Monday, September 7, 2009

Vancouver 2009: Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay Ferry

On Wednesday morning, we had room service breakfast delivered to our hotel room. Darrick got pancakes and hot chocolate while I got scrambled eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, toast, and pineapple juice. After breakfast, I showered and re-packed (but forgot to use the free robe!) in preparation for check-out. Luckily, the cooler had dried sufficently enough overnight that it was no longer wet. (Sidebar: my collapsible cooler apparently has a leak that results in water getting everywhere once the ice melts.)

After checking out of the hotel, we drove around Whistler a bit, hoping to find a place where we could do a little bit of hiking. Instead we encountered a trailhead with a parking lot that was closed... so we didn't hike. Instead, we drove North for a bit to see what else was out there, then turned around and headed back through Whistler toward Vancouver to catch a ferry to Victoria.

Our destination was the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal, because BC Ferries runs ferries every hour on the hour from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay. Unfortunately, Tsawwassen is almost all the way back down at the US border, which means we had to drive through downtown Vancouver to get there. A combination of construction and a traffic jam meant that though we were merging onto the Lions Gate Bridge at 2:05pm, we didn't get out of downtown Vancouver until about 3:05pm. In that hour, we covered maybe three miles at most.

By 3:30 or so we had arrived at the ferry terminal in time for the 4:00pm ferry. BC Ferries runs a nice operation: nice, clean boats with ample seating, shopping, and entertainment on board for the 90 minute ferry trip. Since I had been driving all day, my preferred method of entertainment involved taking a nap for the majority of the trip. Darrick took a few pictures, though.

Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay Ferry Gallery

Upon our arrival in Swartz Bay, we proceeded directly to our hotel in Victoria to check in, as it was now approaching 6:00 PM and we wanted to drop off our stuff and find somewhere to go eat dinner. For the first time all trip, we had a bit of bad luck with our hotel booking: This place had a single entrance for the entire hotel. The elevator we tried first took us to a half-floor that was connected to the lobby by a half flight of stairs for seemingly no reason. The elevator that actually went to the guest rooms was barely large enough for two people *without* luggage. When we got to the room, we discovered that although this place had free internet, it was not wireless. A cable was not provided with the room -- we had to check one out from the front desk. After the resort in Whistler, this was quite a let-down. The other fine establishments sharing a building with our hotel included a liquor store, chinese restaurant, and a night club.

After doing a bit of research, we selected a Japanese Benihana-esque steakhouse for dinner. It was delicious but took forever -- we didn't get back to the hotel until about 9:30pm. (We also made a pit-stop at Wal-Mart on the way back -- more on that in a bit.) Due to the aforementioned nightclub that is physically attached to the hotel, parking was a disaster. There was simply none to be found anywhere. Along with about 10 other cars, I drove circles around the block and the parking lot for a good 10 minutes or so before being hit with some sort of magic bit of luck and catching someone who happened to be leaving.

So... Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart in Victoria is The. Most. Ghetto. Wal-Mart. Ever. I'm not even kidding. First of all, the store is shaped like a T. You enter at the bottom of the T, and it's this little weird narrow store where the line of registers is perpendicular to the exit doors. Walk through that, and then suddenly it opens up into a larger box store. There were random pallets of crap everywhere. The clothing and luggage sections were physically connected to the electronics section. I was checking out the luggage area because I was going to potentially buy a small suitcase to split my stuff up for the return trip, assuming I could find one cheap enough that would justify its likely one-time use. Shelves that even had prices posted on them at all did not have merchandise that corresponded with the price on the shelf -- what I was hoping to be a $17 disposable small roller bag rang up at the register for $45, so I told them I didn't want it. Darrick bought seasons 2 through 4 of The Office on DVD, since I only had the first three discs of my Season 3 box set ripped to my hard drive due to space limitations. He wanted to watch the 4th disk.

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