Canada
James Bay

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40 travelers at this place:

  • Day5

    Vancouver Island

    September 5 in Canada

    Heute war ein Reisetag. Von Whistler zurück Richtung Vancouver. 2 Stunden mit der Autofähre (halbes Kreuzfahrtschiff) nach Nanaimo und dann Richtung Süden nach Victoria. Mal schauen was mich Morgen erwartet in der Hauptstadt von British Columbia....

  • Day6

    Victoria

    September 6 in Canada

    Vielen Dank Kudi und Gabi für den Tip. War auch meine erste Idee. Aber ich habe mich dann für ein gemütlich Tag entschieden und mich von einem Guide auf dem Velo 3 Stunden herumfahren lassen. So habe ich sehr viel Erfahren und gesehen. Und noch wichtiger für mich, ich muss Englisch reden. Mit den Walen hätte ich nicht reden können. Und ich war schon mal auf whale watching. Ich musste mich aber so konzentrieren um alles zu verstehen dass ich keine Fotos machte.....Read more

  • Day1

    Victoria

    August 19, 2017 in Canada

    Although we love Seattle, our visit to the city was short lived. We boarded the 9am ferry for a 2.5 hour trip to Victoria. The entire journey was really scenic: lots of green islands lining the Puget Sound, the snow-capped mountains of the Olympic National Park in the backdrop, and the bigger waves in the Strait of Juan de Fuca crossing into Canada, all under blue skies and sunshine.

    We arrived in beautiful Victoria and met Johanna's sister, Ludia, and her boyfriend, Tim, who had arrived the night before. We explored the downtown area and grabbed a bite to eat before heading to Fisherman's Wharf for a kayak trip in the harbor.

    It was seal pupping season so we were hoping to see some baby seals but unfortunately the wind had picked up at the beginning of our trip and we didn't make it to the pupping area. While we did see a few seals, it wasn't quite as exciting as we had hoped.

    For dinner, we found a highly rated burrito/taco joint that didn't disappoint. It was the first time for half of the party to try a burrito and it probably won't be their last. We capped off the night with a few cocktails at a lively bar.
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  • Day4

    Butchart Gardens

    August 12, 2016 in Canada

    What a beautiful place. We had a short bus trip out to this ex quarry site. Apparently the wife if the owner did not like the scar left on the landscape and decided to make it into the outstanding garden it is today. What a visionary! The gardens have a sunken area, Japanese area, open area, rose area. All so beautiful.

  • Day9

    Victoria Parlament

    August 18, 2017 in Canada

    Um 11 Uhr mussten wir aus dem Hostel auschecken, konnten unser Gepäck aber da einschließen. Mit unserem nächsten Host Forest waren wir erst um 19 Uhr verabredet, also wollten wir uns noch das Parlament ansehen. Nach flughafenähnlicher Sicherheitskontrolle ist im Inneren auch einiges zu sehen, besonders die Architektur ist beeindruckend.
    Zum Mittagessen besorgen wir uns Fish & Chips auf der Fishermans Wharf, die gerüchteweise die besten außerhalb Englands sein sollen.. der Fish war auch wirklich super, die Chips noch gut, die Soße hst man schon besser gesehen.
    Mit dem Bus fahren wir dann zu unserem Treffpunkt mit Forest, der gerade aus einem 2-Wochen Europa Urlaub zurück kommt und sich erstmal eine Stunde verspätet. Als wir seinen völlig verbeulten und bis oben hin mit Geräten vollgestopften Truck sehen dämmert uns langsam was das für ein Abenteuer wird. Noch deutlicher wird es als wir bei ihm sind. Er wohnt auf einer Lichtung im Wald in einem tiny-house bzw. im Zelt und hat weder fließendes Wasser, noch eine Küche, Klo und natürlich auch kein Internet. Das war so nicht erwartet und wir sind erstmal geschockt. Gekocht wird auf dem Lagerfeuer, das zumindest hat er echt drauf, das Essen ist super.
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  • Day3

    The other Victoria

    August 25 in Canada

    We are now able to be articulate about our long haul flight. The flight was 14 hours after a 3 hour departure wait. Despite all attempts to sleep, it eluded me. Ross just closed his eyes and he was out to it. I was so jealous. I was treated to several movies. I watched "Book Club" which was very predictable and not terribly clever which was a disapointment given its illustrious cast. I also watched the cartoon "Ferdinand" which was equally predictable and somewhat wearisome. I also watched "The Avengers: Infinity" which was an enjoyable couple of hours of explosions and chases. It was good to catch up with adolescent Groot again. He made me laugh. The ending was annoying because good did not triumph over evil. It seemed evil won the day, year and the universe, as Spiderman, Black Panther, Dr Strange, dear little Groot and other superheroes dissolved into dust. The rest of the superheroes were sitting around looking pretty unhappy at the end and the credits rolled. Clearly there will be a part two.

