Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


WayFun Thursday, Ginger Kutsch

On Thursday, Chris, Marla, Barb, Jim and I grouped together and headed off to Craigdarroch Castle, a beautiful historic Victorian-era mansion, built in the 1890s by wealthy BC coal baron Robert Dunsmuir. On the first part of the trip, we stopped at the corner of Caledonia and Quadra outside police headquarters to look at a marble and stone sculpture called Trust in Harmony. The sculpture was of several figures working together to raise a pillar. The words “Trust in Harmony” were in Braille and engraved into the stone in several different languages.

As we moved on, we left the busy streets of downtown Victoria and entered a quiet residential area. I was glad we had the GPS since there were very few people walking around to ask for directions. Perhaps one of the best things about the GPS is the fact that you can check and re-check for directions anytime and it’s often much more accurate than directions you receive from other pedestrians.

Chris Grabowski recorded an audio file at the castle. You will hear the BrailleNotes chattering in the background and a description of the castle they visited.

Mike and Chris at the entrance of the castle
After our trip to the castle, we met up with another GPS group and boarded an open air hop-on, hop-off tour bus. These “Big Buses” travel a 90-minute loop around Victoria and pick up or drop off people at specific points along the route. As we rode along the streets of Victoria, we listened to a recorded voice highlighting some of the more popular attractions. We were able to learn a lot more about the nearby POIs through the GPS units though.

We all piled off at a seaside village called Oak Bay. Barb spied a gorgeous little red jacket through a shop window so we zipped inside while the rest of our group searched the points of interest for a route to a little café or bistro where we could get coffee. It was really cool to be dropped off in a strange town and have so much information about its shops, cafes, bistros, attractions, etc. at our fingertips.
Ginger enjoying a cup of coffee at the Serious Cafe
The group decided on “Serious Coffee” – not an easy decision with so many points of interest to choose from – and off we went.

The village was absolutely stunning. Oak Bay is an exclusive, well-established municipality made up of multi-million dollar homes, mansions dating back to the 1800’s, and new upscale construction. We strolled down sidewalks lined with huge oak trees and beautiful gardens while the GPS announced the surrounding points of interest. One point caught our interest, Cobs Bread Co. and we made note to check it out on the way back.

We arrived at Serious Coffee and after ordering our drinks, sat outside in the outdoor eating area. As we leisurely sipped our coffee, Mike and Jim scanned the points of interest in the quaint little village. We finished our coffee and headed back to the bread shop. The shop was filled with lots of scrumptious pastries and breads. We bought a loaf of sliced apricot bread; cranberry custard filled Danish and sampled all kinds of fabulous food.

After finding a bank to exchange US money for Canadian money, Rogers Chocolate and exploring a bit more, we hopped back on the bus and headed back toward the hotel. We jumped off at another stop and once again searched the POIs for a place to eat lunch. We found a pub that sounded good to everyone and calculated the route. Minutes later, we were all seated at a round table in an outdoor eating area at Darcy's Pub. What a great way to travel – the GPS is so accessible. It allows us to have the same information that sighted people get from maps, phone books and those fancy tourism brochures.

After lunch, we made our way back to the hotel. What an incredible feeling it is to be dropped off literally anywhere in the city and still be able to navigate back to our starting point.

Sheila about to board the Victoria Sightseeing Bus

WayFun GPS group, Angela, Mark, Sheila,

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