To prepare for a jam-packed summer of rugby, I decided to go on a ‘rugby-oriented vacation’ to the lovely Victoria, BC–our nation’s unofficial rugby capital. I reached out to my friends on the island, got a 2 week pass with one of their local club teams, and booked my ticket! I flew in Friday after work to Seattle to meet the team at their hostel; we got up early the next morn, enjoyed a killer breakfast at none other than Pike Place Market, and headed to the pitch. I had played with 4 of the girls on various different teams before in years past, but as per usual in the rugby world, it didn’t take long to feel like I had played with everyone for years. We played an awesome game against a strong Seattle side that resulted in a big W and dethroning the first place team in the league.
We headed back to the island on bus to Van, and then by ferry to Vic. Nearly the whole team headed straight for the infamous ferry buffet to get our post-game meal in, while taking in the scenery from the best seats in the house. Some of the girls invited me to play on their 7s team tomorrow for a casual exhibition tourney that almost everyone was playing in; I happily obliged considering the goal of my trip was to get as much rugby in as possible. The tournament ended up being stacked FULL of super high calibre players and teams–the Canada “B” team, Aptoella Angels–mostly current Canada 15s girls, and UVic to name a few. This is simply another Sunday in Victoria–super-casual, national level rugby.
Sunday afternoon, I headed into town with Zoe–my good friend from exchange in Australia–to see Parliament, as she is currently working there for the Minister of Agriculture. It is a truly beautiful old building that looks out over the harbour. Afterwards we checked out the BC Museum next door, which had some pretty cool exhibits on the BC history.
On Monday, I headed into Vancouver with a friend from McGill. We drove onto the ferry and into Kitsilano for lunch with another McGillian once we got into the city. It was my first time in the city since I was very young, and boy, was it beautiful. Our friend invited us to stay the night at his parent’s home in West Van and we couldn’t resist. I checked out Gas Town and Stanley Park before calling it a day. Before heading back to Vic the following day, I made a quick pit stop at our YVR Amazon building. I connected with a few of my colleagues at the site and checked out the many differences between our building and theirs. I got back to the island just in time for practice that evening; man, it is a nice feeling being able to run around outside in shorts in the middle of February.
Wednesday morning, I had brunch with some old teammates that are part of the centralized 7s program in Victoria. Nadia and I headed for a walk on Dallas Road afterwards–a beautiful road in Victoria along the ocean looking into the mountains. The only downside being it CANNOT be captured on camera. We also hit up the Oak Bay marina to see seals and I checked out the Floating Village downtown before heading to a skills session with all of the long-listed Canada girls living in Victoria.
My friend was gracious enough to lend me her car (and her dog) while at work on Friday so that I could do a couple nearby hikes. The first was Mt Finlayson–the harder and longer of the two–with a stunning view of the surrounding ocean and mountains. The second hike was to the old train trussel in Goldstream Provincial Park; as the name suggests, at the top of the climb train tracks jut out of the forrest on stilts 100 ft in the air. In the forest below, there was also a beautiful waterfall…let’s just say it’s easy to see how the hashtag #beautifulbc came to be. There is certainly no shortage of outdoor activities. Thursday night, we had another club practice and I ordered myself a pair of shoulder pads from an inspiring entrepreneur on the National Team who has her own rugby apparel business–Aptoella.
I spent my last full free day in Vic exploring the downtown core a little bit more. I checked out the plethora of cute little hipster West Coast shops and cafes. I did some afternoon yoga with a girl from the team and was confronted again with my love/hate relationship with yoga. I met up with Zoe for dinner at a well-known restaurant that certainly lived up to the hype.
My last day on the island was obviously spent playing rugby; we played Seattle again and were able to snag another big W on home field–an awesome end to my rugby-oriented vacation! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sold that the West Coast is the Best Coast.