    Other temptations on the onboard computer let me win a game of trivia, search for hidden objects in a complex picture and play a few games of Sudoku. They were useful time takers.

    I would like to introduce you to our travelling companion in row 37. Her name was Param. She is from Toronto and has invited us to visit her in that city. I doubt we will be able to fit it in but if any of the readers of this blog ever get to Toronto, I would invite you to catch the nightbus and say hello to Param who will be your driver. She had been in Australia for two and a half weeks visiting her two sisters and her brother. They live in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth respectively: a family settled all over the place as part of the great Indian diaspora. Param has two daughters, aged 11 and 8 and they have been with her lovely and much appreciated mother-in-law while she has been away. She is looking forward to seeing them and as I write is probably pulling up at home right now. She was friendly and chatty and when either of us wanted to visit the loo during the flight, we went together like all good females. It was a good excuse to get up and move as well, so on several occasions Ross had to get out of his seat, let us clamber our way over pillows, blankets, headphones and armrests to go for the short walk to the cubicle and back.

    After farewelling Param at Vancouver airport we moved through Customs and to the transfer lounge to wait for our second flight which would take us to, of all places, Sidney, Victoria. Yes, Sidney is the suburb of Victoria, Vancouver Island where the airport is. The flight itself was only 12 minutes long in a two engine turbo prop plane that took us out of Vancouver, across the mudflats, fishing lanes, channels and myriad of small islands; Chatham, James, Sidney and many others that occupy the Haro Strait, and on to this island. We flew across Cordova Bay to land at Victoria airport where we were met by our Evergreen representative.

    She drove us to our hotel, The Doubletree Hilton, along some very familiar looking roadsides. Dotted with overgrown blackberries in full flush of fruit and Queen Anne's Lace, the side of the road looked quite like home. The difference was with the trees. At home they would be wattles and melaleuca and hakea, while in Canada they were a vast array of conifers, birch and of course, maples. The maples are just showing signs of changing so I am hoping that before we leave we will see a maple forest in full colour. We were informed that deer are a major problem here. While largely native, they are feral creatures that are happy to live close to humans and eat their gardens and crops. Likewise we were warned to watch out for aggressive bears that like to infiltrate suburbia in search of food. I doubt if downtown Victoria would have a problem, but apparently on the north of the island which is less populated and is supported by the primary industry of logging, the wildlife is more prolific. We passed a lake called Elk and Beaver Lake to be told that no elk nor beaver might be found there. I would be delighted to met a beaver, but I believe them to be creatures that enjoy their own company so I suspect it will be unlikely.

    I noticed also that most of the housing tends towards the alpine look, reminiscent of Swiss housing designs. Building materials of the earlier houses were mostly wood with slate roofing tiles, consistent with a timber rich community. I noticed also that they have significant bluestone deposits that would give them another material. Later homes have used brick and ceramic tiles. It is generally an attractive appearance and probably very sensible given the heavy snowfall they tend to get each winter. Our Evergreen representative said that snow can be waist height after a sustained snow storm. I don't think I would care for that.

    Anyway, we finally arrived at the hotel to find our room ready, three small bags of still warm cookies awaiting us and the delicious prospect of a shower and a nap. We took advantage of all of these things and arose refreshed. A bit of tidying up, washing smalls and studying the potential sites within walking distance and we have arrived to the current time.

    Soon we will wander across the road to go to the Millos Tavern where we plan to have a yummy Greek meal and perhaps a short wander before we come back to a good night's sleep.

