From Seattle we took the “high-speed katamaran service”, the Clipper, into Canada to stay with friends in Victoria, British Colombia. Actually, they’re closer to being family than friends, and we had the chance to take a break from the constant whirl of hotels-driving-traveling-flying and to enjoy some relax time. It was perfect.
This was my second visit to Canada and this time, just like the last time, I failed to see either a mountie or a moose. This was quite disappointing on my first visit, but now I have come to the conclusion that maybe neither of them actually exists — it’s all just a big joke invented with Canadian humour to keep the other people in the world guessing. Check the photos — they’re both smiling… clearly they know something we don’t. Oh yes….
We spent some really great days there and while Victoria is very tranquil place, there were still loads of cool things to see and do. The city is strikingly British. It has British gardens, old-English style houses and Union Jacks abound: it actually feels more English than England in lots of respects. It has majestic parks, greenery flows around and mountains rise up in the distance; it’s a beautiful place. More than just being pretty, it’s also very “livable”. It has lovely shops and restaurants all enclosed in the smart downtown area.
I really appreciate cities being “human”; that is, made to human proportions with buildings and infrastructure designed for people to use. Cities needn’t necessarily be small to achieve this; often small ones aren’t so human at all. I love places that have something of a center where you can walk around of a Sunday afternoon unassailed by roaring traffic. Or perhaps go out on Saturday night and have bars and pubs in one place, so if you want to change locale you don’t need a designated driver: you can walk! And Victoria is first and foremost, human.
Then of course there are the real humans. The quickest way to upset canadians is to mistake them for their United States neighbors (though probably this is also true vice-versa). They feel that Americans are overwhelming, always in a rush, preoccupied with being a superpower. Canadians are far too chill to even want to be a superpower. They are friendly, polite, low-key, have a very particular sense of humour and are just genuinely nice people. In Victoria people even say hello in the street! How old-school is that!?
They might not want to be a superpower but they do have their military jets which gave us a cool display over the Strait of Georgia. The Canadian Snowbirds did a 45 minute show as we watched from a seaside balcony on a glorious day. This wasn’t our only airplane experience; on our way back to Seattle we went on a seaplane! It was an awesome experience, taking off and landing on the water in a plane with only eight people on board, you could smell the airplane fuel, feel the tremors as the plane changed from flying low over the sea to cruising just above the trees when we went over land. I was a little apprehensive about it but it was eye-opening and a ton of fun. And we avoided the sickness you feel after the katamaran voyage, which was even better.
And well, I’ve already said it, but I’ll say it again, to our hosts — thank you so much for everything, it was fantastic.