Having previously discussed my arrival in and first impressions of Victoria and its environs , I would like to discuss the first full day in Victoria and our explorations. In this case, which is not always the case, the day itself began with a very relaxing preparation for our expedition. For a couple of hours I sat and wrote a bit and pondered and watched some videos on YouTube, and my travel companions had the same kind of relaxing morning, and it was about 9:30AM before I ate breakfast and showered and we headed off to begin our day’s expeditions.
The first place we went today was Craigdarroch Castle. Like any place in Victoria, the parking of the place was a little wonky, and in driving there I saw that Victoria has a lot of road construction going on. Perhaps some of the tariffs the Canadians are charging are going into building roads and fixing potholes and so on and so forth. We parked along the street in an area where there was some room and fortunately while I was in the castle no one parked ahead of me to force me to get out of a parallel parking, but I digress. The “castle” at Craigdarroch was a lovely one and still has its open grounds to this day to give it a certain feeling of grandeur despite its complicated history. The building itself was four stories high and included some rooms that were well restored to their original glory and others that show the complex institutional history of a coal and railroad baron whose family was deeply troubled by alcoholism and scandal and ended up going from rags to riches to rags again, for the most part, in three generations.
After that I drove around into downtown Victoria and saw quite a few people crowded. It was a bit of time before I realized that the crowds there were due to it being Canada Day today, and eventually we found some parking in a garage near the Empress Hotel and walked the short distance up the block to Miniature World. I have to say that I found the dioramas quite impressive at Miniature World, and liked how they were divided into themes even if the organization was a bit haphazard sometimes. There were military dioramas, ones relating to the settlement of Canada and the growth of the railroad, ones related to life in England, to mansions, to the circus world of Barnum & Bailey, as well as to the age of Camelot, and even ones relating to fairy tales as well as to the novels of Charles Dickens. Humorously, I came across some that had looked to be somewhat old and which spoke in politically incorrect language, and I saw a later explanation that commented that “we don’t talk like that anymore” concerning the settlement of Canada, even though nothing wrong or particularly offensive was said, except that the use of “Indians” could be problematic for those who insist on being called “First Peoples.”
Once we finished with that, I wanted to leave the crowded downtown area and find somewhere more peaceful and relaxing to have our early dinner, so I drove to a HoJos not too far from Chinatown and though the restaurant was closed, the GPS guided us to a Harry’s Bar and Grill that was not too far away and the food and service were quite friendly. The waitress was rather new and quite inexpert to our questions and food requests, but was definitely very friendly and the manager was able to help her out. By and large, today’s interactions confirmed my impression on Victoria being a warm and friendly city, by and large, and certainly made it more enjoyable to travel in. Even fairly obscure questions about Canada Day and related festivities (including the immediately preceding First Nations Day) were answered with a smile and with as much knowledge as the queried person possessed. All in all, it was an enjoyable and relaxing day of travel.
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