I hope this isn't the hire car it has 200,000 km on the clock and as we go along the road the suspension is squeaking a melodic tune! Sure enough we get back to the office and after completing the paper work, he says oh that's a good car you drove back you can keep that for the week. We nearly fell off our chairs! I said "Do you have a car with fewer miles on the clock?" (we were used to having nearly new cars) "Oh no" he said, "I only have older cars that's why I'm cheaper" Right 5 cheaper, so I have learned my lesson, stick with the big boys! We squeaked the 50 minute journey up to our cottage in the woods. When we arrived at the shop, we wanted to stock up on supplies for the week, Julie went to get out and the car door was locked, it took us 5 minutes of pressing the key fob and pulling on the handle to get her out! This was to become a reoccurring situation! So much so that we nick names the car "Christine", as in the Steve King novel! Oh well it was a car with character that was for sure! 
Cowichan Valley
We arrived at our cottage and were met by Keith the owner, who had originally emigrated here from Coventry and still had a strong British accent. He showed us around and pointed out all the usual operational items. The Cottage was set in the middle of the forest it really was idyllic. We had a full kitchen which was a real treat after months of not being able to cook our favourite foods. It's strange how you miss the simple things in life, like good tea, proper bacon and HP sauce! The garden was lovely with a hot tub on the deck, which we enjoyed sitting in on a rainy Sunday morning. The country lanes leading from the local area were a nice change from the larger highways we had been travelling along on the mainland and reminded us of home, even the weather is very similar, 18c, with sunshine and showers!
There are some great cool weather wineries in the south of the island. Keith advised us to try Cherry Point. We drove along the lanes and went in for a tasting. They produce some very good white wines. We weren't so keen on the red wines but for something different they have blackberry desert wine which we highly recommend. You couldn't drink too much of this, but it really was very tasty, similar to Sloe Gin. Not as good as Chris Davis's homemade Sloe Gin! Now that is very good, whoops I'll have now upset my sister who of course makes wonderful Sloe Gin too, make sure you have a batch for my return Trish! 
The BC Capitol Victoria 
Situated on the southeast corner of the island, this is a small but perfectly formed city. Victoria is the capital of British Columbia and its impressive Parliament Buildings dominated the inner harbour area in the centre of the city. With its Victorian buildings and hanging baskets lining the bulk of the streets it has a British feel to it. The city appeared very clean and safe and is surrounded by water on three sides. Tiny ferry boats can been seen whizzing people across the inner harbour, which in turn is shared by larger ferries bring and taking people to the US, along with float planes coming and going. It is a hive of activity, fascinating to sit and watch. Whilst hear we would recommend a visit to the Spinnakers brewery and restaurant, the beer here is very good, probably because they import the hops from the UK! It is set in a great position over looking the water, you get a great view of the float planes landing and taking off. I know I'm a real anorak, as Julie keeps telling me!
Due to its position on the leeward side of the island's mountains, Victoria has the mildest climate in the whole of Canada. This allows for some unusual plant life, they even have banana plants in some of the gardens. Across the bay the snow capped mountains loom on the horizon, rising majestically from the US, Olympic peninsular.  
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Comments

jobeach
jobeach on

Helloooo
Am loving the piccie of you both together!! Hope you are getting lots of photos like that. Your cottage for the week looks fab!!! One day ................see ya. J & P

milnedo1
milnedo1 on

Loving it!
Photos look great. Glad to hear you're getting some of this good old British weather, can't be doing with you getting too much sunshine, especially after the summer we've had.....or not as the case may be!! Loving your updates, keep em coming.

Love Dotty x

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