Victoria, British Columbia: The trip of a lifetime!

By DD - Last updated: Saturday, August 16, 2014
The Beautiful view of the Washington Mountains from Craigdarroch Castle In Victoria, British Columbia.

The Beautiful view of the Washington Mountains from Craigdarroch Castle In Victoria, British Columbia.

Mama D and DD just returned from an 8 day trip to Victoria, British Columbia and it was one of the best vacations we’ve ever had. We packed a lot in those 8 nights and 7 full days of sightseeing. We hope this itinerary will inspire you to plan your own trip to Victoria, British Columbia, one of the best destinations in the world!

To minimize jet lag, we went to bed early every night, between 8 and 10pm. We were early for breakfast and the dining room was quiet which was a bonus.

We enjoyed the ferry ride from Victoria to Vancouver. We couldn't have asked for better weather.

We enjoyed the ferry ride from Victoria to Vancouver. We couldn’t have asked for better weather.

Day 1

We took a day trip to Vancouver with Pacific Coach Lines. We had to get to the bus depot early and left the hotel at 7 am. The station really could use a makeover as it is the blandest and boring places ever. Our morning driver with a Scottish accent was a grumpy character. We were fortunate to be waiting in line along with a British couple from Yorkshire going to an Alaska cruise. They had a great sense of humor and laughed about it all.

A frog at the Vancouver Aquarium.

A frog at the Vancouver Aquarium.

The ferry ride to Vancouver was awesome. It is number one on the National Geographic 10 best boat rides in the world. We spotted a sea otter and had lunch watching the islands go by. It was windy on the upper deck but we had our wind jackets. The ocean was calm and DD didn’t have a problem with motion sickness. Once in Vancouver we took a cab from the closest stop – Empress Hotel – to go to the Vancouver Aquarium. We enjoyed our visit very much and hope the belugas, dolphins and sea lions will stay. We got back to Victoria with Mama D’S friend and her 8 year old son who came for the night to spend the next day with us.

 

Young Queen Victoria was out welcoming visitors and she even came inside to chat while we were visiting on our guided tour.

Young Queen Victoria was out welcoming visitors and she even came inside to chat while we were visiting on our guided tour.

Day 2

We started the day with a guided tour of the Legislative Building where we had to leave before the end to go to our Hippo tour, an amphibious bus that goes in the water.

Mama D and her friends ready for Hippo to go!

Mama D and her friends ready for Hippo to go!

It was a fun 1.5 hour tour for an 8 year old boy who sat on the right side of the bus to make sure he would get splashed while rinsing the bus when we came out of the water.

The amazingly small world of Miniature World in Victoria, BC. The tip of my finger is smaller than a dime.

The amazingly small world of Miniature World in Victoria, BC. The tip of my finger is smaller than a dime.

We came back to our hotel – Harbour Towers – for lunch and then went to Miniature World where we were transported into another time and dimension. After the visit our friends still had some time before their return to Vancouver so DD and the boy went to the Bug Museum to look at some giant cockroaches, tarantulas and a colony of ants living in translucent tubes. We went with our friends to the Pacific Coach Depot and DD had a long chat with the Security man – a retired pharmacist -who at 80 years old with cancer was still trucking.

The real life size diorama of the seashore animals at The Royal BC Museum in Victoria, British Columbia.

The real life size diorama of the seashore animals at The Royal BC Museum in Victoria, British Columbia.

Day 3

We spent the whole day at The Royal BC Museum and watched 3 IMAX movies: Rocky Mountain Express, Vikings Journey to New Worlds, and Island of Lemurs: Madagascar. What a day! We had a picnic right outside in the park, past the coat check where we were able to leave our insulated lunch bag while we visited.

They have picnic tables right outside the Royal BC Museum with trees and birds.

They have picnic tables right outside the Royal BC Museum with trees and birds.

While we were waiting in line for one of the movies, we had a nice chat (and a good laugh) with a retired preventive medicine practitioner who was wearing his 3-D glasses as he thought they were his regular sunglasses! He had such an interesting story, having traveled to 40 Countries and studied in Chicago with 7 degrees… it seemed like an incredible journey and DD asked him if he had seen the Twilight Zone episode where a compulsive liar is abducted by aliens because he knows so much and then he is forced to admit it was all lies and then when asked by his patrons where he had been, they don’t believe him of course. Anyhow, the episode is called “Hocus-Pocus and Frisby” and the man with the 3-D glasses had seen it too!

The historic and famous Fan Tan Alley of Canada's oldest China Town in Victoria, BC.

The historic and famous Fan Tan Alley of Canada’s oldest China Town in Victoria, BC.

Day 4

We visited the lobby of the Empress Hotel, shopped at the Salvation Army, Value Village, and walked through China Town’s Famous Fan Tan Alley.

The vegetarian restaurant Green Cuisine at Market Square in Victoria, BC.

