A Travellerspoint blog

Day 10 - Friday 8th May

Mountain Bound

sunny 18 °C

We set our alarms early again as we reshuffled our bags for our evening rail trip to the mountains. After packing we were greeted by a delicious breakfast made by Ania, nearly everything was hand made and even the herbs are grown in their garden. We were served fruit, Polish scrambled eggs, blueberry scones with raspberry butter and croissants with smoked wild salmon and cream cheese. Certainly scrumptious and filling. We said farewell to our host then had a short drive to the terminal at Duke Point to catch the ferry to Vancouver back on the mainland.

The ferry ride was two hours and smooth sailing. We drove off the ferry and headed to a town south of Vancouver called Steveston, this is where they film the series "Once Upon A Time". We've never watched an episode but our daughter Stephanie loves the show so we found the buildings used in the show and took pics of them all for her (and bought some souvenirs).

We had plenty of time to spare before we had to drop off the rental car at the train station, so we grabbed a bite at Steveston. We decided that we should head into Vancouver so we can be close to our departure point rather than try and rush there later. There was lots of traffic given it was late afternoon on a weekday, but we got to the train terminal about 4:30pm. After shuffling our bags again, we checked in our luggage for the rail trip and kept overnight bags with us to take on board.

The Via Rail train wasn't due to depart until 8:30pm, so we grabbed some sushi for dinner and just waited at the station until it was time to board. We had our own private two bunk cabin with toilet - except the toilet wouldn't flush and we were told later that night there was an issue with the flushing mechanism on our carriage so we were forced to use toilets on another carriage. After our welcome champagne and hors deuvres we were tired enough to lay in our bunk beds and nod off to sleep.

Posted by Ace from Oz 21:13 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Day 9 - Thursday 7th May 2015

We're Going On A Bear Hunt....

sunny 18 °C

6am rise today as we had booked a bear watching cruise so we needed to be out of our motel and down by the boat by 7:45am. We managed that with time to spare and as we parked we were greeted by our skipper and host Mike White. His cruises only cater for maximum of 10 people but apart from us there were only two other passengers. We cruised inland for an hour and admired the magnificent scenery all around us. The black bears are usually found in a particular region so once we approached we all had our binoculars poised to find any.

The beats live in the woods but at low tide come to the water's edge. They then roll over the boulders and catch any crabs that they find and eat them. Our boat was able to get to within a few metres of the bears so we sat and watched them eat and could also hear the crunching of the crabs as they ate. One bear managed to catch fish that lived between the rocks too. All in all we spotted about 7 or 8 bears, including a momma bear. We gazed around to try and find her cubs but couldn't see them. The cubs tend to stay up in the tress or hidden away in the bushes.

After we sailed back to port we started the winding drive back across the island to the east coast port town of Nanaimo. Here we checked into our first bed n breakfast, a nice place called the "Pine and Picket". We were greeted by our host Ania, a Polish lady who just happened to be a trained French chef! Our upstairs room was beautifully appointed and the bed was comfortable. In fact we were both tired from the day we just lay on the bed to rest and we both fell asleep for two hours.

We decided to drive around town after we woke to grab a bite for dinner. Before we left we met Ania's husband Ingevar, a very friendly chap who spend some of his early years living in Queensland Australia. We stopped for a quick bite at a burger place in town and then walked around the bay as it was a lovely still night and not even cold.

Posted by Ace from Oz 21:09 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Day 8 - Wednesday 6th May 2015

The Long and Winding Road

sunny 18 °C

We packed our bags to check out of the Fairmont Empress but as we had no rush to get to our next stop we wandered a little around town some more. First we visited the Parliament Building nearby, then bought a few t shirts etc to take back home. We had a light lunch at Murchies on Government St and headed back to our car. We had a long drive, firstly north then west across to the other side of Vancouver Island to Tofino. This small coastal town is dotted with surf beaches but also boasts a marina where boats go fishing or take visitors on whale or bear watching cruises. The road to the other side of the island was very narrow and winding but ever so scenic. We wound in between mountains and some still had snow on them and we followed a few rivers, but all nice to see. The scenery helped ease the boredom of the long and windy road.

