I feel like I have hit every block of Victoria, British Columbia, in the past two days. In Chinatown, I visited the Gate of Harmonious Interest and Fan Tan
Alley, Canada's narrowest street, and former home to gambling joints and opium dens. First thing in the morning, I was at the First Nations (Native Americans) exhibit at the Royal B.C. Museum. Then I walked around the Inner Harbour where the ferries and seaplanes come in.
I've been packing in as much as possible. That's how I like to travel. Not everyone does. So I don't tend to do as much when I'm with friends. Particularly ones who sleep in or tire easily. We spend time waiting for each other and deciding things.
No trip is perfect. When you travel alone you wish you were with someone from time to time. When you travel with people, you often can't wait to be on your own. This trip is no different. But for the most part, I'm glad to be here by myself. Why?
Because I have made no less than 5,257 decisions, give or take a thousand, over the past couple of days. And not once did I have to pause and say, "Is it okay with you if we go to the museum first thing?" Or, "Do you mind if I stop for a sec in this British sweets shop?" Or, "Hang on, I want to buy this Chinese-style shirt."
Instead, I have zigged and zagged at will.
Wandered through a Sunday street market. Chatted with a hammock seller
who saw me gazing at a map and asked what I was looking for. Stepped
into Reckless Bike Shop to see about renting a bike for tomorrow, to ride on the Galloping Goose Trail, in this most bike-friendly city. (I thought that name had to do with a gawky bird, but no. The trail is named for a gawky, noisy rail car that took passengers between Victoria and Sooke in the 1920's.)
Before coming here, I was sure I'd do the tourist thing and have high tea at the historic Empress Hotel.
But I went in and saw the three-tiered racks of scones and sandwiches
and the ornate china tea cups and that was enough. I didn't need to eat
to enjoy the spectacle. Instant decision.
Then, when I thought I was ready to retire, I popped up and scooted out of my hotel to see the Legislative Buildings lit up at night. I saw it on a postcard today and it looked nice. It was.
It was a highly satisfying day. And not once did I disappoint someone who wanted to do something different.
Photos: Ellen Perlman. Bottom of a totem pole, Thunderbird Park, Victoria