A journey up north to Canada is always a treat and my most recent visit was no different. Upon arrival in Vancouver, it was not far to go, as I stayed at the lovely Vancouver Airport Fairmont (about 5 hours nonstop from Houston).
The hotel boasts soundproofing and I was anxious to test that out. They’re not kidding – unless you look out the windows to see the planes taking off and landing, you would not know they were there. The spa is luxurious and will take your mind far away from any tensions you might have brought along. And if you want another vantage point for watching the planes come and go, the [email protected] restaurant will satisfy that and much more with their creative gourmet offerings. Many patrons eat here even if they’re staying elsewhere … delicious.
Steveston Village was a new stop for me. The charming, historic, fishing community offers wonderful walking and biking paths along the waterfront. You can stroll into shops and restaurants, watch the fishing boats, explore the cannery, stay in a small hotel – several to choose from – and be sure not to leave without partaking in some oh-so-fresh fish and chips. It’s one of Richmond’s most popular destinations for good reason.
Another worthwhile excursion is flying with Harbour Air from Vancouver. Taking a seaplane to Victoria took only 45 minutes versus a 3.5-hour ferry ride. The flights are usually around $200 and you can book them with admission to Butchart Gardens or even with a whale-watching tour for between $350 and $400. Take in breathtaking views while aboard North America’s largest and first fully carbon neutral airline.
Ah, Victoria. The city has so much to offer and each time I’ve visited I’ve found new delights.
The capital city is home to the spectacular Butchart Gardens, a gardener’s paradise of vibrant color and fragrance. Ample rainfall and sunshine provide just the right climate for the lush, leafy inhabitants to flourish. One can’t help but leave inspired to plant something lovely, to keep the good feeling going.
While visiting Victoria, be sure to check out Chinatown. On the other side of the Gate of Harmonious Interest lie vibrant colors, taste- tempting smells and unique shopping experiences. The Chinese immigrants, who came with an influx of gold seekers, laid the groundwork for what you find there today. Many more came later to work on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Chinatown has become very diverse over the years and you’ll find much more than Chinese food and shops as you make your way through the narrow alleys. The rich culture and truly amazing food keep visitors pouring in.
The seafood in Victoria is also something to write home about. The Fish Store at Fisherman’s Wharf, self-described as a restaurant and fishmonger, buys their fish directly from the fishermen and then processes it right there at their floating store. Nautical Nellie’s, Red Fish Blue Fish, Finn’s … the list of whimsically named restaurants offering mouth-watering fresh seafood goes on and on. Your only regret will be not having enough room to try them all.
After all that eating, some exercise might be in order. Victoria is extremely walking friendly. In fact, about 10 percent of its residents walk to work. You can get plenty of exercise strolling in and out of the countless shops. Browse for handmade gifts, local Aboriginal art, the latest fashions and so much more at your own pace in the vast network of alleyways and side streets.
When staying in Victoria, nothing surpasses the magnificent and highly acclaimed Fairmont Empress. Its numerous accolades include being recognized as one of the Top 21 Iconic Hotels in the World by “National Geographic Traveler” magazine. The majestic hotel overlooks the harbor and nearby shops and restaurants are easily accessible on foot. You might not want to venture out to dine, though. Dining at Q or Tea at the Empress are an experience in themselves. And the hotel’s incredible spa experience will leave you in want for nothing. I luxuriated in the Salish Sea Vitality (seaweed) body treatment – divine!
And there is much more to do in Victoria – from museums to a lively array of outdoor activities including year-round cycling, cruises, sailing, golf, hiking, fishing, surfing and birdwatching. Whether you’re looking for a great family trip, a lovely location to celebrate an anniversary or another worthy destination to check off your bucket list, Victoria has it all.