I have been calling Victoria my home for close to a year now and I am still constantly surprised by what every day in the city has in store for me. I generally have my day start with a walk along the West Song Walkway on the edge of the Inner Harbour coming in from Esquimalt. This picturesque path on the waterfront is a front row ticket to the hustle and bustle workings of the harbour and all the businesses that ring the causeway along Government and Belleville Street.
Maybe it is because I am not from a coastal town, but I always appreciate and enjoy that in downtown Victoria, you can find a beautiful spot on the waterfront by heading out in any direction. In many instances, I can also find a place to enjoy a cool drink to enjoy while taking in the breathtaking scenery and natural landscapes.
There are plenty of places to unwind and relax in Victoria. I think this is something everyone knows. With a stereotype of being a bit old, English and sleepy, I honestly was not expecting the thriving hub of activity that is perpetually going on in and around the greater city and community. Victoria is almost always switched to the "on" position. The culture explosion that has occurred here is mind boggling and still getting bigger and better every day. Old habits and ideas die hard I suppose, but if you have not been to Victoria in the last couple years, it is definitely time to return.
Victoria has grown to become a city of everything. Open, friendly and always smiling (even in the rainy winters ... that's right! No snow!). Finding activities is easy as pie no matter what you are interested in. Being one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, Victoria has plenty to offer for people who enjoy that European sense of history to their surroundings. Add to it places like Chinatown, which is the oldest in Canada, really present the feeling of history when walking down its twisting and narrow streets.
As important as the history is for Victoria, the old traditions and new experiences are working together in the city. New and exciting events are regularly being juxtaposed into the historical framework of the city to create a unique vibe in an urban setting.
Even if history is not your cup of tea, there are plenty of activities that will keep you happy. Similar to many cities with a long background, Victoria has multiple sub-districts that have grown with their own style and substance. Sometimes crossing the street is like entering a whole new city. One thing that definitely stands out among them is shopping. Whether its Asian markets in Chinatown, locally designed fashion (usually with a focus on sustainable materials and production methods) in LoJo (Lower Johnson Street), antique and collectors items from Antique Row on Fort Street or book stores, boutiques and art from Oak Bay Village, all the extravagance of shopping in a big city is fused with the local and custom charms of a small town.
Speaking of fusion, if there is one thing that keeps me coming back for more, it is definitely all the variety of cuisine available! Victoria has definitely earned its way to my heart through my stomach (speaking of stereotypes) and the fusion scene is always adapting and changing to reflect new ideas, concepts and cultures. On the other hand, some days I just love to have a street vendor hot dog or pizza by the slice, don't you? Fear not, these can be found on the corners of busy intersections just like all the major metropolis centres of North America.
This quick video of a Seaplane landing in the Inner Harbour is one of the every day amazement's that I enjoy:
Right, so if you do not like history, you do not like arts & culture, you do not like shopping, what is it that interests you?
How about adventure? The greater Victoria area is full of amazing adventure activities to take part in. I am preferential to bungee jumping and zip lining, but there is also lots of water sports around. Surfing, sailing, kite surfing and kayaking top the list. Do not forget there is year-round golfing here too! I know back home in the eight months of snowbound winter I get a hankering to play a round of golf more than once in a while. Something about a heated indoor driving range just does not do the trick. This list can go on forever, but I would not be doing the city justice if I did not at least mention rock climbing, marathons and Cycling. In fact, Victoria is proud to claim the most cyclists per capita than any other city in Canada!
Phew! I feel better now that I got that off my chest. There is so much to see and do in this "sleepy old English town" that go beyond sipping tea and complaining (that is what my stereotype understanding is of old English people's extensive list of activities). Victoria is bursting at the seams with life and activity. If you haven't been here before, or have not been for a while, it is going to most certainly be worth your time. If you have been here recently, thank you. I am sure you loved it and I can guarantee there is even more things to do and see since your last visit.
Although if you come from the plains like I do, I think I had you convinced at the no snow in winter part!