[trip style = weekend getaway]
I love how a morning can go from serene to stressful in a matter of seconds. My morning started serene with morning yoga, but quickly progressed into stressful as I madly dashed to the Victoria-bound BC Ferry terminal with my family of 2.5 (my husband, my dog @nachoking and me). My early morning downward-dogging was the last bit of calm I'd encounter for the weekend, since we only had 30 hours to blitz BC's gorgeous capital city and our itinerary was already jam-packed with a wedding, an evening on the town with cousins, dinner with friends and a little sleep.
Arrive in Style
If I'd only known about this in advance, I could've sailed to Vancouver Island in style--and perhaps a little more 'put together'! BC Ferries is moving up in the world, launching a mani/pedi service on their Spirit ships (Spirit of BC & Spirit of Vancouver Island). The first-come, first-serve 'nail sculpting' is offered Thursday-Monday on the 7am, 9am, 11am and 1pm sailings from Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay. The cost? Not as bad as you'd think: manis $30, pedis $40 and combos $65. If someone touching your nails isn't your thing, then opt for a different type of 'touch' with a 15-minute chair massage for $20.
Victoria is more than just twinkly parliament buildings, a tourist hub and retirement town; it's a thriving community of eco-minded people of all ages. Some of the nicest people I know live in or hail from Victoria--it must be the temperate climate, ocean breeze and island-living! For just a hint of Victoria bliss, here are few suggestions for your next trip BC's capital.
Eat & Drink
- The Tapa Bar - A Victoria institution for the past 10 years. Eat a little or a lot of the globally-inspired tapas.
- Bard and Banker - If you're a Scottish beer-drinker, this pub's for you. You may also enjoy it if you're not Scottish, like jazz and appreciate 30 different types of beer.
- Bengal Lounge at the Empress - Grab a martini and gaze at the colonial-inspired decor--tigers and all.
- Thrifty Foods - I know this is a grocery store, but I love the quality and variety of the items offered on the shelf. Some of my faves are trail mix cookies, granola and moose tracks ice cream.
The Fairmont Empress - Location. Location. Location. I recommend this hotel for a multitude of reasons, including it being the recipient of the Condé Nast Gold List 2010. See my recent Trip Advisor review here.
- Butchart Gardens - My mom and grandma would be upset if I didn't mention this family-owned floral Mecca. It's also rated #1 of 99 tourist attractions in Victoria.
- High Tea - The Fairmont Empress has been serving high tea for over a century, which is a big deal in young Canada! With a scone and spot of tea, indulge in the time-honored tradition in an idyllic, ocean-front setting.
- By Boat: BC Ferries (if you're traveling during peak summer times, make a reservation)
- By Plane: Harbour Air