O' Canada (Victoria,BC)
Updated: Nov 24
On Sept. 23rd, we left the Miami airport in route to Vancouver, British Columbia Canada. Our original plan was to fly to Yellowknife, Canada to see the northern lights however, Canada was bombarded by wildfires that caused Yellowknife to be evacuated. Since we were unable to change our flights, we decided to just stay in Vancouver where our layover was.
We arrived around 6pm, breezed through customs, got our rental car and drove about a half hour south to Delta where our Air B&B was. Dave and I only spent one night in Delta, and it was too bad because our apartment was very spacious and cozy. We stayed in a residential neighborhood only 5 blocks from the American border and the town of Point Roberts, Washington. After having a light dinner at Browns Social we had to drive across the border to the US side just to say we did. Since Point Roberts is only about 4 sq miles our visit was quick. Basically, we just went through the US customs, took a couple of pictures and went back through Canadian customs.
The next morning, we had 7am ferry tickets from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay. The ride was beautiful and took about 90 minutes. Since it was early the weather was pretty chilly, so we stayed inside for most of the ride. I miscalculated the drive time to Victoria where we were to spend the next two nights so we had plenty of time to explore the area before checking into our next apartment.
We started with breakfast at Cafe Zanzibar where I had the butter chicken breakfast hash and Dave had eggs benedict. Then, it was on to the annual Apple Day at Sea Cider Farm + Ciderhouse in Saanichton. Apple Day was free to enter and enjoy. It included many craft vendors, food trucks and live music. Dave and I bought drink tickets so that we could enjoy some of their tasty ciders.
We then headed South to Victoria. Our rental apartment was downtown and adjacent to Canada's very first Chinatown. In fact, directly next door to us was the famous Fan Tan Alley, Canada's narrowest street, which takes you into the heart of Chinatown. Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia. It is known as one of the fittest cities in Canada and in the top 20 cities in the world for quality of life. This is due in part to the vast amount of bike routes. In fact, street parking is very hard to come by with dedicated 2-way bike lanes throughout the streets.
Since we were still a little early, we decided to walk around, do some shopping and visit some of the breweries. Whistle Buoy Brewing and Herald Steet Brew Works were both within walking distance to our apartment. While sitting at the bar enjoying our beers at Herald Street, I started to notice that we were in the middle of an all-women's knitting club meeting! We couldn't resist taking a picture.
After checking into our apartment and getting acquainted with the area we drove to Symphany Vineyard to enjoy some local wines. Tastings were only $7.50 per person and included 4 different wines. The couple taking care of us informed us that they were in the process of buying the vineyard and by the next season the vineyard would be renamed. We left with a bottle of wine and a recommendation for dinner at Wind Cries Mary back in Victoria. Wind Cries Mary was walking distance from our room and it was a good thing we walked because Dave and I shared the Chef's Special which consisted of a 6-course meal all decided by the chef. It was a very cool spot and the service was great.
The next morning we had breakfast at Floyd's Diner, a place known for their extensive menu of eggs benedict. In fact, it seemed like all of Canada was known for having a variety of eggs benedicts, a favorite among Dave and me. Floyd's is a block away from the Parliament building so after breakfast we walked over and took a self-guided tour of this beautiful building. While inside we were fortunate enough to see a conference taking place on the first floor giving awareness to the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation also known as Orange Shirt Day, a theme which we would see throughout our visit to Canada. Dave and I would return later in the evening see the Parliament building all lit up. Next, it was on to the Vancouver Island Wineries.
Driving for the first couple of days was a little tricky since we couldn't figure out how to connect to the wi-fi to use the GPS for directions. So, we did it the old-school way, with a map. Although I did use the map on my phone. We started with a wine/cheese pairing at Unsworth Vineyards. Followed by a tasting at Cherry Point Estate Wines where we met Xavier, the owner who is originally from Spain. And we closed our tour at Blue Grouse Estate Winery, the largest of the three.
Upon returning to Victoria, we stopped at Fisherman's Wharf to see the floating private homes. It was a very funky neighborhood and everyone respected the privacy of the homeowners as they quietly walked through the docks. Fisherman's Wharf included some floating restaurants and watersports activities and was a main hub for the water taxis. When we were finished it wasn't quite dark yet so we decided to park our car and grab a beer at Phillips Brewing. Then it was off to dinner in Chinatown at FanTan Cafe. We ended our evening with a trip back to the Parliament building for some nighttime viewing.
After waking up on our final morning in Victoria we checked out of our Air B&B at 8am and drove to Spoon's Diner for breakfast. It was eggs benedict again for the both of us. Dave built his own with pulled pork and I had the Tom's benedict which has a grilled cheese sandwich base!! Delicious!
We were finally able to figure out the wi-fi on our phones so driving became less stressful, it also helped with the conversion of kilometers to miles. We drove the 19 miles to the Swartz Bay ferry terminal to board the ferry for our 11am sailing to Vancouver where we spent the next three days.