    We just got back from dinner. As we were leaving our room on the second floor to head out, we heard a porter trying to inform some guests where they might be able to get a meal. They had just arrived, had had no food since breakfast and were ravenous, but also longing for a shower and bed. I told them we were heading off for Millos Tavern over the road and so they joined us. We have now met Graeme and Pat, who come from Kapunda in the Barossa. Graeme was a farmer who, as part of his slow transition to retirement, reduced his farming exposure and went into support services such as seed grading, carting and assisting other farmers when they needed an experienced and skill aid. His wife, Pat, a registered nurse, retired last year after 40 years in nursing. They have travelled quite a bit but are looking to reduce their travels from now on. This may be their last big trip overseas. The pension will not give them the liberty to do big trips any more. They were pleasant company. They are also part of a large group of South Australians on the tour with us so our fortuitous meeting may give us an introduction to many in the tour with us.

    We have now begun to plan our activities for tomorrow but we will wait until we have done our touring before we tell you more.
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  • Day4

    After a good night's sleep

    August 26 in Canada

    Doesn't it make a difference when you finally awake refreshed. We both admitted to waking up several times through the night but, a good comfortable bed and no deadline allowed us both to sleep again and be up at a reasonable time for a cooked breakfast. I generally only eat these when I am on a trip and I will probably revert to a more regular breakfast tomorrow. I noticed two different kinds of porridge in the buffet and I will be delighted to taste both. One is a traditional oatmeal and the other is an ancient grains porridge that I intend to taste.

    After breakfast we went out for a walk to locate the hop on hop off bus. It didn't take us long but we did find ourselves stopping every now and then to admire some of the thousands of hanging baskets that line all the streets in Victoria. They put on a spectacular show of colour and are remarkably cheerful and bright. These complement the many gardens that dot the city. No small patch of dirt is left uncultivated for flowers. As we drove around the island we noticed that there were very few lawns, a few small patches of grass of course, but only to highlight the herbaceous borders. The whole city looked like a children's fantasy story book. There were castles and cottages and very pretty houses of all shapes and sizes, all looking beautifully kept and presentable. No grafitti anywhere and as we drove by, sitting on the open top level of a double decker bus, the locals waved and smiled at us. They must have been briefed on their roles in a romantic fantasy island. We did notice that there seemed to be large number of older persons and it seems to have a reputation as a place to retire, but the driver was quick to point out that this was changing as hi tech IT companies had made big inroads into the community and it was now one if the largest industries in Vancouver. IT, logging, tourism and goverment employ the largest portions of the working population.

    I couldn't help noticing that the village atmosphere pervaded every suburb. Even the dentist and the accountant had pictureque cottages with blousy flowers and nodding floral baskets on their porches. The butcher had cute murals on the walls and shops were highly decorated. It was beginning to feel a little like Pleasantville.

    Ross tells me that he wishes to contribute to this blog by adding that one of his favourites today was a petting zoo in one of the major parks. We stopped just outside and saw many people with their children wandering around patting goats. I saw a miniature donkey who was very cute and two peacocks were annoying each other of either side of the fence because nearby was a peahen who must have been quite bodalicious. It was a sweet little place and entirely befitting an atmosphere of "pretty". There are also some potbelly pigs there but we did not see them. They would have been a hoot to see.

    Craigdarroch Castle was a grand affair that we decided not to visit. It takes about an hour to see it all and we wanted to get an overall picture of the city before we made our choices.

    It was quite cold sitting on the top of the bus with the wind blowing off the water and I was glad I had taken my puffy jacket. The seas around the island rarely get above 10 degrees, but its climate is regarded as the most moderate in the morass of islands that make up this part of British Columbia.

    We learned that it was our old friend, Captain James Cook, who discovered(!!!) this part of the world but that he was unaware that it was a series of islands. He named it after a crewman, a Mr Vancouver, on board his ship. That same crewman came back some years later to map the region and it was he who identified the nature of the place.

    I found myself asking about the first nations people. While some did not seem to know, our bus driver this morning was able to explain that this area housed the largest number of first nations people of anywhere in Canada. It was rich in natural resources and there was plenty to go around. The arrival of the white peoples saw the destruction of many of these peoples. I sometimes fear that we whities are an infestation that spreads our toxins everywhere and destroy the place wherever we go.

    Fortunately, the desire to celebrate indigenous cultures has come about and there is increasing promotion of their stories and artefacts. We drove by several totem poles created by modern indigenous people to replace the old weatherworn ones. They were quite striking.

    After our trip around we went back to our hotel to prepare for our afternoons. I was off to do whale watching and Ross wanted to visit the museum. I took off, booked my excursion, had a lunch of clam chowder and icecream by the harbour then went to join my group prior to embarking. Just as I did so I saw Ross walking towards me. He had had a nap and had just woken up but was on his way to organise his lunch and do his tour. He has some photos he wishes to share but he has fallen asleep again and so I will not post this blog till tomorrow morning.

    My trip around the waterways was a vigorous experience. The seas were quite choppy but I happily kept my clam chowder down. After about half an hour of crashing through waves and heaving around in the chop we saw our first whales. They were two humpbacks. We saw quite a few blows as they began to surface and then some emergence and disappearances, each time too fast for the camera to catch clear shots. There was a lovely moment when I watched the tail flukes rise in the air then follow the rest of the behemoth to the bottom of the ocean. The rocking of the boat meant that just as I thought I had a chance of catching the image on camera the waves lifted us up and dropped us down and all I could get was a fuzzy grey something in a grey ocean under grey skies. Oh well, next stop were the orcas. Another fifteen minutes away and we came across a family group of orca. Because they are dolphins and like to eat water mammals they lived closer to the surface. They swam around for quite some time showing us their dorsal fins. It was explained to us that the male was some distance from his family because he was driving food towards them. As the food got closer the matriarch of the pod would go in for the kill then leave the disabled and dying sea lion for the young orca to finish off. It was part of their oceanic curriculum. The young orca learned how to kill but the prey was not a danger to it. As it grew older it would learn more of the techniques and become a very experienced hunter. They are, of course, at the top of the food chain of the ocean. The father was very recognisable because of his very large dorsal fin. It is about three metres long.

    We then stopped off to meet some of the prey. Sea lions and seals were very amusing inhabitants of an island that held a lighthouse. They were more obliging for the camera but I doubt that this skill would help them fight off any orca.

    We made our way back into the harbour and I managed to snap a picture of a seaplane just about to take off and a close up of a small harbour ferry. We had seen them earlier this morning doing close order drills in the harbour in preparation for a water ballet routine, so I took a photo of that too.

    I got back to the hotel. Ross had beaten me back by only a few minutes and we swapped photos and stories. Ross had been to the Royal British Columbia Museum. He quickly moved through the visiting Egyptian exhibition and spent his time going through four of the permanent exhibitions which were the natural history gallery which showed the history of the area from prehuman, through mammoths and ice ages to the potential for what may happen to the west coast of the Americas if we do not address climate change. He found this very challenging. The second gallery was on the First Nations peoples and the Living Languages exhibition where desperate attempts are being made to capture and protect First Nations languages from extinction. Like many similar stories, the spiritual life, culture and languages of First Nation peoples suffered from legislated denial. Some may have been saved from eradication, but much has been lost. The final gallery was on nationhood for British Columbia.

    After this Ross had another nap until dinner time. We met the rest of our travel group at dinner and had a short briefing from our tour director, Bill Spiller, who was once a mountain climber. I hope he has no such intention for us.

    After a lively dinner we went back upstairs. I had a shower, sorted out some correspondence and did some washing. I was unable to publish this entry last night because Ross fell asleep without telling me his bit. It is now lunchtime and I have just finished off yesterday's entry. Ross is currently awake so I need to catch these moments.

    I will begin planning for today's entry soon.
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  • Day5

    Victoria: A city of gardens

    August 27 in Canada

    We decided yesterday that the city paid a great deal of attention to its floral arrangements in public places and that the people followed this focus on flowers. Just a part of me longed for sculptural leafy plants and midsized trees to move the eye but we were certainly impressed by the impact. Today, after a hearty breakfast (I had fruit and yogurt and Ross had the porridge) we caught the bus with our tour group and headed out on our first jaunt.

    Bill, our tour director and Bud, the driver, took us around the town again pointing out the historical landmarks and stories of early settlement. We had to stop at one point because two young deer were standing in the middle of the road, but they moved on. We saw another young male with a small rack (yes that is the term for their antlers) standing just off the road in a different park. Deer are prolific and a nuisance to gardeners who sometimes fence off their gardens to stop marauding deer. We learned that Vancouver Island has only black bears and no grizzlies, the largest density of cougars in Canada, no porcupines or skunks and a declining population of resident orca. All very interesting, but apart from the porcupines, I don't really wish to come in close contact with any of the above, except perhaps from the window of the bus. We were informed that Victoria, the capital City of BC, has only about 85 thousand people. The median house price was about $800 thousand but ranged up to $12 million if you lived in the poshest part of town with a sea view. I was beginning to think that this was the place where the well off came to retire when we headed out to our final destination for the morning.

