Victoria Day Trippin’

Last month I was travelling regularly for work, heading to the far-reaching corners of BC! Just kidding, not that far: a few days in Duncan and Victoria mid-month, then up to Powell River a few weeks later.

I think September is one of the best times to travel in BC. The weather is generally good and the crowds are minimal, with the kids being back in school. | Day trip to Duncan, BC

When I travel for work, I always get the earliest ferry from Horseshoe Bay, in order to get to my first site visit at a reasonable time. I don’t want to jinx it, but in the 10 years that I’ve been taking the trip, I’ve had a poor-weather crossing only once or twice in September.

More often than not, I’m treated to the glow of the rising sun and the outline of downtown Vancouver and Mount Baker in the background. It’s definitely worth the 4am wake-up call. | Day trip to Duncan, BC | Day trip to Duncan, BC

My site visit in Duncan usually takes a full day, and I’m often pooped by the end of my testing (hello, 4am wake-up call!) so there are no pictures to show off this quaint little town. One of these years I’ll get my act together!

On these annual site-visits, I usually stay overnight in Nanaimo before heading back to Vancouver. (I shared a few pictures from that visit last year, as I was waiting for the ferry). This year, however, I needed to make a stop in Victoria, which made for a nice change of scenery! The weather was fantastic and I had the morning to hang around in the downtown harbour before catching the ferry home. | Day trip to Victoria, BC | Day trip to Victoria, BC

I stayed at the Capital City Centre Hotel. I’ve stayed there several times for work, and I’d highly recommend it. It’s within walking distance to the waterfront and all the downtown amenities, but the prices are lower than if you are staying in the heart of downtown.

Perfect for a Pearson 🙂 | Day trip to Victoria, BC | Day trip to Victoria, BC

I was right in the middle of my monthly photo challenge, so many of the photos are slanted toward My Month of Buildings. The architecture is nicely varied in the downtown area, so I can’t really complain! I love the brick and old plaster and vines crawling over the store-fronts. | Day trip to Victoria, BC | Day trip to Victoria, BC | Day trip to Victoria, BC | Day trip to Victoria, BC | Day trip to Victoria, BC

It wouldn’t be a trip to our Province’s capital city, without a walk around the Parliament Building! The last time we were in Victoria was almost a year ago, for a little wedding anniversary get-away. Jonty was still on crutches and I remember him eyeing up all those stairs, wondering how badly he really wanted to go on that free tour inside. He was a trooper, and we both enjoyed the tour. Oh, how quickly the year has gone by! | Day trip to Victoria, BC | Day trip to Victoria, BC | Day trip to Victoria, BC

I really do appreciate having a job that allows me to travel around the province a bit; it’s just infrequent enough that I still get excited to go to some of these places when those times of year roll around. | Day trip to Victoria, BC

Where to stay:

Where to eat:

  • Red Fish Blue Fish: An outdoor (seasonal) eatery, selling tasty sustainable fish and chips, with a view.
  • Jam Cafe: A great place for breakfast and lunch! I ate at the bar (the best spot, in my opinion) and had Green Eggs and Ham. Really good. Just be prepared to wait, if you don’t get there early.

Where to get a good coffee:

  • Parsonage Cafe: I found this place during my last visit. They serve homemade muffins and scones in the morning, and you can get a great bagel-and-lox sandwich at lunch. | Day trip to Victoria, BC

I’m working on the photos from my trip to Powell River, so stay tuned!

Vancouver Island Getaway: Postmark Brewing and Belgard Kitchen

Island Hopping – Part 3

We took a few days off last month and headed over to Vancouver Island for a mini-holiday to celebrate our wedding anniversary. You can read about our previous stops in Part 1 and Part 2!

We continued our drive through the Cowichan Valley en route to Victoria. In all the years I have been going over to the Island for work, I have never driven that stretch of the highway before. The constant drizzle didn’t help the views, but under better conditions, I think it would have been a pretty drive.

We had no concrete plans for when we arrived in Victoria, only that we knew we would have a few hours to kill before checking into our hotel. The first order of business? Consult Google for the “Best Donuts Near Me” and find out that the top two contenders are Yonni’s Doughnuts and Empire Donuts. Yonni’s was the closest, so Yonni’s it was – and with a good Americano, it hit the spot 🙂 | Vancouver Island Getaway, Yonni's Doughnuts, Victoria BC

With the weather improving and Jonty able to walk a bit further, we decided to take a little tour around the Legislative Building, as it was pretty close to where we were staying, and just a stone’s throw from the donut shop! | Vancouver Island getaway, BC Legislative Building, Victoria BC | Vancouver Island getaway, BC Legislative Building, Victoria BC | Vancouver Island getaway, BC Legislative Building, Victoria BC

There were tours running every 30 minutes, with the next one started in 5 – perfect timing! I didn’t see any signs disallowing photographs to be taken, and nobody stopped me after I snapped the first one, so I just continued 🙂 | Vancouver Island getaway, BC Legislative Building, Victoria BC

