Downtown, Inner Harbour and Beacon Hill Park

The Empress

It was early afternoon when we pulled into Victoria from the Swartz Bay ferry in Saanich. We chose to stay in ‘Paul’s Motor Inn’ for the night.

Built in the 30’s and popular in the 50’s, the Inn is still maintained beautifully.

Pauls Motor Inn

If you are like us, you don’t mind the dated decor – what matters is cost, cleanliness, friendliness and useable space.

Paul’s features large rooms with awesome layouts – toilet separate from the ‘get ready area’ (my husband loves that), large benches for putting your belongings on, an eating area, bar fridge, cable, diner.

Inside Pauls Motor Inn

The price was right AND they accepted our two dogs.

We got settled, ordered some food from the diner to our room, and got ready to head out with our daughter.

Lunch at Pauls Diner

As I mentioned, Victoria is famous for its retirement community, and though it was only 3pm on a weekend, all of the sights we wanted to see were to close in an hour.

Hardly worth the effort or entrance fee. So we decided to take a walking tour of the town.

Harbour View Victoria

Victoria is beautiful with its tree-lined streets and 100-year-old (Victorian!) architecture. The inner harbour is a great meeting place for tourists and locals alike.

With shops and good restaurants, buskers and entertainers, whale tours and a great view of the ocean and the famous Empress hotel, it is hard to visit Victoria without ending up at the popular inner harbour – a seaport and sea plane airport.

Inside Market Square

Remarkably (for Canadian history!), there is evidence of habitation here dating back 4000 years.

Though I am aware that the Spanish had a role in British Columbian history, I had no idea that neighbouring Esquimalt harbour was once (in 1790) claimed by Spain and named ‘Puerto de Córdova’.

Beacon Hill Sunset

We headed down to Beacon Hill Park to catch the sunset over the ocean. Beacon Hill park is gorgeous.

With 200 acres of land and lots of separate areas for kids to play, cyclists to ride, hikers to walk and view hunters to snap photos.

Sunset Beacon Hill Beach

You can even catch a horse-drawn carriage ride along the south shores of the Juan de Fuca Strait, if you are into that kind of thing.

In the mid 1800’s the land was recognized for its magnificence and set aside as a protected area. Mile 0 of the extensive Trans Canada Highway can be found at the south-west corner of the park.

Sunset at Beacon Hill Park

On a warm night you are almost guaranteed to find fire performers spinning their gear on the panoramic, rocky Beacon Hill beach.

Tallest Totem Pole

The park is also the home to what was once the worlds largest totem pole (now the 4th), constructed in 1956.

And (according to wikipedia) the pebble bridge over the stream between Goodacre and Fountain Lake, is a tribute to renowned BC artist Emily Carr, erected by her sister Alice Carr in 1945.

Architecture Victoria

After watching the sunset over the Juan de Fuca Straight, we headed back downtown to enjoy a night-time stroll. The city is bewitching at night with its Victorian era buildings lit up beautifully.

At the head of this twinkling show is the Parliament building. With its 3,300+ white lights, it cannot be missed. While other Canadian parliamentary buildings are lit for the Christmas season, Victoria’s remain alight all year.

Parliament at Night

Though most businesses are closed by 5pm, there are always some cafes open and the streets are usually lined with tourists.

It isn’t all tourist bliss though – as with most cities – Victoria does have a darker side. A burgeoning homeless population, and significant drug issues afflict the downtown.

Night Downtown Victoria

It is hard to imagine this reality during the day time, but as soon as night sets in, the main streets (namely Douglas and Yates) shift. While it is not likely that you will be ‘mugged’ or even touched in any way, it is likely that you will be asked for ‘spare change’.

As a former social worker, my opinion is that it is best to politely refuse the request. A simple ‘sorry’ while in transit, will suffice – or you can just avoid Douglas and Yates streets after dark altogether!

Street View Victoria

After eating some delicious sushi, we headed back to our motel for some sleep before venturing to Craigdarroch castle.

Additional photos in the slideshow.

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Follow this trip by heading to the ‘Vancouver Island‘ section. Many more photos of Victoria at the Habitual Runaway on Facebook.

(continued)

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6 responses to “Downtown, Inner Harbour and Beacon Hill Park

    • Spring has arrived early this year on the island – blooming flowers, buds on trees – it smells like spring too – it is quite beautiful, isn’t it? =D

      Like

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