Touring Nearby Cities
Perhaps you'd like to spend a few days in one of the interesting cities near Sidney, either before or after the ELNA conference. You have three wonderful choices: Victoria, Vancouver, and Seattle. This page tells something about each city, and how to get from there to Sidney.
Victoria is a charming city with a distinct British flavour. It's the capital of British Columbia, and only a half-hour from Sidney. Victoria offers a combination of elegant sophistication and rural charm. Before high tea at the Empress Hotel you can stroll the Inner Harbour, see the Royal BC Museum, take a horse-drawn carriage around town, or visit Victorian houses, the vibrant Chinatown and Craigdarroch Castle.
To get from downtown Victoria to Sidney without a car, you can take the #70 bus. The trip takes less than an hour.
Vancouver is is a beautiful, vibrant, and clean city known for its world-class attractions. You could spend an entire day or two in immense Stanley Park alone. Partake of the varied cuisine on international Robson Street or in vibrant Chinatown (biggest in North America after San Francisco's), or enjoy the eclectic shopping opportunities. Take a water taxi to fascinating Granville Island.
To get from Vancouver to Sidney, take the ferry from Tsawassen, south of downtown. There are about six ferries each day, and the crossing takes less than two hours. The fare each way is about $11 CAD ($8 USD) for each person, and $37 CAD ($28 USD) for a car. To get to Tsawassen without a car from downtown, take the city bus #601 express from downtown to Ladner Exchange, then the #640 bus to the ferry terminal; cost is about $2. Or there's a Pacific Coach bus for $10 CAD ($8 USD) that also stops at the airport, if you've flown in. The ferry lands at Swartz Bay, a few minutes north of Sidney. The #70 bus makes frequent trips from Swartz Bay to downtown Victoria, stopping in Sidney.
There is much to see in Seattle: Seattle Center and the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, waterfront, Fisherman's Terminal, ferries to neighboring communities, and novel neighborhoods like Fremont and Capitol Hill. There are many lodging options, including three hostels reachable from the above Seattle link. That link also gives suggested itineraries for various amounts of time you have in the city. Mt. Rainier National Park and the Olympic National Park are both near.
There are many transportation options to get from Seattle to Sidney.
The Victoria Clipper is a high-speed boat that goes between downtown Seattle and downtown Victoria. The adult fare is $77 USD one-way, or $129 USD round-trip; senior fare is a bit lower. Boats leave Seattle three times a day, and the trip takes two to two-and-a-half hours (but allow extra time for customs, and bring a passport). To get from Victoria to Sidney, see above.
Another option on the Victoria Clipper is to go from Seattle to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island; you can either spend a few hours in this quaint town, or spend that time on a whale-watching cruise, and then return to Seattle. Or you could go one-way to Friday-Harbor, then go from Friday Harbor to Sidney on the ferry (see the ferry link below; one ferry each day stops at Friday Harbor on the way to Sidney).
Or from SeaTac Airport in Seattle, a bus goes to the ferry terminal in Anacortes; there are ten trips each day for the 3-hour ride, and the fare is $31 USD. At the Anacortes ferry terminal you can walk on the ferry for the trip through the San Juan Islands to Sidney. The bus costs $31 USD, and the ferry costs $14 USD for a passenger; senior fares are lower. The ferry leaves Anacortes twice a day, and takes two to three hours to reach Sidney. (It looks like the best connection is the 10:00am bus from SeaTac. It's supposed to arrive at the Anacortes ferry terminal at 12:45. The ferry leaves at 2:00pm, and gets to Sidney at 5:05pm. But check with the bus company that the timing will work, and to make a reservation: 1-866-235-5247.) The ferry leaves Sidney twice a day for the return trip. (If you have a car, the fare from Seattle to Sidney is $45 USD for a car and driver; reservations are advisable.)
Traveling between the cities
A novel way to travel between Seattle and Victoria is by floatplane. The planes leave from Lake Union in Seattle, and land in the harbor of Victoria. Round-trip cost is $177 USD, the trip takes about an hour, and there are five flights each day.
Between Vancouver and Seattle, you can take the Amtrak train. Round-trip fare is about $46 USD; senior fare is less. The trains leave Seattle about five times a day, and the trip takes about four hours. In both cities the train station is fairly close to downtown.
Or you can take a bus between Seattle and Vancouver. There are about nine trips each day, and you can catch the bus at either the Seattle airport or downtown Seattle. The trip takes about four hours from downtown, a bit longer from the airport. The cost is $33 USD from downtown, $41 USD from the airport; there's some savings in buying a round-trip ticket.
If driving between the Seattle and Vancouver, allow at least an hour or two for crossing the national border, in addition to the two-and-a-half-hour drive.
To get from Vancouver to Victoria, take the ferry from Tsawassen to Swartz Bay (see the Vancouver section above). Swartz Bay is a bit north of Sidney. From here you can take the #70 bus, which makes frequent trips to downtown Victoria, stopping in Sidney.