I think this was my fourth legislative building that I’ve toured over the years, and while they all have similar qualities, they are all quite unique in their own way. Jonty and I were the ring-leaders for question-posing, and I think our tour guide was appreciative of that – I expect it can be fairly monotonous, giving the same tour, if nobody asks questions. | Vancouver Island getaway, BC Legislative Building, Victoria BC

We checked into the Marriott Victoria and were surprised to find we had been upgraded to a penthouse suite for our anniversary, overlooking the harbour! It was a great room, with a beautiful view, and made a wonderful surprise! | Vancouver Island Getaway, Downtown Harbour, Victoria BC

After we settled into the hotel room and checked out the complimentary concierge lounge (ooh, swanky!), we mapped out a few of the local craft breweries in our vicinity that wouldn’t require a tonne of walking for Jonty on his crutches. We stopped in at the Hoyne Brewing and Driftwood Brewing Companies before quickly realizing that Victoria doesn’t really have the same zoning regulations as Vancouver, so many of their really small craft breweries don’t have “tasting rooms”, where you can sit down and enjoy their beer. Instead, we sampled a few tasters at each place, bought a few bottles to take home with us, and got a few recommendations of other places to try.

We stopped in at Moon Under Water for a flight (they were having an event, so we couldn’t stay very long) and Swan’s Brewpub for a meal (it was okay, but perhaps a bit too commercial for what we were looking for), and finally onto The Churchill, which was exactly the type of place we were looking for!! With a cozy atmosphere, a long pub bar, and a bartender with the right amount of crack-a-joke-then-leave-you-alone vibe, it was perfect.

The following day we caught the ferry back to Vancouver and, again, we were treated to beautiful blue skies and gorgeous views. | Vancouver Island getaway, ferry ride, Vancouver BC | Vancouver Island getaway, ferry ride, Vancouver BC | Vancouver Island getaway, ferry ride, Vancouver BC

Since we made it back to Vancouver in good time and we weren’t ready to finish our anniversary getaway just yet, we finished up our vacation by going to Postmark. They were just changing over from their brunch menu to their dinner tapas menu, so we enjoyed the ambiance and setting sun over a drink or two. We love the ambiance of this place – it’s an old warehouse building with very high ceilings, reclaimed wooden beams, and a great place to people-watch while eating really good food. | Postmark Brewing and Belgard Kitchen, Vancouver BC | Postmark Brewing and Belgard Kitchen, Vancouver BC | Postmark Brewing and Belgard Kitchen, Vancouver BC | Postmark Brewing and Belgard Kitchen, Vancouver BC

It was so nice to get out-of-town and explore our province, without a plan or agenda. We were reminded of our three-month road trip and how much we loved that experience. Hopefully 2016 will bring more of the same!

Island Hopping – Part 2

We took a little vacation over to Vancouver Island a few weeks ago. You can read about Stop #1 here.

Stop #2:

We had to stop for the best buns on the Island! If you’re ever near Ladysmith, make sure to stop in at the Old Town Bakery. You will most likely have to queue, as I have done. Every. Single. Time. 🙂 But it is always worth the wait; bread, buns, cookies, bars, scones, you name it, they bake it. However, we didn’t go for any of those, delicious as they are, we went for the cinnamon buns!! | Vancouver Island getaway, Old Town Bakery, Ladysmith BC

There were no fewer than 8 different kinds of cinnamon buns to choose from. After MUCH deliberation, the Pearson’s settled on the Lemon Poppyseed and the Peanut Butter buns. Both were more than worth the wait! | Vancouver Island getaway, Old Town Bakery, Ladysmith BC

To walk off the buns, we meandered around the downtown (which took about 30 seconds – Ladysmith is not that big…). There are great-looking buildings, though; sometimes I wonder if people choose to paint buildings a bright colour to bring some cheer on the gray winter days. It certainly helps lighten the mood! | Vancouver Island getaway, Old Town Bakery, Ladysmith BC | Vancouver Island getaway, Old Town Bakery, Ladysmith BC | Vancouver Island getaway, Old Town Bakery, Ladysmith BC

Stop #3:

Continuing down the highway on our way to Victoria, we made another stop at Duncan. One of my mammo sites is located in their hospital, so we took a little detour so I could show Jonty where my annual travel takes me. Did you know that Duncan is known as the City of Totems? You can find them throughout the city! | Vancouver Island getaway, Red Arrow Brewing, Duncan BC

Our final stop in the Cowichan Valley was for a mid-day sipping session at Duncan’s local craft brewery – Red Arrow Brewing Company. | Vancouver Island getaway, Red Arrow Brewing, Duncan BC

Actually, the main reason we wanted to stop there is because we’re currently loving this show (and he’s the Green Arrow, so we thought it was fitting to have a brew at the Red Arrow!) | Vancouver Island getaway, Red Arrow Brewing, Duncan BC

Next stop? Down to Victoria! Stay tuned 🙂

Island Hopping – Part 1

Way back in November we took a little 3-day vacation over to Vancouver Island to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. We took the ferry over to Nanaimo, meandered through the Cowichan Valley, down to Victoria then returned to Vancouver from there. I think we hit most weather patterns throughout our trip – blue sky, grey sky, a bit of rain, a lot of rain, a bit of fog and some gusty winds. All in all, though, it was a great, much-needed, getaway! | Vancouver Island getaway, Horseshoe Bay, Vancouver BC

We had glorious weather heading over to Nanaimo. Although the winter sun was shining low in the sky, the wind was brisk and we managed about 30 minutes outside before feeling a bit windswept and headed back indoors.

