To the West!

• Victoria to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada •

Passing through unique land formations and forests with unsuppressed vegetation, exerting so much effort but appearing very little  and luring your attention is what anyone would find journeying through Western Canada. A one-day in-class session on a rather nippy Saturday in April was enough of a reason for a two-week spur-of-the-moment road trip from Victoria, British Columbia to Calgary, Alberta.

To unwind and mentally prepare myself for presentations for a course I took at the University of Victoria (you’ll see deer and rabbits in the gardens!), my boyfriend and I decided to arrive two days early at Sydney, BC. He knows how anxious I get with presentations and tells me that I’ll do well – and I did. Or maybe the instructors were just lenient with marking. Or maybe they took in the fact that I flew to Victoria just for this one day, like another student who came from Clarington, ON.

<start nursing spiel> I was surprised at how different wound care resources were distributed in community clinics, and even hospitals, there in Victoria compared to the downtown hospitals in Toronto. I know, there’s a very big difference in funding, but I can’t help be shocked as someone who’s only worked in the hospital for most of their career.

Some nurses took it upon themselves and set up private practice clinics, providing wound care services to areas that don’t quite have access to health care resources. A simple Mepilex Border (a dressing with a less “traumatic” adhesive), which is used every day for us, is a luxury to them. And that they have to account for every component of a dressing because each item is costly. And that yes, if patients cannot afford their own dressings, they will take matters into their own hands (ie. like using grocery store-bought Manuka honey for antimicrobial purposes, or sanitary pads as gauze – both which are not sterile, but are more affordable), but end up coming back, often with wound complications. Oh, there is so much to learn about the allocation of health resources and nursing care in the community if I want to go into wound care… </end nursing spiel>

Our drive from Sydney, to the university campus, to downtown Victoria was not long, but truth be told I was not totally impressed by the city, mainly because I thought the streets would be more lively on a Friday evening (which is weird, because I don’t really like crowds). What I mean is that the shops closed too early. The parking spaces were full, so where were all the people? Perhaps it was because of the time we arrived (6 PM) that people were already wherever they were at?

I did like the lights, architecture, and waterside views though. Maybe I just needed to go during the day to see and enjoy what downtown is really like.

We enjoyed a delicious seafood dinner at Ferris’ Upstairs Seafood and Oyster Bar, one of Yelp’s top rated seafood joints in Victoria. I mean, how could we visit the west coast and not indulge in the seafood? I ordered their pan seared BC halibut and it was amazing! One of the best seafood dishes I’ve had. And I usually don’t order cooked seafood dishes because a lot of restaurants can’t achieve the right moisture level… Or maybe I just don’t go to the right places for seafood?

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No one sightseeing here because too cold and too windy, haha.

With Sydney as our home base – a.k.a. our Travelodge location (don’t hate, the idea of staying at an airbnb was still new to us) – was a smart idea and by far the most memorable part of Victoria. At the end of the main street road (Beacon Ave.), this quaint little town has a fish market (restaurant as well), a boardwalk, and a waterside trail. While there was no snow there in April, we didn’t explore very far because my hands were so easily bothered by intermittent rain and strong winds. Of course I knew I was missing out on other places on the island, but there will be a next time…

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A ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen and coach bus were what took us straight into Vancouver. As I explored the decks of the ferry ship, once again fighting against the cold, my boyfriend found that we could catch a coach that would take us to downtown Vancouver (about $20 per person), which surprisingly was near our car rental site. I was ready to take public transit but eh, I was all for whatever got us to downtown Vancouver faster.

Except for taxi, I wouldn’t have wanted to pay for a taxi.

We had dinner at Kingyo one night – as highly suggested by my coworker – with one of my friends from high school. Very nice decor. Kobe beef on hot stone, crispy chicken karaage, uni miso udon, sockeye salmon carpaccio, tiger prawns in mayo… Food was delicious, but I’d have to say my palate still prefers Kinka Izakaya in Toronto. Other note-worthy restaurants I wanted to have a taste at but could not because of time (sadface) were Hi Genki (who doesn’t want to dine at an old folks’ home??), Catfe, Ebisu on Robson, Jethro’s Fine Grub, and Maru Korean Bistro.

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Conveniently located not even 10 minutes away from our motel (located in North Vancouver, because I wanted to do more nature-y things) was the Capilano Suspension Bridge, and the Treetop Trek and Cliffwalk which was included with admission (of about $30 or so…).

We also did two short hikes during our stay. Lynn Canyon Park consisted of a smaller, more slippery suspension bridge (it was raining), a 30 foot pool (we didn’t swim, but a dog did), lots of stairs, and the Twin Falls. Waking up early the next day, we drove to Lighthouse Park (not really accessible by public transit because it’s situated in a neighbourhood… with steep hills) where we climbed atop rocks for some nice morning sun and a view of a lighthouse.

Man, I would be so stoked to go out every day if hikes like these were only a bus ride away. There are hikes in Toronto, but with the flat land, scenery is nothing compared to a mere glimpse of water or mountains in your view. You’d have to travel further up north in Ontario to capture great views.

Gastown to Vancouver is like the Distillery to Toronto. The cobble stone steps, self-owned boutiques, interesting eats… and quite a bit of souvenir shops. Curiosity and hunger led us into Bao Down, a hole in the wall where we ate some savoury chicken bao (named “Boa Chika Bao Bao”) and kimchi fries. As you’ve probably noticed, I don’t really show pictures of food. Yes, food can be something to look at, but I am not really keen on the whole “arranging your plate and cutlery and whatever props you can use” thing and would rather just experience and taste the food.

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Overlooking some people doing tai-chi (or were they taking photos?) at Lighthouse Park.
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An attempt at long exposure during light showers at Stanley Park.

Rain did not deter us from walking through Stanley Park (we did pay for parking so…). There was probably less than 50 visitors, most of them in cars, as we explored the area. We were lucky to also see the cherry blossom trees in bloom (all around the city as well) and the scenic views of the Lions Gate Bridge in the distance. I guess it would have been nice to bike through the park on a sunny day, but the feeling of not having to see a single person was pleasant and gave me many photo-ops… if only the weather hadn’t been so crummy.

Even through sun and rain, we got a glimpse of the beauty of Victoria and Vancouver in just four days. Honestly though, four days isn’t enough when there are just as many (sea) food choices and shops as Toronto. And an abundance of trails. But of course, we still had to make a few stops on our way to Calgary, which meant planting my butt on a car seat (for no more than six hours at a time).

If you’ve ever visited Victoria and/or Vancouver, what were your favourite restaurants/food joints/stalls for dining? Shopping? Hiking? Photography? Suggestions for a nice walk? Or maybe places to avoid (dun dun dun)? I’d love to learn and hear from your experiences.

One thought on “To the West!

  1. Pingback: When in Banff – paperybox

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