Vancouver/Victoria

Old Feb 17th, 2006, 02:48 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Vancouver/Victoria

Jim from Baltimore, MD...

Looking for advice and/or tips...
Planning a May trip and have only two days (not enuff I know) for Vancouver and Victoria. Spending both nights in Vancouver. From what I can gather (searching web sites) , it looks like the most economical way (both time and money) to try and see Victoia is to take the ferry without car...take the harbour boat tours to see as much as possible...and then just do as much walking as possible.

At the same time, want to be able to enjoy Vancouver as well...Any tips as to how to best utilize the time? All ideas appreciated. Be happy to reciprocate for any visiting the mid-Atlantic. Thanks...
writerhenn is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2006, 05:11 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,758
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Pardon me for taking a stern stance in response to your note, but I would BAG Victoria and give yourself at least a CHANCE to see Vancouver.

It takes 1 1/2 hours just for the ferry to get to Victoria from the mainland.

Vancouver is quite STUNNING and you won't regret allocating what time you have to enjoying what you can see there.

Also, downtown Vancouver never goes to sleep, unlike most cities. And in this case it is DECENT people who are walking the streets very late at night.

You can sleep on the plane and burn the candle when getting a deep breath of Vancouver and leave much quieter Victoria for another time.

I've lived about 80 miles from Victoria for decades and have only been there once in the last 30 years.

The zest of Vancouver will fill you up plenty, I promise...

P.S. - I made it to Baltimore for the first time ever last year on Halloween. Didn't stay long at all but at least now I have a sense of your city.

NorthwestMale is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2006, 05:34 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 541
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have to agree (although not as sternly) with NorthwestMale that you'll be pushing it to do much if you go to both cities.

On the other hand, if you're looking for scenery and walking around, as opposed to shopping, museums and nightlife, you'll be okay with both.

First off - you're probably right about walking onto the ferry being faster and cheaper - with a car you stand a good chance of having to wait for a sailing or two before you get on, whereas you never have to wait at all if you walk on. The scenery on the ferry itself is stunning and makes it worth the trip, if that's the sort of thing you're looking for.

Victoria itself isn't that big and is easily see-able by foot, especially if you do the harbour tour. Everything you'd want to see is clustered around the inner harbour.

You're going to have a bit more trouble seeing much of Vancouver in only 1 day - it's quite a bit bigger than Victoria and thus not as easily walkable.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that you're going to have to figure out what you're looking for in your trip to the west coast and make your plans based on that.
BikerScott is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2006, 12:27 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
First of all, thanks for the quick replies/tips. Secondly, you don't have to sell me on Vancouver -- perhaps the most beautiful city I've ever visited (and I have been to a few!)Was there for Expo and also for the Grey Cup game in '94 (what a great experience, but that's another story).
Despite many trips to the northwest, I've never been to Victoria and sightseeing is going to be THE priority on this trip. I'm not adverse to playing "Tommy Tourist" and taking tours to see and hear as much as possible.
Trip actually will start in Portland, then a couple of days in Seattle, then on to B.C. Spending two nights in Vancouver, so will have the better part of three days to take in as much as possible before driving back to Oregon. And I've heard so much about the beauty of the ferry ride to Victoria that it had become a priority -- as a 8-9 hr. day trip.
Still, open to suggestions and appreciate any input.

P.S. Halloween not the best time to visit Baltimore, but hope there was still a little fall foilage!
writerhenn is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2006, 01:19 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hello writerhenn,

Knowing you've been to Vancouver before provides an important piece of context that was not available to the posters who responded initially. Thanks for clarifying.

Rather than going from Seattle to Vancouver, and then doing the Vancouver - Victoria crossing twice during the very short time you have available, it would make more sense to travel clockwise in a triangle : namely, Seattle - Victoria - Vancouver.

You could use Washington State Ferries to sail from Anacortes, WA to Sidney, BC. Alternatively, you could sail on the Coho Ferry from Port Angeles, WA to Victoria, BC.

