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> British Columbia Insider Tips from a Local Expert, Everything you want to know about British Columbia
post Apr 19 2007, 06:38 PM
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TravelPod Local Expert Mike Gower currently lives in Victoria, British Columbia. He is willing to answer any questions that one would have for his fine province.

sorcerer.png Mike says:

"Top things to do in Victoria?

Butchart Gardens (www.butchartgardens.com)
Sometimes the top tourist attractions are popular for a good reason. Besides the immaculate and constantly changing gardens at this National Historic Site, the excellent summer entertainment ranges from delightful firework shows on weekends to a varied and laudable range of musical acts through the week. The place can be a zoo, but there's always a chance for quiet, zen moments in the Japanese garden. One of the nicest ways to enjoy this 66-acre venue is with a picnic dinner. Lay out a blanket and watch the world walk by. The gardens transform magically at night.

Water-taxi pub crawl (www.harbourferry.com)
Many of Victoria's best micro-breweries are right around the Inner Harbour. Ferries ply the waters of the harbour and the Gorge waterway for most of the year, so it's possible to drink up at Spinnakers, The Canoe Club, The South Bay Pub, Ocean Pointe Resort and the Empress (among others) without getting on a road, let alone behind the wheel. Between drinks, you can watch rowers on the Gorge , eat fish and chips at Barb's Place or enjoy the buskers on the causeway.

Day trip to Sooke
Victoria's Bit of Olde England window-dressing aside, one of the main draws on the lower island is the outdoors. You can harrass killer whales in a zodiac, or make your way west around the tip of the island to where the Pacific rolls in at Sooke. This community still retains its logging and fishing heritage, but the big draws now include some quality eating venues and any number of outdoor parks. Take a stroll in East Sooke Park or one of the provincial beach parks that form part of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. After working up an appetite, settle in for west coast dining and wine tasting at Sooke Harbour House ( www.sookeharbourhouse.com) or the more rustic Point No Point.

Thursday night market, Sidney (http://www.sidneybc.com/summermarket/)
The farmland of the Saanich Peninsula, just north of Victoria, offers some quality wineries and organic farms. It's an easy drive, or moderate one-hour cycle (on one of Victoria's nicest rail-to-bikepath routes) into this area. You can explore the peninsula's backroads en route to Butchart Gardens, or make the seaside town of Sidney your destination. This quiet town of craft shops and book stores livens up on Thursday nights in the summer when the main street is closed off for a public market. Barbecued salmon burgers and other aromas tempt while strolling past stalls featuring local produce and goods.

Shopping, Lower Johnson
Since the reinvention of some crumbling 19th century buildings into Market Square in the 1970s, some of Victoria's best shopping has been located in this five block area bordered by Chinatown, Bastion Square and the waterfront. Fan Tan Alley is the most famous hidden passage, but developers have opened up arcades and meandering passage ways all through these old brothels and mercantile emporiums. The result is as much an exploration as a shopping trip.

Inner Harbour Culture Pack
The Inner Harbour is rimmed by several buildings all deserving further inspection. At the Royal BC Museum (www.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca) step into a rainforest or visit a native longhouse. They're just two of the excellent permanent exhibits.The museum is flanked by the B.C. legislature and the Empress Hotel. You can stroll through the length of the Empress, viewing not only the ornate library and dining room but all the tourists partaking in English tea. Downstairs, old photographs show the building during construction and give a good idea of how the harbour has changed. The legislature (aka the Parliament Buildings) also has interesting old sepiatones and many fine rotundas. A free guided tour will get you behind the velvet ropes."

Post all questions to Mike here.

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post Apr 20 2007, 02:28 AM
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Greetings anyone interested in Victoria. As someone who was born here, I'm a bit of an oddity in this city, even more so because I live half a block from where my great grandmother was born. (If anyone has questions on local history, you've come to the right place.)

BC's capital acts like a small town, but has more restaurants than much larger cities. As a tourist town, there's also usually some kind of arts or wine festival happening. And then there are all the outdoor opportunities to explore.

I volunteered to become a Local Expert to help you wade through the tourist trappings and get some memorable experiences. Sometimes the town's best features aren't so obvious to newcomers. The list of Top Things to Do in Victoria that I gave to Carmella to get this thread going is really just a sampling of what's out there.

