Last week’s post was about one of my favorite cities in the nation, Seattle. This week, I thought we’d venture up north to British Columbia, Canada. Of course, B.C. comprises of many noteworthy regions that I can’t possibly cover in one post, so I’m splitting my posts into two parts: Whistler/Victoria (today’s post) and Vancouver (next week’s post). I thought I’d share with you some of my Canadian experiences through these posts. How aboot that eh?
I’d never been out of the country until I went to Whistler, B.C. in 2006. As a college freshman, I joined the University of Washington’s Hawaii club on their annual skip trip to Whistler during the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, also popularly known as “Whistler weekend” by most Udubbers. We hopped on a bus and traveled approximately 215 miles (about five hours) north to get to this small resort town near the Canadian border. Once we arrived at our hotel, we unpacked our bags, put on our ski wear, divided ourselves up into smaller groups, and headed straight to the slopes for skiing and snowboarding!
Before approaching the Whistler-Blackcomb Peaks, you’ll walk through a quaint village full of shops, restaurants and bars. By day, the village is consumed with skiiers and snowboarders ready to hit the slopes. By night, it’s teeming with young college students everywhere! This is because the legal drinking age in this area of Canada is 19.
Skiing and Snowboarding
On the ski lift
For ski beginners, such as myself, you’ll probably want to start off at the Whistler Peak. Don’t do what I did. My friend Sheri and I had absolutely no idea what we were doing and started off at Blackcomb, which I personally believe is for the more experienced folk. We hopped on the ski lift and got off on the first stop thinking we would be taken to the bunny slopes, obviously. The initial slope we skiied down was pretty small, so we thought, okay, we got this. But to our dismay, as we looked down at what was in front of us, well, let’s just say that the view of the village was pretty nice. After falling multiple times, being propped up by experienced skiiers, and sliding on my rear a few feet at a time, we finally made it to the bottom of the slope. “I think that was the intermediate trail,” said a bypasser. Way to go, Melanie. Your first ski experience and you took the intermediate trail. Good going.
All in all, Whistler is perfect for both beginning and experienced skiiers/snowboarders. If not for that, the village is an exciting place to hang out with some friends during a short weekend getaway. And Whistler isn’t just known for its snow activities. There’s still an equal amount of recreational activities to engage in after the snow melts like mountain biking, hiking and sightseeing. And hey, some of the 2010 Winter Olympic events were held there so you might as well visit just to say you’ve been there.
The Empress Hotel
Ah, Victoria! What an absolutely gorgeous city! Everytime I hear the name or see photos, I can’t help but smile. The city just gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. I first went here with my folks the summer after graduating from UW. We drove up to Vancouver (about three hours) and caught a ferry to Vancouver Island (another hour or so) and arrived in our destination: Victoria. Victoria, named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and the Dominion of Canada, is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest and is most photographed for its 1908 landmark, the Empress Hotel.
My most vivid memory of my time in Victoria was our visit to the Butchart Gardens. Even if you aren’t a fan of botanical gardens, Victoria’s Butchart Gardens is a must-see! No matter what time of year you go, you’ll get to see hundreds of different types of roses, various ethnic gardens, spectacular fountains and so much more. My words just do not do this garden justice.
Ross Fountain and Sunken Garden
My stays in both Whistler and Victoria were quite short so, regrettably, my memoirs of these places are not as extensive as the ones I have of Seattle. I intend return to these places sometime in the near future so if you have any suggestions beyond mine, I’d love to hear from you.