I recommend that you spend that night, at a minimum, in Victoria.

At some point you would need to cross back to the mainland. For this crossing you have two options:

(1) Go back to Seattle via the ferry that you had not used the previous time. For example, if you had crossed from Port Angeles on the way over to Victoria, you could cross back to the mainland at Anacortes. This crossing would take you through the San Juan Islands.

(2) Go to Vancouver. The crossing would actually be from Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island to Tsawwassen on the mainland. The crossing is pretty because it goes through the Gulf Islands. However, while I have not done the ferry crossing through the San Juan Islands, I believe it too is pretty.

I love Vancouver. However, since you have such a short time in which to do all this, and since you've visited Vancouver before, I favour excluding Vancouver from this trip. The drive that you would need to do from Vancouver to get back into the US is not especially scenic.

The Swartz Bay - Tsawwassen ferry crossing takes 1.5 hours, but it actually takes about 4 hours to get from downtown Victoria to downtown Vancouver. There is more to going from Victoria to Vancouver than just the ferry ride. There is driving at both ends, there is the time that it takes to embark and disembark, and so on.

If you think you can go from Vancouver to Victoria and back again in 8-9 hours and see something of Victoria, you're dreaming. Just the trips from downtown to downtown in both directions will occupy 8 hours.

If you are concerned about the cost of taking your car onto the ferries, you could catch the passenger-only Victoria Clipper from Seattle to Victoria and back again.

The only time you really need wheels on a brief visit to Victoria is the time that you visit Butchart Gardens. Other than that, everything that is of interest to a short-term visior is accessible on foot in the downtown core. There are lots of buses that go from downtown Victoria to the Butchart Gardens.

I know you said you wanted an affordable way of getting to and from Victoria. Float planes are not affordable, but they do shave a lot of time off the crossings, so I think you should know about them. Kenmore Air flies from Seattle to Victoria. Its flight takes 1 hour if I remember correctly. Harbour Air flies from Vancouver Harbour to Victoria Harbour. Its flight takes 35 minutes.

One disadvantage of the float planes, in addition to the higher cost, is the luggage restriction of 24 lb or 25 lb per passenger.

If you go to the Destinations section of the Fodor's website (the link is near the top of the screen), you will find good suggestions of what to see and do while you're in Victoria. I might add that Fodor's "Destination" notes on Seattle and Vancouver are good too.

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2006, 01:53 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts

More valuable info...thanks much.I have looked at the ferry possibilities, but it seemed the uncertainty of loading the car and waiting time was courting disaster. Cost is a factor, but not the predominant one as I've been able to put together a fairly economical journey while working in a visit to friends in Oregon. What I'm trying to do here is make up for some of the things I'd always wanted to do and never could fit into my traveling schedule in the past.

I do like the idea of driving one way and using the ferry the other. I actually had thought of doing it the reverse way...driving up and taking ferry back to states.

My thinking on Vancouver-Victoria ferries was that I could be on a ferry by 9 am at the latest...have part of the morning and the afternoon to take harbour tours (is it worthwhile to take both? if not, which is best?) and also take a bus to the gardens...returning on an evening ferry. Too ambitious?

Vancouver is locked into my trip -- as is Seattle. Those accommodations have been set in stone and now I'm just trying to work my way around that schedule. I won't say that planning the trip is as much fun as taking it, but after visiting Anchorage two years ago, I find the information gathering process rather exciting. And that was before I discovered (quite by accident I might add) fodorites!
So, believe me, I'm taking this all in and making notes as I go....any more thoughts? Thanks.
writerhenn is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2006, 02:07 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
P.S. What I'm forgetting here is travel time between the ferry and the harbour area in Victoria and how difficult/easy it is to get from one to the other. I believe I saw that it was about 45 minutes from downtown Vancouver to Tsawwassen.
writerhenn is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2006, 03:20 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Here is a day trip from Vancouver to Victoria that Harbour Air offers in conjunction with BC Ferries. You fly to Victoria on a float plane, look around Victoria and then return by ferry in the evening.

