Friday, February 12, 2010

Victoria: Just a hop across the pond

Distance from Vancouver to the capital of British Columbia (Victoria) - 100 kilometers. Time to get to the airport - 20 mins by car. Time to check in - 20 mins. Time to have a cup of coffee with Jan at the airport - 15 mins. Time to go through security and watch Vancouverites glued to the television watching the Olympic torch relay before getting on the plane - 20 mins. Total flight time to Victoria - 15 mins. That's right 15 mins. Victoria is a bit of a strange duck because it is the only Canadian provincial capital that is off the mainland. It is at the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island, across the Georgia Straight from the Mainland. Not physically far away, but no easy task to get to.

The flight takes you over the Gulf Islands, which are the Canadian version of the San Juan Islands in Washington. Sarah and I have spent quite a bit of time vacationing on these islands, particularly Salt Spring Island, which has a decidedly artsy feel to it. Lots of galleries, used book stores, and funky cafes. And a great cheese company where you can go and visit the goats. The picture below is of the pack of clouds hanging like a snow bank of the top of the tall peaks on the island.
The short flight broke through the lower layer of clouds for a bit, revealing a textured contures of the top of the cloud layer. There was a higher, darker grey layer of clouds above and the rising sun lit the space between the two layers with a golden light. It looked like a completely exotic landscape - a strange cloud world. 
It was a long day of meetings at the Ministry of Health so I didn't get a chance to explore the city much, but I did notice these beautiful live trees in the middle of the concourse in the airport. They are all 15 or so feet tall, and grow out of the ground in the terminal. There are open grates around the trunk so you can see the ground below, and it gives the impression that the trees were part of an orderly forest that was there before the floors were laid for the airport. They look like the vestiges of forest that has been swallowed up by modernity.


  1. I love the sound of trees in an airport, that's fun :)

  2. Hey Rachel,

    It was pretty neat, it's a small airport, but it has this open airy feeling to it.

  3. Why take a plane instead of the ferry? Do they not run in the winter? I remember the Ferry ride from Victoria to Olypic Park area being stunning. Unfortounitly I don't remmber much of Victoria as I spent most of the time there in the bathroom with food poisoning. :(
    Pardon my Canadian geography ignorance. But wouldn't the capital city of Newfoundland be off the mainland as well?
    Did you guys watch the male mogul skiing competition yesterday? Good stuff :)

  4. I wonder if those trees do anything to ease the minds of stressed travelers. They seem like such a treat. Thank you for your movie suggestion - I've been meaning to give Amelie another try (I fell asleep the first time. I have this problem with television/movies) and now I absolutely must!

  5. Oof. I couldn't ride in that tiny plane. Not for 15 minutes. Not for 15 seconds.

  6. Will - It's always a bit of a balancing act whether to take the ferry or the plane. The ferry runs year round but takes 2 hours to cross the water, and its another 45 mins from the ferry stop to downtown. The best way is to take the seaplane, which is about a 25 mins flight and lands right in the harbor, but they can only fly during daylight and as the sun was setting around 5pm and my meeting ended at 4:30, that wasn't going to cut it. And yes, you are correct about Newfoundland, I was thinking more along the lines of the capital being on the same body of land as most of the province/population.

    Courtney - they are a very striking site and quite calming for an airport. A neat place. And watch Amelie! It's great.

    Dan - You are a big tough man, no small plane can scare you.