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From Port Angeles to Victoria, British Columbia

Last year, at about this time, we took a family road trip up the Oregon Coast, through Seattle, onto the Olympic Peninsula and then by ferry across the Strait of San Juan de Fuca to the lovely Canadian town of Victoria, B.C.

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My grandmother was from Victoria but I had never been there before. It was one of those places that was just far enough away that I didn’t make the extra little bit of effort to get there, despite my years of living in Bellingham, Seattle, and Portland. We needed a break and so I booked a ferry ticket on the MV Coho operated by Black Ball Ferry Service and along with that a four night stay in the Royal Scot Hotel and Suites.

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Our trip up the coast was a blast. We stopped in Astoria, Warrenton, Olympia, Seattle, and Poulsbo to visit with friends and family. Leaving Poulsbo we headed to Port Angeles where we got a delicious lunch at the Port Angeles Food Co-op. We had a little time to kill before the ferry left and enjoyed walking through the city looking at the art, antique shops, and murals.

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img_2291We drove onto the ferry and prepared for our first international adventure since coming back to the USA! As we crossed the strait of San Juan de Fuca, Sophia cried “I miss the USA, I miss the USA, I want to go home”

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As the ferry got closer to Canada, she realized we were going to have fun. Especially when we saw Orcas in the strait…sorry, we were so excited we forgot to take any pictures…but we did buy some chocolate candy called Orca Poop and she still reminds me that I had her eat poop on the ferry to Canada.

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Canadian customs was a little traumatic…but not nearly as traumatic has crossing on the East Coast had been for me several years before. The border agents were actually very nice…but I suspect they go out of their way to harass Americans a little as a sort of revenge for what a nightmare our border has become to our nearest neighbors.

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Once we got to Victoria, we went straight to the hotel. It was much nicer than I had thought it would be. We had a very nice two room suite with a kitchen and everything we needed to be comfortable over the duration of our stay.  A quick trip to the grocery store for essentials like coffee (which it turned out we really didn’t need because daily they restocked our room with plenty of coffee, tea, and little raspberry biscuits). The indoor heated pool in the basement was also a real treat since Sophia had proved to be a real water baby.

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Sophia was curious what the wolf kept under his kilt…and we are not telling. The staff and rooms were fantastic and we will gladly stay there again the next time we are in Victoria.

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The weather was not particularly sunny and warm while we were there, so we opted to not take our 4-year old to the world famous Butchardt Gardens, but instead explored the Royal B.C. Museum where Sophia had a close encounter with a mammoth and I got to explore their vast collection of North American Coastal Native American artifacts…we also learned how much we weigh in gold!

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We explored the inner harbor and Beacon Hill Park where we made friends with a local woman who walked with us and made our visit more interesting.

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We toured the B.C. Parliament Building and Government House and ate lunch on the Fisherman’s Wharf…with a 4-year-old we opted to not have high tea at the Empress Hotel, but instead walked, shopped, and ate on Government street where my nose led us directly to the only Turkish kabob shop in Victoria. The nose knows…we chatted with the Turkish owners who said that while they were happy to have emigrated to Canada, they felt they suffered a sort of polite racism – something that was confirmed a bit later when we met an elderly Victoria native who complained about how Victoria wasn’t the nice white place it used to be. I wanted to tell her to be thankful for a kabob shop, but kept my mouth closed in a rare instance of good sense.

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The city is beautiful and as usually happens when I go someplace extraordinary…I fell in love with it and began to dream of living there.
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We saw a witch flying…actually we saw several. Witches love Victoria too.

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img_2348 img_2342 Hanane had a great time…this was her second country in North America. Once she has citizenship…we plan on doing a lot more travel…but this was a good start.

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Was it a little touristy…yes, but we didn’t mind at all. And when we took a little bit of time to explore outside of the tourist areas…we still found plenty that we liked…and with the exception of problems at customs and black flies…I’ve never found anything in Canada I didn’t like.  Maybe someday I will be Canadian…it’s a dream of course, but I really love Canada.

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Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook