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  • Writer's pictureClarissa Tapia

Behind the scenes in Victoria, British Columbia

Updated: Aug 16, 2020

Day One in Canada!

If I had to describe Victoria in one word... I would have to say: GORGEOUS! Keep in mind I am a desert rat so anything green has my eyes popping out of my face and the word 'Pretty' coming out of my mouth so much I annoy myself! This trip came together thanks to my cousin, Anayssa, who graciously invited me to tag along on her family trip. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to also include my mom on this trip and this turned out into one of those Mother-Daughter Adventures that I will remember for the rest of my life. :) Before I get too sappy, let's dive in to what we did during our trip so you can plan your next grand adventure! I absolutely recommend Victoria - it is a really special place.

All epic trips include stops at unique and special eateries - and Victoria did not disappoint. Therefore, I will start my travel saga with food! One of the places we were lucky enough to find was a little cafe by the name of Imagine Studio Café. Our Airbnb host reccommended this place to my mom and I on our first day and we ended coming back here daily during out stay! (One day we even ended up here twice - the staff was laughing!) Every day this little café had new pastries to our enjoyment and chagrin because we'd crave something from the day before only to met with a 'we do those once a week.' If you enjoy smoothies, have them make you a berry smoothie with yogurt and orange juice - it's incredible. They work a lot with Saskatoon berries here and they are so delicious. Also, if you are a fan of Nutella, their Nutella buns will make your eyes roll back into your head. Not even joking. Last, the café honors the indigenous cultures of the area by creating special plates featuring food representing the culture. We had the pleasure of enjoying Bannock bread with yogurt on top and a Saskatoon Berry and Strawberry jam on top. I have never had yogurt on my bread and let me tell you - game changer!

Something to note: A quirky thing about this town is that things open late and close very early. I am used to going out and finding coffee all day every day and we found out the hard way that most places open after 9 AM and cafés close around midday. So for anyone with a sweet tooth that kicks in after dinner when the weather is chilly (you know I'm talking about those hot chocolate/coffee cravings) - yeah... not going to happen! We were told by some locals this town is known as a retirement community which explains a lot of the late opening hours and early closings.

Whale Watching in Canada!

For anyone who'd been around me a couple of weeks leading up to this trip, all they would hear me talk about was my desire to go whale watching. When I looked up things to do in Victoria, whale watching was always at the top of the list, so the thought of traveling all the way up there and not go see whales sounded insane to me! My family was a littler nervous about it because it is a four hour trip out in the ocean - and in the end the only person I was able to convince was my mom! She absolutely refused to go on the adventure boat I originally wanted to take because it turns out you need survival suits for that one because you are so close to the water. LOL. So we compromised and went out on a catamaran boat which had seating on the inside with plenty of room to roam throughout the front, sides and back of the ship. I think it's so cool to look back on how things turn out when change happens because we ended having to share this huge 50+ seater boat with only about 20 people so we had tons of space throughout the boat and we saw whales in the first 15 minutes of this four hour trip. It was insane! Plus, the crew all had degrees relating or very closely relating to marine biology - so the facts they told us, the stories they shared, it was all so special. They could even identify the whale as we saw them! There was a cute family of orcas and I believe humpback whales too! This is not like in Seaworld where the whales come out of the water and do tricks for you, if that's what you're hoping for, you may be disappointed. You get to see these animals in their home doing normal things like swimming around, playing with their family or just coming up to take a breath. It's beautiful and magical and absolutely breathtaking. I recommend Eagle Wing Whale and Wildlife Watching Tours for anyone who is apprehensive of being out in the water like my mom was. The crew knew exactly how to handle sea sickness and provided additional jackets, beanies and gloves for all guests on the trip because it turned out to be absolutely freezing out in the water. Phenomenal experience. :) Here's a video highlighting some of my best pictures during this ocean voyage!

After the excitement of whale watching, my mom and I (of course thinking about our stomachs:]) sought out a nice place to enjoy a relaxing dinner and reflect on the adventure we'd had. I can't even begin to express how proud I was of my mom for going with me to see whales. She was so brave and I think she ended up surprising herself by how much she actually enjoyed the experience. It was so awesome! We wandered the picturesque streets of Victoria before we came across a little Italian restaurant that caught our eye. It's called Il Covo Trattoria and the minute you step through the gate into the garden patio with outdoor seating you are immediately transported to a scene right out of romantic movie. My mom was treated to delicious spaghetti dinner and I ended up with a pesto pasta that was the special of the day.

O.M. G. All I can say is that we finished evvvveeerrryyttthhiiinng! :) Super cute date night spot to get dressed up for. If you have big parties or prefer indoor seating (which is also super cute) - I recommend calling ahead and making a reservation they were pretty packed when we were there and it was a Thursday.