The vegetarian restaurant Green Cuisine at Market Square in Victoria, BC.

We had lunch at the vegetarian restaurant Green Cuisine where Aunty J works and DD was able to have a meal in a restaurant which hadn’t happened in a long time! Of course she wasn’t able to have any of the soy based meals but at least she had a nice plate with lots of rice and veggies.

Collection of knots at the Maritime Museum in Victoria, British Columbia.

Collection of knots at the Maritime Museum in Victoria, British Columbia.

After lunch we went to the Maritime Museum where we were told about the resident ghosts in which DD doesn’t believe and attributed the knocks in the wall to carpenter ants.

The world reknown oldest working birdcage elevator at the Victoria Maritime Museum in British Columbia.

The world reknown oldest working birdcage elevator at the Victoria Maritime Museum in British Columbia.

We took a ride in the oldest birdcage elevator in North America which is 2nd on the National Geographic list of the world’s best elevator rides! Unfortunately we weren’t able to see the courthouse because there was a private party.

The Atlas Moth at the Victoria Butterfly Gardens measures 10cm.

The Atlas Moth at the Victoria Butterfly Gardens measures 10cm.

Day 5

Aunty J picked us up at the hotel and drove us to the Butterfly Gardens and to the Butchart Gardens where we started with an awesome and refreshing boat tour.

What a beautiful day Mama D, Aunty  J and I had at the Butchart Gardens.

What a beautiful day Mama D, Aunty J and I had at the Butchart Gardens.

It was a very hot day, especially in the sunken garden but it was worth it. We were parked in the rabbit section: how cool on such a hot day! We ended the day with a stop at Aunty J’s house where we ate cherries and blueberries watching hummingbirds and admiring her collection of wooden mechanical toys. We had the chance to hear her better half play an original song on the piano for us!

The Best Western Premier Prestige in Sooke, BC on Vancouver Island is one place Dami and I would love to stay at one day.

The Best Western Premier Prestige in Sooke, BC on Vancouver Island is one place Dami and I would love to stay at one day.

Day 6

We booked a private all day guided tour with Trev’s Adventure Tours of Victoria and it gave us a better idea of what Victoria and its surrounding was. We saw some neighborhoods around Victoria and went to many places tour buses don’t go. We had a picnic at the Lagoon behind Hatley Castle watching birds and later visited – among other places – the Best Western Premier Prestige hotel in Sooke where DD and Dami would love to stay at one day.

The very popular Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, British Columbia.

The very popular Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, British Columbia.

Day 7

Our last day was spent visiting Craigdarroch Castle, Government’s House’s Gardens, another lunch at the Green Cuisine Restaurant at Market Square on Johnson Street, and lastly we took a boat taxi ride to Fisherman’s Wharf and we walked back to the hotel.

Another popular place to visit in Victoria, BC is Fisherman's Wharf where more than 30 permanent residents live in boat houses.

Another popular place to visit in Victoria, BC is Fisherman’s Wharf where more than 30 permanent residents live in boat houses.

What a nice trip! We could’ve have easily spent another week as there were more places to visit but it will have to be another time. We loved our hotel and loved the city. Our room was facing the harbor where we saw the Harbor Air planes, the boat taxis, the ferries from Washington USA, the Empress Hotel lit up at night, the seagull families on the roof of the hotel across the street, the fireworks on August 3rd, and the beautiful sunrise. We loved Victoria, BC and will return one day!

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A Beautiful Day to Fly to Victoria, British Columbia

By DD - Last updated: Saturday, August 16, 2014
DD and Mama D on the Air Canada Express flight from Vancouver to Victoria BC: the smallest plane we've ever taken.

DD and Mama D on the Air Canada Express flight from Vancouver to Victoria BC: the smallest plane we’ve ever taken.

They were calling for thunderstorms but fortunately the risks had disappeared by the morning and we were able able to fly! No delays, no glitches, it was a perfect trip. I (DD) met Mama D in Montreal and we flew to Victoria, British Columbia where the weather was warm and not too humid. The isolated picnic bag was great to have and I was even able to get ice at the shop past security. From home, I used frozen peas to keep the sandwiches cool; what a great idea!

We flew with Air Canada on this Express plane from Vancouver to Victoria, British Columbia. It was a short fifteen minute flight.

We flew with Air Canada on this Express plane from Vancouver to Victoria, British Columbia. It was a short fifteen minute flight.

The flight from Vancouver to Victoria was 15 minutes and the view was the best I had since Hawaii! It took no more than 10 minutes to get our suitcases, and then we got our tickets for the YYJ shuttle which was a deal considering they bring you straight to your hotel (79$ return for 2). The ride was nice and so was the driver who described the scenery all along the way.

