Lorraine Simpson: Victoria breathes charm and beauty

Lorraine Simpson: Victoria breathes charm and beauty

Another weekend down and that means I just got back from another great adventure with some well-deserved downtime.

You see, this past Friday, I ventured off to Vancouver Island, Victoria, and it was truly an amazing trip.

The island is about 300 miles long and I was delighted with everything it has to offer. Trust me, once you visit Victoria you will want to move here, or at least come back for more visits.

Welcome to The Fairmont Empress Hotel

Yes, this is the hotel I stayed in and it’s a gem – classy and full of character, and let’s not forget its rich history.

This Forbes 4 Diamond Property is recognized as one of Top 21 Iconic Hotels in the World by National Geographic Traveler Magazine. The Empress also holds the esteemed Travel + Leisure Distinction as a Top Canadian Hotel and is regarded as a Condé Nast Readers’ Choice and Gold List Hotel.

The island is about 300 miles long and I was delighted with everything it has to offer. Trust me, once you visit Victoria you will want to move here, or at least come back for more visits.

Welcome to The Fairmont Empress Hotel

Yes, this is the hotel I stayed in and it’s a gem – classy and full of character, and let’s not forget its rich history.

This Forbes 4 Diamond Property is recognized as one of Top 21 Iconic Hotels in the World by National Geographic Traveler Magazine. The Empress also holds the esteemed Travel + Leisure Distinction as a Top Canadian Hotel and is regarded as a Condé Nast Readers’ Choice and Gold List Hotel.

We went to Church and State Winery and their sparking wine blew me away! I am a champagne lover and it truly was exceptional.

Next to the Micro Winery is the well-known Invinity Sparkling Wine House that makes some of the best sparking wine I have ever tasted in the traditional method – right from their basement too! I even got to sabre the top off with a sword which was a very cool experience. Finished off with a cider producer with stunning views of the water and mountains in the background – it was a wonderful day to celebrate with one of the bottles we bought along the way!

Whale watching is truly amazing

One of our amazing experiences of the weekend was whale watching – a must for anyone visiting the Island.

Picking up our 900-horsepower boat in the Marina of Fisherman’s Wharf was fun in itself, and scenic too. The Wharf is a warm and colourful floating village of homes and businesses that look like they are more suited in a story book.

We powered across the ocean at great speed passing pretty islands, seal colonies, bald eagle nests, and eventually saw some hump back whales who performed on cue for us and we were able to even identify which ones they were from the book of tails they had on board.

If you go whale watching, I recommend booking with Eagle Wing Whale & Wildlife Tours – they are a great company and their guides just love their jobs!

The whale watching tour was about 3 hours long, and later we also had the opportunity to enjoy a picnic on the lawn of the iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel. It is a lovely way to enjoy a delicious lunch on individually wrapped blankets in the open air. I also should mention that we capped off the day right with a nice bottle of Veuve Cliquot Champagne.

In the evening we went on another adventure, this one was to find a few delightful boutique shops as I am a bit of a shopaholic. Simply put, I was not disappointed.

Lower Johnson Street (LoJo) is the place to go for trendy boutique shopping in a picture-perfect setting. Also known as the epicentre of fashion, LoJo is lined with independent fashion and accessory shops with social distancing restrictions and hand sanitizing stations were available at every point of entry. That’s right, health and safety is top of mind here on the Island.

After a bit of shopping, we had worked up an appetite and just steps from Victoria’s spectacular Inner Harbour is the 10 Acres Bistro + Bar that offers a unique West Coast experience, showcasing the freshest foods from Vancouver Island, like seafood and cheese, along with the finest seasonal produce, meats, and eggs direct from their farm on the Saanich Peninsula. With a definite appeal and with me being a passionate foodie, I am telling everyone that they need to check out the 10 Acres Bistro + Bar: it shines as one of Victoria’s brightest dining establishments. I loved it!

Thanks Air Canada for the safe and comfortable ride

We flew Air Canada via Vancouver on the way there with a 1.5-hour easy stop-over and direct on the return home. The direct flight was just over 4 hours. Air Canada is doing an amazing job with ensuring that all passengers are safe and the flights were great with friendly service.

 

The pilots too were friendly and professional, and were great with providing all the info we needed: our altitude, travel time, and weather conditions. For those of you flying Air Canada, I highly recommend them. They are an amazing airline and their main lounge at YYZ is open, so drop in and enjoy a snack or drink before your next flight.

You could easily spend at least a week on this Island and would still not see everything.

Next time I would like to visit Tofino, Nanaimo, and a few of the stunning Northern Beaches too.

Social distancing measures were in full force at the airports and on the plane. Additionally, everyone was required to wear a mask at all times, and everyone was constantly reminded to wash their hands (use soap or hand sanitizer).

Air Canada also has touchless check-in and we booked our seats before going to the airport. Traveling is different now, but it’s great to see how the airports and airlines have amped up their safety measures in this new era of travel. It doesn’t matter where you travel now in Canada – everyone must follow all the new rules in place. I agree with all the new rules – it will help combat the spread of COVID-19 and we are all safer in the skies, at airports, and hotels.

If you are traveling, arrive at the airport early to be on the safe side. Getting through security is the same, but it could take a bit longer as more people are now getting their travel fix after being in lockdown for the last while.

I will for sure be back soon to Vancouver Island. It’s a place that breathes charm and beauty in so many ways. Canada has so much to offer, and since travel is slowly getting back to normal, I encourage you to book a trip and enjoy what our nation has to offer.

If you need help booking your travel plans, contact me today and I will set you in the right direction.

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