Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Loving Victoria

I'm now in Victoria, at the south end of Vancouver Island and really enjoying this city.  The atmosphere is such a contrast to Vancouver - amazing what a difference a ferry ride can make!  I was tempted to come by plane, but it's much more expensive than the bus and ferry and you don't see as much. You also meet some interesting people on the ferry - one of my fellow passengers confessed that he was also a writer.  And then he told me what he'd written - almost every comedy slot on US TV from Bob Newhart to House and Frasier.  Needless to say, he was staying in the nicest hotel in Victoria, while I was off to a budget motel at the other end of town!

A lot of people travel by sea plane here.  They're buzzing around the harbour all the time.  Quite a few people seem to own them too - some of the local guys in the cafe at breakfast were swapping anecdotes about crashes and near-misses and insurance claims as casually as we'd discuss a couple of scrapes in a supermarket carpark.


Victoria has fewer high rise developments than Vancouver and it's much greener with more open spaces.  There are also more old buildings and quirky streets. I've been enjoying just wandering about.

One of Victoria's 'heritage' houses.
Down on the docks there's impromptu music - the Irish get everywhere!


One of the things I've come to see is the Museum of British Columbia and I've just spent several hours there in what is definitely one of the best museums I've ever visited.  In the natural history section the first thing that confronts you is a life size Woolly Mammoth that roars at you as you walk through.

 All the displays are 3D - life size and complete with sound effects and smells.  The rocks and sand on the beach (and the water!) are all real, plus the driftwood and the stuffed animals.


The museum has extensive displays on climate change and what it will mean for Canada.  There are maps of the changing ecology.  At the moment British Columbia is experiencing extreme dry weather and high temperatures as part of a recurring pattern.  Further north there are more than 80 forest fires burning.  The museum is trying to educate visitors about the causes of climate change and what human beings can do to mitigate it.

The Parliament building is next door to the Museum and people were demonstrating outside against pollution - many of them First Nation people.  They are rapidly putting themselves on the front line in environmental issues, not just in British Columbia, but in Alberta too.


Sadly, Victoria - like Vancouver - has a homeless problem.  This was only one of those I saw  while walking into town - many of them quite young people, like this girl.
Homeless, but with wheels.
I'm going back to the museum tomorrow to visit their 'Living Language' exhibition and extensive collection of First Nation documents and artefacts. There is so much to see.  And then I've got to go to Emily Carr's house . . .   She once wrote to a friend:   ‘Life is like a whole packet of firecrackers going off at once without even waiting for the match’.  It certainly is.

I'm beginning to love Canada.





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