Guest Post/Photography by Greg Wagner
Gregory Wagner is a landscape, wildlife, travel, sports, and commercial photographer and blogger based in Fort Myers, Florida.
Getting there was half the fun
Victoria is the capital of Canada’s southwestern-most province, British Columbia, and the expression “all roads lead to….” definitely does not apply to Victoria. Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, there are no roads or bridges leading from the mainland of either Canada or the U.S. state of Washington to Vancouver Island or the city of Victoria. And, interestingly enough, the city of Vancouver, B.C. is part of Canada’s mainland and is not located on Vancouver Island. A little quirky but that adds to the charm.
You can fly to Victoria but we chose to take one of several ferry boat options. It was the middle of June and after entering Canada via Interstate 5 and spending a couple of days in Vancouver, we put ourselves and our rental car on the ferry from Horseshoe Bay, B.C. to the town of Nanaimo, which is approximately 70 miles north of Victoria. Nanaimo is a great little place and if we had had more time we would have done a lot more exploring, but here’s a tip: Gina’s Mexican Café (ginasmexicancafe.ca) for dinner.
Arriving in Victoria and Marketa’s B&B
We arrived at Marketa’s Bed and Breakfast (www.marketas.com) in the middle of a beautiful afternoon. As we planned our trip we found hotel rooms to be a little pricey in Victoria but Marketa’s was in our range, the location was perfect and the online reviews were very positive so we felt comfortable booking for two nights.
Marketa herself was actually out of town while we were there but we were warmly greeted by her staff and once we moved in to our room we grabbed our camera equipment and ventured out, leaving the car behind. Marketa’s Bed and Breakfast is in and ideal location and an easy walk to the world famous British Columbia Parliament Building (www.parliament.vic.gov.au),
The Victoria Harbor (www.victoriaharbour.org)
and the photogenic and historic Empress Hotel (www.fairmont.com/empress-victoria/).
Exploring and Photo Opportunities
Months before we left on this trip, I knew my number one photo target would be the parliament building, after seeing hundreds of photographs through search engine searches and on one of my favorite resources, Google Earth. The plan was to photograph the parliament building at dusk and/or shortly thereafter. But because we were only a couple of days away from the first day of summer, June 21, and the longest day of the year, we had a lot of hours to utilize our favorite way to wander aimlessly……on foot!
We started out by going to Fisherman’s Wharf (fishermanswharfvictoria.com/) along Outer Victoria Harbor where several outdoor mom-and-pop eating establishments are mixed in with private house boat residences.
Once we arrived at the waterfront we discovered a quaint and unique mode of transportation. Because the harbor is dotted with what seems to be an endless number of restaurants, bars, tourist attractions, nooks and crannies the “H2O taxi” is THE way to get from Point A to Point B. Little boats painted like yellow cabs are affordable, efficient and fun all at the same time. So when we needed to get from one side of the harbor to our chosen dinner restaurant on the other side, H2O taxi was right there.
Dusk was rapidly approaching when we finished dinner and with the Parliament Building being on the other side of the harbor we hopped aboard another H2O taxi, arriving in enough time to get ready for the photos we had been planning for two months. Pleased with what we had accomplished that evening, and even the entire day, it was less than a 10 minute walk back to Marketa’s.
Breakfast and the Day Ahead
We had a pretty good plan for our only full day in Victoria. After breakfast we would head the opposite direction from the day before, take in as many sights as we could and then at about 2 p.m. we’d drive out to Butchart Gardens (www.butchartgardens.com), a must-see 55-acre botanical extravaganza located about 25 miles north of Victoria.
The people sitting with us at breakfast had been to the gardens the day before, telling us how terribly crowded it was in the morning and up until about 2 p.m. As it turns out we unwittingly and accidentally had planned our day perfectly. When we arrived at Butchart Gardens it was 2:30 and though we did not obviously have the place to ourselves, it most certainly wasn’t overly crowded.
Breakfast at Marketa’s gets its own paragraph due to the fact that it is out of this world. And not only does it get its own paragraph it has its own link on their website: www.marketas.com/breakfast/. As we all know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and of all the B&B’s we’ve stayed in Marketa’s is #1 by a lot and their variety ensures a different breakfast for each day you’re there. As a self-certified breakfast expert I can attest to the quality and deliciousness of a Marketa’s breakfast.
Ferrying Back to the USA
Our plan for getaway day was very simple and straightforward: get up, have our second (and last) breakfast with Marketa, drive out to Fisgard Lighthouse, then catch the early afternoon ferry to Port Angeles, Washington.
Lighthouses are one of our favorite photo subjects and, once again, we did some research leading us to putting Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site on our priority list. The walk from the parking lot to the lighthouse was longer than we expected but once we were able to see it the views and photo opportunities we limitless. Personally I oftentimes prefer an overcast sky for landscapes and older buildings and on this day I got my wish along with some great photos.
It’s about a 90-minute ferry ride from Victoria to Port Angeles featuring great views, lots of wind and overcast skies. Though we were a little saddened about our great Canadian adventure being behind us we looked on the bright side: we had never been along the Washington coast or to Olympic National Park. And that’s where we were heading next.
To learn more about Greg Wagner Photography visit: