Friday, August 02, 2013

Seeing the Appeal of Travel Writing

Writing the stories and profiles that I do for the newspaper and for Saltscapes magazine brings me out of my shell. Normally, I am an introverted nose-in-book worm who comes across as aloof when I'm really shy and terrified of my tendency to babble uncontrollably when forced to engage in small talk.
So having a reason to talk to people, having a framework for questions and answers helps me a lot, and opens me up to so many interesting people and wonderful stories.
It also might be giving me the bug for travel writing.
Although I'm not writing a travel piece for Saltscapes, in order to facilitate interviews during tourist season and to really get a feel for the place I'm writing about -- the village itself must be as much a character as the people living there -- I stayed overnight in Victoria by the Sea, PEI (with thanks to Tourism PEI for their assistance with this). I stayed at the lovely Orient Hotel (founded 1900) because my "main" characters of the article stayed there on their first trip to Victoria and had supper at a restaurant where I'd be returning the next day to talk to the owner.
Victoria began as a seaport but once that way of shipping goods died out, the village worked hard to survive and reinvent itself. Although many of its residents are now seasonal, it's a bustling place in the summer. Along with the shops in the village core (developed on a rectangle grid of seven streets), there is a well-developed wharf "mall" and a very popular beach. Everyone seemed to be wearing wet bathing suits and towels, whether it was Wednesday night or early Thursday morning!
I had 24 warm summer hours to experience the village and while much of my information is for the magazine article, I took some photos of my own personal experience with the people and places I hung out in, talking to strangers and hearing their stories. I could get hooked on that...

The Orient Hotel is now owned by a couple from Calgary. I stayed in a room overlooking the street.

The owners decided to drop the tea room which was popular with tourists and offer instead wood-fired pizza. It's popular with locals. 

The village was founded in the mid-1800's as a seaport. So many homes have had many identities over the years; I learned in an interview, this house in the 1950's & 60's was a small restaurant.

A fun corner with two small shops: The Water Street Takeout on the left and the Sea Nest gift shop on the right. 

Lunch with a view! My hamburger platter from the takeout: hamburger and  fries with coleslaw. Nothing fresher--  all made on sight, hamburger never frozen. Worth the calories!

Someilia Smith, at Sea Nest, carves out a design in the side of the mold of a sandcast candle her family has been creating since 1970; the family moved to Victoria in the 1980's. I bought one of these to commemorate my enjoyable trip. 

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