Chances are, you know someone on Vancouver Island.
Between the University of Victoria campus and the retirement community of Qualicum Beach, you likely have connections somewhere on the island. So, take a few days, and go visit your family friends.
After work on Friday, leave your car at the Park-and-Go Tsawwassen lot for $12 a day and take the free shuttle to the terminal. Walk on the ferry bound for Swartz Bay for $17. As long as your luggage isn’t too heavy, checking it is free, so hey, why not? Toss ‘er on.
Reclaim your bag and get picked up at the terminal by your family friends (the bus line is ridiculous. Be very thankful they came to get you). Spend the evening catching up and nibbling on good food.
The next day, head out for a morning hike around Killarney Lake. The loop trail through forest and next to the small lake is approximately 2.3 km and takes around an hour. Afterwards, warm up with a latte and baked goods at Mosi.
Take your full belly up to Mount Douglas, where you’ll be treated to jaw-dropping views of the ocean, surrounding islands and downtown core. When the sun pops out from behind the clouds, take a lot of photos.
Crawling closer to the city, head to Mount Tolmie for a zoomed-in view of Victoria. When you turn the other way, you’ll see Mount Doug.
Then, get into the city itself! Find street parking in Canada’s Oldest Chinatown and spend all your money at Fan Tan Home and Style. Purchase a cozy scarf and wear it immediately.
Snake down Fan Tan Alley, admiring the red lanterns and glinting lights overhead. Notice the 1/2 addresses along the red-brick walls. If you’ve regained your appetite, get a scoop at Kid Sister Ice Cream. Pay the extra $1 for a handmade waffle cone.
Popping out of the alley, walk around to Munro’s. This famous bookstore in a former bank has your favourite copies and a few new page-turners you might just have to bring home with you.
Finally, return to the homestead with your gracious hosts for a sockeye salmon dinner and cello performance by their fantastic sons.
The next day, stay inside sipping coffee until the rain dries up and the sun appears. Then, venture down the road to the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific. Smell the eucalyptus in the herb garden, feel young in comparison to the rows of bonsai in the Japanese garden and catch a romantic profession of wedding vows framed by flowers.
Later that afternoon, suddenly remember all the errands you have to run before work tomorrow and kindly ask your hosts to rush you to catch the 2 p.m. ferry. Get there and buy your ticket with one minute to spare. On the way back, watch the massive boat navigate between the green islands, thankful for some time away with people you like, who seem to like you too.
Isn’t visiting friends so much better than staying at a hotel?