Traveling With Kids – Victoria – Double Decker Tours

Buses and Bees and Books

IMG_4987Sitting on top of a double decker is like sitting on top of the world. You get to be like a god, looking down on everyone, watching someone pick their nose in their car, seeing who is balding, or simply getting the big view of the world around us.

That’s why we chose to go on a double decker.

What better way to see Victoria?

There was only one problem. The Oldest is deathly afraid of bees. And if Victoria is famous for anything, it’s flowers. So he was on guard like a Rottweiler waiting for that darned squirrel.

IMG_5191As we pulled out from the Empress, we were told to watch out for low hanging branches, told NOT to stand up in the bus, (we all stared at the Youngest) and not to throw stuff at passing pedestrians. Ok, the driver didn’t say that, we said that to the Youngest.

The Oldest, armed with his iphone camera, ready to shoot pictures to show his dad, noted that no one mentioned the bees. I said that’s cuz we were too high up for them, but the Oldest knows his bee facts and said that just wasn’t true. Score one for him and 0 for me and my invented facts.

FANTANAs we doodled along Government street and around China town, he kept his eye out for a good photo shots and errant people-attacking bees. He loved the blue bridge, was mystified why anyone thought Fan-Tan alley was cool and tried to find free wifi so he could check up on his village in Clash of Clans. Unfortunately for him, there was little wifi and he was forced to look at the sights.

We passed by St Andrew’s church, which looked more like a fortress, then around the Fisherman’s wharf area, then past the Mile 0 and Terry Fox marker and into Beacon Hill Park where we saw the giant watering can someone built to water children (not a bad idea, actually). We almost got off inside the park to pet the smelly animals, but it soon became apparent that we were in danger of breaking traveling rule #2. Always remain well-fed. And since it was apparently frowned upon to eat the petting zoo animals, we chose to wait until a bit later to get off the bus.

Victoria facts we learned.

  • The Uplands managed to have tour buses banned from their roads. Esquimalt has not banned them… cuz no one wants to go there.
  • There are 1500 odd flower baskets (or as the Oldest calls them, bad, bad bee attractors) and two full time staff watering them 8 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Victoria is the capital of BC, not Vancouver, no, Vancouver is the biggest city in BC, no they can’t move the capital cuz it would cost too much to move the parliament buildings.
  • David Foster comes by sometimes and organizes things. Like event-things. Apparently Nelly Furtado organizes nothing. And Steve Nash has built a whole bunch of gyms with his name. No mention of me and my accomplishments.
  • Christ Church Cathedral had spires planned, but they ran out of money. It’s too bad, but the cathedral is still impressive by BC standards.

Full of facts and hungry, we got off the bus in Oak Bay and raced to top of the street where I knew a kid-friendly restaurant would be. I wanted to go to the Penny Farthing, but I’m just not sure what the rules are these days for taking kids into pubs. Is it allowed? Can they have a pint? It sure would solve a lot of problems if they could.

Either way, we ate in record time so we could catch the bus back. If we missed it, it would be another hour in Oak Bay and, let’s face it, if you spend 20 min there, you’ve pretty much seen Oak Bay. At least for the boys.


Me being a human seatbelt, holding on to the Youngest’s jacket and nearly strangling him.

On the way back, though, there we were, up top again, sitting at the back so we could all sit together, the Youngest sitting in the middle because that had the best view and was ‘the acoustical sweet spot’, me holding on to him to prevent him from standing up, flying through the wind shield if we stopped suddenly or bouncing out of the bus if we hit a huge bump, the Oldest beside me, dodging low branches that threatened to whip him in the face, when out of nowhere….


It was on a kamikaze mission.

It flew right into his face at full velocity. Pretty much his worst nightmare. Mine is bungee jumping naked with the rubber band around my testicles. For the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world, it’s being seen by Johnny Depp in a grocery store on the day she had to rush out in her PJ’s, her hair a mess and a giant sleepy-crease on her face. But, for the OIdest… bee in face… bad stuff.

But here’s the thing. As it hit him square on the nose, he just moved to the left, watched it fly past him and resumed his hunt for free wifi.

It was a transitional moment. He had met the enemy and the enemy flew away. Without stinging him. Without flying up his nose. Without calling all his bee-buddies to sting him to death. It was awesome to see him deal with that fear so well.

munrosTo celebrate, we went to buy everyone a book at the greatest bookstore in the world, Munro’s Books. The Youngest wanted to buy an existential tome. I have no idea why he wanted that book other than it was huge and would likely leave a mark when he hit his brother with it. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world found a book by Robb Lowe. The Oldest eventually found an Adventure Time book.

But Munro’s! Wow. If you see only one book store in BC, see Munro’s. It has a good selection, sure, but it’s housed in a cool old building built in 1909, the same year I was born, and was owned by Alice Munro, one of our greatest writers. How cool is that?

All-in-all, a good day. But it wasn’t done. We still had one more adventure. Next up, that adventure and a picture blog featuring the Youngest and his way of experiencing Victoria.

About Joe Cummings

Aquarius. Traveler. Gamer. Writer. A New Parent. 4 of these things are easy. One is not. But the journey is that much better for the new people in my life. A life I want to share with others, to help them, maybe, to make them feel less alone, sure, to connect with the greater world, absolutely.
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