Victoria, British Columbia
Some of the things that I enjoy outside of work are: travelling, writing, architecture, identical twins, tomatoes, videos of New York City subway rats (especially when they’re dragging a burrito down stairs), crystals and cities that are tight enough to walk around. They offer the best opportunity to stumble into cool restaurants, shops, buildings, statues and things that may be otherwise missed as you whiz by in a vehicle.
We opted to stay in the Inner Harbour area. It allowed for maximum walking around, fun things to see and do and is very close to the water (and water taxis!). A nice small area to explore for the weekend without feeling like there was too much ground to cover. It was relaxing and the pace was perfect.
The city of Victoria is located on the southern end of Vancouver Island and boasts milder winter temperatures than most Canadian cities. It is a beautiful and laid back place.
I FOUND THESE PLACES INTERESTING.
The Parliament Buildings
Beautiful to look at and photograph and we enjoyed walking around the grounds and finding our home province coat of arms. And it is lit up so beautifully at night. A must see.
Fairmont Empress Hotel
We also enjoyed walking the grounds of the Fairmont Empress Hotel. They have a tea and scones service which we did not take part in because I was itching to get on a water taxi across the bay over to explore Fisherman’s Wharf.
For $22 CAD, you can take a water taxi across the bay and be greeted by the cutest floating homes. A bed & breakfast, if you felt inclined to stay here, the Smoke & Anchor, which is licensed and a bunch of massive seagulls with zero manners. We did not see seals, but we did see them the last time we were here. One can also get burgers, ice cream and of course, very fresh seafood and shellfish.
A 12 minute walk from James Bay, Victoria’s China Town is the oldest one in Canada. We bought tea from Silk Road to bring home, I finally found a bamboo sushi roll mat that should elevated my sushi rolling game exponentially and scored some of my beloved Nag Champa and Bee and Flower soaps.
GETTING AROUND. TO WALK OR TO DRIVE?
We walked pretty much everywhere. We opted to skip renting a car in favour of enjoying the mild autumn weather, seeing more little shops and restaurants, not wasting time and money finding parking and splurging a bit on nicer accommodations.
There is no shortage of places to stay from clean, decent hostels, to the Fairmont Empress and everything in between. My picks: Hotel Grand Pacific and Chateau Victoria. My Victoria born and friend Brie (who has amazing taste in everything) recommended the Magnolia to me the first time I went to the island, so I am adding that to the list. We did stroll past the Magnolia and it does look gorgeous. I will be sure to stay there next time as there was no availability this time. (Book early!)
There are also at least one floating house B&B that I peeped while at Fisherman's Wharf.
EATING IS EVERTHING. HERE'S WHERE I WENT.
FOO asian street food by chef Patrick Lynch
Southeast Asian inspired street food. These bowls are SO tasty. Prices range from around $9 -$15, so lunch here won’t break the bank. The portions are great and if you don’t eat it all in one sitting, grab one of the little cardboard takeout boxes and voila! You have supper for later.
Rockin’ Rolls Modern Sushi
Fisherman’s Wharf. Sushi rolls (cucumber for me and California for him) hit the spot for lunch.
On the way back to the inner harbour from Chinatown, we found this gorgeous, old looking building and stopped in for a pint of Guinness (of course). This place looked authentically Irish with lots of wood paneling, maroon painted walls and may, many draught options at the wood.
The Sticky Wicket
I am going to guess this is a very popular Victoria spot, judging by how packed it was. We met up with some old friends at this huge restaurant. Try the delicious butternut squash soup, if you go.
We also found Big Bad John’s, which is not the diviest of dive bars I’ve ever been to, despite the dive bar ‘tells’, such as smashed up peanut shells on the floor, countless bras hanging from the ceiling and intimidating looking patrons. I did enjoy the process of finding this place. A trip to the bathroom and just bumped into this little gem. I also left a business card under the glass (plastic) table top. So any Victorians wanting to travel to Calgary for cosmetic tattoo work, look no further…
Vista 18 Westcoast Grill and Wine Bar
A gorgeous rooftop restaurant with incredible harbour views.
Located on the 18th floor of the Chateau Victoria, this restaurant was supposed to be the setting for our anniversary supper. After a day of walking and enjoying a hot bath, I was too tired to make it up to the dining room. I am thankful for my amazing husband who was sensitive to this fact and had our supper brought to us to enjoy in the dining room of our suite! With the window coverings pushed back, we had the most incredible view of downtown and the harbour.
What a fantastic anniversary getaway!
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