Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Canada
Reload this Page >

Confirmed! Victoria Home Exchange for 5 weeks!

Confirmed! Victoria Home Exchange for 5 weeks!

Jan 7th, 2009, 04:48 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,883
Annetti, I think you can get to the fairgrounds via public transit; I'm not sure about the Roost. But I'd really recommend renting a car; the buses are probably not that frequent. And if you're thinking about going to Saltspring, you will definitely need a car.
In terms of Sooke itself: it's really just a small community. The attraction here is the scenery, the proximity to the water, the view of the Olympic Mountains just across the Strait - things like that. People do like staying here; there are lots of good B&B's as well as the well-known (and pricey, but worth it) Sooke Harbour House. There are companies that can take you salmon fishing and whale watching, but if you get motion sickness on twisty roads you probably wouldn't enjoy going out on the ocean in a Zodiac, right? We do have a very nice museum here, which is worth seeing if you're in the area. It's small but has lots of fascinating history packed away in it, including a film about salmon fishing, which is what the area was known for originally. There are some wonderful beaches west of here, but again I'm thinking about the twisty roads. There are some good restaurants in town.
As for Saltspring - we love it there. A friend and I used to rent a cottage on Saltspring every summer, and before I got together with my sweetie and decided to move to Vancouver Island, I thought seriously about moving to Saltspring. One of the attractions is the Saturday Market (have a look at the website) that runs all summer, and many of the artists that show their stuff at the Market have studios that you can visit during the rest of the week; the tourist office has maps showing where all the studios are. Even the ferry trip across is very pleasant and takes about half an hour from Victoria. There are other Gulf Islands that are quite lovely, as well, but you would definitely need a car to explore any of them.
You might have fun driving up to Parksville to see the annual sand sculpture competition. That's usually held during the last couple of weeks of August; they spray the sculptures with some kind of fixative (non-toxic and ecologically OK) and leave them in place until Labour Day Weekend, but it's great to go and watch the artists at work. They do amazing things. There's a website for that, too. Once you're up there, you might want to take a little diversion to Coombs to see the Old Country Market; it's like a huge general store, and they have some goats that live on the grassy roof. You could check out that website, too.
Meesthare is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 08:18 PM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 793
I have done a lot of home exchanging and did one in Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island a few years back. I will not accept a deal without a car. Without a car, you will pretty well restricted to Victoria proper. There is a train that goes up island but only to Nanaimo, I think. To get to Tofino you would have to drive (long drive but not bad) or take some sort of package excursion.

By the way, I think the reputation of Victoria as being more British than the British is undeserved. It is nice, but Canadian, not British. Maybe that business about the British is from years ago.

Many of the attractions on Victoria are outdoors. I did a lot of driving and even saw some logging with helicopters in Nootka Sound. I had actually wanted an exchange up island on Vancouver Island for years and was happy to be there. However, at the end of my stay, I did go into Victoria because I got sick of the rainy weather. In Victoria I went to the opera--which I really enjoyed. You can get around to the scenic areas surrounding Victoria on the bus but, of course, it will take longer than a car. I would consider renting a car occasionally for excursions. There is a ferry-bus connection if you want to go to Vancouver the city for the day (I didn't do that because I had been there before).

Have fun! By the way, I'll be doing a 3 week swap north of Helsinki, Finland, next summer.
LaurenKahn1 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 09:50 AM
  #23  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 3,289
Meesthare: Thanks again for all the ideas. I talked to my husband re car rental and he's okay with it, but I think we won't make any arrangements for a car rental until we get there, sort of wait and see how our days are going. Yes, anything on the water is risky for me. I am thinking we will fly into Victoria from LAX rather than into Van and take the ferry over as suggested by our home exchangers. They say the ferry trip is very pleasant, but I will forgo it for the security of avoiding medication and motion sickness. Anyway, thanks again for all the detail and the research, too. I am looking forward to our trip.

Laura Kahn: We meet again. Thanks for the good wishes. Enjoy Finland. I've never been. Why not post a report when you have returned? BTW the British influence or reputation is surely cultivated to bring in the tourists. It works very well since I hear it all the time as a motivation for visiting Victoria.
annetti is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 10:07 AM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,854
Thanks, annetti, your post is fascinating!
Shanghainese is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 01:24 PM
  #25  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 3,289
Shanghainese: Thank you!

