After an interesting last night in Vancouver, we headed out to Victoria, British Columbia’s capital. We had a two hour ferry ride through some beautiful scenery – it was quite similar to Sweden’s archipelagos – and you could see why it’s such a popular place to be in the summer. You can apparently see killer whales on the way, but we didn’t (incredibly gutted). What we did have was a v. brave Sophie though; compared to our ferry journey to Ireland where we had to sit outside next to a lifeboat for three hours, we could actually sit indoors.
When we arrived, we were both shattered: two nights without sleep a combination of buses and the ferry had knocked us out, so we were more than happy to chill at the hostel and witness some of the worst open mic night performers I’d ever seen. The woman on the hostel’s reception had told us that David Tennant was in town doing some filming, so we made sure we had enough space in our plans to fit in a day or three of Dr Who hunting.
After the first good night’s sleep in ages, we were ready to explore a very rainy and dull looking Victoria. Before leaving, I learnt a valuable lesson: don’t stand fully clothed in front of a shower when you’re trying to figure out how to turn it on. The city, despite the weather, was beautiful, and we spent a ridiculous amount of time floating between thrift shops and bookshops.
At the recommendation of a guy at the hostel, we headed out to a place called Big Bad John’s that night, where we were given a bucket of unshelled peanuts – you crack them, and throw the shells on the floor. It’s a thing apparently, as was visitors leaving bras tied to the ceiling. Fun, but unsure how other women could leave them lying around. It possibly the most redneck bar I’d ever been in, and was fully expecting a cowboy to ride in at any point. The next bar we moved onto was much more inclusive of nut-allergy sufferers, and we bumped into someone who could understand Sophie perfectly, but had no idea what I was saying. He did, however, manage to translate my accent well enough to make a judgement of me; “you’re really weird and fun”.
The next morning the David Tennant Hunt began. We got on a bus that we thought might get us there, and after 15 minutes, and spotting giant orange signs saying “CAUTION FILMING”, we got off a bus quicker than I thought possible, and got a brilliant glimpse of the man himself filming a scene for ‘Gracepoint’.
That afternoon we decided to something less creepy, and made a plan to climb Mount Douglas (more of a hill than a mountain though). As we entered the woods at 3pm, we made a deal that if we hadn’t made it to the summit by 4, we’d have to turn around and come back, just in case it got dark and bears came out. By 3.37 we’d reached the top, climbed up ridiculously steep rock faces (the perks of travelling with someone half human and half mountain goat), and seen an eagle, as well as getting the best view over Victoria.
Saturday morning was the beginning of our 27-hour trek to Banff, comprising of four buses, one ferry and two trains. We had another whale-less but Brave-Sophie ferry journey, and after stocking up on enough sugar to last us a year, got ready for the night bus. So, in Canada, when buses break down in the dark, in the middle of snowy mountains, and the driver apologises, people don’t get angry. There was a rally of “don’t worry”s and “it’s not your fault”s from around the bus – but feelings got considerably colder when he announced it was due to a fuel shortage.
After a three hour wait in a tiny bus station, we were finally on the second leg of our journey, and luckily managed to grab some sleep. I’m unsure whether the highlight of the trip was breaking down in the snow, or the entire coach listening to a somewhat dubious sounding film a woman was playing on her iPad, unaware that her headphones weren’t plugged in (turns out they were in her phone…).
So, we’re in Banff now, and it’s COLD. I tend to hibernate when temperatures get lower than -2, so being in -25 (including wind chill) is a slight shock to the system. Despite the cold, and not having any feeling in my hands, face or legs, it’s such a picturesque town, and the adventuring we’ve done here has been like walking through Narnia.