British Columbia is full of incredible gems, which is why exploring Victoria with me was always on the top of Tor’s list. As mentioned in my last post from our stay at the Fairmont Empress, my husband has always been aware of my love for British history. While we have no plans as of right now to return to the UK yet, Victoria was certainly the next best thing.
Look 1: Yumi Kim dress c/o, Gap jacket (old, similar here and here), Kaanas sandals, Gucci bag, Celine sunglasses
Look 2: Majorelle dress c/o Revolve, Raye heels c/o Revolve, Stila lipstick
Look 3: Barbour jacket (similar here), Club Monaco sweater, J Brand jeans, Hunter boots, J. Crew sunglasses, Rebecca Minkoff bandana, suede hat
Victoria is full of history, and that’s extremely evident the minute you arrive. At one point while standing at Victoria Harbor, every corner I turned to featured a prominent historical building. While I am sure much has changed in 100 years, it was fascinating for me to imagine being in Victoria in the early 1900s surrounded by all of these same buildings.
Just under a year ago, while we were still living in Spain, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Victoria with Justin Trudeau and his family and naturally I followed their royal tour of Canada daily. One of their first stops was the famous Parliament Building, which is pretty much the iconic symbol of Victoria. While exploring Victoria, Tor and I made a point to visit the Parliament Building twice – once during the day and then again at night when the building it lit up in incredible lights. You can also see the building from many harbor-front rooms at the Fairmont Empress.
After getting to see the Parliment building in person, we took a stroll along the docks at Victoria Harbor. There were all kinds of diverse boats docked for the evening, such as houseboats, fish n’ chips stands, and whale watching boats. There were also a few street performers gathering quite the audience as the sun began to make it’s way down beyond the horizon in the distance.
We were lucky to have one of Tor’s friends in the restaurant industry in Victoria give us tips on where to dine during our visit, as food is one way for me to fully explore and understand a new place. On our first night, we dined at Il Terrazzo. There were several Italian restaurants recommended to us, and this one was able to squeeze us in. Tor dined on chicken while I had an incredible shrimp and white wine risotto that took me back to our honeymoon in Venice. After our whale watching tour, which I talk about later on in this post, we stopped for lunch in Fisherman’s Wharf at Barb’s Fish N Chips, which was AMAZING. I’m not really big on cod or halibut so I got the battered shrimp and chips, but combined with their homemade tartar sauce it was OUTSTANDING. If you’re in the mood for fish n chips while exploring Victoria, this is THE place to go. For our second night, we had a romantic dinner date at OLO Restaurant, which is a farm to table restaurant. While there were plenty of meat on the menu, we went the vegetarian route for the evening and dined on semolina cubes, pea soup, and a delicious pumpkin seed pesto pasta. We concluded our final night in Victoria with a s’mores dessert and delicious rosé wine.
But there was one activity that was an absolute MUST while exploring Victoria. Five years ago, Tor took me whale watching out of Vancouver because he knew how much I loved orcas and wanted to see one in the wild. I’ve been obsessed with orcas for years (yes, shockingly longer than my love for cats). I even wanted to be an orca caretaker at a certain animal park but obviously that did not happen (and yes, I have seen Blackfish and support that documentary). But getting back on topic, unfortunately we didn’t see any whales on our trip in 2012. I was incredibly bummed, and since I have a fear of boats and water, I wasn’t about to jump on another boat anytime soon to find one.
Flash forward to two weeks ago, Tor and I decided this was our chance to see orcas. They are commonly found closer to Victoria and in the islands around Vancouver Island, so we booked two tickets on Eagle Wing Tours and with an incredible whale watching crew in tow we were off to find some orcas! This time, we got more than we bargained for. Not only did we get the chance to see a humpback whale up close (he/she came right up to our boat!), but we saw TWO family pods of transient orcas! Seeing their dorsal fins and white eyepatches made me get all kinds of emotional, in a good way. I love that our boat respected their privacy and didn’t get too close, as much as I wanted to go right up to one. There were a few calves (baby orcas) hunting with their mamas right there in the Salish Sea, and it was such an incredible sight. Unfortunately, I do not have a strong stomach and had to relinquish watching those orcas to the back of the boat where I turned completely green. It was all worth it though, because now I can cross off “watching orcas in the wild” off my bucket list. Maybe one day I will get the courage to brave another boat on the water to see them again, but for now I will be framing all of my orca pictures that we got on this trip!
In the end, exploring Victoria felt like an experience that had to be done, and I am glad we got to finally visit the city together. While we were only there for two nights, I do not see it being our last time in Victoria as there’s still so much more to explore and experience. I cannot wait to see it all!