Vancouver Island and Back !

A few years ago I went to Australia and everyone I knew or met said to me the one thing you must do when you’re out there is go to Tasmania, its an absolutely stunning place.

So I did and within a couple of hours of being there i knew it was a mistake, it just wasn’t  for me, for a number of reasons !

Being too mean to buy another plane ticket, as mine wasn’t changeable, I stuck it for about three days before escaping back to the mainland and the great city of Melbourne.

I had  a similar fear about Vancouver Island – everyone out here raves about it, says its the most marvellous place etc etc, and so I opted to go there for three or four days last Sunday, prior to flying back on Saturday, deep joy !

Got the Ferry over, which is about an hour and a half’s trip, through the most beautiful cluster of small islands, a lot of them inhabited .

 

Saw some whales, well apparently – everyone else on the ferry seemed to see them, but I didn’t, some eagles, just the most amazing journey – for the first time I understood the appeal of doing a cruise.

Arrived on the Island and started to drive to Victoria, which is the capital of BC, it was literally just like a London rush used to be, before it became 24 hours a day.

The volume of traffic and people was amazing, in proportion to how quiet most of Canada is – It really was quite a reality shock, coming from the Yukon and the Alaska highway where you were lucky at times  to see a car an hour in any direction !

Victoria was a real eye opener in many ways.Hugely expensive in terms of real estate and hotels etc. Has fifteen thousand American tourists a day apparently, according to a customs guy I was talking to, which is why its so expensive !

The main bay area of the city is beautiful, with some really British buildings and really grand hotels. Quite impressive in a sense, the sort of thing you’d see all along Brighton seafront.

There was also a waxworks museum, which I have to say I find really creepy but other people seem to love – I’m always gobsmacked at the queues outside Madame Tussuad’s, day or night, any time of year !

The whole Bay area, which houses the Government buildings, was modelled to look like a Britain in the Fifties, a real tourist trap.

Wandering round the rest of the town which is quite small around eight/nine o’clock, it was virtually deserted apart from a massive number of street homeless and also a huge number of people wandering around completely out of it on something.

There was a real edginess to the place. It was the one time since I’ve been in Canada that I just didn’t feel  safe wandering round – nothing particularly heavy (as someone who has lived in Brixton/Streatham for last twenty years) but just really different.

I do wonder if there’s something about ”government ” cities that attract extremes of wealth and social problems.

Anyway, the following morning decided that I was really on the Island  because I felt I ought to be rather than because I really wanted to be – decided I really wanted to see Seattle before coming back and so left on what I thought would be an easy two hour drive to this lovely city, where I now am.

I’m certainly not putting Vancouver Island in the same category as Tasmania, but just felt the rest of it could wait another day, but I’m pretty sure Victoria and me don’t mix.

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