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Fording the River: Day Three in Canadia

August 9, 2011

When you grow up in Maine, you are often mistaken as living in Canada.  Sad, but true.  When he was in the Army Reserves, my uncle was asked where he was from.  When he responded, “Maine,” his buddy asked him what suburb of Chicago that was.  Yeah, we get forgotten a lot, that is, until the lobster dinners come out.  Then everyone loves Maine.  But I am more okay with being confused with Canada than Chicago.  It’s more realistic.  I have been to Quebec a couple of times, but seeing as I was now on the other side of the country, Al and I decided to make a trip of it and take the ferry to Victoria, British Columbia, for the night.

Leaving the car behind, we walked onto the 8:30 AM ferry and rode across the water for about an hour and a half.  The port in Victoria was gorgeous as we rode in, nothing like the cloudy, gray Port Angeles we left.Because we wanted to do the whole trip on the cheap, we immediately sought out the visitor information center as soon as we cleared customs.  The woman at customs did give us a funny look, though, when we arrived together because my passport says Maine and Al grew up in Hawaii.  Ah, fate.  The information people gave us a map of cheap and free things to do while walking around the city, so we took advantage of that as soon as we dropped off our bags at our hostel, the Ocean Island Hostel.

Yes, we stayed in a hostel, and it really wasn’t as sketchy as it sounds.  It was pretty clean, and the prices were reasonable.  We did discover that they don’t give you a whole lot of room to move around in the end.Oh well.  We only needed it for sleep anyway.  After unloading our bags, we grabbed our cameras and took ourselves on a tour of downtown Victoria, touring the capital building (for free!) and seeing some of the sights.BC’s crest has an interesting story.  Because Canada is still part of the British monarchy, the queen must approve each province’s crest.  The tongues on the ram and the stag are sticking out to signify strength.  Because strength is what you think of when you see a tongue sticking out.Seriously, the Pacific Northwest feels the need for art on every corner.  I actually kind of enjoyed it.  I love these shrub orcas.This is Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest alley in British Columbia and all of Canada.  Only 1.5 people can walk through it at the same time (and where you get a half person, I don’t want to know).  It’s also got fun addresses throughout, like 52 1/2.  It used to be a gambling district.

After returning to our hostel and grabbing some pretty tasty dinner from the restaurant it houses, we partook in one tourist attraction I wholeheartedly endorse no matter where I go:  a ghost tour.  Wait, before you think I have lost my mind, hear me out.  You typically pay to get an orated tour of a city, right?  The guide tells you why important buildings are there, when they were built, who lived there, yada yada yada.  Well, a ghost tour does that too, only you get to here the history along with the juicy, gory bits no one else will really tell you.  The tour guides also tend to be better storytellers.  It was excellent that we went on this tour, too, because it turns out that Victoria is one of the most haunted cities in the world.  People go on “Haunted Honeymoons” to Victoria just to experience it.

We walked probably a mile and a half on the tour, stopping every 500 feet or so to take in a building and hear what happened near or in it.  Our tour guide was wonderful and really knew how to maintain crowd interest.We heard stories about copycat murders like the ones of Jack the Ripper in London, the tale of a Chinese boy who got jealous of a beautiful harlot and did some pretty gruesome things to her, and spooky accounts of how many hotels are built on Native burial grounds that the white men very stupidly tore up and built things on.  Some hotels even train their staff to be ready to receive screaming phone calls from certain rooms.  They always keep a few extra rooms open just in case that happens.  Awesome.  We also got a look at some of Victoria’s lesser known unique features, like a street made entirely out of wooden bricks.

Our tour ended in Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in British Columbia.  We took in the “Pearl Globe” and the decorated entrance before going back to our hostel, chatting and falling asleep.Tomorrow, we would head back to the United States and to our new destination:  Oregon.

Miss an Exit?

I land in Seattle and we go to Port Angeles.

We see the vampires and hike in the woods.

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