Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Northwest Vancouver Island, BC

Vancouver Island has so much to offer!  It is difficult to decide what to do next when you have only few days to go around but thanks to Joane Moran, a local Artist, we took two days to explore the towns of Port Alberni, Ucluelet, Tofino, and Nanaimo.

The trip to Tofino took around 6 1/2 hours on the Trans Canada Hwy.  We were lucky to find accommodations since most of the  hotels in town were fully booked.  We settled just across the Bay in a cozy hotel with a beautiful view to the inner harbour and seaplanes, and inmediately went for a stroll around town.   It is a tranquil and beautiful destination. People were very friendly and helpful.  Tofino ia a very small town but it is full of adventure opportunities for the whole family.  From kayaking, surfing, sport fishing, whale watching, scuba diving, to strolling the forest trails or the beaches;  you will always find something special to do in Tofino (like taking a seaplane tour).  We had excellent restaurants and gift shops on the same street we stayed.   Everything was within walking distance, which felt great after being all those hours on the bike!  That first night we had a rainstorm which brought the temperature down a little...  thanks God for those warm clothes!

Next morning, after having breakfast at a nearby restaurant, we visited Ucluelet and Port Alberni.

Ucluelet is a beautiful community that offers a sheltered inner harbour and beautiful vistas of the Pacific Ocean.  In Ucluelet, we visited the Aquarium and various galleries and gift shops that are located right around the harbour, and drove around town.  We had a good time!

Since we didn't have too much time left, we stopped for lunch on our way to Port Alberni.  In Port Alberni we drove through the Victoria Quay area, at the bottom of Johnston Road (the main road through town on the way to Tofino and Ucluelet) which features boutiques, restaurants, and coffee houses.  This is a beautiful town and just like Tofino and Ucluelet, it offers many attractions and outdoor activities as well.  Traveling on a motorcycle give us the opportunity to see things from a different perspective.  Some times we feel like we are enjoying the surroundings even more than those on tour buses or walking groups.  It is a beautiful and unique experience to travel to these places on "OUR BMW".  And even better when I have a pair of charged batteries at hand!J

                                                               Clam bucket... no kidding!

Back in Tofino, we celebrated our trip to the northwestern part of Vancouver Island with a delicious dinner at SOBO Restaurant.  Sweet!!!  The next morning we headed to Nanaimo in route to Vancouver via BC Ferries.  The weather was not nice at all... rainy and cold!

Cold and rainy morning
Getting better!
Nanaimo is the 6th largest city of British Columbia.  The harbour, where you can see all kind of activities like boating, kayaking, biking, scuba diving, snorkeling, seaplane travel, etc., is right in the center of town.  We did not have time to do much in Nanaimo due to the fact that we did not want to miss the ferry to Vancouver.  The amount of traffic in route to Vancouver from this port is incredible!  So, we will leave this stop for next time because it is definitely a beautiful place worth of visiting and explore.

Once in Vancouver we checked in at the hotel and headed to the city because it was still early and we wanted to see as much as we could.  Vancouver is known as one of the most spectacular cities in the world. Wonderful shopping and restaurants, beautiful waterfront museums and galleries.  Walking around is an experience in itself.  We drove around downtown, Chinatown, and the harbour.  Even though we came back to the city next day, we realized there is so much to see that we decided to come back again with more time to explore, and visit some of the many attractions they have to offer.


Our time in Vancouver Island and Vancouver was awesome!  We are planning to come back again.  We met so many wonderful people and enjoyed a lot their hospitality, food and attractions.  Another visit is on the horizon!J

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC

What a beautiful ride from Seattle to Vancouver Island, BC!  We finally left Seattle last Tuesday around 10:00am, and arrived in Vancouver Island by 6:00pm.  It was again a perfect day with a nice temperature and even though was cloudy, it did not rain. We traveled I-5 North which takes you through the countryside with winding roads, lakes, mountains and farmland, just beautiful!

At the customs border, we encountered some delay due to the amount of vehicles entering Canada.  This gave us the chance to see the beautiful Peace Arch Park right at the entrance (managed by British Columbia and Washington State), and The Peace Arch which was built by an American builder in 1920 to commemorate peace between USA and Canada.  The arch stands on international land, one pedestal on each country.  Checking in at the border point was quick and easy, and we didn't have to get off the bike for anything, just keep on going.

