Victoria: Mostly Aimless Wandering

I left Vancouver to come to Victoria a little past noon today. Before leaving Vancouver, I walked along the waterfront near my hotel. My route didn’t take me anywhere I hadn’t been during the first days of my stay in Vancouver, so there’s nothing interesting for me to say here about that walk.

Oh, wait. Yes there is something interesting to say here. I walked past a man sitting on a bench.

That’s not the interesting part. It’s not all that odd for men to sit on benches. In fact, it’s almost normal. I do it sometimes. Especially now that I’m older. Then again, some people dispute my normality. But those are primarily people who know me, particularly those who know me well.

He wasn’t a young man, but I don’t think he was as old as I am. However, that leaves a lot of ground open. But that’s also not the interesting part.

When I walked past him, a couple walking a dog passed between me and the man sitting on the bench. Yeah. That’s still not it. Wait for it. It’s coming. I promise.

As best I could tell, the man and the dog weren’t previously acquainted. Nevertheless, the man called out to the dog in a loud voice, “Helloooooo, mutt.” The dog responded, “Helloooooo, dork.”

OK. The dog’s response might have been only in my head. In fact, the dog was silent. But I’m sure the dog was thinking it.

I mean, really. There’s no call to use the m word if you don’t know a dog’s name. That’s so derogatory. I have said hello to dogs I don’t know. When I do, I usually say, “Hello, friend,” or something to that genial effect.

I’m not one to elongate the “o” at the end of “hello.” But I don’t object to people who do. However, I wouldn’t use the m word when referring to a dog, particularly not in mixed canine/human company. Civility is important.

Flight to Victoria

Not the seaplane I was on. But not much smaller than the one I was on.
Not the seaplane I was on to Victoria. But not much smaller than the one I was on.

There are a couple of options for traveling between Vancouver and Victoria if you don’t have a car. One involves a couple of bus rides, and possibly some other form of transit to the bus departure points, and a ferry ride between the two bus rides. The other is a seaplane. (Non-seaplane flights might also be an option, but that didn’t seem reasonable considering the need to get to and deal with regular airports.)

Even if, unlike me, you do have a car you’re still going to have to drive it to and onto a ferry and do that part of the non-seaplane trip unless it’s an amphibious car. Victoria is on Vancouver Island, not the mainland like Vancouver.

The seaplane terminals in both Vancouver and Victoria are about a five minute walk from the hotels I stayed at in the respective cities. So, I chose the seaplane option.

The idea of flying on such a small plane made me a little nervous, but only a little. I was easily able to overcome that.

Because the seaplane terminal was so close to my hotel in Vancouver, I walked by it a few times just on the normal course of my walks. When I did, I realized there was something that I hadn’t thought much about when I booked the flight—getting on and off the plane.

The planes I saw on my walks had narrow steps permanently affixed to the plane at two points. The bottom was attached to the plane’s pontoon and the top was attached to the fuselage immediately below the passenger door. The airline placed a portable plank between the bottom step and the dock, but it too was narrow—about the width of the steps.

Neither the steps nor the plank had side railings. There was a railing on the inside of the plane’s door, but that ended above the top of the steps. It likely would’t have been available for short people to hold onto when they were on the bottom step. Short people like, for example, say, me. Or, more to the point, specifically me.

It was a mistake for me to notice that on my first full day in Vancouver. For the rest of my time there I agonized over the possibility that I would fall into the water as I tried to navigate the steps on a plane bobbing in the harbour. (Yes, I do worry intensely about that sort of thing. It’s not easy being me.) I witnessed some people successfully navigating the steps, but that didn’t quell my neurosis.

As it turned out, it was doubly a mistake for me to notice and worry about it. The plane I was on was slightly larger than the planes I had seen at the terminal on the previous days. It was still a small plane with probably no more than 20 seats, but it was a two-engine plane, rather than the single engine planes I saw before. And, most important, the airline placed a short, somewhat wider ramp down from just inside the plane to the dock. There were no steps to climb and fall from.

The flight wasn’t at all frightening except before we took off. When I entered the plane, a fanny pack sat on each seat. Before takeoff, the pilot turned around and told us that, in addition to buckling our seatbelts, all passengers must wear the fanny pack. It was a floatation device. Oh, joy. Oh, bliss. They think there’s going to be a need for a floatation device.

Fortunately, the flight was uneventful. We flew over some ocean and some islands. And, if it weren’t for the heavy haze, the view probably would have been spectacular.

Aimlessly Wandering Around Central Victoria

The Fairmont Empress Hotel
The Fairmont Empress Hotel

Despite being the provincial capital, Victoria is a much smaller and less bustling city than Vancouver. On this, my first day here in a few decades, I did a little aimless wandering around the central part of the city.

Despite being aimless, my wandering couldn’t help but take in the three most iconic scenes of Victoria. That’s because the three scenes are tightly packed and one of them is my hotel, The Fairmont Empress.

The Empress is a beautiful old hotel (fully renovated inside), built in the style of the grand old railway hotels of Canada. That it should be built in this style isn’t surprising. It was originally part of the Canadian Pacific Hotels chain. In addition to being a railway, Canadian Pacific also used to own a steamship line. One terminus of that line was a short distance from the hotel.

Victoria waterfront.
Victoria waterfront

Another of the iconic scenes is the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, the seat of power in the province. It probably also contains desks, tables, credenzas, and other furniture of power, but I didn’t go inside. So I’m not sure. It might just be the seat of power.

The Legislative Assembly is kitty corner to my hotel, so it didn’t take much wandering, aimless or otherwise, to see it.

The third iconic view in Victoria is its central waterfront. It is the area beside which The Empress and the Legislative Assembly are kitty corner.

The waterfront is quite picturesque. So I took a picture. It’s to the right.

The not-huge central waterfront is also where the seaplanes land. The plane I was on had to do a lot of taxing from the unused space of water where it landed to the terminal.

(Looking at a map, it’s clear that Victoria, and particularly the greater Victoria area, has a lot of waterfront. It’s just that there’s not a huge amount at the city’s core.)

COVIDiots

Legislative Assembly of British Columbia at daytime
Legislative Assembly of British Columbia at daytime

If I’d taken the picture of the Legislative Assembly that appears to the left from a couple of metres farther back it would have included a clutch of about ten anti-mask, anti-lockdown, anti-vaccine protestors, commonly known as COVIDiots.

(What is the correct word for a group of COVIDiots? I’m not sure “clutch” is right. A herd of COVIDiots? A stench? A mob? Or is it like crows? I.e., a murder of COVIDiots? Yeah, that’s probably it.)

Most of the protesters held signs. They also stood placards on the sidewalk.

One guy carried a sign that read “My body. My choice.” In addition to the words, the sign had a mask icon with a slash through it.

That’s the problem with protest signs. There isn’t enough room to get your full meaning across. I’m sure if he had more space on his sign it would have read, “My body. My choice to use it to infect and possibly kill other people with the disease I’m carrying.” Maybe not.

Another held a sign that did have a lot of handprinted words on it. I didn’t try to read them all because I feared that if I took enough time to do so he would take that as an indication that I wanted to engage with him. That was not the case.

Nevertheless, a couple of the words on his sign popped out at me before I moved on. “Bill” and “Gates.”

For a moment, I considered going back to talk to him. I thought about explaining to him the tremendous benefits of the COVID vaccines. I was going to show him how I no longer lose my keys because the magnetism induced by the vaccine ensures they always stick to me. And, I’m getting older. I might become senile. (Or I might already be senile. How would I know?) If I do, I might wander off and forget where I live. The good news is someone will be able to easily find me via the tracking devices on the chips that were injected in me with the vaccine.

But do COVIDiots consider these features of the vaccines to be the fabulous advantages that they are? No. No they do not.

Unfortunately, the keys to my apartment were back in my hotel room. And the hotel key card wouldn’t have worked because it’s not metallic. So, I walked on because I had nothing with which I could demonstrate the beneficial power of the vaccine to that COVIDiot.

Besides that, it probably wouldn’t have occurred to him that I was joking.

Legislature at night.

The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia at night
The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia at night

The British Columbia Legislative Assembly building looks different at night. Obviously, it still has the same shape. It would be true magic if it didn’t. Either that or there would have to be aliens with incredible shape-shifting powers involved.

No, it’s still the same shape at night, but it’s lit up like something out of a Disney fairytale movie for kids. This is not a new or temporary look for for the Legislative Assembly building. I remember the lit-up legislative building from when I was here decades ago.

The picture to the right doesn’t convey the look very well. I probably should have waited until the last light of day disappeared before taking the picture.

By the way, the COVIDiots finished their shift long before sunset. So there was no need for me to position myself so as to avoid including them in the shot.

Beacon Hill Park

Some flowers in Beacon Hill Park.
Some flowers in Beacon Hill Park

The one bit of not entirely aimless walking I did was to head to Beacon Hill Park. Once in the park, I resumed my aimlessness because that’s just the sort of ne’er-do-well I am.

Beacon Hill Park is a biggish city park. I say biggish rather than big because I’d been to Stanley Park in Vancouver yesterday. Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park isn’t even a fraction of the size of Stanley Park.

What a silly thing to say. Of course it’s a fraction of the size. It’s just that it’s a very small fraction.

But I digress. Where was I? Oh, yes. Beacon Hill Park.

It’s an eclectic park with trees, grassland, a lookout point, a playground, some public washrooms, various sports fields and facilities, a bandshell, a few water features, and a few beautiful flower gardens.

Queen's Lake
Queen’s Lake

One of those water features is a pond. Well, maybe not so much a pond. It is too small to rightly call it that. Maybe a pondlette, to coin a word. Despite its smallness, the wooden sign beside it declares that it is “Queen’s Lake.”

What the heck? The sign didn’t say, but I assume the queen in question is Queen Elizabeth, Queen of Canada (among other sundry places that shall remain nameless). And this is all she gets? This fashtunkena little pondlette? And who do you think you’re fooling by calling it a lake? Come on, Victoria, British Columbia. You can do better than that for our monarch, can’t you?

The high point of Beacon Hill Park is its lookout. By “high point” I mean its highest point, not its best feature. It provides a view of the sea on the other side of central Victoria from the central waterfront. It might be the best feature in addition to being the highest point when smoke from forest fires elsewhere in the province and Washington State don’t obscure the view of the nearby landforms. I don’t know because, not to put to fine point on it, a smoky haze obscured the view.


I have a special activity planned for tomorrow unless, of course, something unexpectedly turns it into a bust. Again, what a silly thing to say. I have something special planned. It just might not turn out to be particularly special despite my plans. Let’s see what happens, shall we?

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