It’s called the Pacific Rim, this wild west furthest-most point of British Columbia in Canada – gazing to sea from my little Zodiac while out on a whale watching tour, the next land mass is… Japan!
I was wrapped up warm and dry, as I shared the bay with 4 or 5 large grey whales spouting and diving in the water around me, hardly making a ripple in the water at all. Calm and quiet, gentle giants, unaware that their presence was making momentous memories that I would cherish far into my dotage!
Canada never fails to enthral me – every time I see those mountains and breathe the freshest air, I fall head over heels again and again
This time I went via Seattle in the States – an easy gateway to BC. Seattle is full of history – from the gold rush pioneers 100 years ago – to modern day history and the makings of Microsoft
Full of great sights I caught up with the time difference enjoying the views high up from Seattle’s Space Needle, and then down below at Pikes Market and the ‘flying fish’. It was the last few days of an Indian Summer, so I sat awhile on the grassy verge and watched the ships in the harbour with my decaf mochalata, purchased from the first and original Starbucks Café!
The Victoria Clipper is an easy and stress-free gateway to Canada from Seattle to Victoria on Vancouver Island. A scenic ferry ride, with a hot snack and a quiet little immigration hall at the harbour, right in the centre of town! How civilised!
Victoria is enchanting, picturesque and quaint.
The Parliament Building and the Fairmont Empress Hotel dominate the views, but the walking tour took us to some real beauty spots, alleyways, intriguing pathways, and finding fascinating bronze statues where the guide paused frequently to tell us a colourful story about a particular shop, its facade, and its owner.
The Butchart Gardens were a riot of colour, and on such a warm end-of-summer-day, it was delightful to enjoy a slow walk through the gardens and admire the water features at every turn.
Boats and float-planes are the norm in this part of the world, and so I headed to Torfino on the West Coast of Vancouver Island in a small light aircraft. Be prepared for all weathers in Canada – and we had it all! Light mist, rain, blue skies and windy!
But Torfino, and the nearby town of Ucluelet were to reveal stunning hotel accommodation with decked balconies and fireplaces, fine dining and mile-long beach walks – and all that fresh air and exercise makes you hungry – so make sure you try the halibut and chips – eaten with your fingers out in the open air on the beach! Hmm Hmm!
I crossed back to the mainland on the ferry from Nanaimo to Squamish to ride the Rocky Mountaineer train to Whistler. With open air viewing platforms and the big picture windows, it’s a treat to enjoy the journey while the forests, bridges and waterfalls go by.
Whistler at its terminus is a playground for everyone and every season. In fact there are two mountains here – Whistler and Blackcomb – with ski lifts, gondolas, luges, mountain bike trails, walking and cycling paths, lakes to canoe and benches… just to sit!!
And I saw all of it, harnessed up and hanging from a wire as I ‘zipped’ through the trees and over the creek, miles below!! Well I did it, but just the once!
Even more enjoyable for me was the lovely hot tub at the Fairmont Hotel and the chocolate desert at The Four Seasons Resort. The silky red Okanagan wine was not bad either!
And finally, Vancouver! I can’t tell you how much I love this city. With its beautiful backdrop of snow peaks, the waterfront and the parks – there is so much to do. The Capilano Suspension Bridge, the ‘Story Poles’ of the First Nation’s People, Granville Islands, stalls and handicrafts, Gastown, and the shopping in Robson Road! Whatever you want – Vancouver has it
We put away our fleeces and our macs, donned our heels and bling for a fabulous night out at the Fairmont Hotel’s latest ‘baby’ to its portfolio The Pacific Rim. There was no shortage of sophistication either at the Shangri La, Vancouver’s tallest building, as we enjoyed a seafood dinner up there (almost) in the stars!
Are you coming? BC – British Columbia, Beautiful Canada, it’s waiting for you