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Victoria Trip

When did we go….

  • Nov 19 – 24, 2020

 

Why did we go…

  • we had trip after trip canceled during 2020, so we thought we would check out a spot that was a bit warmer than Calgary at this time of year

 

How did we get there…

  • 1.5-hour direct flight from Calgary on Westjet
  • a half-hour drive from the airport to our hotel

 

Where did we stay…

  • Fairmont Empress, which overlooks the inner harbor
  • beautiful historic hotel built between 1904 and 1908
  • excellent, attentive service by the staff who seemed eager to serve the few people that were staying at the hotel
  • built using the traditional Canadian Pacific Railway chateau-style of the steep slate roof and Gothic Revival gables and modified using a symmetrical plan and flanking pavilions which give a strong vertical emphasis (this style emerged as a distinctively Canadian approach to railway hotel building)
  • we loved Winston, the golden retriever greeter dog
  • nice fitness facility and pool/hot tub

 

 

Where did we eat…

  • Empress lounge (dinner, served their historic Empress gin which Mare enjoyed, good menu, fun server named Guy)
  • Frankie’s Modern Diner (breakfast, good selection, updated classic diner, fun waiter named James)
  • Bear & Joey (lunch, Miami like décor, casual food, excellent service)
  • Il Terrazo (dinner, authentic Italian décor, good food but large servings that allowed us to take some leftovers for a street musician who was very gracious)
  • Floyd’s Diner (breakfast, old pink house, nostalgic movie and music décor, fun atmosphere, good food selection)
  • Penny Farthing Public House (lunch, Irish pub in Oak Bay Village, nicely appointed, good food and drink selection)
  • Bard & Banker (dinner, live music 7 days a week – musician Jill Cooper was very good, upscale pub atmosphere, good food selection)
  • Commons (lunch, most of the food is sourced from their 10-Acre farm in North Saanich, nice décor, good service, quality food)
  • Blue Crab Seafood House (dinner, beautiful view of the inner harbor, good quality food and beverage selection)
  • Tractor (breakfast, good healthy selection, nice décor)
  • Pagliacci’s (lunch, Italian joint with cool memorabilia on the walls, apparently it’s a happening place during dinner with live music, good quality food)
  • Ferris Grill & Patio (dinner, bit disappointed in the décor and the worst service we had in Victoria, good food)

 

 

What did we do…

  • walked around the James Bay area (inner harbor with all the cool nautical vessels and boathouses, outer harbor with all the beaches and tons of dogs out for their daily stroll, the inner neighborhood with its historic houses)
  • enjoyed the outdoor veranda and firepit at our hotel for afternoon mulled wine and charcoal popcorn, which was quite good
  • walked east of downtown for lunch and back along Cook Street with all its unique shops, including an excellent chocolate store called Chocolate & Co.
  • had coffee and hot chocolate at Milano Coffee (started in Vancouver in 1984 where the Italian owner brought 75 years of brewing experience to Canada) and Bean Around The World (fun décor although they were full so we got moved two doors down to an art gallery which was a great space sharing/promoting idea)
  • after-dinner drinks at Common’s across from our hotel (nice décor, great service, and a fun vibe)
  • walked through Beacon Hill Park, which has some beautiful foilage, nice gardens, the world’s tallest free-standing totem pole, and houses numerous tents of homeless people
  • drove through the Oak Bay area and walked the beachfront, enjoying the beautiful historic houses and spectacular foilage
  • drinks at Irish Times, which is an upscale pub with a fun vibe
  • toured the Royal B.C. Museum (excellent exhibits of Emily Carr, Natural History, Becoming BC, and First Peoples)
  • cruised through Chinatown (lots of neat shops and alleyways in this area and throughout downtown)
  • had cocktails at Little Jumbo (fun speakeasy type lounge) and Bodega (Spanish tapas spot in one of the many alleyways in the downtown area)
  • enjoyed visiting with our friends Hank and Jen from Nanaimo, Mare’s cousin Laurie and her daughter Danielle from Duncan, and a former colleague Jocelyn and her husband Randy

 

 

Background:

  • Victoria is the capital of British Columbia
  • sits on the southern tip of Vancouver Island
  • Greater Victoria has a population of 370,000 people
  • named after Queen Victoria
  • British started settling in the area in 1843
  • the city’s Chinatown is the 2nd oldest in North America after San Francisco
  • known as ‘The Garden City’
  • top twenty cities in the world for quality of life
  • popular with retirees who come to enjoy the temperate and usually snow-free climate

 

What did we not do that is on the agenda for next time:

  • drive the SW coast to Sooke and onward to Pt. Renfrew (explore the Mystic Beach, Whiffin Spit and specialty farms along the route)
  • check out Mt. Douglas with its panoramic views, wildlife and foilage
  • enjoy the traditional Tea at the Empress (110-year-old tradition)
  • check out the Craigdarroch Castle, Bug Museum, and Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature

 

Final thoughts:

  • it was nice to get a change of scenery during these challenging times and explore a city that we had not spent much time in
  • the weather was comfortable with daytime highs of 8ish and nighttime lows of 5ish

 

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