Friday, October 3, 2008

Victoria, BC

City population - 78,659
Population Density - 10,351.9/sq mi
Metropolitan Population - 330,000
Victoria was the little city that won me over. When we last visited in 1999 we only spent one day and night in Victoria. I had the perception that it was a small city with a downtown that held BC's capital. Returning this time I found a vibrant urban city that had so much to offer. The first thing that struck me was the commercial corridors.

Douglas and Government Streets were alive with people and had a nice mix of commercial shops, retail, food, and restaurants. It was easy to walk these strips and drivers were giving pedestrians the right of way. We ended up at a great chocolate shop, coffee shops, and a few good restaurants just by walking by. This is the kind of street and sidewalk activity you want in a city. I really liked the quaint little alley ways.

We stayed in West Victoria and had a nice trail that took us to our guest house. On the Friday that we headed back into town for dinner I was amazed at the amount of cyclists that were coming off of the John Street Bridge and onto the path to head home.

Our guest house was on the water which made for a great view with the morning coffee. We took advantage of this and did some boating out in the water. Even though it was about a 40 minute walk into town, taking the trail into town was much more enjoyable than taking the bus (we did not use a car on this trip).

Finally, no Victoria visit would be complete without a trip to Butchart Gardens. We made sure to make it to the gardens our last day before we caught the Ferry back to Seattle.

Overall I enjoyed Victoria and got the sense (despite it being a huge tourist destination) that it is a pretty livable and vibrant place to live but on a much smaller scale than we are used to in the U.S. Having lived in a few major cities, places like Portland and Minneapolis tend to feel small in comparison, but Victoria almost had a small town feel with most of the advantages of a big city. I think we will definitely make a return trip in the near future.

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