We didn't arrive at our motel until 6:30pm, and we rushed off to a quick dinner at a nice restaurant called SoBo. We were rushing because we wanted to drive down to one of the beaches and watch the sun set. Not something we've ever seen before, as living in Sydney means we don't see the sun set. We've both seen a sunset over water while on a Pacific cruise, but this is the first time on land. Despite the nice weather it got cold very quickly once the sun started setting. We were amazed at the thousands of bluebottles washed up on the sand, although these were not like our back home. These had no tails so they did not sting, they just floated on the water.

The sun has been setting in this part of the world around 8:30pm, so by the time it gets dark it's nearly 9:30. We headed back to our room to sleep as we had an early rise the next morning.

Posted by Ace from Oz 21:08 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Day 7 - Tuesday 5th May 2015

Our 25th Wedding Anniversary

overcast 13 °C

Today marked 25 years since we married. Technically in Australia it was the 6th of May, but we chose to celebrate it on Canadian time.

We had tickets to the world famous Butchart Gardens and even though the weather was a little frightening we drove off to the gardens. What an amazing place - I am not really into gardening or flowers but this place was stunning, so colourful and beautiful. We walked around for about three hours, all the while hoping the rain would stay away. And luckily for us it did - within minutes of driving off to go home it poured and even hailed, but even that only lasted a few minutes. The pics we took at the gardens were amazing too.

We got back to the hotel for a quick rest then we had Afternoon Tea booked downstairs. It's a famous tradition to have Tea at the Empress so we indulged in something we don't normally do. It was all very nice and dainty, but not something I would do again esp considering it was $63 pp. But it was a special occasion so we did something different.

We were both pretty full from the Tea so we got changed and walked to the local movie cinema Complex to see a romantic , anniversary movie. We saw the "Avengers, Age of Ultron" lol, but it was a fun movie and kept us entertained. We walked back to our room and soon hit the sack after another good and tiring day.

Posted by Ace from Oz 21:06 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Day 6 - Monday 4th May 2015

Hello Canada!

sunny 16 °C

Today we bid farewell to Seattle and travelled to our first contact point in Canada. We packed our bags and checked out of our motel, then a short drive west to Edmonds on the edge of the Sound. We needed to travel to Port Angeles to catch the ferry across to Victoria BC, rather than drive to the ferry and have to deal with the Seattle traffic we drove to Edmonds to catch the ferry over to Kingston. Only a short ferry trip but better than being stuck in traffic. After disembarking we stopped at a local cafe - The Axe Handle - and ate a cooked breakfast for sustenance for our travels.

The drive to Port Angeles was just over an hour but nice to see the green scenery as we drove. We arrived at the next ferry terminal early so paid our fares and parked the car and wandered around for a while to take some pics. Some scenes from the movie "Twilight" were filmed here so it was cool to be in the same town. If we had more time we would've driven to Forks which is where the movies were mostly filmed.

We boarded our ferry for the 90 minute trip to Victoria, and the sailing was quite smooth. We made our way into Victoria Harbour and the surrounding apartment blocks were quiet stunning to see. Also there were several seaplanes taking off and landing on the harbour. From the ferry we had a great view of our hotel The Empress, a Victorian style hotel that was built over 100 years ago. I believe the Queen stays at the Empress when she visits Victoria.

Once we drove off the ferry we passed through a Customs booth, then only a few hundred metres and we were parking in the hotel. The room was very nice, four poster bed and we got a room with a view of the harbour. We decided to walk up the Main Street in search of an Italian restaurant that was recommended to us - Il Terrazzo. We found the place and even though it had only just reached 6pm, the place was packed. We were lucky to score the last table available at the time. Our entrees were very nice, main meals only average.

We wandered back to the hotel via the water's edge, it was cool n brisk as the wind was quite chilly. The temps here were the coldest so far, around 13-14 Celsius during the days.

Posted by Ace from Oz 21:03 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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