At C$203 per person, I do not consider it to be cheap. (The cost is C$145 for the basic trip plus a C$45 add on for the optional Butchart Gardens component plus 7% GST.)

However, given your time constraints, I believe this is the most effective way of seeing Victoria. By going in the float plane, you'll see the view from the air, which is pretty, and by returning on the ferry you'll see the Gulf Islands from sea level, and that's a pretty sight as well.

If you want to find out more about it, here is the web page:

http://www.harbour-air.com/home/index.php?id=40

>>>>>>I have looked at the ferry possibilities, but it seemed the uncertainty of loading the car and waiting time was courting disaster.<<<<<<

If you want to go over by car, you can avoid disaster by making a reservation for your vehicle:

www.bcferries.ca

>>>>>>My thinking on Vancouver-Victoria ferries was that I could be on a ferry by 9 am at the latest<<<<<<

Okay so far.

>>>>>>have part of the morning and the afternoon to take harbour tours<<<<<<

No, I don't think that's realistic. If you board a ferry that departs Tsawwassen at 9.30 a.m., you'll get to downtown Victoria around 11.30 a.m. There won't be much of the morning left for a harbour cruise.

>>>>>>is it worthwhile to take both? if not, which is best?<<<<<<

If you will have reached Vancouver Island by ferry, and if you have as short a time in Victoria as you'll have, I don't see the point of taking a harbour cruise.

>>>>>>and also take a bus to the gardens...returning on an evening ferry. Too ambitious?<<<<<<

It is ambitious, but it is feasible if you cut out the idea of a harbour cruise.

>>>>>>What I'm forgetting here is travel time between the ferry and the harbour area in Victoria and how difficult/easy it is to get from one to the other. I believe I saw that it was about 45 minutes from downtown Vancouver to Tsawwassen.<<<<<<

Here's a break down of travelling time:

45 min - Drive from Vancouver to Tsawwassen

45 min - Board ferry (this assumes you have a reservation)

90 min - Cross Georgia Strait

30 min - Disembark from ferry at Swartz Bay

30 min - Drive to downtown Victoria
-----------------------------------
240 min (or 4 hours) Total
-----------------------------------

You can also use Pacific Coach Lines bus / ferry combination to get from Vancouver to Victoria and back again:

www.pacificcoach.com

Pacific Coach Lines offers a scheduled service from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria.

I notice on their website that they also offer a tour that includes Butchart Gardens. I think their tour would be quite an efficient way to go because it takes you to Butchart Gardens en route to downtown Victoria. It gives you 2 hours at Butchart Gardens. Thereafter it drops you off in downtown Victoria, where you have free time to do your own thing. You then have the choice of catching any one of Pacific Coach Lines' scheduled buses to get back to Vancouver.

The Pacific Coach Lines' website also gives you the option of getting to Vancouver Island by means of their bus / ferry combination, seeing Butchart Gardens with them, exploring downtown Victoria on your own, and returning to Vancouver with one of West Coast Air's float planes.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2006, 03:27 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You didn't say when in May you'd be doing this trip (or if you said so I didn't notice it).

I'll just point out to you that May 22, 2006 is the Victoria Day public holiday in Canada. That weekend (20 - 22) will be busier than usual from a tourist point of view. Hence ferry reservations, etc., will be more important than they otherwise would be.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2006, 03:47 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,087
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The very best way to do what you want to do is to go by bus. You can certainly get an early ferry and be in Victoria by 9:30 or 10:30 am depending on the day in May. The schedule is at their website and you will see it changes depending on the day in May
http://www.pacificcoach.com/

You can get a late ferry back and have more than enough time to walk around Victoria and take a bus to Butchart Gardens from the depot (not the regular city bus) but the Pacific Coach have regular scheduled buses to the gardens without having to pay for a tour. There are lots of tours leaving from the Inner Harbour if you would like to do that as well. It makes for a long day but you can certainly do it. Just check out the schedules for the day you will be there. Driving from Seattle via Anacortes and/or Port Angeles is just not a practical suggestion.
traveller69 is offline  
Old Feb 19th, 2006, 11:01 AM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
More good information...thanks to all for your help. My dates are 22nd-23 in Seattle, 24-25th in Vancouver. I'm looking at both the ferry, air and bus options and I think I'm going to be able to come up with a nice compromise.

