One of the great things about doing a whale watch with Eagle Wing (and perhaps other companies – this is the only tour I’ve done here, so the only one I can attest to) is the unexpected bonus of seeing Race Rocks, one of the province’s ecological reserves. You were expecting to see whales, but maybe not the 150 year old lighthouse and rocks teeming with different types of seals. And maybe they don’t get as much love as the whales, but the seals are entertaining (and some are huge!), and their harping sounds are loud and hilarious – all the more reason to take a tour.
There’s lots to love about Bastion Square in the heart of downtown – outdoor restaurants, a museum, the interesting architecture you’d expect in one of the oldest parts of the city. They also have public vendors, like this one, my favourite, selling locally made chocolate covered strawberries and handmade marshmallows. They taste as good as they look – but I’d recommend eating them on the spot and not carrying them around for a whole day of shopping, like I did last time. Not that I didn’t still enjoy them after they cooled off in the fridge.
For a fun dessert, snack or lunch option in Victoria, consider one of the several little waffles places around. This one is WannaWafel in Market Square. I got the banana split option, complete with ice cream, regular cream, and powdered sugar – skipping the chocolate, of course, since I’m clearly very health conscious. My mom opted for berries instead. Whichever you chose, and however much you load your waffle up, it’s a fun way to get off your feet for a bit and carb-load so you can continue your day shopping – and when it’s nice out you’ll get a nice little view from your table in the process.
I probably post too many chain locations on this blog when I should be promoting local businesses (which I still do!), but one of the things I love about British Columbia in general has been some of the places – like Marble Slab Creamery – that don’t exist on the East Coast. Which brings me to the point of today’s post. Yes, it’s true that you can get free ice cream at Marble Slab – but there’s a catch. You have to sign up for their mailing list (from which honestly, I can’t remember ever getting any other emails, though I could be forgetting), and the week of your birthday they’ll email you a coupon for a free cone. If you know how much I love free things, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear how much I was all over that. And the ice cream is good. I got milk chocolate with cookie dough and marshmallows mixed in. I also had one of their ice cream cakes for my party, but that’s another story!
Shhhh …… the official opening celebration of Fisherman’s Wharf Park will be held on October 2 from 11 a.m. til noon, and it sounds like a fun family day if you’re able to make it then. But word to the wise – the fence surrounding the park is down, so you’re free to stroll around and explore it now, if you so choose. Just don’t mind the fact that the water hasn’t been filled into the river, and stay off the grass!
When and where I grew up, there were no such things as free tennis courts open to the public – so I’m not sure if it’s a big deal that these three are. But their setting alone, nestled amongst the trees in James Bay, is almost begging you to play, which is why I’m glad to have been recently gifted used rackets. And they’re near my perfect breakfast spot at Ogden Point, so pack your gear and a thermos of tea and you have your Saturday morning set (and thrifty, too!).
This post’s title is only slightly alarmist, as an ending is drawing near – that of the summer season at Fisherman’s Wharf. Things get pretty quiet there over the winter months, and while nothing is officially closed yet, a few days last week Grilligan’s didn’t open. While it was open today and I have no doubt it will be open this weekend, pretty soon it will shut its doors for the fall, along with Barb’s Fish and Chips and Jackson’s Ice Cream Float, so eat up while you can. I’m not sure what the new Mexican place, Puerto Vallarta Amigos, has planned and if they’ll shut their doors, so keep your fingers crossed. But all these closures have a silver lining – if all goes like last year, you’ll still be able to get fresh fish at The Floating Fish Store, and a cheap, winter-long deal on their tasty fish and chips. So maybe The End won’t be so bad afterall.
The Empress Hotel is a popular tourist spot for many reasons, not the least being its stunning gardens. Always on the look-out for posts these days, I noticed that some of its flowers are labelled, and, in a learn-something-new-everyday kind of way, discovered that the company that provides them is online so anyone can buy them. As you can see on the little placard, these flowers above are Hybrid Teas available at Jackson & Perkins. So if you want your garden to look like one of Victoria’s most beautiful, I suggest you start by looking here first!