The next stop was in Tsawwassen to get the ferry that would take us to Swartz Bay, Vancouver Island.  The voyage between points is about one and a half hours.  As a plus, we had the opportunity to watch Orcas right beside our ferry!  The Captain made a call to ask the passengers to come outside and watch the beautiful whales (that was a saving of $75.00 p/p or more!).  So, on our first day in BC we watched whales, had a good time in the ferry, had a delicious dinner at a Sushi Rest., strolled around downtown, and went through Chinatown.  WOW!  

Motorcycles are the first ones to be aboard, nice!
Whale Watching Tours

See the Orca coming out!

Getting ready for take off

We decided to stay four days in Victoria, the "City of Gardens", this way we will have time to visit the places we had in mind.  This is the second time we visit Vancouver Island, we just love this place! 

We visited Sydney, another beautiful town just 15 minutes from Victoria.

Matt: Where?  Don Quijote: Right there!!!

The City of Victoria has the most spectacular Inner Harbour in Canada.  With its unique gift & specialty shops, fine art, beautiful sights, tours, restaurants, and popular attractions, it is the right place to start our Canadian vacation.  You will see lots of street entertainers, and artists and crafters working and selling their goods.  We had the privilege of meeting two beautiful ladies, First Nation People, Jewel & Rosie.  They were making and selling their beautiful jewelry and having fun while chatting with customers from all over the world.  Walking around the harbour is an experience in itself.  We also went to see few fine artists working and exhibiting at the local hotels.  Here we met Joane Moran, a local painter, who was working on a beautiful floral oil painting and graciously suggested us a couple of places to visit.  Thanks to her we enjoyed visiting the towns of Port Alberni, and Tofino (more about this later).

We visited the Royal BC Museum where we enjoyed the current Dinosaurs exhibition, and the celebration of the 60th Queen Diamond Jubilee.  This is one of the most excellent museums we have visited.  It showcases the human and natural history of British Columbia.  Later that night we returned to watch the IMAX movie of Dinosaurs (Matt couldn't get enough of these magnificent animals!).  So, make sure you include this stop on your next visit to BC.

At the end of these four days we had visited various attractions including, Craigdarroch Castle - built between 1887-1890 with over 20,000 square feet of interior space- who's owner, Robert Dunsmuir was the richest and most important person in Western Canada at the time; Hatley Castle - finished around 1908, was the home of James Dunsmuir (son of Robert Dunsmuir), an extraordinary beautiful 40 rooms replica of a 15th century Edwardian castle with gorgeous gardens, multiple rooms and each one made with different kind of wood, adding particular appearance and "perfume" to the place;  Emily Carr House - the family house of the world known Artist, Emily Carr - now a museum; The Empress Hotel - beautiful, sumptuous, and expensive but worth of strolling around;  Chinatown - the oldest Chinatown in BC; and to the beach!  Of course, we also got to have lunch and dinner at some of the really nice restaurants in town.

Craigdarroch Castle


    Beautiful stainglass through the castle

Drawing Room

View from one of the towers
Hatley Castle

View from window

Royal Roads University


                                                                          Carrillon, The Singin Tower

 Queen Victoria

 The Parlament Building

Emily Carr's House

On our walking around the harbour, we had fun meeting people and their dogs...


There is something about man and motorcycles... if they like it, they love it!  After lunch at one of the harbour's seafood restaurants, we met few Police Officers who were showing off their new Victory bikes.  Next thing I know, Matt is being encouraged by the 1st Sergeant to try the bike. And without second thoughts... there he goes!  He ended up seating and "feeling" the bike from the Victoria Police!  Of course, the Officer didn't stopped there and insisted on me getting on the bike too!  Oh my goodness!  That was scaryyyy!!!  That motorcycle is enormous and heavy.  He hold it until I got on it and later, after few pictures, I didn't know how to get off of it!  lol It was so fun.  They spent some time talking about their experiences, training, etc., etc., etc. 

Oh well, let the boys enjoy their toys! lol

After a long day of fun and adventure, we decided it was time to take a romantic walk at the beach...

Next time...  Tofino, Ucluelet, Nanaimo, and Vancouver. J