Day 1: Nanaimo

We decided our anniversary vacation was going to be a food-and-craft-beer tour so once we landed in Nanaimo, we meandered down to Wolf Brewing to try their brews. The have been brewing their craft beer for quite a few years now, but have only recently opened up a tasting room (their Scotch Ale and Porter were fantastic!). We sat at the bar and chatted with one of the head brewers (a fellow UK lad), getting recommendations on where to go in the evening. The Wolf tasting room is slightly off the beaten track, but that didn’t seem to stop the steady flow of people coming in for growler fills. Business looked good for a Monday afternoon! | Vancouver Island getaway, Wolf Brewing, Nanaimo BC

The following day was forecast to be cloudy and foggy, with rain starting mid-morning – so our plan was to head down to the harbour at first light in an attempt to catch the sunrise and, if the weather thwarted our plans, then we would enjoy a cup of coffee while people-watching, instead. The alarm went off just before sunrise and we grabbed the camera and headed down to the waterfront. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I’m a sucker for sunrises! | Vancouver Island getaway, Nanaimo waterfront, Nanaimo BC | Vancouver Island getaway, Nanaimo waterfront, Nanaimo BC | Vancouver Island getaway, Nanaimo waterfront, Nanaimo BC | Vancouver Island getaway, Nanaimo waterfront, Nanaimo BC

Nanaimo early morning was just what we were wanting, I think we saw the best part of the day! We had a few moments of blinding sun while we enjoyed our coffee, and then the clouds rolled in to stay for the day.

The Next stop? Down through the Cowichan Valley to snack and sip. Stay tuned!

You Say Nanaimo, I Say Ferry Time!

Part of my job involves testing mammography equipment, making sure it’s up-to-snuff, in terms of all things physics. I enjoy this part of my job, as it’s nice to have a change of scenery (i.e. gets me out of the office) and I get to travel a bit to (sometimes) remote parts of BC.

Every year, during the second week of September, I head over to Vancouver Island for a few days for work. The site I visit in Duncan is one of my favourite – the technologists are very helpful and treat me very well, and they’re always so well-prepared. It makes my job much easier!

And the other reason I like this part of my job? I get to take the ferry to the island! Midweek, after all the children are back in school and the summer-vacationers have finished traveling, taking the ferry is quite relaxing. | Ferry ride, Nanaimo BC

I always take the first ferry out, which makes for an early start, but then I get to see the sun rise as we head out of Horseshoe Bay (and you know I like a good sunrise!). The clouds were starting to lift, giving me a great view of downtown Vancouver and Mt Baker in the background. | Vancouver sunrise from the ferry

I wanted to take a few pictures of the totem poles in Duncan but I had to rush back to Nanaimo to visit the mammography site before everyone left for the day, so those pictures will have to wait another year 🙂

If you’ve never been to Nanaimo, I’d recommend staying in the Historic Downtown, near the harbour. I always stay at the Coast Bastion Inn, and was given a room upgrade this time (whoo hoo!), which placed me up on the 10th floor with a neat view of both the harbour and the downtown. | Nanaimo waterfront, Nanaimo BC

The view of the sun setting was truly spectactular. | Waterfront sunset, Nanaimo BC | Waterfront sunset, Nanaimo BC | Waterfront sunset, Nanaimo BC | Waterfront sunset, Nanaimo BC | Waterfront sunset, Nanaimo BC

I decided to pick up a coffee and fresh-baked scone from Javawocky, and take an early-morning stroll along the harbour to watch the float-planes come in, soak up some sunshine and get in a bit of exercise! | Nanaimo waterfront, Nanaimo BC | Float plane arriving at the dock, Nanaimo BC

The ferry ride back to Vancouver was fairly uneventful. The sun was shining brightly and the outer decks were full… then an announcement was made that there was a humpback whale about 200 meters off the starboard side of the boat (which made the outer decks REALLY full!). Then we sailed through a thick patch of fog, which promptly sent everyone back inside, except for those few passengers, enjoying the calm, peace and quiet 🙂

We left the fog, just as we rounded the corner back into Horseshoe Bay. | Foggy ferry ride, Nanaimo BC | Foggy ferry ride, Nanaimo BC

It was a hard day of work 😉