Victoria, British Columbia

Canadian hospitality welcomes this reader to the harbor at Victoria.

Victoria, British Columbia

Mark DeLong

After you beat up the Washington coast, sailing into the harbor at Victoria is a shore call made in heaven. Inside the seawall, an eclectic high-rise revue crowds the banks. The customs dock check-in concludes with “Welcome to Canada!” From the Inner Harbour docks, stairways climb to street level, where a bronze statue of Captain James Cook greets visitors. Across the street, ivied turrets frame the Empress Hotel.

If it’s the weekend of the Swiftsure International Yacht Race, the waterfront rocks with excitement as crews prepare for the challenge. Enjoy Canada’s famous hospitality and strike up a conversation with a local for advice on restaurants and activities.

Victoria mornings begin at nearby coffeeshops. The Maritime Museum is a must-see. Dozens of restaurants offer lunch and dinner, tempting the off watch with pints of Race Rocks Ale. Spend the afternoon touring nearby Butchart Gardens or holed up in a bookstore. Along the way, peruse menus and make a dinner reservation. Don’t forget afternoon tea.

A nightcap at the Empress’ Bengal Lounge is a Gilded Age fantasy inspiring dreams of Mata Hari. Fortunately, from the Empress, it’s all downhill back to the boat.

Mark DeLong is from Dundee, Oregon.