Wednesday, August 12, 2009 the sea

My idea of going on a cruise...usually involves sailing the turquoise waters of the Caribbean and basking in the tropical sunshine. But here is a new and novel idea...taking a mini-cruise from the Vancouver to Victoria...on a fine summer day...which is exactly what we did.

We rode the 'The Spirit of British Columbia'...which happens to be one of the two largest ships in the BC Ferry fleet. It has a 470 car capacity...and room for 2,100 passengers.

There is always the option of dining on board during the two-hour crossing...and this particular vessel has several dining areas...including the somewhat more upscale Pacific Buffet. With it being our anniversary...and all...we opted to have brunch there.

We sat at a table with a view...and enjoyed a most wonderful cruise across the other BC Ferry cruise ships slipped by by our window.

And before we reached the other shore...we strolled the upper deck...enjoyed the Pacific breeze...and watched the sailboats out at play. Before long...we rolled off the ramp and onto the shores of Vancouver Island. We had arrived at Sidney-by-the-sea...where we would be spending the night.

Our first stop was a lavender farm...a division of Salt Spring Lavender Company...situated near the ferry terminal...with fields open to the public.

There's just something about the fields of blue that beckons...

...and who can resist a peek into a sweet-smelling lavender store?
As we did thirty-eight years ago...we visited the famed Butchart Gardens...which warrants a post all it's own.

We spent the night camped along the ocean shores...where the herons fed and dogs frolicked in the tidal pools.

We joined the beachcombers in the morning...and had a beachcombing expedition of our own...among the piles of driftwood. I laid my leather camera case down...somewhere among the piles of wood...and took a few pictures...and then had no idea where I might have put the bag. It took the two of us...and a morning jogger with her locate the prize.

We spent some time exploring Sidney-by-the-sea...a most charming community in a rural setting...located on the seashore. It's a laid back kind of place...where old men sit on park benches...

...and young boys blow bubbles from the fishing pier. (Click photo to enlarge)

We happened to be on the fishing pier just as this sport fisherman brought up his haul...a basket full of crabs. He volunteered that he comes to this pier once each summer...just to fish for crab.

The main street of Sidney boasts broad, friendly sidewalks...unique shops...and a wonderful old-fashioned bakery.

But Sidney's real claim to fame is that it is Canada's only Booktown...

...with nine wonderful stores featuring books of every variety.

It's easy to wile away an hour or two in a place like this...and that's OK while on vacation!

We enjoyed a seafood lunch...on an outdoor patio...with a panoramic view. We watched the fishermen coming and going...and couples strolling along the seawall hand in hand...and a young boy tumbling into a fish pond while trying to feed the goldfish.

It was a delightful place...and if you ever have a chance...I'd recommend visiting Sidney-by-the-sea.

Have a terrific Tuesday...


  1. And to think we just zoomed right out of Sidney!! Ahh another good reason to go back to Vancouver Island. Beautiful photos Judy!

  2. Sometimes I feel like I am cheating, by getting to visit all of these places, actually feeling like I am right there, all because of your kindness and generosity in sharing. " the sea" was quite a place. I tried to imagine how it was to camp along the water like you did, and to be in such a huge ship. You did a great job of explaining and giving the backgrounds to your stories. What a lovely vacation you must have had.

  3. Wow, the places we get to visit, thanks to your great journalism and photography. You bring us lots of smiles. Thanks Judy.

  4. Books, sand, salt water, bakeries......does it get much better than that?

  5. Judy, I feel like I don't even need to go to the Island anymore...
    I could just make a link to my next travel blog and call it Rome and most people would not know the difference.
    I love the flag....Wow isn't that impressive?

  6. Another great day!! Looks like you had great weather too on your holiday!!

  7. A book-town by the seaside - my idea of heaven! And then lavender, too? It can't get too much better, can it? Love the bubbles on the foto!

  8. Fabulous pics, and enjoyed the tour. The booktown looks like a fabulous place to visit and stay a while, maybe quite a while. We will have to try it out some time...perhaps soon!

  9. Ohh... a book town ?/ with 9 book stores ???? Oh just drop me off and pick me up a few weeks
    The lavender is sooo beautiful! I could almost smell its fragrance.
    Your photo of the 'bubbles' is priceless...
    I haven't been to Butchart's Gardens for many years...I'm looking forward to your post.

  10. Judy, I wanted to shout...'I've been on that boat too!!' We did the Inside passage trip up the coast, a 14 hour voyage, and I ahve so many happy memories of that day.

  11. What a wonderful way to celebrate your anniversary on a mini cruise at a nice buffet as you gaze out at this beautiful scenery! It looks like you had wonderful weather!

    I'm so glad you found your camera case amongst all that drift wood! That sounds like something I would do in my excitement to take photos.

    I am so looking forward to seeing Butchart Gardens --- I know it will be exceptional!

  12. PS It is so good to see thriving independent bookstores. I miss them and I always try to support them whenever I see one.


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson