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Central Park, New York
The Rocky Mountaineer
Johanna Beach, Australia
Hluhluwe Reserve, KwaZulu Natal
Tecina GC, on La Gomera island
Portuguese cakes, bought by weight
Kingsbarns’ entrance and clubhouse
Killeen Castle, just outside Dublin
Slieve Donard hotel, N Ireland
Nefyn GC, North Wales
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AS the boat headed out of Victoria harbour on Vancouver Island on our whale watching trip the guide felt it necessary to gently lower our expectations. Although a pod of killer whales had been spotted and tracked on an excursion that morning this was no guarantee, he explained, that we would be equally fortunate.
Some of the passengers on board the Prince of Whales boat were residents of Victoria, the island's capital, but others, like me, had travelled 4,500 miles to view these wonderful creatures and this informal disclaimer struck a slightly unsettling note. All concerns were banished within 20 minutes, however, as a cry went up, ‘There, about 50 metres away' and the curtain had risen on an exhilarating 90-
Countless hours spent viewing them through David Attenborough's eyes on TV had not prepared me for the initial feeling of awe as these giants of the ocean gracefully arced to the surface, normally in pairs, much like synchronised swimmers.
For an hour and a half our captain expertly second-
Their appearance seemed almost to be choreographed, a sense heightened when one of the whales emerged vertically from the ocean to almost its full length, spun through 360 degrees – the technical term is a spy-
All this made up for the disappointment of a few days earlier when, while dining at April Point Resort on Quadra Island, some three hours' drive from Victoria, I reacted too slowly to a fellow diner's cry and missed the sight of a killer whale and its offspring swimming up the Discovery Passage.
However, perhaps my reactions were dulled because my attention had been fully focused on a bald eagle which had perched itself at the top of a tree about 60 metres from my table.
Eagles and whales, an idyllic view across the Passage to April Point's sister resort Painter's Lodge, superb food in a wonderfully relaxed setting: I could have lingered all evening but I was here, on this island just a 10-
The sea spray hitting my face and the metronomic slap-
Despite my squeamishness I found it easy to see why anglers would flock here, the peace and tranquillity of the waters complemented by the rugged British Columbian landscape. For four hours I drank in the scenery, and Reg's warming coffee, as he told me of his other work as a cattle ranch owner some 300 miles north of Victoria.
On our return to April Point I left him gutting and cleaning my catch to enjoy a pedicure on the decking overlooking the water I had just fished – albeit sparingly – at the resort's spa, a building in the style of a Japanese pagoda.
April Point is one of the most serene and relaxing environments I have been fortunate to visit, although Quadra Island can offer plenty for the more active visitor besides fishing, including hiking and biking trails, tennis, an illuminated skateboard park, and sea kayaking and biking trails, tennis, an illuminated skateboard park, and sea kayaking and diving.
Reluctant as I was to leave, I needed to return to Victoria for a final look at the city itself and my room at the splendid Inn at Laurel Point overlooked the harbour and its constant hive of activity. Breakfast taken on the balcony allowed me to watch as sea planes criss-
Onto the streets of this vibrant city and it is easy to spot the residents – they are the ones who as they walk to work don't look to the skies at the regular sound of the seaplanes which appear to skim the tops of the buildings – over 10 per cent of Victoria's workforce gets to work on foot.
Thunderbird Park, which fronts the impressive Parliament Buildings of British Columbia, is home to an exotic display of totem poles. Rubbing shoulders with the province's seat of power is the Royal BC Museum which, as if to accommodate me, was showing an exhibition of treasures from the British Museum. It also houses galleries devoted to First Nations cultures, modern history and natural history and provided an enjoyable insight into the Island's people and environment.
I just had time before returning home to visit Greater Victoria's world famous horticultural paradise, Butchart Gardens, a 55-
Published: September 25, 2010
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