Exploring Victoria

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.

Alyssa Campanella The A List blog exploring Victoria harbor

Alyssa Campanella The A List blog exploring Victoria harbor

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 rosΓ© 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!

Alyssa Campanella The A List Blog Whale Watching Victoria

Alyssa Campanella The A List Blog Whale Watching Victoria

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!

Alyssa Campanella The A List blog exploring Victoria

Photos by Torrance Coombs.

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14 Comments

  1. Mona

    What a lovely trip! I lived in Canada until 1999, now I live in Germany and I’ve been dying to visit again. I was planning on going to Ontario and Quebec, but Victoria is definitely also on the top of my list after reading this post!

    Posted 7.17.17 Reply
    • The A List

      Ontario and Quebec are on my list! The farthest east I have been is Toronto, so I am hoping to make it to Quebec, Montreal, and Nova Scotia soon πŸ™‚

      Posted 7.17.17 Reply
  2. Erika

    I bought a pair of light blue Hunter boots just last week! Did you know they are the Queen’s official “suppliers of waterproof footwear”? It says so right on the box with her coat of arms πŸ™‚

    Posted 7.17.17 Reply
    • The A List

      Hi Erika! Yes I did know! I’ve seen pics of her wear them in Scotland πŸ™‚ They’re so comfy! And I was the only one wearing the right footwear because when ocean water came onboard the boat, my feet didn’t wet unlike Tor’s which got soaked!

      Posted 7.17.17 Reply
  3. I’ve always wanted to visit Canada and you’ve convinced me that Victoria is where I need to go. Thanks for always including links to restaurants, etc. — it’s so helpful! x

    Posted 7.17.17 Reply
    • The A List

      Yes you must visit Canada! I highly recommend visiting Vancouver as well, since you need to catch the ferry from Vancouver to get to Victoria. If you have time, squeeze in a trip to Whistler too πŸ˜‰

      Posted 7.17.17 Reply
  4. Christle

    What gorgeous pictures! The only one I took when I was in Victoria that I still have…stupid computers breaking down and losing all my stuff, and stupid me not backing it up somehow…is one of a chalk drawing someone did of an Ophelia painting by Waterhouse. And I’m glad you got to see some whales out on your whale watching tour, you lasted much longer than I would have…It seems as soon as I step on a boat and it leaves the dock, I get horribly seasick, it’s happened since I was tiny.

    Posted 7.17.17 Reply
    • The A List

      Thanks Christle! I started feeling seasick early on but took medicine. Unfortunately where the first pod of orcas were was in choppy waters and that’s where my stomach couldn’t take it anymore. Tor has a strong stomach and was fine (lucky guy!).

      Posted 7.17.17 Reply
  5. Penni Weston

    WOW…just wanna sing Smooth Operator watching this stuff. Beautiful through and through.

    Posted 7.18.17 Reply
    • The A List

      πŸ˜‰

      Posted 7.18.17 Reply
  6. So cool! I love seeing a blogger I follow visit my hometown! It looks like you had a great adventure. Next time you are in town you and Tor should visit the Buchart Gardens, the breakwater and a couple other great local restaurants (Stage, 10 acres, North 48). Love your blog, travel envy for you and Tor’s adventures!!

    Posted 7.18.17 Reply
    • The A List

      Hi Natasha! Thank you so much! I always want to make sure my blog posts please those who call the city we visit “home” so I am glad you like it. Next time we will have to try your suggestions! I know we will be back soon πŸ™‚

      Posted 7.18.17 Reply
  7. Since you are on the island, venture north. My daughter lives there and sooner of my most favorite places on this earth are there. First try The Crow and Gate, a hidden away authentic British pub on the southern end of Nanaimo. Then, head inland to the most amazing set of shops, the best being Goats on the Roof, a shop that actually has goats living on their grass roof! Continue west to Cameron Lake, so absolutely beautiful and then just past the lake is an old growth forest that is filled with the most awesome energy, it restores your soul. It’s called Cathedral Grove. And, if you do all that and want to stop in and say “Hey” to my daughter, she and the love of her life live in Port Alberni. You can thank me later. Not one of my suggestions will disappoint!!

    Posted 7.19.17 Reply
    • The A List

      Thanks for the suggestions! We aren’t on Vancouver Island anymore, in fact we have been back home in Los Angeles now for a week πŸ™ But we plan on seeing more of Vancouver Island next time! My husband has been a few times and loves to tell me about the Goats on the Roof shop. I’ll be sure to make my way over there soon!

      Posted 7.19.17 Reply