The view from our flight from Vancouver to Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada

The view from our flight from Vancouver to Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada

We got an early check-in at Harbour Towers Hotel and fortunately our room was ready! We have booked a King bedroom suite with a harbor view and got exactly what we wanted! We enjoyed listening to the sound of the seagulls and the boats and hydroplanes.

Mama D resting on the balcony after a long day of flights across Canada

Mama D resting on the balcony after a long day of flights across Canada

We went grocery shopping at Thrifty foods and took a cab back. I made a delicious bolognese pasta sauce, prepared our lunches for the next day, made pancakes for breakfast and we went to bed at 8 PST which is 11 for Mama D and midnight for DD. What a long day! We woke up the next day at 5am before sunrise and had a good needed restful sleep.

We took a cab back to the hotel with our grocery bags.

We took a cab back to the hotel with our grocery bags. Out of 85 cab drivers with Bluebird Cab Taxis, we had this driver 3 times!

 

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Miniature World in Victoria BC

By DAMI - Last updated: Saturday, July 5, 2014
Inside many of the miniature diorama displays are animated scenes that come to life at the push of a button. Buses and cars move, trains pass, gates open and people come to life!

Inside many of the miniature diorama displays are animated scenes that come to life at the push of a button. Buses and cars move, trains pass, gates open and people come to life!

Ever since seeing the miniature kitchen scene inside a microwave oven at the Moncton Miniatures Annual Show I have thought miniatures were so neat especially when the details are so realistic and on such a small scale that it really blows your mind. We went for a visit to the famous Miniature World in Victoria, BC and it was beyond anything I could ever imagine!

There are over 85 dioramas and displays at Miniature World and when we were there the new Camelot display had just opened and the Camelot series of dioramas alone took 3 years to build! Throughout there were narrations for each display as well as animations and sound effects to fully immerse you in each era and story.

This Miniature World diorama reminded me of Ft. Louisburg in Nova Scotia. The display radiates an old village charm with cobble stone roads and peasants going to market.

This Miniature World diorama reminded me of Ft. Louisburg in Nova Scotia. The display radiates an old village charm with cobble stone roads and peasants going to market.

There were huge panoramic display cases filled with incredible action scenes based on real places and people and events of history as well as scene from fairy tales and myths from the past. It’s like some sort of Twilight Zone episode, you know the one where the guy in the museum sees a dollhouse and then he gets drawn into the dollhouse and starts interacting with the miniatures…that’s how crazy the miniature world is!

First you are seeing a wild west scene of horses and cowboys running across the plains and you can almost smell the horses and hear the pounding of the hoofs on the dirt and then you turn around and are inside of a 1950’s park in a little town with white fences and an antique car show happening in the town square!

The townsfolk gathered in the local park to visit with neighbors and look at some late model vehicles.

The townsfolk gathered in the local park to visit with neighbors and look at some late model vehicles.

Then, after you move on you see a world war two miniature reproduction of a battle in a small French town complete with soldiers and fires and broken brick homes and then after you give your head a little shake you are visiting the Swiss Family Robinson in a tree house, and then a circus with trained seals on a sea saw and then the marriage of King Arthur and Gwendolyn and then there is that same dollhouse from the Twilight Zone almost the same but before you can think about it you are right inside walking up the stairs into a miniature world of 1870 carpets and doors and chandeliers!

A miniature display of a World War II village ravaged by the war in France. The realistic figures in the streets really create an atmosphere of battle and destruction.

A miniature display of a World War II village ravaged by the war in France. The realistic figures in the streets really create an atmosphere of battle and destruction.

You have got to visit this place, I don’t want to give everything away but there is so much to see and the fun part is each scene is like a giant Where’s Waldo and you are spotting little animals and details inside the miniature scene that are so incredibly imaginative that you are in awe at the amount of work and detail the builders put into it.

Boats dock at the wharf and townsfolk  crowd together to board the train into towm. The dioramas at Miniature World are amazingly detailed and this scene shows a crowd and you can really imagine the pushing and shoving and noises of the moment captured in miniature!

Boats dock at the wharf and townsfolk crowd together to board the train into towm. The dioramas at Miniature World are amazingly detailed and this scene shows a crowd and you can really imagine the pushing and shoving and noises of the moment captured in miniature!

Most of the miniatures displays have interactive buttons that operate some small mechanism inside the display…you have to really look close sometimes to see what the button activates because everything is so small…one button I pushed had me stumped…I kept looking for any movement and after five minutes finally saw that three miniature koi fish were swimming below the surface of a small pond when the button was pressed! Crazy fun!

Miniature World is right downtown in Victoria, British Columbia and is a must see! It’s really the Greatest Little Show on Earth! Visit their website: http://www.miniatureworld.com/

The stone bridge over the river is the scene for a drmatic and bloody battle between Knights of opposing kingdoms!

The stone bridge over the river is the scene for a dramatic and bloody battle between Knights of opposing kingdoms!

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