I recognize your name from my Vancouver posts. Are you a local Vancouverite or from Victoria or somewhere else entirely? Either place will yield you plenty of home exchange opportunities. Good luck!
annetti is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 06:52 PM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 793
The British influence can be seen at one of a number of places that serves high tea and some of the stores, but that is all really.

I enjoyed a lot of outdoor activities--which I think is the "guts" of Victoria.

I don't like the format for posting trip reports on fodors. I put them up on the independenttraveler.com. They are very quick to delete flames there and I like that. I generally provide a link on fodors. My most recent one is in two parts--Fiji, Australia & New Zealand. I did 3 home exchanges and was gone over 2 months. Next summer's exchange in Finland is for 3 weeks. I haven't been there before so I am sure I will enjoy it. I am going to drive to the Arctic Circle!

Enjoy Victoria, but please do rent a car. Victoria is a small city and most of the stuff is clustered around the harbor. It was too early in the season for kayaking or I would have done it!
LaurenKahn1 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 07:40 PM
  #27  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,087
HI Annetti - I am so happy you are going to spend so much time in Victoria. You will definitely love it. One suggestion re car rental. You certainly do want to have a car for day trips etc. You mentioned you were going to wait until you got here and I agree with that. You can get great deals on cars on Priceline so if you are going to have access to a computer like you did in Vancouver you can just bid on one for the day or days you need one. There are always deals. If you just stay away from the long weekend (Labour Day) you should do very well. Friends of mine had visitors in town last summer and they wanted their own car. They got one for $17/day. (on Priceline)
By the time summer rolls around you will need a new thread with all of the input you are getting already. If cruiseryyc is reading this - shall we tell annetti about our swing????
traveller69 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2009, 10:08 AM
  #28  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 3,289
Hi Traveller69: Thanks for the
annetti is offline  
Jan 10th, 2009, 10:29 AM
  #29  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 3,289
Thanks, Traveller69. All these old fodorite friends are popping up. Yes, we will have access to a computer like last yr. Is Canadian Labor Day celebrated on the first Monday of the month as is the US version?

I have to admit that I am probably dragging my feet more on the rental car than my husband. He'll go either way. I am so lazy; hate picking it up, thinking about cramming activities into a few days because we have a car, wondering if we can get it back on time, refueling it, getting lost (have to pack my gps now) and finding a place to park the car. However $17.00 a day is no hardship. Thank you, I have never used Priceline, but know that many Fodorites are loyalists. And. . . now that you piqued my curiosity, what is the "swing."



annetti is offline  
Jan 10th, 2009, 01:28 PM
  #30  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,087
Hi Annetti

You will find that renting a car is a much easier experience than in some of the airports in big cities. I know I have waited in line and been intimidated many times by the upselling etc. There is a rental agency withing walking distance of where you are going to stay and you can always bid on Priceline whenever you feel like it. September should be quieter and I am sure there will be bargains to be had.

The swing is in Oak Bay just across from where we lived. (we are in James Bay now - you will see) Oak Bay is a great spot for walking - there is a Marina there (you will see the seals) and a nice park along side the water. In the park is one of the old style wood glider double sided swing - you know where you can face each other. My husband and I used to walk every nightalong the water and then end up on the swing for awhile. We used to feel quite possessive about it and were very annoyed if we saw anyone on it!!! I mentioned that to another poster some time ago and cruiseryyc said she used to sit on that swing as well. You will love your evenings walking in that area. James Bay is right downtown basically and we walk a couple of blocks to the inner harbour in the evening chatting with the tourists and watching the buskers. Just a great place to live. So in answer to your questions what do you call people who live in Victoria - my answer is "lucky"!! I must confess we are basking in the sunshine of Southern Arizona now. No thanks to the snow that was happening there a few days ago!!!

traveller69 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2009, 05:55 PM
  #31  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 3,289
Hi Traveller69. Thanks for the clue about the swing. We are looking forward to visiting Victoria. Enjoy the warm weather, definitely this is the time of the year to enjoy Southern Arizona.
annetti is offline  
Jan 11th, 2009, 02:16 AM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,121
You will be handy to the Dutch Bakery on Fort Street where you can get a snack or inexpensive breakfast or lunch. Try lunch at the parliament buildings' restaurant for good food at reasonable prices. You have to check in at the front office and leave your driver's license or, I imagine, some sort of picture I.D. The restaurant there has an old-time, CP hotel (Canadian Pacific) sort of feel.

