Saturday, October 3, 2009

Exploring Victoria

Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is a breathtakingly beautiful waterfront city. Despite being under the weather, so to speak, I took much joy in walking through downtown, feeling the off-shore breeze blowing crisp autumn air in my face and delighting in the fact that it was cold enough to wear my white winter jacket. The boy and I were quite amazed that it actually felt and smelled like fall in Victoria, since the change of seasons hadn't yet come to Southern California. The weather, the scenery... it all very much reminded me of my time spent in D.C., which was a wonderful time indeed. Hand in hand, the boy and I took in the sights with wide eyes, daydreaming about how fantastic it would be to reside in Victoria where it seems everything-- from culture to cuisine-- is right outside your door. 

While talking to my dad post-trip, he mentioned how the streets of Victoria are known for being exceedingly clean and that the city has been likened to a real-life Disneyland. I hadn't really noticed the cleanliness of the city while perusing the quaint and yet bustling town. But when he said that, I realized that it is true. And why wouldn't it be clean? The area's natural beauty is deterrent enough to keep litterbugs at bay.

I wish we had more time to explore Victoria. I wish I hadn't been so ill that all I wanted to do was stay in bed and order room service, which I was guilty of doing on Saturday instead of journeying outside before the wedding. But hopefully I will make it back there one day soon-- with less travel hassle, of course-- and the first thing on my to-do list will be afternoon tea at The Empress (seen above). I'd round out my itinerary with a morning of whale watching, a visit to Butchart Gardens and a horse-drawn carriage ride through the city streets. Oh, and then a return visit to The Stickey Wicket for the best nachos I have ever had (sober).

Here's my journey through Victoria in pictures:

Early evening sunlight dances on the water during a ferry crossing from Vancouver to Victoria.

Morning breakfast stop at a popular coffee shop called Murchie's wear the java is served in bright white mugs, tea comes with a mini kettle, the baked pastries look as good as they taste and it's all served on silver trays.

Cafe au lait for me, hot chocolate for the boy. We shared a melt-in-your-mouth butter croissant.

Passing by colorful shops in downtown while on a narrated bus tour.

Monument in honor of Canada's national hero, an athlete, humanitarian and cancer treatment activist, Terry Fox. This statue stands at Mile Zero, the start of the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1).

The bus tour boasted of Old Vic Fish & Chips, one of the longest-lived restaurants in Victoria. So, of course, we had to go. And it was delish (the boy and I each had the 2-piece halibut meal). Here I am with the bride and two of her friends.

A view of the flowers and the sea in Victoria's Inner Harbour.

The boy in front of The Empress, Victoria's grand old hotel. Very beautiful, very luxurious. A pleasure just to walk through even if you can't afford to stay.

Parliament, just a few blocks from our hotel. Such fabulous architecture. Wish we had time for a tour.

The Legislative Buildings, all lit up.

The Empress, still gorgeous even at night. This photo doesn't do it justice (the lights at the top of the hotel change colors).

A "good-bye, Victoria" breakfast at the Blue Fox Cafe, which was recommended to us by an employee at our hotel. Once we arrived, we realized why. It is one of the most popular places in town, it seemed, as we had to wait outside (in the cold) for almost an hour to get a table in the tiny cafe. But it was worth it. See below for the proof.

Fun, colorful art on the walls and hey! It's the blue fox!

The menu had like 10 kinds of Eggs Benny to choose from. So excited. But I just went with the original. Why mess with perfection? Though, they do put their own spin on the classic with a bagel base instead of an English muffin. It was amazingly good. That sauce. Yum. The boy got French toast that could have fed a small army. Yep, we cleared our plates, no prob.

Walking back to the hotel (before leaving for the airport) we stopped by this super fragrant floral planting near the harbor. All over Victoria there are beautiful flowers, but this was just too pretty not to take a picture.

Hope you enjoyed the photos. Thanks for looking!

(P.S. If you want a bigger view, click on the photos...)


Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

Looking through these photo's makes me want to go back there and visit my friend again SOON!! I was only there for a couple of days in June and she was working full-time so I didn't get the chance to see a lot of the city. It is gorgeous though and I definitely noticed the cleanliness of it compared to other cities in B.C., particularly Vancouver!!

Too bad you were sick, hopefully you'll get the chance to go back soon!

Shoshanah said...

I'm glad you were still able to have a good time, even though you were feeling under the weather. And the boy's hot chocolate looks awfully addictive!

kirstyb said...

looks like fun - great pics xooxox

{lovely little things} said...

I love Victoria, you're right it is really clean. The shoppes and streets are so charming!

Enjoying your blog.

rachel said...

Thanks for sharing these photos! I was in Victoria several years ago during high school and enjoyed my time there. Our marching band was in a parade there but we had a bit of down time to explore... one of the things I remember most clearly was the wax museum. There was an Edgar Allan Poe exhibit... which was, as you can imagine, kinda freaky!
Have a great rest of your night!

Anne @ The City Sage said...

GORGEOUS pics! What a wonderful trip this looks like--can you believe that in canada I've never been west of windsor ontario? shame on me...

what a lovely blog you have!

Kristin said...

I'm having vacation envy! What a lovely place to visit! Gorgeous pictures.

Lo said...

I never thought Victoria would have so many things to do. My boyfriend lives in Calgary and we haven't had a chance to make it to Victoria yet, but he said it would be nice. Thanks for the great pics!

bethany said...

Carissa, I swear you have the most amazing arsenal of dresses I have ever seen! I love it! Also, that eggs benedict looks incredible, and is making me ponder making a trip from my cozy bed into the kitchen to make some eggs. :)

These photos are beautiful...definitely looks like despite the illness and terrible travel situation, you managed to make lemons into lemonade!

Erin said...

You've painted such a lovely picture of my hometown. Thank you! I hope you'll come back. We can go for tea (at a place that's even better than Murchies!)