5 days in Victoria: the highlights (part one)
5 days in Victoria: the highlights (part one)
First stop was Tsawwassen to catch the 1.5 hour ferry to Swartz Bay. If you have some time before the ferry leaves, I recommend picking up some apples from the local food stand at the ferry terminal. They were delicious!
Once on the ferry, I love going out on the deck, braving the wind, and looking for whales. Unfortunately, there were no wildlife sightings this time around, but I did see a rainbow and of course, was treated to beautiful views.
Once in downtown Victoria, we were ready for dinner. I was in Victoria last year for work and had a fantastic seafood-filled dinner at Canoe Brew Pub. We decided to return this trip! Unfortunately, their menu was in transition, and only the lunch menu was available at dinner time. The meal wasn’t the greatest, but the waterfront location and service can’t be beat and the live band was fantastic. They impressively played everything from the 1950s to present day.
I really enjoyed my stay at the Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour Hotel. While the property is a bit older, it is centrally located, the service was great and the staff are very friendly. I especially enjoyed ordering breakfast the night before and having it delivered to my room just as I was waking up the next morning. I also used the hotel gym a few times – older equipment and small but it did the trick.
This winter, I’ve come to love spinning and rely on it to keep up my cardio and endurance while getting over my running injury. I kicked Sunday morning off with a spin class at BPM Victoria, a short walk from the Marriott. I loved the class and recommend it if you’re ever in the area. Every participant is outfitted with a complimentary pair of spin shoes and your own heart-rate monitor. The HRM is hooked up to a screen at the front of the class and you’re encouraged to hit target heart rate zones throughout the class. It provided such an added challenge, which I really liked! The instructor Sally was very good and it was clear many of the people in the class are also road cyclists.
No surprise here, I wanted a cup of coffee post-workout. I stopped by Pour, steps away from Victoria’s Inner Harbour, and returned to this spot a few times throughout my trip. Great locally crafted coffee at this family-owned cafe.
If there was one thing I wanted to do while I was in Victoria, it was have a meal at Nourish Kitchen & Cafe and particularly eat some of their cashew cream cheese. After helping out with some conference prep, my friend and colleague Stacey and I walked over to Nourish for a late brunch.
The cafe is in an old Victorian house and is one of my favourite restaurants on the West Coast. Perfect for vegetarians and omnivores alike, Nourish’s food philosophy is “based on the principles of holistic nutrition, which encompasses both mind and body and recognizes the influence both have on optimal health.” You’re sure to leave Nourish feeling good, especially if you sample some of their homemade cashew cream cheese.
Stacey and I loved our meals: almond milk lattes and cultured cashew cheese (served with two pieces buckwheat and seedy bread and house ferments) to start. Benny in the Moment with chorizo for Stacey (two soft poached free range eggs, kale, maple parsnips, slow roasted carrots, cornbread croutons, grilled pickled onion, harissa cashew hollandaise) and Roasted Chicken and Chickpeas for me (boneless chicken thigh, marinated chickpeas, charred broccoli, yam puree, baharat spice, aleppo pepper).
We lucked out with some beautiful sunny weather while in Victoria and no trip to the city is complete without walking along Dallas Road. After brunch, I spent a few hours walking to my favourite Victoria spots. First, I walked from Nourish to Ogden Point and the Breakwater. If you ever take a cruise that stops in Victoria, Ogden Point is where you dock. You can walk out into the ocean along the 762 metre concrete breakwater, just be prepared to brace the wind. Reach the end of the breakwater for views looking south to the Juan de Fuca Strait, west to Macaulay Point Park in Esquimalt, and north towards the James Bay area.
Following Dallas Road east along the water, you will soon reach Mile Zero and Holland Point Park. “The Mile 0 marker is the start of the over 8,000 km Trans-Canada Highway that spans the entire length of Canada.” Mile 0 is also home to a statue of Terry Fox and would have been the end of Terry’s cross-Canada run.
Holland Point Park is a small park on Victoria’s waterfront, with trails up above the water or stairs down to the beach. Holland Point and Clover Point are great spots to see kite-surfers on a windy day.
From Holland Point, you can continue along Dallas Road to Clover Point and Victoria’s seawall. I was running short on time, so instead I made my way back to downtown Victoria cutting through Beacon Hill Park. The park is incredibly scenic any time of year, especially in spring with the cherry blossoms blooming.
Before heading back to the hotel, I did some shopping along Douglas and Government Street downtown and popped into Cafe Bliss (100% organic and raw food) for a snack. I choose the Jedi Smoothie (cacao, sun warrior protein, hemp hearts, maca, banana, date, almond mylk) and it didn’t last long. Victoria really has no shortage of plant-based food options. I didn’t have time this trip, but another favourite spot for juices, smoothies, and vegetarian eats is Rebar Modern Food.
Working in the liquor industry certainly has its perks. On Sunday evening, Stanley Park Brewing kindly hosted our Board of Directors and other conference guests at the Strathcona Hotel for a beer pairing dinner. Otherwise known as the Strath, the hotel is a historic Victoria landmark dating back to the gold rush area. With 8 venues in a one block radius, the hotel calls itself Victoria’s Entertainment Centre. A few days after our dinner, Stanley Park launched their refreshed brand and beers. We got to a sample several beers with dinner before they were released to the public. I went back to the hotel after dinner for an early night, before our conference kicked off on Monday.