My mom getting spoiled :)
At Il Covo Trattoria, Victoria, BC

We ended our day by visiting the beautiful Parliament Building in Victoria because they light it up at night and it is quite an incredible sight! My family was laughing at me because I couldn't figure out how to capture night pictures with my camera - I had forgotten! Only to figure out 10 minutes later there was a night setting on the camera. Haha! I am still working on my night photography - please excuse the blurriness. ;)

Parliament Building with my Aunt, Uncle & Mom :)

My mom is quite the photographer herself!

Day Two

Our next day began at Imagine Studio Café followed by a stroll down to the downtown area of Victoria. This is where you will find the fancy hotels and a younger crowd. It is really fun to walk in this are because there are shops, restaurants and lots of street vendors as well. The visitor's center is also located here and they are so helpful and super nice. I have to vouch for the saying that Canadians are really nice - it's true!! My mom and I ended up taking one of the free tours through the parliament building and buying passes to a hop on hop off bus that took us all over the island. Some of the highlights of the bus were: Craigdarroch Castle, Oak Bay Village, Beacon Hill Park, China Town and Fisherman's Wharf. We ended the day with a nice dinner at a trendy restaurant in Downtown Victoria called Earl's Kitchen + Bar - total opposite setting of the night prior - but the food was equally as good! We recommend their Buffalo Cauliflower - amazeballs! P.S. They don't have what we know as ranch there - but they did offer a really tasty parmesan sauce dip. That night we met up with our family and took a carriage ride throughout Victoria - perfect way to end our night. :) Here's a video recap of our day!

Because this little beauty didn't fit in my video! :)

Last Day :-)

Our last day in Canada was of course bittersweet. After a yummy start to our day at Imagine (surprise, surprise Lol) my mom and I ventured over to a little place called Fisherman's Wharf a placehome to one-of-a-kind properties... floating houses! Yes, there are such things as floating houses and people actually live in them year round. There was a cool sign outside one of the homes that had all kinds of facts that tourists would be curious about. Such as: there are 33 total floating homes in the Fisherman's Wharf Float-Home Village. The village receives up to 500,000 tourists and locals each year. I couldn't imagine living in such tight quarters! You will see what I mean in the pictures. If you're curious about staying in a floating house, you're in luck - there's a floating B&B! You can check out information at Apart from the home, this is where most of the whale watching tours depart from and there are fun fish and chips restaurants along with pizza and souvenir stores too. Totally worth checking out!

No trip to Victoria is complete without a visit to the Butchart Gardens! This place is one of the most magical and awe inspiring places I have ever seen. There is no way you couldn't take a good picture here. Literally everything is picture perfect. I don't have enough words to describe this garden, so I will allow the pictures to speak for themselves. :) If you get a chance, make sure to book your garden visit through Groupon with Island Time Tours because it includes shuttle transportation to and from your hotel to the garden. My mom and I didn't stay at a hotel, so what we did was choose the closest hotel to our Airbnb so we could get dropped off as close to our lodging as possible. This garden is a 35 minute drive away from the center of the city and taxis will be much more expensive. Fun Fact: there are no Ubers or Lyfts in Victoria yet! If you have the opportunity to stay in Victoria during the summer, make sure you stay at the garden until their fireworks display which is only on Saturdays during their summer season. The fireworks display was magnificent. Fireworks in the shape of flowers - yes please! Your eyes will be blinded by the incredible sight. Fun Fact No. 2: The sun sets in Victoria around 10 PM so the fireworks are late in the evening. Even though it's summer, it gets pretty cold at night here, so bring layers.

What I would do differently for another trip to the gardens is arrive later in the day. We arrived around 2 PM, but we saw the gardens and had dinner all by 6 PM which meant we had four hours to kill until the fireworks! My suggestion: arrive around 4 PM and bring a picnic (which they do allow) complete with something warm to sit on, some pillows and a nice bottle of wine. Enjoy a sunset picnic with friends, family and loved ones and then take turns going out to see the gardens. This way your fireworks spot is saved - it gets very packed for this event! Depending how many pictures you want to take or how much ogling you want to do throughout the garden I would venture to guess you spend an average of 2.5-3 hours to see the entire garden. The garden has a beautiful story attached to it, and it is considered a National Historic Site of Canada. You can read up on it here: Butchart Gardens Story. Enjoy these pictures!

There are no pictures or videos of the fireworks because I choose to stay in the moment and enjoy them simply by spectating. I hope this inspires your next grand adventure! Writing this blog post has been so much fun because I am reflecting back on the fun and unforgettable moments spent with people I love very much. There's a smile playing on my lips as I end this because I feel that sensation I always get when I think about travel nagging me with the same question: Where to next Clarissa? We shall see. :) XO!

P.S. The underlined items within the blog are links to websites with more information on particular topics to help you plan your trip.

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