Wednesday, December 7, 2016


We just arrived home from a few days in beautiful Victoria, BC  on Vancouver Island.  I cannot say enough good things about this beautiful port city.  We have been before but not at Christmastime and I was so eager to see the city in it's Christmas finery and it did not disappoint!
A view of the Parliament Building from the inner harbour, and to the right the Batemen Center located in the old Steamship Terminal. Just when you think it could not be more beautiful just take a look to your left.....
and there she is the grand dame of Victoria, the iconic Empress Hotel.  It is just breathtaking for sure - it takes a bit to take it all in and not think it is a movie set - it is just so beautiful. But wait there's more, this is just the inner harbour!

I guess we first must talk about getting to the island.  I cannot say enough about the wonderful BC Ferries.  The first time we took BCF from Tsawwassen, BC, I had my mouth open watching all the tractor trailers get on the ferry before all the cars and people. Wonderful amenities and this is where you might get your first taste of that wonderful BC confection the Nanaino bar (will be doing a post about this bar with a recipe later this month) and the famous Canadian delight Poutine, which originated with the folks on the opposite side of Canada in Quebec.The BC Ferry from Tsawwassen puts in at Swartz bay which is 20 miles/32km to Victoria. If you do not want to enter Canada first you can also take a very nice ferry from the US side at Port Angeles just north of Seattle.  We have also taken BC Ferries over and the Coho ferry back to Port Angeles.  The one big advantage of taking the Coho ferry is that it lands in the harbour and if you do not want to take a car you are in easy walking distance of hotels, shops, etc. Of course you can also fly into Vancouver Island.
Where to stay?  We like to stay in a B&B.  It is just more cozy, you get a breakfast and best of all you get to meet people at breakfast - make friends.  We stay at the Rosewood Inn B&B and it is walking distance to the area around the port. It is a few blocks behind the beautiful Parliament building. There are grocery stores, restaurants nearby. There are so many places to stay - just get online and start looking.
Speaking of meeting friends - may I introduce to you Mr. & Mrs. George Fraser of Vancouver Island.  We met this charming couple at breakfast.  Mr. Fraser told a story before I knew his name and I said something to him like "you must be a Scot because you are a natural born story teller." Fraser a very Scottish name and he is indeed a Scot.  They were so nice and so helpful to their "cousins" from the US.  Mrs. Fraser is a nurse and Mr. Fraser an academic and an artist. They gave us what I call "Victoria's secret." Yes, pun intended!

The "secret" is that breakfast and lunch during the week may be had at the beautiful parliament building.
Sandwich board out front....well almost too elegant to call a sandwich board, perhaps the menu display?
Lovely door to the dining room.
Hubby ordered a panini that came with Canada's classic side dish - Poutine from those friends in Quebec. Prior to this we had had other Poutine that we did not understand the fuss, but this was just wonderful - real french fries, the cheese curds were warm and stringy sort of like fresh mozzarrella, and the gravy was delicious.  We now know what all the fuss is about.  The last time we were on BC Ferries we were behind a man who ordered Poutine and when his order came he was not a happy camper - he let them know that they were very cheap with their gravy and he wanted more, thank you very much! I had what I would call "Thanksgiving" turkey, two kinds of potatoes, other veggies and wonderful cranberry sauce.
Hubby went back to the B&B after lunch and I moseyed upstairs to the gift shop.  Here is her majesty the Queen.
It just seemed everywhere I looked I saw something a little more beautiful. This stained glass window was on the same floor as the gift shop. On our next trip I plan on signing up for a tour of this beautiful building.
 An here she is herself, Queen Victoria, the cities namesake.
After lunch and the gift shop I took some time at the Bateman Gallery across the street.  If you are not familiar with this wonderful Canadian painter and naturalist, just Google him and I bet you will see a painting that you are familiar with but did not know who the artist was.  Hubby has "Chief" (print of course) hanging in his man cave.  We love his work and each time we are in Victoria I manage some time to go to the gallery. I see the stairs in the photo but need to say there is an elevator. They have a lovely gift shop and there is a restaurant and the ubiquitous Starbucks too. In the summer it is nice to eat there and sit and watch things going on in the harbour.
I could not do a post about Victoria without mentioning the grand dame herself - The Empress Hotel.  It's always nice to stop here for some refreshment and if you are in the mood for high tea, make a reservation - they do it well.
As a little personal aside - hubby and I like hard pear cider and Growers in BC just does it best - almost too good.  Their peach is also devine.  Sadly we cannot get it here but yes, you guessed it we did bring some home.  

Goodbye beautiful Victoria and Vancouver Island.....until next year - we already have our reservations. Au revoir mes amis! We love our Canadian neighbors to the north.

Thank you for stopping by.


    THIS WONDERFUL TRIP!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. A fabulous place to visit - sort of like a little of Europe to our north. Sadly for our Canadian cousins their dollar is down against the US dollar so we also get the benefit of a stronger dollar, almost 25%. It's not that far from you Anonymous - great place for a wonderful get away. Thank you for stopping by. jj