And I am using Fodor's destination pages, which I've found to be very helpful.

What I'd really like to do is avoid "repeats" in an effort to see as much as possible. With that in mind, and after looking at ferry possibilities with registration, I'm thinking of ending my trip via Victoria, then using the Coho ferry and return to Oregon via 101 to Olympia, giving me another route rather than go round-trip on I-5.

I'm using all the websites provided (much thanks) and some combination of the bus/ferry/tour could be in the mix. I doubt the air deal will come into play unfortunately -- for time as well as dollar constraints.

I've looked at a roundtrip from Seattle to Victoria and kinda ruled that out...really trying to make this a three-way travel treat. So now my thinking is to drive to Vancouver on the 24th, arriving midday, spending the rest of that day and the next touring the area (probably a narrated tour..I've found that's the best way to see and learn the most)...then leaving early on the 26th (a Friday)...taking ferry to Victoria, seeing what we can, then getting on the ferry to Port Angeles and heading toward the Oregon coastline (we're actually going to end up in Rockaway Beach for a day or two with friends). The BC ferry, Pacific Coach and Coho could all be part of that plan, which will include a Friday night's stay enroute.

Forgive me if I'm a little wordy, but I'm enjoying all the suggestions, making notes and feeling like I'll have a good game plan beforehand. And I welcome a further critique -- and any other ideas -- on these evolving plans! Thanks.
writerhenn is offline  
Old Feb 19th, 2006, 12:33 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,087
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hello again

Ok that helps - you have your own car so the best thing to do is get the earliest ferry you can on the Friday (make a reservation well ahead) You will have most of the day in Victoria and you can get the 7:30 pm Coho to Pt Angeles. (I understand you can now reserve on the Coho) I don't know if you are aware or not but once you get to Port Angeles there are two ways to get to the Oregon coast. 101 splits there. You can head west right away and end up going through Aberdeen or you can go via Shelton and then head west and join up with the other route just before Aberdeen. They are about the same distance and we have done both. If you are going to Rockaway Beach this is a much better way than going out to 5 and cutting back over. Hope that helps.
traveller69 is offline  
Old Feb 19th, 2006, 12:46 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,758
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I admit that the element of your having BEEN to Vancouver before was a critical piece left out.

However you do mention "we" in your writings, and what about your travel companion(s)?

Might they do better for seeing more of a cutting-edge city like Vancouver, one of the worlds most liveable cities, and not quite shoving so much into so little time?

Mind you, when I travel (alone, usually) I don't mind rip-roaring around to all kinds of places, and driving 500-800 miles a day, but the ferries and the natural barrier that is the water has kept me from going to Victoria more than twice in my life.

If one were to do Vancouver ISLAND proper, he/she would probably get there by any means, and then have a car available for long trips to the far northern regions, where the sightseeing must be awesome and the human element greatly reduced. I can't say that I've ever done such a trip, but I just don't know about spending but a fraction of a day in Victoria proper.

Besides, I love the big castle on the hill (Craigdarroch?), and I'd want to go see that again if I went.

NorthwestMale is offline  
Old Feb 21st, 2006, 04:12 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
been out of sync (as well as out of town)...Can't reserve ferries until after March 10, so I'll be doing a lot of research and taking advantage of the many helpful tips here...thanks to all...i'll post when i finalize...and when trip is over.
writerhenn is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
wordsmith
Canada
6
Jul 17th, 2008 06:44 AM
RGirl
United States
12
Apr 18th, 2006 06:14 PM
drsol
Canada
4
May 5th, 2005 10:36 AM
jim
Canada
4
Aug 5th, 2002 09:14 PM
Denise Cook
Canada
4
May 7th, 2002 04:27 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -