vancouver island days one and two: arrival and sidney

Getting from Toronto to Vancouver Island is a long haul. Getting from pretty much anywhere to Vancouver Island -- except a few places on the west coast -- is a long haul! We had booked a bus/ferry combination from the Vancouver airport to the island, but even that was a complicated process involving switching buses, then a cab ride from the ferry terminal to our B&B.

On the ferry, the captain announced a pod of whales off to one side, but we weren't fast enough to see them. I know many of you have seen enough whales to last a lifetime, but I have only caught a few glimpses, and would be thrilled to get a good view.

The Beacon Inn at Sidney turned out to be as adorable as advertised, a "replica" old home, so you get the charm plus modern conveniences. We took a short walk on the main drag, picked up some snacks, and quickly crashed.

The following morning, we had an amazing hot, fresh breakfast, then our plan was to poke around the town a bit. Our travel companions -- my brother and sister-in-law, who now live in Oregon -- were due to arrive that night.

The B&B is a short walk from the water, where we picked up a walking trail that hugs the shore for several kilometres -- it's flat, paved, accessible, and studded with public art. So I'm immediately in love with this town. There's an adorable little main street, known for its plethora of bookstores; many stores have bowls of water outside for dogs. Everyone is insanely friendly. As I used to joke about Seattle, pathologically friendly. Also, everyone is white. Coming from one of the most diverse areas on the planet, that is quite strange.

M&M arrived in the evening, and we stayed up late talking and drinking wine. And we stayed up late talking and drinking wine -- I should save that to copy/paste into every entry.

Since I don't have that much to report for these first two days, this is a good time to (attempt to) answer the question, Why are we thinking of moving to Vancouver Island?

When we first moved to Canada, most of our family was living in the northeast United States. Since that time, much has changed, and we now have family in southern Oregon and the Bay Area of California. We do still have family in the east, but -- as much as I would like to see them more often -- we don't.

Mississauga is a nice place to live in many respects. I've made peace with living in the suburbs, and we've settled into a very suburban lifestyle. But what are we doing here? We came to the suburbs to rent a house and have a backyard -- which we did for 10 years -- but now we live in an apartment in a concrete block building. It's ugly, it's overpriced, it's not where I want to spend the rest of my life.

One of the reasons I chose a library degree for my new career was its portability. There are public libraries everywhere, and my degree and experience will be valid at any of them. I've long had a dream of living in the country or in a small town, and I thought the Master of Information might bring me that.

To move west, Vancouver (the city) might be a possibility. The law firm where Allan works his day-job has an office there, and it's much more accessible for west coast travel. But Vancouver is even more expensive than the GTA, and the rental market is horrendous there. We would end up in the suburbs with a long commute.

I've heard wonderful things about Vancouver Island, and the more I heard, the more intrigued I was. The idea started to coalesce in my mind... and I asked M&M if they wanted to go explore it with us!


James Redekop said...

Our last day on the Island, Lori wasn't feeling well, so we skipped our planned excursions and just sort of killed time until our ferry. We stopped in Sidney and took a walk along that trail you mentioned.

Lori really enjoyed Victoria & the island. I liked it plenty, but was more comfortable in Vancouver. We'll sort that out in time. :)

Amy said...

We loved Vancouver---it is beautiful and bike-friendly and friendly-friendly. The day before we left, the NYT had a front page article about the lack of affordable housing there and the insane increasing housing values.

We didn't get to Victoria---just not enough time to pull off the ferry connections on our relatively short stay---so perhaps we will return after you've moved there!

laura k said...

Vancouver is a really nice city. It's almost impossible to live there, though.

The Island is its own world. I haven't mentioned it yet, but it's really two worlds -- lower and east, separate from west and north. More on that soon.

deang said...

We walked that coastline trail, too! Walked it so long that we missed our ferry back to the mainland - and yes, the scheduling to get to the island is so difficult. Luckily, we were able to catch a ferry later in the day. And we saw a pod of killer whales.

laura k said...

I see this lovely walk in Sidney is not a secret. :)

laura k said...

It's almost impossible to live there, though.

This comment makes no sense without context. From what I can tell, living in Vancouver is somewhat like living in Manhattan, although less extreme. Rentals are very expensive and there are very few of them. So I should say "it would be almost impossible for us to live there."