So whether you want to find the best pint in town or a more adventurous backroad to Long Beach, you've come to the right place. Let the questions begin.

Mike Gower

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post Apr 13 2008, 05:25 PM
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Hi Mike - Thanks for the insights.
My Boyfriend just accepted a job in Vancouver.Burnaby, actually, and we are looking to find a nice place to lease for him and potentially me soon. We dont think buying right now is good in light of our recent market falters and BC looks alto like SO cal in that regard...spiking RE costs and really nowhere togo but down. Anyway - we are used to nicer neighborhoods, and our own homes, but so far we've seen such mixed stuff in the burbs ...like no real planning was done. We are empty nesters now, so can use a little less space, but seems as though the newer things and apts are soooooo tiny!! can you tell us where you might look or recommend a realtor willing to work on a lease for us?
Thanks I know its not really 'travel' related, but you ARE the area expert, eh? smile.gif

Ask me anything about SO CAL/OC...Im happy to help...including how you can get a vacation here real CHEAP!! i have some insider deals Im happy to share! smile.gif
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post Jun 20 2008, 12:07 PM
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My friends and I have had a horrific experience recently,June17/08,at the Vancouver airport,in the customs office,when a friend of ours flew here from Germany. He arrived with little to no money,but I was already prepared to provide his needs as long he was in Canada. We were all so excited and happy about the visit,our plans were unfolding nicely until Vancouver custom agents decided to hold our friend like a common criminal,and interrogated him for more than 2 hours in their back room and in the end he was told he must sign another form to be allowed out of the room he was in.
Now,my friend from Germany knows enough english to know that the second form was wrong,but after 2 hours of detainment and constant duress,he signed the form and was immediately taken in hand cuffs to the local police station to await a return flight to Germany and I was informed that my friend would not be entering Canada at this time.
No reason for has ever been given to me or to my friend,for his entry refusal and none of us have a criminal record.
We are all left to guess as to why customs in Vancouver airport decided to turn away a tourist from Germany!
To further injure our impression of Vancouver,prior to the 2010 winter olympics,my friend was treated very badly in the Vancouver jail as well as the customs office,was physically abused and suffered cuts on his hands from the handcuffs he was forced to wear and did not recieve medical attention for his wounds until he was outside of Canada!
I am both shocked and appalled still at the entire event!
This was our friends first time in Canada! What an experience and what an impression!
All our plans to tour Vancouver the next day were cancelled and we returned to Nanaimo,miserably disappointed with the trip.
I had to wait for my friend to arrive back in Germany to try to find out any information about how he was doing and why he was refused to visit Canada and the more I learned the sadder I felt to be Canadian at all!
It is sickening to learn all that Canada has done to this innocent upstanding German citizen!
Makes me wonder what the olympics in Vancouver will really be like,somewhat less exciting than originally anticipated I am positive on that poiint!
Personally, I will not be attending the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics nor will I ever return to Vancouver for a pleasure trip!
Also,my friend would like to visit me still but Vancouver is not a place he can ever return to because of all the bad memories he now has of an extremely stressful,exhausting,abusive,frightening time he had in that city!
If he visits Canada again he will have to land in a completely different airport...like maybe Victoria!
In closing I would like to add,Vancouver has not got a lot of time to start being hospitable
to tourist from Europe! Remember the Polish man that knew no english?,even IF the officers tried to call a translator (something I think they should be doing but never have I seen them actually do it),the officers thought the Poilsh man was speaking russian and they tasered to DEATH an innocent man! This is a direct reflection of what we can all expect from Vancouver,today,tomorrow,during the olympics and beyond and long as the city stands!
I am much less proud to be canadian today!
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post Jul 2 2008, 11:50 PM
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thanks for these tips
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post Sep 17 2008, 11:27 PM
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[quote name='whereshegoes' date='Apr 19 2007, 05:38 PM' post='24843']
TravelPod Local Expert Mike Gower currently lives in Victoria, British Columbia. He is willing to answer any questions that one would have for his fine province.

Hi Mike. Have you spent much time in the Okanagan? Any recos for wineries to visit and/or a cool place for dinner that won't break the bank?
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