jeudi 14 mars 2013

Victoria - 6. Water Wharfs and Skinny Lanes

When I was a child, I always wanted to live in a Dr. Seuss book – the strange trees and plants; colourful skinny little houses; and the landscape-fused environment. Walking to the end of Superior Street in Victoria, B.C. today, I ran into my Dr. Seuss.
I saw the Seuss houses floating on water through a vantage point in the shrubs – red blue, purple, yellow wee houses that could only be born of a cartoon.

Remember ‘water beds’? Imagine a whole set of $300,000 houses floating on barges – upright house boats. Fisherman’s Wharf village is a child’s dream. There are friendly, hand-fed seals that greet you, chip shop owners, and the water people. The atmosphere is fantastic. I was there on a quiet, rainy day, and was able to watch several groups of children in that hour feeding the seals (and seagulls) fish.

The boat docks are closed off to the private, and having worked at docks in my student days, I know that boat owners are offended by strangers walking along their slips; it is like catching a stranger in the shower. I was surprised that the water houses do not have the same ‘roadway’ security. It must be a little like living in a zoo during the tourist months. Even when I was there, people were poking in windows, and walking up and down small walks. If someone put their face to my bedroom glass, I would probably scream! It must be an alternative type of living indeed, but then, what else can one expect from Dr. Seuss?
 There is also an 'underwater garden' downtown Victoria too, where one can walk down 20 steps into an underwater glass room and have a look around the Pacific harbour of Victoria. Again, the underwater room was fiction enough for me, but the steps down, were a science fiction tunnel for any good movie opening:

Fan Tan Alley, also created by Seuss (or so it seems), is just five feet wide, and home to some of the most intriguing little boutiques and shops in the city. The alley is in Canada’s oldest ‘Chinatown’ (second oldest in North America after San Francisco). Most of the founding families originally immigrated from Guangdong province in South China. Some highly well educated and rich, influential Chinese families settled the block, and the Victoria Museum has a fascinating exhibit on these original peoples’ stories. The common greeting in the alley is, “Excuse me, excuse me, I’m sorry.” Be sure to say it with a goofy smile, otherwise the other Seuss shopper will know you’re an outsider for sure!

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