Do you ever travel around your province/state/region? It was near impossible to travel around BC in late August because of the forest fires, but intra-provincial traveling is something I want to do more of in 2019. It's (sometimes) more affordable than international trips, and if you really think about it, BC is bigger than most countries, so there's lots to explore! 60% of it is forest, but still. Lots to explore.
I actually managed a quick trip to Victoria last month. It's a ferry ride away, which meant we spent a lot of time on the highway, then waiting in line to get on the ferry, then hoping to not get bumped to a later departure. It also meant we spent a lot of money, because ferry rides are so expensive. I can't believe some people commute daily from Vancouver Island to the mainland to get to work! I know they get a discount, but still.
But it was worth it for us, because we were going to visit our dear friend K. She has spent the summer working near the University of Victoria, with rare books. Her work is very cool and also very cold, because no one wants the books to be damaged by heat and humidity.
So we plunked down in a nearby Airbnb in the dead of night, and woke up the next morning ready to explore.
The last time I visited British Columbia's capital city I think I was three years old, so everything was relatively new to me. K was a great guide, taking us to the best bookstores, treats, and fish & chips.
While walking around Old Victoria, with flower pots hanging on every street corner and old brick buildings sitting squarely between the new, I thought about how who you travel with shapes your experience with a city. For example, we spent three hours perusing bookstores. It was so much fun! And I'm not sure how many people out there would happily spend that much time looking at books together, but we did, and I'm very grateful to have these people in my life.
On Saturday, we visited two bookstores: Munro's and Russell Books. I couldn't get any pictures of Munro's, which is a beautiful bookstore that used to be owned by writer and Nobel laureate Alice Munro. This is because there is a fat, carefully manicured tree right in front of it, blocking a clean view of its neo-classical, I-was-a-bank-in-1905 facade.
Inside the store, you're greeted by tall ceilings, tasteful architecture, and quiet classical music playing in the background. And books, of course.
The other bookstore we visited was Russell Books, and its here that I did most of my shopping. It's a new and used bookstore with amazing prices and three full floors to explore to your heart's content. I restricted myself to purchasing three books, all of which were and are bestsellers, which came out to $31 CAD! Amazing. I've already started on The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.
Next door to Russell Books is a delightful little bakery/patisserie called Crust. I highly recommend the lychee raspberry danish, but everything is mouth-wateringly good so you can't really go wrong no matter what you pick.
We then spent the rest of the day at the Royal BC Museum, checking out the Ancient Egypt exhibit and exploring the second floor, which is dedicated to the history of BC. One of my favourite sections was Our Living Languages. There are so many different languages to hear!
While I like to think I'm adept with my native language, English, I'm terrible with learning other languages. While listening to the 34-ish different West Coast First Nations languages you can interact with, I couldn't even begin to understand how to move my mouth, how to make the right shapes to get the right sounds. It was so fascinating, and I couldn't help wanting to know all the languages that have ever existed. But a polyglot I am not, so I just kept pushing buttons and keeping my ears close to the speakers.
Outside the museum, the air had become smokier due to a wildfire near Nanaimo. We finished the night waiting in line for some very tasty fish and chips, which we enjoyed under moonlight by the edge of the water. Boats bobbed up and down and cute little dogs walked by, and we talked about things that friends do, like food and relationships and how important it is to have a good quality mattress.
Other than that, we spent the rest of our trip visiting Beacon Hill Park and saying hi to the peacocks, stuffing ourselves at Pagliacci's, and taking walks by the beach. On Sunday, before we hopped on the ferry home, we also visited Butchart Gardens. I might post about it later—it was huge and gorgeous and worth the price of admission, and I would love to visit again sometime.
Have you every visited BC's capital? What was your favourite part?