I spent the May long weekend in Victoria, BC.  The city is significant for one reason, one of my closest friends moved there over a year ago.  For the sake of anonymity, I’ll refer to her as Jabba.  The move proved difficult for her, Vancouver held a sacred place in her heart and to leave it was devastating.  The power of a place and its memories can stay with you.

Crowned the capital of British Columbia in 1871, Victoria is Western Canada’s oldest city.  In recent years, British Columbians flocked there for the mild weather, affordable retirement housing, and government jobs.

Tourists also come in droves, attracted to the historic downtown, with a tour typically ending at the Inner Harbour to catch stunning vistas of the famous Empress Hotel and the Parliament Buildings.

Until last year, I wedged a sleepy reputation of Victoria in my mind, but Jabba showed me a different side.  Beyond the retirement jokes and staid government image, Victoria is littered with intimate boutique shops, accessible local restaurants, and fabulous outdoor parks minutes away from one’s residence, instead of miles.  Ocean views are free.

Even though Jabba questions her decision, Victoria is the cooler, laid back cousin to Vancouver’s craziness.

Summer Festivals

A myth about Victoria is the dearth of kicking summer festivals.  A few of my picks for summer 2010.

JazzFest International (June 25-July 4)
Location: Royal Theatre, Centennial Square, Alix Goolden Performance Hall, Open Space Gallery, Victoria Event Centre, and numerous other downtown venues
“Ten hot days and nights of the coolest music in town.” Enjoy over 90 high calibre individual jazz performances taking place in numerous indoor and outdoor venues/stages with over 400 musicians. A series of free admission performances in Centennial Square will also