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annetti Jan 5th, 2009 04:30 PM

Confirmed! Victoria Home Exchange for 5 weeks!
I am pleased to announce that this morning we have confirmed a home exchange for Victoria for the last week in August and for the month of September! We are really pleased to have a first choice destination realized. (We are still hoping that the tentative plans for Toronto for the summer will materialize and that eventually we will see Ottawa, too!)
So, I am hoping that Victoria's locals (what are Victoria's locals called, surely not Victorians?!)will help us plan our holiday. I still have my book from Vancouver that lists Victoria as an excursion, but I want some off-the-beaten track ideas. I know about tea at the Empress and the Butchard Gardens and similar attractions. Thanks everyone.

icithecat Jan 5th, 2009 07:40 PM

Yeah. Call me a Victorian if you wish. My upper lip is stiff enough to take it.
Without giving an address, can you give us say maybe the major street coordinates near where you will be staying?
I have not read it, but Fodors has a Victoria and Vancouver Island book now.
Anyway, how far off the track do you want us to beat you?
Post away and we will try to help.

annetti Jan 5th, 2009 08:13 PM

Icthecat:The area is downtown near Antique Row.

Well, we have 5 wks to explore so after we have walked the Inner Harbor, visited Butchard Gardens and had tea or curry at the Empress, we will need ideas.

I have heard Sooke mentioned here frequently, but other than the restaurant there and a trail, the tour guides don't have much information on it.The tourist guides are limited. I suppose what we want are pleasant places to explore that locals enjoy. The tourist guides seem to be oriented to people spending a long weekend in Victoria. Obviously, they won't help us much since we will have so much more time to enjoy Victoria.

We like to walk, but are not rugged outdoor athletic types. Also, I am interested in Tofino since I see it mentioned with much enthusiasm, but am wary of twisty roads; motion sickness is a big problem. Even thinking of twisting, turning roads, makes me queasy, but we would like ideas to explore Vancouver Island, and maybe take some ferry excursions.

Some short overnight trip ideas might be a good , too. And reasonable restaurant suggestions are always appreciated, with something special for our birthdays which we will be celebrating while there.

One last thing, we won't have a car and will be dependent on public transport.

Thank you.

icithecat Jan 5th, 2009 09:59 PM

OK so the information feed begins.
For the resident seals. Which by the way environmentalists do NOT want you to feed with 'bait' bought in the bait shop. hmmm....

All of the above are accessible by

No Car never?

Cruiseryyc Jan 6th, 2009 04:43 AM

I would suggest that you skip tea at the Empress and instead book tea at Butcharts. It's cheaper and much nicer. However, curry in the Bengal Lounge - hmm, hmm good! Since you won't have a car, you might want to check out the dayliner train that runs up the Island daily. You can catch it around 8:00 a.m. and I would suggest getting off in Chemainus and spending the day there before catching the return trip in the afternoon. Here is a link.

goddesstogo Jan 6th, 2009 05:06 AM

I absolutely have to agree with Cruiser about the Bengal Lounge Indian buffet. It's small but very high quality. I'm not a big 'tea' person and it's pretty pricey at the Empress. The Indian buffet is much more my cup of tea! :-d

annetti, where is your home?

SallyCanuck Jan 6th, 2009 06:47 AM

Goddess - Annetti lives in California - they (her and husband) exchanged in Vancouver last year and posted a most interesting thread about it.

goddesstogo Jan 6th, 2009 07:15 AM

Thanks, Sallybean.

annetti Jan 6th, 2009 08:03 AM

Icthecat: Thanks for the links, especially the one for the transit. There is always the possibility of a car, but if we can avoid it, it would be a pleasure. As I have remarked before, coming from car-dominated Southern California, I love vacationing without a car. Neither of us miss it one little bit.

Oakbay Marina is not in my tourist Guide, unless it is a one sentence reference and I missed it, so thank you. These are the kind of suggestions I appreciate.

Cruiseryyc: Thanks for the positive review of the curry buffet, since I wanted to try it and sit in the pretty room at the Empress. Maybe a nice birthday treat? I checked the dayliner train and while it sounds nice, I don't know if I can get my husband up that early. If he gets out of the house by noon, that's an early day for him, but it does sound like a relaxing way to see some of the Island.
Goddesstogo: I hail from Southern California. Thank you, too for the positive review of the Curry Buffet at the Empress. And thank you Sally for the nice comment.

