Near the end of our drive across Canada, we took the ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island, enjoying sunny weather during the three-hour trip across the Salish Sea into Nanaimo. From Nanaimo we drove to Port Alberni, which gave us easier access to the scenic Pacific Rim. The first night, after some hunting around, we enjoyed a very tasty dinner at Bare Bones Fish and Chip, located inside a small church. The next day we drove the very winding highway 4 (pacific rim highway) to Ucluelet, a coastal hamlet that featured a large lighthouse and a few hiking trails.
Move left and right for full view of Ucluelet
After two nights at Port Alberni we drove towards Victoria, stopping at very popular Cathedral Grove – a truly divine old-growth forest – and then in Coombs for lunch.
Move left and right for full view of Cathedral Grove
Coombs is a small town known for its Old Country Market restaurant and store, which has goats on its roof, eating the grass that grows there. It was such a funny thing to see these goats, walking around and chewing, unbothered by the many tourists below.
Arriving in Victoria, we made our way to Hotel Zed, which I was very excited about given the photos I had seen on Expedia. And I was not disappointed! It was by far the funkiest hotel we’d stayed in, and the staff was excellent and clearly happy to be working there. There was a pool with a water slide, a video game and ping pong room, typewriters for post cards, a record player with a pretty big collection of records, and free tea and coffee and fruit. One thing the kids liked was the VW bus shuttle they offered into downtown Victoria. We took it to Chinatown – the second oldest Chinatown in North America after the one in San Francisco – and enjoyed walking around the city and the harbour. In the afternoon we took a water taxi to Fisherman’s Wharf, where we saw various houseboats on the docks, seafood eateries, and seals.
(Photo credit: Hotel Zed)
While in Victoria I decided to buy a new camera, as my iPad just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I found a good shop downtown, and the salesperson there was very patient and helpful. We got to chatting about travel, and he told us that when he came to Canada from England, he and his wife landed in Toronto and then travelled west for nine months, until they essentially ran out of country at Victoria. And I could understand why they chose to stay there. Victoria is a beautiful, historic city, and its people are the friendliest we had met since leaving Toronto. If we end up back in Canada, I could definitely see us living there for a while.
We were sad to say goodbye to lovely Victoria – and Canada – when we boarded the ferry to Port Angeles, Washington, but a new land awaited us…