Tourism Victoria: Fun, Food & Daily Life

Trip Start Jan 22, 2012
Trip End Apr 02, 2012

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Thursday, February 23, 2012

While our time in Victoria was not all fun and games (I did manage to be quite productive), we certainly took the time to sample the sights and get a taste of Victoria.

As we did not live in the heart of the city, we developed a habit of going downtown on Sundays to get a feel for the area.  We would park the Xterra and walk up and down the streets, enjoy the Inner Harbor, and experience some of the tourist attractions (Note: Click on each hyperlink in this blog and it will take you directly to the review I posted on TripAdvisor - it saves me having to copy and paste each into the blog).

We introduced ourselves to the city's tourism offerings by first stopping by the local Tourism Victoria Visitor Center.  The standalone building is strategically located on the waterfront of the Inner Harbor, across the street from the Fairmont Empress Hotel on Government Street.  The building itself was filled with traditional print media (brochures, maps, pamphlets) featuring many of the local attractions, restaurants and accommodations, and was staffed by friendly, informative individuals.  

Early on in our explorations of the city, we devoted a day to the Royal BC Museum, which offers a great set of exhibits on the natural and human history of the area.  While we were there, the Museum was showcasing an exhibit devoted entirely to the 2011 Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards.  We also took an afternoon to walk through the truly impressive Craigdarroch Castle.

In early March, Tourism Victoria coordinated a weekend-long event called "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown".  This clever initiative had you buy a ticket for $10, which then granted you entrance to many of the city's attractions for free (or for a significantly reduced priced).  We made the most of the weekend by visiting the Pacific Undersea Gardens, the IMAX theater, the Maritime Museum of BC, and the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, among other things.

Of course, all of this sightseeing resulted in Maria and I working up quite the appetite... Over the weeks, we sampled a number of different restaurants, including: the Flying Otter Grill, Canoe Brewpub, Chiba Sushi, Shima Sushi, Nautical Nellies, Chandlers' Seafood Restaurant, Spinnakers and Red Fish Blue Fish (we ate here about 4 or 5 times!).

The thing about Victoria's mild climate is that you are able to get outside nearly every day (so long as you don't mind a little rain).  Now, while we were there, everyone told us that this was one of the wettest, coolest springs in many years (I'm just starting to think I'm a magnet for bad weather).  Despite the fact that most days produced at least a sprinkle of rain for part of the day, I often put on my rain jacket and hit the pavement.  I would walk the pathways near the house on Gorge Road, or down along Dallas Road (and take in the beautiful scenery looking out across the Strait of Juan de Fuca at Washington State's Olympic Mountains); I would hike the trails near Thetis Lake, China Beach and French Beach; and I would bike the interconnected pathways of the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.  Furthermore, I often would hit the nearby driving range with my good friend Greg, where I saw my golf swing improve (... a little...).  

Towards the later half of our time in Victoria, I managed to get my hands on a new boat.  The Necky brand "Manitou II" 14-ft tandem Kayak fit nicely on the roof of the Xterra and easily slid down the backyard of the house into the Gorge Waterway.  This resulted in many an afternoon spent paddling the inlet with the rising and falling tide.  Once out on the water, we saw many different species of bird and even the odd harbor seal.

After seeing a good chunk of the city, we decided it would be worthwhile to start exploring some of the nearby communities... 
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