    On the way we drove by the University of Victoria which reminded Ross, very much, of the ANU, when he first went there as a post doctoral fellow. It looked a very nice campus. As we drove on down the other side of the hill we saw the less financially well-off properties. I was pleased to know they existed and that all sorts of people could live on the island. Regular style suburbia, industry, market gardens and small farms cropped up every now and then as Bill told us of scandalous tales of the misdoings of rakes and fools.

    After about half an hour we pulled up at an old quarry. The original owner had mined limestone for cement for the building of the Panama Canal and the rebuilding of San Francisco after the earthquakes and so had made a fortune. When it petered out, the owner, at the instigation of his wife, decided to turn it into a garden similar to those they had seen in Europe. She was clearly the driving force and brought in designers and gardeners from all over the world to rejuvenate the site. Now it is a vast and luxurious garden with great sections dedicated to Italian, Japanese, rose, sunken and bog gardens. Great swathes of plantings lined winding paths, through arches and around bends, each vista building on the one before. I would suggest that begonias dominated, but large garden beds of dahlias, hydrangea and other big flowering plants filled every corner. The colours were big and bold.

    I longed for some plantings where foliage played a part, and they were there, but largely to support the bright colours. The dark pine backdrops formed a dark field behind the blooms. I took some pleasure in seeing some monkey puzzle trees. They are rare these days. I also found a flourishing pear and an apple in the garden which seemed out of place until I recalled how lovely they are when in blossom.

    The Butchart Gardens are quite remarkable but reeeeally manicured and I missed seeing some signs of chaos and contrast. We both took lots of photos because it was spectactular. They employ about 70 gardeners during flowering time but cut back to 40 during the dormant time. There are coffee shops, gift shops, restaurants, performance areas, a carousel, and trolley after trolley of umbrellas left at regular points around the garden. No-one need leave because of rain.

    The Butchart family, on one of their trips around Europe, had taken a message that a pair of rare ducks collected by Butchart, had died back in Canada. Instead of catching their ship back to Canada, he went into Germany to find another pair. It turned out to be lucky because their original ship had been The Titanic!

    Ross was taken by the statuary around the grounds, taking particular delight in the dancing fountain called the Ross fountain. Don't try to picture Ross dancing to the water feature. It doesn't bear consideration, but he took several photos of it. His other favourite was Tucca, the wild boar with a shiny nose. It is an exact copy of an Italian sculpture that is said to bring luck if you stroke its nose.

    At midday we got back on the bus and returned to our hotel. I was very pleased. I couldn't say why, perhaps circadian rhythms, but I had not slept the night before and was desparate for a snooze. I soon fell asleep and put in a couple of hours snuggled up in bed. Ross went exploring and spent a short time in the Maritime museum, chowing down on Canadian hotdogs and reading pamphlets. He arrived back just after I woke up and then had his nap.

    For dinner we went to the local pub and found ourselves surrounded by people on our tour all doing the same thing. The pub had American football on the screen and every now and then I heard comments on the differences between American and Australian football. The Aussies were all certain of the superiority of our game over theirs and only the waiters were there who might disagree. What we have seen of waiters, receptionist, sales assistants and tour guides is that they are all chipper, pleased to meet you, gracious when offered a compliment, ready to return it and free with smiles for everyone. Please let me find a grumpy, ironic, smart mouthed and awkward person soon or I will have to throw something. Ross is certain that all that niceness is motivated by greed. Gratuities are all the go here and about15% of any bill is recommended for the person serving you. You pay if you believe the service has been pleasing. Ross's cynical comment may have assuaged my need to throw things just a little.
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  • Day79

    Afternoon Tea at the Empress

    September 4, 2017 in Canada

    Afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress hotel, such a unique and special experience for us. Amazingly beautiful and delicious treats, our two "princes" even had their own towers of treats, tried and ate everything, and Cole even drank all 3 teas we tried.

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James Bay

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