Meesthare Jan 6th, 2009 09:01 AM

Annetti - I can tell you a bit about Sooke, since we live there.
The Sooke Potholes, just a few kilometres off the main road, are natural pools in the rocks in the Sooke River, carved by years of erosion. Locals love swimming in the pools because they are warmer, being river water, than the ocean which can be quite chilly to swim in even in the summer. Weekends are not the best time to go - too many people having too good a time, sometimes with alcohol along to enhance their fun. But weekdays can be much quieter and lovely. Even if you don't want to swim, it's worth it to stroll along and see how pretty it all is.
On the ocean side, not far from the Potholes, is an area called Whiffin Spit (horrible name!). You can walk out for about a mile along the harbour, watch the waves and the tide, and enjoy the scenery that changes with every bend in the path. If you're interested, there is a local woman who leads "seaweed walks" early in the morning along the spit; she shows you how to harvest the seaweed and use it for all kinds of things. Much of it is edible. We often buy something called sea asparagus, when it's in season - very salty but yummy in salads.
There is a wonderful restaurant near the airport (not in Sooke, now) called The Roost - fantastic place for breakfast or lunch. It's located on a farm and they are the only place on Vancouver Island that can grow wheat for flour. They use all their own flour in their baking and mill it themselves. We often go to the Saanich Market on summer Saturday mornings, buy lots of local vegetables and fruit, and then go to The Roost for lunch. The Saanich Market (actually it's called the Peninsula Market, that's how it's signed on the highway) is wonderful; apart from the luscious stuff for sale, they usually have live music playing and it's a very pleasant way to spend a morning.
The best thing about your plans is that you will be here for the Saanich Fair. That's on the fairgrounds where the Peninsula Market is held. It's a good old-fashioned country fair, with ice-cream-eating contests, demonstrations of spinning wool and weaving, etc. and home crafts competitions like baking, knitting, sewing, etc. They also have a midway with rides, lots of different food booths, and gazillions of animals - llamas, horses, cows, goats, whatever you can think of. It's always held on Labour Day Weekend. Go as early in the morning as you conveniently can; otherwise you'll have to find a parking spot that's miles away from the entrance.
I'll try to think of some other things.

Carmanah Jan 6th, 2009 09:02 AM

Please please please rent a car for one day and drive it to the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. It's almost like being in Tofino, except it's only 2 hours west of Victoria, not 5. There is no public transit there, unless you feel like hitchhiking with the local surfers! :)

icithecat Jan 6th, 2009 06:28 PM

You actually can visit the Tofino area from Victoria without a car using this outfit.

What is doable in Sooke from public transit?

Meesthare Jan 6th, 2009 09:09 PM

There's a bus that goes between downtown Victoria and Sooke, but I'm not sure how far west it goes. You can certainly get to Whiffin Spit via the bus - it stops right at the corner at Whiffin Spit Road, and from there it's about a 15-minute walk down to the Spit itself. I'd have to look at the route to see where else it goes; I haven't actually used it myself. I'll have a look and report back.

Meesthare Jan 6th, 2009 09:20 PM

OK - I've had a look. The #61 bus will take you from downtown Victoria to Sooke; the #63 travels down Whiffin Spit Road right down to the water. It looks to me - and I am somewhat map-challenged, I will admit - that it doesn't go a whole lot further west, i.e. I don't think you could get to Jordan River via public transit, for example. It also doesn't appear that you can get to the Sooke Potholes that way either, although the #61 bus does stop at the corner of Sooke River Road, but you'd have to walk in from there and it's a bit of a hike.

icithecat Jan 7th, 2009 01:18 AM

BC Transit now has a "WHOPPING" 5 routes per day around Saltspring Island. So in theory at least, it is possible to book a B&B in Ganges and bus there from Victoria. Try it if you are daring and let us know.

If you are here for the entire month of Sept. It might be advantageous to buy the regular Adult monthly passes for the regional transit at $73pp for hop on hop off access anywhere from Sooke to Sidney.

Meesthare Jan 7th, 2009 07:24 AM

One thing that might be of interest is that the buses in Victoria have bicycle racks attached. You could, for example, stash your bikes on the front of the bus, ride up to Sooke River Road, and then bicycle in to the Potholes.

annetti Jan 7th, 2009 07:38 AM

Thank you both Icthecat and Meesthare for thinking about my public transportation needs! We will get the transit pass as suggested. We did that in Vancouver and it was great not having to search for coins.

I like all the ideas mentioned for Sooke. Can we get to the Fair/market using public transport? What about the Roost? All this sounds like great fun, a pleasant, easy way to spend a day or even a couple of Saturdays. We enjoy going to our local Farmers' markets here in So Cal and do it almost every week.

Is the town of Sooke a worthy destination in itself? The walks sound pleasant.

What about Saltspring? What is the attraction there?

Carmanah: Okay, will definitely consider (dare I say it?) renting a car, but will my husband agree?! He has a good argument that he will remind me that I hate driving, but if it is the only way. . .

Thank you all again. I am getting just the kind of suggestions I enjoy.

When we were in Scotland, a few yrs back (on an exchange for 5 weeks), we ended up attending the local village pet show where there was an owner/pet look-alike contest. It was great fun; people's spirits were high and we enjoyed ourselves talking and laughing. We got some great pictures; also attended a sheepdog trial one day , and another day ended up in small village joining the locals for a local home garden tour.(I admit, that we did have a car that summer; I don't think we could have managed on public transport.)
That's why home exchange can be so enjoyable. There's never any rush and you get a very tiny feel for a locality.

annetti Jan 7th, 2009 07:40 AM

Carmanah, BTW, everytime I see your name, I think Steveson. That was a nice off the beaten track day.

Shanghainese Jan 7th, 2009 08:26 AM

Annetti -- May I ask which service you used for this home exchange?

annetti Jan 7th, 2009 03:20 PM

No problem.

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