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Trip Report -- We really enjoyed Victoria

St. Louis, MO
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Trip Report -- We really enjoyed Victoria

I wanted to thank trip advisor posters for all the great Victoria information. This forum helped us decide to go to Victoria in the first place and helped us choose what activities to participate in. We just got back from a seven night stay in Victoria We had great weather: a few sunny days in the low 70s, one cloudy windy day in the low 70s, and two sunny days in the 80s.

We rented two, two bedroom condos at the Worldmark Victoria from a couple from Arizona who own lots of Worldmark points (more than they can use). We were very happy with the Worldmark -- great views of in the inner harbor from our balconies, right next to Fisherman's Warf. A little bit of a hike, but it was really a nice walk downtown over to the Empress the BC Museum, etc. The condos were lovely, and I loved having the full kitchen, washer and dryer, etc. and the space for the price of a hotel room. Feel free to email me if you want the name and email address of the couple we rented from. They were great to deal with.

Because it was so close, we ended up eating at Barb's (right a Fisherman's Warf a couple of times). We thought the food was very tasty -- better than seven years ago when we last ate there, so we would recommend stopping there. I disagree with the opinion that Barb's has gone downhill.

Prices in Victoria in general seemed higher than resort prices in the US by about 20% // not totally out of line or anything, but higher from groceries to meals out to prices for tours, etc. With the condo, though, and having a few meals in, etc. it was no problem to do everything we wanted to do and stay within our vacation budget.

We did two Whale watching trips -- both open air rather than enclosed boats. For both we chose non-Zodiac options that would be a little less bumpy. The first trip was on the Wildcat Catamaran. They visited the resident pod and the two pods who visit the area frequentsly (the J/K/L pods) who are all currently hanging out together. We got to see breaching and lots of tail flapping. The Orcas were having a great time. The naturalist on board was so enthusiastic too. He's studying for a PHD and does reaseach on whales in the winter. It was a great trip, and our favorite of the two. Note: On any of the trips you don't get to get that close to the whales -- on occaision they swim up close to the boat, but not that often and not on every trip. You best bet to get really close to an Orca is the dine with Shamu experience at Sea World in Orlando. We also went with Eagle Wing on the Scarab boats. On this trip we visited the transient pods who weren't as entertaining as the resident pods. They are quieter as they eat mammals and need to sneak up on them. This was a great tour too, and we learned a lot from the naturalist on board also. Sometimes, I understand, with the transient pods you actually see then tossing porpoises around and eat. We didn't get to see this though. I really don't think you could go wrong with any of the whale watching companies.

For my parent's 50th wedding anniversary, we did the 5:15 p.m. tea at the Empress. I thought it was wonderful. I agree with what I read in Frommer's that "Yes it's expensive and touristy, but do it anyway". The service was impeccable, the food was unusual for us and so delicious, and this was definately one of the highlights of our trip.

We wanted to get outside of Victoria for one day, so went to the Sooke potholes -- a very pretty swimming hole area / nature area -- sort of reminds me of Colorado -- although the forest has differnt trees and then did the zip line tour nearby. If you've done zip lines in other places like Costa Rica, Central America, etc. I'd probably skip this. But it was fun and a highlight for the teenagers in our group who hadn't been on a zipline before.

Other activities (Some in our group went to see the Birds of Prey demonstration out of town rather than do a second whale watching trip, and they really enjoyed that.) We also did a meal in China town, the BC museum on the cloudy day, the greyline bus city highlights tour (I always like doing a general tour to get the layout of the area and a little history), toured the castle (I'd recommend this if you have time), and stopped at Minature World. I wasn't expecting much from Miniture World, but it was really impressive.

All in all, we were really happy with the vacation --it was a big hit with my whole family.

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St. Louis, MO
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1. Re: Trip Report -- We really enjoyed Victoria

I forgot to mention that we did Butchart Gardens too. I think of the this as a must to activity in Victoria and something everyone does and didn't even mention it. The gardens, as always, are impressive and worth a visit.

Comox,British...
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2. Re: Trip Report -- We really enjoyed Victoria

Allways good to hear a report after someone has been.I agree with your take on the Empress it has a certain grandeur that for a special treat(50 yrs of wedded bliss) is worth it.Curious how did you enjoy the Museum

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Trip Report -- We really enjoyed Victoria

Hi Kathy844,

I was wondering how you would enjoy your time. Thanks for writing it up. It is very rewarding to know that some of the suggestions posters make have made the difference between a vacation and a really good vacation.