It would be good to rent a car for at least a few days. Drive along the waterfront through Oak Bay, Cadboro Bay and Cordova Bay. Head up to the viewpoint on Mt. Tolmie or Mt. Doug.

Explore Oak Bay Village and have tea at the White Heather Tea Room (not right in the village). In nearby Rockland, not far from Craigdarroch Castle, you can wander the grounds of Government House for free. The gardens are not at their best at that time of year, however, and I hope its current unkempt condition isn't a trend, but you can look out across the strait to Washington State from its hilltop position, as you can from many other spots along the waterfront. I used to like to visit Hatley park and castle out in Colwood but they charge a fee now.

In Cordova Bay, stop at Mattick's Farm for a bit of shopping or an ice cream cone. Check out Sidney ('book town') and perhaps take the ferry to Sidney Spit. No commerce there, at least last time I went - just a sandy spit and trails through a forested area inhabited by fallow deer.

The view from Mt. Maxwell is nice (a bit of a tricky road to get up there though) but personally I don't find Saltspring that fascinating a place. Some people seem to like the market there. Hornby Island is lovely but you probably don't want to drive that far north and it requires two ferry trips each way, and so is America's San Juan Island which is awkward to get to even if the ferry service remains.

I second Meesthare's advice to get to the Saanich Fair early. The Wonder Dogs are fun to watch if they're scheduled. The Classic Boat Festival is on during the same weekend in Victoria's harbour. Labour Day this year is Sept. 7, the same as yours I believe.

I would suggest a scenic airplane tour but, since you mentioned motion sickness, that might not be to your liking. It can be beautiful in the right kind of lighting.

Goldstream Park, about a half hour's drive out of town heading up-island has easy to walk, flat trails through an old growth forest.

I'm not sure if anyone mentioned that sheets of 10 bus tickets are sold at drug stores and post offices. That way you don't have to worry about having correct change.

Victoria was much more British decades ago. Now it is beginning to look more like Vancouver.

Question for Meesthare: Do you know if the Roost sells their flour?
April is offline  
Jan 11th, 2009, 08:38 AM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,883
Hi, April - yes, they do sell their flour - we buy it from them regularly. It's more expensive than what you'd buy in the supermarket, and amounts are kind of limited; we usually phone ahead to give them a couple of days' notice, and let them know how much we need. It's wonderful flour - my sweetie bakes bread with it. I haven't tried it in cakes or cookies yet.
Meesthare is offline  
Jan 11th, 2009, 09:15 AM
  #34  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 3,289
Thanks, April, for all the good suggestions.I am getting so many good ideas from this thread; I don't think we will run out of ideas for our trip. And no one mentioned the transit 10 ticket deal. Can I buy a monthly pass like I did in Vancouver?

Enlighten me, why is Sydney called "book town?"

Annetti
annetti is offline  
Jan 11th, 2009, 09:38 AM
  #35  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,883
Sidney is called "Book town" because there are a lot of used book stores there. They're all along the main street and if you like used books, they're an absolute treasure trove!
Sidney also has a pleasant night market on Thursday evenings in the summer; they close off the main street for several blocks at around 5:30 PM and you can buy all sorts of neat things. It's not unlike Saltspring Market, actually, although it's quite a bit smaller. Fun if you happen to be in the area.
Meesthare is offline  
Jan 11th, 2009, 11:23 AM
  #36  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 3,289
Thank you, Meesthare. Is Sydney on the bus route, or will I need a car to get there?
annetti is offline  
Jan 11th, 2009, 12:29 PM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,883
You can definitely get there on the bus; it runs right down Beacon Avenue which is the main street.
If you look at www.bctransit.com, you can see maps and schedules for buses, etc. Sidney is on the Saanich Peninsula, so when you go to that map you can see where the bus takes you.
Meesthare is offline  
Jan 11th, 2009, 12:50 PM
  #38  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 3,289
Thank you again, Meesthare. Another sightseeing adventure to plan.
annetti is offline  
Jan 11th, 2009, 10:57 PM
  #39  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,121
Yes, there are monthly bus passes. I believe there are also day passes. The post office in Monk's office supply on Fort and Blanshard might be one place you could get these, I'm guessing. Or Shopper's Drug Mart on Douglas.

Thanks, Meesthare - I was thinking of the flour for making bread.
April is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 06:49 AM
  #40  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,087
Annetti - here is the link to the places you can buy the bus passes in the downtown core
http://www.bctransit.com/regions/vic...ia_outlets.pdf
traveller69 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:51 AM.