Posted Nov 22, 2009 in Travel | 0 Comments

SKWHORES UNITE!!! Victoria

Victoria Drag Queen-

Victoria Ain’t Some Ol’ Queen!

Now, those of you who have traveled through Canada are well aware that we live in a magnificent, tolerant country. There is so much this land has to offer in culture, language, and people–Alberta included. However, the true beauty of this land is exactly that: its beauty. Nowhere can this be seen more then in the majestic city of Victoria.

victoria boats

Similar to Vancouver with its picturesque background of mountains, a busy, yacht-laden harbor as a foreground, it’s definitely worth a thousand words.

Named after some old queen (might as well have named it after me), this city boasts un-paralleled entertainment. There is so much to do and see in this little city that would. Obviously, the tourism dollar is quite strong here with the constant docking of cruise ships offering a new load of the walker/denture clientele. Don’t be wary of that at all. There is something for everyone.

Accommodation

Grand Pac

For hotel information and pretty much anything else about Victoria, check out www.hellobc.com. I stayed at the Hotel Grand Pacific, which I must say is pretty grand. The price here can set you back a bit so I won’t even bother telling you. If interested, check out their site, but there’s nothing like a good hostel if you’re looking to meet people or a good B&B if you just want that home sweet home setting. Try your best to get a window overlooking the harbor, and if you can manage a harbor and mountain-view, then you the manor wo-man!

No matter where you are, this city is so small everything is within walking distance. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t spice up your trip by renting a scooter. I rented for 25$/day at Cycle BC Rentals. Having driven a scooter on the islands of Thailand, I thought I was a seasoned professional but soon realized there’s a big difference between island life and the city life. So be careful, start off slow.

johns place

Anyways, let’s get to the meat of the matter. Start your day off at John’s Place (723 Pandora Ave.), where you can have the best eggs benedict west of anywhere. Honestly, I don’t like eggs benedict but I tried it cause that’s what they are known most for. I was not disappointed, but it cost me a pound or two. My, my, the sacrifices I take.

Having enjoyed my meal, I began to talk with the southern American waiter and asked him what was he doing so far from home. He responded, “haven’t you noticed how beautiful it is here. Why would I not want to stay?” He went on to say that he met a group of guys at University of Ottawa (where he studied) who brought him home to Victoria to visit and he’s been there ever since. He actually asked me to not pitch this city to Americans, as he enjoyed the Canadian people’s demeanor and didn’t want to spoil the city’s charm.

I thanked him and told him not to worry, as Americans are too caught up on themselves to notice anything around them. That’s fine by me.

After breakfast, walk around Victoria’s shopping district and try hard to watch your spending, as you will see hard to find things. With the abundance of stores on cute side streets, there is so much to see and do that by the time you do 2 streets you’ll need a break. So my suggestion to you, especially if it’s sunny, is to check out Sweet Memories, located on Government and Yates St., for some amazing ice cream.

chinatown

Make sure to visit Chinatown. Though very small, it’s full of history as one of the first places that Chinese immigrants entered before going across Canada. There is even an interesting alley of sorts called “Tin Pan Alley,” which is literally arms length wide and full of shops.

While in Chinatown, go and see what Toronto and Montreal lack: a totally bohemian great tasting coffee house like Bean Around The World (533 Fisgard St). Picture a little of NY’s East Village in a small brick laid shop.  I truly felt at home here and tasted what I thought would bankrupt Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, and Second Cup if franchised.

As I resisted buying the entire stock of the Calibre boutique (101-561 Johnson St), I managed to discover some of the city’s many hotspots.

The local gay bar is Paparazzi Lounge (642 Johnson St.). It’s your average, run of the mill gay bar with DJs, drag shows, and a calendar of special events. If you’re looking for familiar contacts, then this is the place for you. I was looking for some familiarity and nearly made the record jump when I walked in. You see I’m not a familiar face. Can there be one place that refuses to play Madonna or Britney? Are we not individuals?

Just like every small city in the world, if you’re looking for the gay scene besides the local watering hole but more where they go and dance, just ask, “where can I hear some house/techno” or “where’s the local after hour,” and, lo and behold, you’re home. The club is HUSH (1235 Government St.). Now how could a city this small garner attention from internationally known DJs like Mark Farina? Don’t forget that the University of Victoria is nearby and where there are students, there’s somewhat of a scene. Besides that, there is a close affiliation between Victoria and Vancouver similar to Ottawa and Montreal. Why not, the bigger city handles the smaller one as a little sister. This concept works just fine. You can find everything you need and more in the full pleasantries of a small town vibe.

So if you ever Go West like the Pet Shop Boys, don’t ignore this little city that could. You would be surprised what hidden secrets lure in this valley.

Queen Victoria

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