As I mentioned in my Thoughts from November post this month, my parents came to Washington for the week of Thanksgiving and we went on a road trip to Vancouver and Victoria, BC. It was a really great time and my first time in Canada! I would recommend it to anyone who wants to see a different part of the Pacific Northwest.
When I was trying to explain to my parents where we were going, it was hard to accurately talk about the spacial relations. As you can see on the map above, we drove north from the Seattle area to Vancouver. Then we got on a ferry and went southwest from Vancouver to Victoria. From Victoria, we took another ferry straight south to Port Angeles, which is in Washington. From there is was a simple drive south to my apartment, which is generally south-southwest from Seattle. Basically, we made a giant triangle, sorta.
It was raining when we arrived in Vancouver. This put my parents off quite a bit, but I just kept reminding them they were in the Pacific Northwest during winter, so they shouldn’t be surprised. Since it was raining, we went to the Vancouver Art Gallery. It’s in the heart of downtown Vancouver. My mom loves art; Dad and I are less thrilled with it. We enjoyed several of the exhibits though, and it was so interesting to learn more about the culture of Canada through its art.
We stayed in North Vancouver that night. The next morning we took a gondola ride to the top of Grouse Mountain. It was a very nice ride and had a few cool views. It would have been better on a clearer day, though, as is the case with a lot of things in the PNW. We got to experience mountain snow and were a little under dressed for it (which is surprising, since it snows all the time in Wisconsin.) After this, we packed up and drove to the ferry to take us to Victoria.
We all fell completely in love with Victoria. It’s smaller than Vancouver, but still has some of the big city attraction. The architecture of the downtown area is fantastic and it has several wonderful parks in the area. We stopped in Beacon Hill Park to watch the sun set over the Olympic Mountains (thank goodness for clear days.) We then treated ourselves to a penthouse suite on the harbor. This is not something we would normally do at all, but my mom decided we deserved it. We had views of the harbor and of the BC Parliament Building. We took a walk around the harbour and enjoyed the wonderful weather and the history. Sadly, due to a crunch on time, these were the only things we were able to do in Victoria, but all three of us agreed that we would go back together someday.
Customs and Ferries
I had only ever gone through customs in an airport, so going through land-based customs and a ferry-based customs was interesting. The land one was really easy and took only five minutes. The ferry one was more interesting. We had to get to the ferry terminal 90 minutes before departure. Then we had to wait and show a bunch of different people our passports. Once we were in the United States, we did the drive-through thing again. It was a unique experience.
The ferries were the best part for me. The ferry from Vancouver to Victoria was a very large boat with multiple decks and an insane capacity. It also wove through several islands, which was so beautiful. My dad even saw whales! The ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles was smaller, but still the second biggest ferry I had ever been on. The journey was a lot more boring due in part to the lack of islands and the fog that had settled in. The day before we had been able to see the United States from land and the next we were unable to see it until we were right upon in.
I had never been to Canada before and had only been out of the US one other time (to Mexico), so this was a new experience for me. Since they measure in kilometers, road signs were weird for a little while. I kept catching myself going “It can’t be 100!” and then remembering it was in kilometers and that was only 60 miles per hour. The currency exchange rate was also awesome. Everything was much cheaper than it appeared for us and asking Siri for the conversations was fun. I also learned that Canada doesn’t use their one-cent pieces anymore (which we should totally do.) Overall, though, it was pretty much the same as the U.S., we even ate in a Denny’s one night, though they did have real maple syrup!
I loved this trip and it was awesome to be able to do it with my parents! There is still so much I want to see in this area of the continent, so subsequent trips are a must. If you’ve been to any of these places before, what was your favorite part? If you haven’t been, is it somewhere you would want to go?