Taylor Kennedy, who helped with our Olympic coverage last week, takes a break from bustling Vancouver and hops a ferry to Victoria, B.C.
A lesser-known treat in the 2010 Olympic region is a water trip through the gulf islands on BC Ferries to Victoria. BC Ferries boasts the world’s largest ferry fleet, running residents around the archipelago of coastal B.C. The two-hour journey from Vancouver to Victoria is stunning–and a bit startling. Heading through Active Pass you get a great view of Galiano Island on one side and Mayne Island on the other from what feels like a dangerously close vantage point. I could almost see into the windows of a few of the houses perched on the cliffs next to the ferry before we backed away to a safer distance.
On sunny days the glimpse of the snow-covered peaks on both the U.S. and Canadian sides across the water is postcard-perfect. On misty days, the clouds hang in bands that are peacefully beautiful. But in any weather, be sure to grab a spot on the sun deck, as gray, humpback, and orca whales are common in these waters.
Once you get into flower-filled Victoria (the blossoming trees are mid-bloom, the rhododendrons are starting, and the bulbs are all up already!), the city with the second-highest number of restaurants per capita in North America, snag an awesome dinner deal. Over 50 of the best restaurants in town are offering two- and three-course dinners for as little as $20.
If you can, stop at one of my favorite restaurants, Café Brio. The owner sources all the ingredients from nearby farms; it’s pretty amazing what recipes he comes up with to create a seasonal meal during winter. Wander along the waterfront, then stop at the the iconic Empress Hotel’s Bengal Lounge to get a feel for old town Victoria.
On the way to the ferry, stop by Fireside Grill, where chef Alan Caldwell has been instrumental in creating one of the best deals in town with a three-course meal for $20. With the look and feel of an old British roadside restaurant, Fireside has a quaint warm charm to it. The food is excellent–my wife almost devoured her plate along with the lobster ravioli.
Photos: Taylor Kennedy
- Nat Geo Expeditions