Subject: Re: Vancouver and Victoria

You have received a lot of valuable input. I will try to be brief--it's hard, there's so much to say about such incredible destinations!

Victoria. My preference, I'd spend the night--part of the magic of Victoria is being in the Inner Harbour at night when the buildings are lit up with their twinkle lights, plus the street performers make the stroll a lot of fun. If it sounds interesting to you, plan to be there on a Sat. night so that you can enjoy the fireworks at Butchart Gardens. Get more info here: This is not a 4th of July- type pyrotechnic bonanza. Very beautiful display set to music, quite old-fashioned in feel, in a setting that can't be beat. The only downside is it's popular, thus crowded. But well worth it, IMHO. You can walk all over the main part of the city of Victoria, but getting out to Butchart Gardens will require transport. We rented Vespas one trip and had a blast. It might be a little nerve-wracking to negotiate the return to the harbour on a scooter in the dark amidst post- fireworks traffic? In that case, I'd probably take a city bus out to the gardens and then spring for a cab back. Now, if you're into this sort of thing, there is top notch Orca- and other marine wildlife-watching out of Victoria (better than out of Vancouver). A friend who is involved in marine mammal research recommends this operator:

So, already, lots to do in Victoria! It's true, the Vancouver-Victoria ferry link is very time-consuming because the Vancouver terminal is a fair distance from things--30 min. from airport, 45 min. from downtown Vancouver--as is the Swartz Bay terminal--30 min. from Victoria. Those are all car distances--if you're not renting a vehicle, even bigger hassle considering public transport vs. taxi. Here are some alternatives designed to maximize time & preserve the idea of a carless holiday: (1) the float plane already mentioned--convert the CAD to USD roundtrip prices, and you'll see it's not a bad deal, you'll go downtown harbour- downtown harbour, plus that's an adventure in and of itself! (2) or, do an air or heli transport from the Vancouver airport to Victoria Inner Harbour, then float plane Victoria- Vancouver; (3) double check open jaw prices to fly CA- Seattle, Vancouver-CA. The reason for this is the ferry Seattle-Vancouver departs from downtown Seattle and deposits you right in the Inner Harbour of Victoria. You could then transit Victoria-Vancouver by float plane & have tried both forms of crossing! (4) If the airfares are significantly lower, consider RT air out of Seattle, ferry to Victoria, float plane to Vancouver and Vancouver-Seattle by train? If this is a see and do trip, IIWM, I'd fly to Vancouver on a Saturday a.m., heli over to the Inner Harbour directly from the airport, settle in a B'nB or hotel in the immediate harbour vicinity, explore the town for a couple of hours, rent scooters, ride out to Butchart + fireworks, return to Inner Harbour for a final late-night stroll if you have any energy left!, do the early whale watch Sun. a.m. and then float plane over to Vancouver. Voila! You have 3+ days left for Vancouver.

Vancouver. If you expressed a preference for B'nB lodging, forgive me, but we had such a great stay at the Fairmont Waterfront ( --note, they have a worthwhile collection of local links, see the concierge page) last July, I have to give it a plug#it's first class in the Fairmont style, of course, well-located and fabulous for watching the ships and boats, seaplanes and helicopters that keep Burrard Inlet hopping. We got a tremendous deal on a harbourview suite at The Fairmont has a heated outdoor pool overlooking the harbour and offers complimentary bikes. It is in easy walking distance of Gastown and Chinatown, as well as the downtown section of the popular Robson shopping avenue#you might want to hail a cab back if you wander to the far end of the avenue. The Vancouver trolley is a typically hokey tourist ride, but an efficient and relatively ow cost way to get out to Stanley Park and around town if you use it a lot. The aquarium is a don't miss if you like that sort of thing. We're water folks, so had a great time one trip renting a motorboat and noodling around#the otters were with us. Lots of sailing charter options, too. Of course, hiking Grouse Mt. and taking a swinging walk on the Capilano Suspension Bridge are always fun active pursuits. This time, we tried a locals' favorite, the Lynn Canyon gorge & suspension bridge with hiking trails, which we learned about on this website#a terrific insiders resource: We also got a lead on Deep Cove from that site--went up there, it was a Friday afternoon, we rented kayaks and paddled around 'til sunset--gorgeous & great big fun#arrived back at the marina just as folks were arriving for a free concert on the lawn! So, there's one music possibility! Deep Cove is a quaint/trendy enclave of little shops and restaurants along a few narrow waterfront streets--reminds me of Sausalito, but in a Pac NW kind of way, if that makes any sense?!

Enjoy your trip planning!

Diana Ball Near Houston, TX