Farewell, Vancouver

Our final week in Vancouver was filled with the very best the place has to offer. We continued our quest to find pretty lakes: first there was Cat Lake, gorgeous to swim in and walk around the surrounding woodlands but not much of a shoreline, so it was a bit harder for the kiddies to play by the water's edge. It's a big party spot apparently and there were quite a few teens and students up there even in the late morning when we arrived, so for anyone seeking quiet tranquillity I'd probably suggest going when the schools are back - while these photos may look serene there was drum and bass playing in the background, the faint whiff of marijuana in the air, and lots of dogs excitedly shaking off excess water just slightly to my right hand side (dogs aren't actually allowed but it seems that people ignore the signs since rangers presumably don't appear very often).



Next up we have Mystery Lake, by Mount Seymour. This required walking up a short but tough trail (it ascends 150m), but we decided it would be worth a shot. It took around 45 minutes to walk up and our two-year-old did a great job, only really complaining after about 30 minutes. We went in the late afternoon which meant quite a lot of people were on their way down as we were going up - handy for reassurance that we were going the right way as the trail is barely signposted after you get started! 


The lake itself is very picturesque, although it too doesn't have much of a shoreline. Still, we managed to find a spot for young Master H to... can you guess?


There were still quite a few students and at least one stereo was on the go, but there were quite a few families too, with plenty of slightly older kids who I expect really enjoyed that level of hike. We started heading down around 6pm which was just as well as, although sunset isn't until considerably later, the forest does attract a blanket of darkness much sooner than the sky indicates.


Finally, we had to revisit Alouette Lake. It can get really busy with big groups in the picnic area but the shoreline is so big the kiddies (big and small) have loads of space to play. Plus the woods are ever so pretty:




We didn't limit ourselves just to lakes, though. We visited the bay at Whytecliff Park, where we saw a seal basking in the sunshine, did some very important digging, and got unexpectedly soaked when a wave washed right up on to the beach!

We had been told that a visit to Vancouver couldn't be complete without a trip to Vancouver Island, so we boarded the ferry early one morning and travelled across to Nanaimo, the port on the east side of the island. Our plan was to drive north as far as Qualicum Beach, then make our way down the coast towards Victoria where we had booked an overnight in a hotel. We thought we'd take all day to do the drive and would only get to Victoria quite late that night, but the reality was somewhat different. First of all, we had unfortunately picked the only two cloudy days that whole week to visit Vancouver Island, so the beach and subsequent waterside stops really didn't invite us to linger a while the way they might have done in the sunshine. Secondly, Mr H had taken a travel sickness pill as he doesn't have the best sea legs, which in the end was unnecessary as the crossing was beautifully calm - but which had the miserable side effect of terrible drowsiness, so he was thoroughly wiped out for most of the day! As a result we had a very quick turnaround at Qualicum Beach (we didn't even take any pictures), and only stopped briefly at Cowichan Bay for lunch and a short play at the visitor centre which had some nice displays and crafts for kids.


The skies started to clear of course just as we were packing up ready to go, so I do have one pretty scenery shot:


And so, somewhat disillusioned with our day on Vancouver Island so far, we made our way to Victoria, the main town at the southern tip. Ah, marvellous Victoria - you saved the day! It reminded us of Hobart in Tasmania, and also York or Bath in England at the same time. The capital of the whole of British Columbia, Victoria has some beautiful buildings (shown here first by day, then night), a nice little town centre and a pretty harbour. 




Victoria harbour at sundown:


The next morning we explored Victoria town centre then, as the blue skies took over once more we decided to forsake the delights of greater Victoria such as botanic gardens and the petting zoo (which no doubt would have been fun; perhaps another time) and set off to find a rather unknown bay out the back of a set of hospital buildings (isn't the internet wonderful?). I don't even think it has a name, but for reference it's just south of Arbutus Cove Park, and we enjoyed a lovely little picnic (courtesy of the tasty Victoria Public Market) and a paddle there.

victoria- bay

Our final stop was at the Victoria Butterfly Gardens on our way back to the ferry. It's definitely a we're-on-our-way-to-the-ferry stop, but it's worth a visit as besides butterflies there are turtles, fish, and even flamingoes.


So, after nearly seven weeks, what did we think of Vancouver, all in all? Spectacular. Fresh. Scenic. Adventure-filled. Family-friendly. And now with an environment forever changed due to the mass stone displacement caused by our little chap. :)

Returnable? You betcha. 

Thanks, Vancs!

Coming up... next stop: be sure to wear this one in your hair little Miss...



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