Tourist guide to Victoria BC
This weekend we headed to the foreign land of Canada! We have ventured to Vancouver before, but we went a little bit further this time out to Vancouver Island aka Victoria, BC!
Friday night we drove across the border and missed the ferry by about a half hour. We hadn’t planned to cross the border that night but went for it. Without a place to stay we were stuck with car-camping at Walmart. We referenced our own guide for free camping, which you can find here!
We hopped on the Tsawwassen ferry in Vancouver to head over to Victoria (plan your ferry trip here). We shared a bench-seat with Adorillia, a retired Brazilian living in Canada for a few months studying English!
Once our ferry made it to the island we drove aimlessly until we hit Fisherman’s Wharf. This is definitely a must see. There are docks lined with shops and restaurants and even…a neighborhood! Between a few of the restaurants, there were a couple of harbor seals hanging around catching some rays on their bellies.
We decided to grab a quick bite to eat and quickly realized how walkable Victoria is. On our way to a restaurant we passed our hotel, and many of the stops we had marked on our map. The town is relatively flat, full of old architecture, and definitely one of our favorites. The locals are very friendly making it easy to strike up a conversation.
We heard Beacon Hill was a beautiful park with a statue of the one and only Terry Fox! If you haven’t heard of him he is an amputee who embarked on an east to west trans-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research! We walked through what is a gorgeous park that runs along the shore of the Juan de Fuca Strait. And it has an off-leash dog park, so be prepared to pet all the cute pups! We couldn’t find the statue, but we did find tons of peacocks?! No one thought it necessary to mention the park is sprawling with peacocks! What a sight to see!
we came for beers and left with new friends
That evening we headed to a bar to grab a drink before dinner. While we were enjoying our happy hour beverage we began to talk with a man at the bar who slyly asked if we recommended the bruschetta…he ended up being the head chef of the joint and got us free food! After he left, a Brazilian couple sat down, and we ended up talking to them for hours. When we made motion to leave the bar tender let us know we had stayed long enough for their late-night menu and got more discounted food and drinks! Literally, we were at this bar for 5 hours haha we came for beers and left with new friends and lots of knowledge of Brazil and Victoria.
On Sunday we had big plans to hike East Sooke Park. We wanted to hit up Goldstream Provincial Park on our way in order to see the Trestle Bridge. Before you hit the trestle you get to hike alongside Niagra Falls (Victoria’s version) and then up over the top of it.
Goldstream Trestle is a must see! The pictures don’t do it justice. Until you walk across those slippery beams yourself peeking through at the rushing water hundreds of feet below you, you have not experienced it!
At the first trestle, we met a couple of hikers who told us about a tunnel carved out of the mountain. They said they had never seen it themselves, but that it was only a half an hour further down the trail. We decided to check it out. We arrived at another trestle that was just as magnificent as the first. We kept walking, and walking…about 50 minutes later we came upon a tunnel. It was beautiful! Not a half hour away, but well worth the journey.
On our way back to the car we took note of just how soaking wet we were. We had worn rain gear, but we were drenched to the bone. We had hiked quite a bit further than we planned and did NOT plan on being so wet so early into our day. We decided to head back to Victoria for some coffee and soup! Victoria has lots of cute coffee shops for those coffee connoisseurs, like us, out there.
Best fish, but bad rice makes shitty sushi
For dinner, we decided to find a sushi joint. Yelp is filled with tons of sushi places for Victoria. We scrolled and pointed. We ended up at Omakase! Omakase is a term meaning, “a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef“. The chef will speak with you and figure out what you should eat based on his conversation with you. It can cost anywhere from $60-$200. We spoke with the chef, but opted out of this option haha. After talking with him and the other people at the bar, they talked us into it…so next time we’ll do it!
We sat at the bar so that we could watch the chef prepare the sushi (we make our own and still suck at it). While chatting with the chef we were able to experience how his career is his passion. He was proud of the food he serves and the time he put into selecting the best fish, and the best rice. Medi, the chef said “Best fish, but bad rice makes shitty sushi”. When we tried ours we knew what he meant. We eat a lot of sushi…a lot! But this was by far the best we’ve ever had. The seafood just melted on your tongue, and the rice was almost a paste instead of grain. It was amazing! We still have dreams of the unagi…
We walked around Victoria’s Chinatown, which is the oldest Chinatown in Canada! They are also known for having the most narrow alley, Fan Tan Alley. We walked down main street Chinatown and found Fan Tan! It was a beautifully decorated alleyway with little shops set up along it!
On Monday we knew we had to head back home but figured we’d make use of the weekday hours. We decided to take a tour of the parliament building during its open hours. We learned a lot about Canadian politics and the history of the island. I think we now know more about Canadian politics than US…which isn’t saying much.
Before we headed home we did one more loop of Beacon Hill Park to try to spot Terry Fox. We found him!! He is positioned in a loop on a running trail, how fitting! There is a great documentary on his journey here (episode 17).
On our way home, we often procrastinate our arrival. We will literally point anything out on the road to stop and look at. On our way home from Kentucky we stopped at a fudge shop (you can read about that here). This time we didn’t need an excuse…Hundreds of bald eagles were flying over us! Never in our lives had we seen this many eagles…we’ll definitely be back for some photo ops!
We got our feet wet over the weekend for what Victoria has to offer, but it only increased our appetite for Vancouver Island as a whole! Next up on the list is heading north for more remote hiking to spot black bears and grizzlies. Oh yeah, also whale watching. Let us know if you’ve been or if you have recommendations for what to do next!