We love to travel and this summer our family took our dream trip: a whole month in Canada! We spent two weeks touring around Vancouver Island, B.C., staying in hotels, B&Bs and cabins, and then another two weeks travelling in the Rockies in a hired Winnebago. It was truly a trip of a lifetime and I’m thrilled to be able to share all my tips and recommendations with you!
Victoria, located on the south-east coast of Vancouver Island, is the capital city of British Columbia. It is a beautiful, charming and accessible town which is clearly proud of its historical and cultural links to Britain; red double-decker buses trundle through its streets, which boast British-style pubs and architecture.
We stayed for two nights at the Huntingdon Manor, a historic hotel, brilliantly located downtown on the Inner Harbor. The hotel itself, while not exactly shabby, is a bit old-fashioned and could probably do with a renovation. However, on a month-long trip for a family of four, we were looking for comfort and value rather than luxury and this hotel suited us just fine. The staff were extremely helpful and friendly and it was great to be able to walk everywhere downtown. Also, thanks to the hotel’s complimentary breakfast, Sophie now has an unhealthy obsession with croissants.
On our first night in Victoria we met up with my aunt and two cousins for vegan Chinese food at the Lotus Pond on Johnson Street, Victoria’s main shopping street. This unassuming little restaurant is crazy popular so booking ahead for dinner is a must. It serves delicious and authentic Chinese dishes, all prepared using vegetables and meat alternatives, such as bean curd skin, seitan and shitake mushroom stems. We loved the Spicy Salted Oyster Mushrooms. I’m told they also do a great lunch buffet.
One of the highlights of our Victoria trip was our visit to the Royal BC Museum. Considered by some to be the best museum in Canada, the Royal BC is definitely one of the most fun, interactive, visually stunning and immersive museum experiences I’ve ever had. Sophie and Tom each found a couple of exhibits that completely captured their imaginations.
For Sophie it was an animated film about First Nation tribes hunting wooly mammoths, and also the wonderful Old Town in the Modern History Gallery, featuring extremely detailed (and slightly spooky) recreations of the Grand Hotel, Port Moody Railway Station and a 1900s kitchen, complete with the smell of cinnamon and a net curtain flapping in the evening breeze. For Tom, it was the fire in the beautiful and atmospheric Jonathan Hunt House in the First People’s Gallery, which functions both as a museum installation and as a real ceremonial house. On a less impressive note, the other thing which Tom found it worth getting out of his buggy for was a taxidermied duck.
After a whole morning spent at the museum, we were hungrrrrry! So we visited the Year-Long Food Truck Festival, conveniently located in the museum’s back courtyard. The eating area features recycled and reused furniture and decor and, for the thirsty, there are local craft beers on tap. It turned out to be a super fun lunch option and each of us could choose what we wanted to eat from the various different trucks. For Sophie that was, unsurprisingly, chicken fingers (since when do chickens have fingers anyway? Ha ha) while for hubby and I it was spinach and potato tacos. Tom was fast asleep in his buggy by this point. Obviously all that taxidermied duck excitement had worn him out.
When nap-time was over we headed up to Beacon Hill Park, a large and beautiful park, also walking distance from the harbor. The park has a petting zoo, a miniature golfing green and various other attractions but we got sucked into one of the playgrounds, where myself and my aunt (hubby had somehow wrangled himself a nap – clever man) ran around like headless chickens trying to make sure Tom didn’t overestimate his abilities and launch himself head-first off the climbing frame.
We all convened for dinner where we managed to fit seven of us into a booth at Ferris Grill and Garden Patio. Despite Tom being rather intimidated by our waitress and giving her the side-eye all night we had an awesome time. Ferris specializes in oysters, but most of us ordered a burger of some description. I loved the house Burger and hubby (who is vegetarian) enjoyed the Veggie Nut Burger. Portions were very generous and the Chicago Style Fries were completely addictive. The kids decorated themselves with pasta and tomato sauce and a grand time was had by all.
We loved Victoria and immediately felt at home there. Although it’s a capital city, it has an extremely fun, quirky, laid-back coastal vibe. One of the things I especially loved were all the flower beds blooming along the waterfront. Flowers, flowers for miles!
Thankyou, Victoria, for a lovely stay – we hope to visit again someday!