Friday, November 4, 2016

An Evening in Victoria, BC

The last port of call on our Alaska cruise was a stop at beautiful Victoria, BC Canada on the final evening before our return to Seattle.  We disembarked from the Westerdam as soon as possible after it docked at about 6pm.

Customs Facility at the Ogden Point Cruise Terminal in Victoria, BC

After a quick and easy trip through Canadian customs, we headed to the Victoria inner harbor and city center.

The Ogden Point Cruise Ship Terminal is in Victoria's "Outer Harbor" about a 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) from the "Inner Harbor" area of Victoria.  We could have opted to take tour, bus or taxi, but since it was a fairly pleasant evening we decided to walk and take in the sights.  The path initially took us away from the edge of the waterfront, but within a few minutes we arrived at the other side of the point at Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf - Victoria, BC
Although the wharf includes a marina, it is less a working fish dock and more like a houseboat community including numerous colorfully painted restaurants with many different ethnic cuisine choices.  We didn't try anything to eat because we had just dined before leaving the ship, but the aromas wafting on the summer breeze were fantastic.

"You are here" maps along the Victoria waterfront
Along the waterfront walk to Victoria's inner harbor from the Ogden Point Cruise Ship Terminal were signs with "you are here" maps which were helpful to keep from getting lost along the way.

Photo Credit: Water Taxis Victoria Canada by Gary Bembridge on Flickr -  Creative Commons License 2.0
When we arrived at Fisherman's Wharf, we considered taking one of the cute little water taxis the rest of the way into the inner harbor, but decided against that idea due to the weather conditions.  Although it was sunny, it was a windy evening and after watching the tiny boats rolling and bobbing around it appeared to be a pretty rough ride.
Houseboats in Victoria, BC

As we continued along the walkway toward Victoria's inner harbor, I glanced back and took this photo with a view of the colorful houseboat community.

Victoria Clipper dock in Victoria

As we continued to get closer to the city, we encountered docks that offer some of the other transportation options to Victoria for those who are not on a cruise ship to or from Alaska.  The Victoria Clipper is a fast and comfortable passenger-only ferry that offers service between Seattle and Victoria.

Blackball Ferry Dock Victoria, BC
A short distance later we passed the Blackball Ferry dock which provides service for both passengers and motor vehicles on the MV Coho between Port Angles, WA and Victoria.

Horsedrawn Carriage in Victoria, BC

As we neared the inner harbor area, we started to see some of the horse drawn carriages that provide a classic romantic way to tour the sights of the city.
Inner Harbour Victoria, BC

Since Victoria is on Vancouver Island without any connecting bridges to the mainland, most visitors arrive by sea including many smaller vessels that tie up at the docks in the inner harbor.  So it is fitting that the Welcome to Victoria sign created with plantings of colorful flowers faces the harbor.
Parliament Building Victoria, BC
Directly across the street from the inner harbor are the beautiful British Columbia provincial legislative buildings.  The buildings were designed by Francis Rattenbury and completed in 1897.  

Piper in Victoria, BC
Music from bagpipes is always part of the mix of sounds you can expect to hear in Victoria.  Pipers are scattered around at various street corners in the central part of the city.  They are always happy to pose for a photo and appreciate either a Canadian loonie or a US dollar as a tip.

Fairmont Empress Hotel Victoria BC
Victoria's most famous hotel, The Empress, was opened in 1908.  It was built for the Canadian Pacific Railroad and is another building designed by Francis Rattenbury.  It was added to the Canadian Register of Historic Places in 1980.   During the summer months over 800 people per day come to enjoy the classic Victorian Tea served in the Tea Room.  Tea at the Empress is memorable, but not inexpensive and reservations usually need to be made several months in advance.  Those stopping at Victoria as part of a cruise to Alaska can make reservations as a shore excursion through their cruise line.

Lobby of the Empress Hotel Victoria, BC Canada

We opted to skip tea at the Empress on this visit, but did step inside to take a peek at the lobby area.  Although the hotel has been refurbished several times, the grandeur of the past has been retained.

Elevator and mailbox inside the Empress Hotel Victoria, BC

Small details like this gorgeous antique mailbox are a delight.

Irish Lace Linen 
A display of Irish lace linen tea towels and napkins is another touch of finery from a bygone era.

Statue of  Emily Carr Victoria British Columbia

The gardens on the grounds of the Empress are beautiful for an evening stroll.  Just outside the garden is a statue honoring  Emily Carr (1871-1945), one of  Canada's most famous artists, who was born and died in Victoria.  As a person who loved and surrounded herself with animals her statue includes her pet monkey and one of her dogs.  For those who would like more information, there are several books available about Emily Carr.  As the sun dropped to the edge of the horizon we decided to start our walk back to the ship.