Thanks!

St. Louis, MO
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4. Re: Trip Report -- We really enjoyed Victoria

We were at the BC museum for about two hours. My favorite exhibits were the Native people exhibit and the view of the Sea with the Walrus (It looked so real // quite impressive). It was a nice muesum, but I wouldn't consider it a must do. We're not huge museum buffs, and Victoria and Vancouver Island are just so beautiful, so I'd be more inclined to mostly take advantage of outdoor activities. We also live in a city with some great museum's (The Museum of Westward Expansion at the Gateway Arch right in my home town follows the journey of Lewis and Clark and those that followed and has great historical information / heart wrenching informtion about the native Indian people.) We also get to Chicago, IL regularly and have been to the majority of world class museums there.

Kirkland, Washington
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5. Re: Trip Report -- We really enjoyed Victoria

Kathy, I was waiting for your trip report and you really came through!

I'm so glad you liked Worldmark. Did you get to the market that is about a mile from them? We want to be able to do some meals in too. On our arrival day we are going to the Marina Restaurant for Brunch and then probably the BC Museum. I'm thinking we would cab it to the market (or if it is within walking distance I would like to know?) and then back to Worldmark.

I had picked Eagle and the Scarab for our whale watching. I don't understand, do they only visit the transient pods. What does that mean, "transient pods", are they not locals?

I'm glad you mentioned Barbs because I was going to pass on it. It's so close to Worldmark we'll give it a try. Did you do any other restaurants that you would suggest.

Cyberwave from the Seattle area.

Cheryl

St. Louis, MO
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6. Re: Trip Report -- We really enjoyed Victoria

Hi Cheryl, The closest full sized supermarket is Thrify Food, and I stopped there twice. It's close by, but you'd really need a car or a cab. We had a car. Staff at the Worldmark will give you a map and directions if you ask. There is a convienence store that is walking distance from the Worldmark. I'd didn't stop in there, however. As you don't have a car, you might want to check this out first. Again, Worldmark staff can show you where that is. Definately, check out all the 10% off and other coupons that the Worldmark offers in the lobby. They offer 10% off coupons for Eagle Wing Whale Watching you'll be doing, Barb's, and so many other places. I liked everything at Barb's except the french fries -- They weren't as crispy as I like, so I'd sometimes pass on the side and get a discount and maybe go for the onion rings instead if there were others to share these with -- yummy. Or if my brother or nephew weren't ordering anything I'd give them my fries, as they liked them. Related to the question about the whales. There are transient pods (that's what the Naturalists call them, as they don't stay in one place very long and travel long distances) that cross through Victoria and are only in Victoria for a short time in the summer. These don't interact with the resident pod that eats fish and is there all year round(the naturalist say the transient pods are practically a different species than the resident pod, although they look the same.) Transient pods are the groups of whales that Eagle Wing brought us to see. It sounds, though, like they'll do different things on different trips, so you might want to ask if you have preference related to what pods you'll be seeing. There was another poster on this forum, who mentioned getting to see the new baby from one of the J/K/L pods on an Eagle Wing trip, so on that trip Eagle Wing picked resident whales vs. transients. On the Wildcat Catemaran trip that's what our driver/naturalist did too. We went a different direction toward the San Juans and saw the resident pod and two other pods who frequent Victoria more than the transient pods and don't travel the long distances the trasient pods do. These three pods, J/K/L, are the fish eating vs. mammal eating and interact with each other every few years for some mating. Other places we ate at the Milestone Cafe right where the Eagle Wing let us off, and it was pretty good. They left from the marina right by the Worldmark and did a drop off by the Empress. Most of our meals out were related to where we were vs. making a special trip to eat somewhere -- We ate Butchart, in Sooke, in Chinatown, etc. The Worldmark was wonderful. I think you'll have a fabulous time.

Kirkland, Washington
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7. Re: Trip Report -- We really enjoyed Victoria

Kathy, thanks so much for all the wonderful information. I'm getting excited!

Cheryl

8. Re: Trip Report -- We really enjoyed Victoria

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