September 25-27 Vancouver Island
We stood and stared at the calm waters of the Georgia Straight. It was a beautiful autumn day, a great day for a boat ride. It looked to be a good weekend for a trip to Vancouver Island and the scenic city of Victoria. My honey and I made it for the 3 pm ferry from Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay. We enjoyed the connection with the water and each other. My wife and I were trying to breathe for a moment as the water rolled by.
It was a fairly last-minute plan and trying to locate affordable accommodations proved to be a challenge. Places were hard to find and it was an adventure just booking our room.
Sometimes things just work out.
We searched for places on AirBnB and booking.com. The most affordable spot on Airbnb was a campsite for $50.00 or a bedroom with a shared bath for $150.00. Booking.com was no better with hotel rooms going for almost $200.00 a night. It has been a while since we traveled so I started to search more obscure sites for a bed and breakfast. I found a really cool B and B that was located right downtown Victoria close to the government buildings. And for under $100.00 a night. What was even better was the people running the place.
Dan has been the owner-operator of the Carriage House Bed and Breakfast for the last thirty years. For twelve of those years, he operated a horse and carriage business taking tourists around the streets of Victoria. Life was very busy for Dan and his wife Naoko with business booming from April till November and sometimes right through the winter months.
Until Covid19 shut things down in March 2020.
Dan had mixed emotions about the lockdown. Like many other businesses, his B and B suffered and it was difficult to make ends meet. Yet it was a chance to finally breathe and take a break. No longer did they need to ensure breakfast was on the table at 730 am and they were no longer prisoners of their business. Yet you could see a wistful reminiscence when he spoke of the rip-roaring times they would have with their guests in the dining room. The connection with strangers from around the world was a magical one for the hosts and guests of this historic B and B. A connection lost to the viral foe we all have faced for the last twenty months.
In July 2021 they reopened to the world and began hosting people once more. It is different since the pandemic struck. The dining room is closed and Dan doesn’t think they will ever open it again to the public. Dan told us he doubts things will ever return to the way they once were.
I hope he’s wrong.
But for Dan and Naoko I think it is a chance to slow their lives down. Cooking breakfast every day and hosting jam sessions at night has grown tiring for the couple. He is nearing the age when retiring to hang out and go sail his homemade boat is more appealing than getting up at 6 am to cook breakfast.
Dan showed us the contraption he built, he bolted two canoes together and put a sail between them with an electric motor on it. The cheapest catamaran around. It’s pretty obvious that no matter what the world has thrown at Dan he has adapted and thrived. His spirit was shone through the moment I first spoke to him. I felt a connection with the hippy refugee from another era. Even his website is from 1995.
We had a wonderful stay in our little room at the Carriage House B and B. I hope one day we can return and stay a little longer. It felt like a throwback to a simpler time. A time when life was slower and the biggest stress was what to have for breakfast that morning.
If you ever have a chance, I would recommend staying at an old-school B and B and forego the fancy hotels. Life is short and sometimes the simplest places can be the most relaxing ones.
Check out the Carriage House Bed and Breakfast the next time you are in Victoria.