Cathy and I are just back from Vancouver and Victoria. These two great Canadian cities are hubs for day trips around Canada’s West Coast. We spent 2 nights in North Vancouver and 5 nights in Victoria. This is our first trip since travelling around Cuba in February 2020. With COVID still affecting everything, it seems appropriate to make this blog about the travel logistics. We will follow with blogs about good day trips, and about interesting eating places.
We flew Air Canada direct from Toronto to Vancouver and return. Try to book on a 777ER flight. That plane has lots of leg room. The 737 MAX 8 return has no leg room for my 6’2″ frame and was very uncomforable. Of note, these flights now have on-board food and drink, which is a big improvement from a few weeks earlier when there was no food or drink service. We did get into a huge people jam clearing security when leaving Toronto. People were getting agitated and abusive to the security folks. One of the security officers told me that there were two incidents the day before where people were handcuffed. On our return, we got to the Vancouver Airport quite early in case the same delays and we just waltzed through security. Masks are required throughout the flight and in the airports.
We travelled by ferry as walk-on passengers between Vancouver and Victoria. As walk-ons, we did not need reservations and with a ferry leaving every hour we did not have any concern about missing the boat. The ferry has excellent food service..The trip takes about 90 minutes and the route is through the beautiful and misty Gulf Islands. Masking was optional.
We did not rent a car, rather we only used public transit in Victoria. (Note, our son who lives in North Vancouver, graciously drove us to our Vancouver destinations). Hint: Take Victoria Transit from the ferry dock to downtown Victoria. Their buses are timed to the ferry arrival and departure. Cost is $2.50 per person, versus $70 for a cab, and the express route takes just a few minutes longer than a cab. Masking is requested, however optional, on public transit.
During our days in Victoria, we bought transit day passes for $5 per person, and found it easy to visit downtown, day trip to Bouchart Gardens near the airport, to the University of Victoria area on the east side of Victoria, and to the Royal Roads University area to west side of Victoria. Since I do most of our driving, I found it hugely relaxing not having to navigate through an unfamiliar city nor trying to find parking.
For accommodation in Victoria, we highly recommend The Beautiful Garden Suite (airbnb) where we stayed all five nights. It is in Esquimalt near the Naval Base and 15 minutes by transit to downtown. The price is reasonable, the value is excellent and the ocean is 200 metres away. Our standalone studio included a kitchen, a private patio and a bbq. Just up the road are a food store and a liquor store, so it is easy to make breakfasts and a few dinners. Here are some photos at the waterfront.
For our two nights in North Vancouver we enjoyed Central North Vancouver View!! (airbnb). Our room with ensuite had a view over Vancouver Harbour and easy walking to local restaurants and the market. And the proprieter has a friendly cat named Tuk.
That’s it for now. I am going to write a couple of additional blogs, one about day trips and the other about interesting local eating.