Saturday, September 15, 2012

Victoria - A Charming Garden City

About one year ago, we were celebrating our first wedding anniversary in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia and located on Vancouver Island. An incredibly quaint, old fashioned, and ultimately romantic city, the low key pace and friendly people were ideal for an anniversary celebration.  
Beacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park

Victoria has an especially British feel, evident by the popularity of high tea at the Empress Hotel. The British influence can also be found in the city’s gardening style and shopping. A great city to explore on foot or by bike, there are beautifully manicured parks and more flowers per square foot than I have ever seen.

Another aspect of the city adding to the European flair is street performers entertaining large crowds at the Inner Harbour. We lucked upon a hilarious act the first night there.
Street Performer

Totem Pole
Totem Pole
However, it is Canadian all its own, wholly celebrating the history of the area.  Worthy of checking out is the Royal BC Museum, an incredibly informative, easy to navigate series of exhibits. A natural history museum that includes past, present, and future looks at the history of the area, this is the museum to see if you have only one choice.
Downtown is easily walkable (we never entered a motorized vehicle) and filled with unique architecture, entertaining cafes and restaurants, and diverse shopping.  Victoria’s majestic scenery bestows a lot of relaxing views. One of the top activities is going on a whale watching excursion in the surrounding water. We didn’t venture off the island, but while eating fish and chips on a pier teeming with colorful house boats, one of the many friendly island inhabitants introduced themself.

Fisherman's Wharf
Our friend from Fisherman's Wharf
 You know I like my food and drink, and Victoria flourishes here. The city has an International food vibe, with a palate consisting of fresh seafood and cuisine from all over the world. One extraordinary dinner was at Tapa Bar, a gem of a restaurant tucked intimately away in an alley. Microbrews and local beers are also easy to find, including Swans Brewpub, where a seasonal vanilla stout nicely quenched my thirst after a long day of walking.

Victoria is a feast for the eyes, with beautiful weather, waterfront views, and gardens galore, it has been difficult to describe with a few words. It can feel cosmopolitan at times when dining, yet has quaint shops and antique stores. There is an almost wild arrangement of things to do in Victoria. We spent 3 days there and chose to stick to the downtown area, easily filling our time and still relaxing (knowing we did not see several fantastic sights).  I highly recommend this trip, especially to pair up with a longer vacation to Seattle or Vancouver.

Parliament Building
Parliament Building

Due to the anniversary, we splurged a bit and stayed at the surreal Albion Manor bed and breakfast. One paragraph to describe this place would be insufficient, and this will be included in a future home away from home post.

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