Victoria, BC: Boat Rides and Chinatown

IMG_0411Victoria’s harbor is certainly its focal point, and it was also the theme for our third day in the city. From seafood breakfasts to harbor ballets to water taxis, almost our entire day was on or along the water.

We resorted to purchasing muffins from the cafeteria on the ferry the morning we arrived in Victoria and popped in a coffee shop during our walk to Craigdarroch Castle our second day, so on day three we were ready for a sit down breakfast.

I really wanted to try the Blue Crab, which I read was supposed to have an awesome crab benedict. We passed the restaurant during our walk to Fisherman’s Wharf the evening before so we knew right where to go.

I was a bit discouraged when we arrived because it didn’t look like the restaurant was open. We saw people sitting out on the patios overlooking the water the night before, but no one was around.

We climbed up from the trail and discovered the restaurant was in a hotel and the breakfast was in a big glassed in room overlooking the water. We were seated at a small table near the windows, and we both had delicious breakfasts– Brian enjoyed his crab hash, and the blue crab benedict was excellent!

On our walk back we came across some geese and a blue heron and were just in time to watch it catch its breakfast! Here are a few pictures from our walk along the water.

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We wanted to explore Victoria’s Chinatown and since we had walked to all of our other destinations, we decided to take the water taxi to this one! We headed back downtown to find out how the harbor ferries worked when we heard a gentleman over some loud speakers announcing it was almost time for the Harbor Ferry Ballet! I had never heard of such a thing, but apparently it occurs every Saturday morning during the summer– we happened to be in the right place at the right time.

My husband loves boats, and I think this might have been his favorite moment of the entire trip. Five of the small ferry boats perform a water ballet to classical music compositions that are played over the loud speakers. It was actually quite impressive, but it was also making me laugh to see these boats making figure eights, running alongside one another and following each other around to the music. If you’re going to be in Victoria over the weekend, you have to check it out– it doesn’t take long, it’s free and it will likely put a smile on your face.

After the show we jumped on one of the taxis and headed across the bay and up toward Chinatown.

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The water taxi ride was perfect– a quick trip up to a landing near Chinatown where we were able to hop off and begin exploring the area.

In addition to checking out the Gates of Harmonious Interest we walked down to the Victoria Public Market to escape from the sun and walk among the vendors. The booths were still opening up, but I did patronize Salt Spring Island Cheese to try their goat’s milk gelato. It was amazing! If I had a cooler or any way of bringing their wares back with me, I would have loaded up on their beautiful and delicious looking chevre options. Instead, I’m going to look into their distribution, which does include stores in the States.

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I had tagged several breweries in this area north of downtown so we started at Canoe Brewpub, which was along the water. It featured a lovely outdoor seating area, and we were perfectly content under a huge umbrella near the bar. The sampler included four of their standards plus one of their seasonals. They only had two seasonals so I picked the wheat, but our waiter thought it was dumb we would only get to try five of the six so he threw in the sixth for free!

Afterward we headed a couple blocks south to Swans Hotel and Brewpub to try out a sample of their beers. We sat inside to get out of the midday sun and enjoyed the eclectic interior.

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We took a little detour down an alley full of shops, and I popped into a music store full of old vinyl called the Turntable. The owners were great and funny, throwing out little quips to everyone in the store.

I came across an awesome Gordon Lightfoot album and bought myself a birthday gift– what better than a Gordo record as a memento of our time in Canada! Hopefully we will have a house soon so I can be reunited with my other albums and record players and give this one a listen.

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We headed back to the room to relax until evening and then spent our final night checking out some of the bars that had live music in the evenings.

We started at Veneto, a cocktail lounge our realtor recommended at the Hotel Rialto, where she stayed when she and her husband visited Victoria. The place was already busy when we arrived around 4:30 p.m. just after they opened, and we grabbed some seats at the bar.

I don’t know much about mixed drinks so I was a little intimidated– the bartenders like to experiment and seem to specialize in little known drinks, so one of the options was to tell them a flavor profile and/or type of alcohol you prefer and let them make you a surprise! Brian went for that option, but I ordered the Auntie Irene, which has bourbon, cynar, framboise and prosecco. A good drink to sip on and start off the evening!

After Veneto we headed to Irish Times Pub, the one Irish styled pub downtown, and grabbed seats with a view of the band. They were great– we ordered a couple of beers and appetizers and stayed for a while enjoying the music.

We ended the evening back at the Bard and Banker, and this time Brian found us a table for two on the second level looking down on the bar, main entry and band. The band wasn’t as good as the one at Irish Times, but the place was packed with tons of people dancing. Our location made for excellent people watching, and we had the best waiter of our entire trip. We had a beautiful walk home in the dark, and I was sorry we only had a little more time in Victoria.

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