When it has poured in Victoria every single Victoria Day Weekend since 1999, consider yourself a fortunate traveller when you arrive by V2V ferry to discover that the pattern has officially been broken!
With our AirBNB peeking over the harbor and walkable to everything this small town has to offer, we didn't want to bother with parking. The new V2V ferry took three hours, but the ride was smooth and scenic and departed from downtown Vancouver, arriving across from the Parliament building. It's a bit pricey even for coach seating, but there are deals to be had since the season is just kicking off.
I cannot recommend the following enough! We were lucky to find a condo for rent in the Janion Building: an historic hotel that only lived for two years before the depression (it didn't have a bar to ride things out) and has been crumbling ever since until a recent restoration developed it back into prime real estate of harbor side "micro lofts". Salvaged fireplace mantles and photography of the original architecture in ruin adorn the hallways. We learned that we were the inaugural guests of apartment 508- which I give 5 stars (it's larger than most). Fully stocked, they even had wine, chocolate and coffee waiting for us upon arrival. Like- how do you know our strict diet staples without even asking?! Magic.
My favorite bites might not surprise you. Steps from the Market in LoJo with cobblestone streets and industrial architecture reminiscent of Dumbo, we enjoyed cold pressed Samurai juice blends from Green Cuisine Restaurant and their vegetarian buffet. I could drink their pesto salad dressing.... For Gelato before lunchtime, Pour on Government Street impressed us with a salted caramel flavor that had a smokey aftertaste.
We waited on line almost an hour and a half under the baking sun for fish and chips at Red Fish Blue Fish. The verdict? A bit overrated for such a wait, though I enjoyed their jerk fish and salmon tacos. One thing I appreciate is that they were the only fish and chips joint we found that staunchly separates shellfish to avoid contamination in the kitchen (read: food truck).
Il Terrazzo blew us away with an herb and focaccia encrusted portobello salad that was so flavorful it could have been a steak. The best iced Americano was definitely at Nourish, known for their bone broth subscriptions (I wish we had stayed for lunch), and saved us on a walk to Fisherman's wharf to meet the fattest sea lions you ever did sea begging for french fries and aggressively splashing potential feeders.
The most inspiring moment was trailing two pods of transient orcas from our Spring Tide Zodiac boat. We were about 100 meters away- a safe distance so as not to harm the calf with sonar and motor noise. It seems like you would get sea sick but since you're so low and horizon line adjacent, it's actually fine. What a ride!
Another highlight was the butterfly conservatory just before Butchart Gardens- a package which we booked through the information center including transportation which saved us over an hour on the road versus public transportation. It was full of those weird bugs that looks like leaves, walking sticks, and even flamingos. Once at the Gardens, don't miss that little boat ride around Daphne Inlet for heron and harbor seal spotting.
We left a couple highlights for next time, such as the highly recommended Agrius and Little Jumbo, high tea at the Fairmont, and Beacon Hill Park.
I'll admit, with a view from the balcony like the one we had, it was hard to stay out late munching around town when we could see the Fairmont and Parliament building lit up at night in our pajamas with a glass of aged port. Long weekends are nice.