Sunday, October 16, 2016

Awesome CLIPPER Sail To Beautiful VICTORIA, B.C.

 There is no better way to arrive in Victoria B.C. than the marvelous high-speed Clipper Ship from Seattle!

Our Clipper from Seattle to Victoria departs at 8:00 A.M.  Since we're staying in Poulsbo, we needed to rise very early to catch the Bainbridge Ferry to Seattle (a 30 minute beautiful rising sun ride).  
Approaching Seattle on the Bainbridge Ferry
AOnce in Seattle, we cabbed to the Clipper dock (too far to walk, especially with our overnight luggage, time constriction and area construction).

After our due diligence in researching Victoria, we decided to spend 2 nights with 3 days exploring this beautiful city!  

We've sailed on many ships...large and small...and are always highly aware of the various ships' quality of embarkation.  We give the Clipper ship a solid A for their friendly and efficient system!  We were on our pleasure boat quickly and settled into our comfortable armed chairs ready for our almost 3 hour sail to Victoria.  

Our ride to Victoria aboard Clipper Ship

Clipper Ship interior

Our comfy Clipper Ship seats

A hint:  If you want a top deck seat (they go first), early arrival is important. 

We had the pleasure of speaking with Scott Meis and Chelsea Evans of Clipper Vacations who, with their high enthusiasm, knowledge and friendly attitude,  led us through the Clipper Vacations and the many fun, interesting and exciting trips, tours and excursions offered to vacationers and locals alike.  We've already decided that our next northwest trip will include Clipper Vacations San Juan Islands and Whale Watching!  Just go to and let the excitement begin!

Everything you want or need,  is offered by Clipper....a smooth sail, great views, comfortable seating, step-up food service and even a small gift shop!  Or...relax in comfort and servers will present a menu and bring your order to your table or pull down tray.  You can even order from their gift shop list, staying right in your seat!

Clipper Ship menu

Clipper Ship menu

Naturally, we wanted to explore both decks and were very impressed! 

High Speed Clipper Ship

Lots of "oohhs and aahhs" as we approached Victoria!  

We were happy to see our hotel, Grand Pacific, located just a short walk across the street from our dock!

We originally booked The Empress Hotel, but after hearing about the large renovations (including prohibitive access to the orginal lobby, requiring side door entrance) being conducted now and through the next year, we wisely decided to cancel.  There are so many lovely, affordable hotels in Victoria, particularly waterfront and with water views.  

We were assured we made the right decision in choosing Grand Pacific Hotel.

Grand Pacific Hotel

 Shortly after checking into the hotel  (we were graciously welcomed to have early access to our room) and checking out our lovely accommodations with a balcony overlooking the waterfront,

we took a short stroll to The Fairmont Empress Hotel.

Tally Ho Horse & Carriage Tours

 On our way, we stopped to admire the majestic Parliament buildings and grounds.

Parliament Buildings

A statue of Emily Carr (endear

ed Victoria artist who captured the essence of the Pacific Northwest coast in her paintings) with her beloved dog, is situated on our way.

Emily Carr Statue with Empress Hotel in the background

The Empress Hotel is beautifully landscaped with explosions of flowers!  

Empress Hotel

True,as we had heard, entrance is via a small side door.

 We took a self-tour throughout the hotel, including a large marvelous glass "green house" attached building, owned separately, we were told.  That area is breath-taking ... and all, including the hotel's main areas are free to see!

When visiting a new city, we usually take the Hop-On Hop-Off bus through it's entire route, noting the stops we want to make on our second and future rounds. Victoria was no exception so we started our first day catching the bus in front of the Empress Hotel.

Hop On Hop Off bus with Parliament Buildings in the background

We are always happy with our decision to take advantage of the reasonably priced Hop-On Hop-Off tour bus service ... seeing an abundance of attractions, neighborhoods and unique discoveries, while learning the history of the city.   So...Round 1 ... we stayed on the bus and made mental notes for future stops.

  First day... Round 2 - Our first stop ... Old Town.

 A bite to eat and we're off to an afternoon and early evening of browsing Market Square, Bastion Square and Hudson's Bay

Murchie's Tea & Coffee Shop

Bastion Square

Hudson's Bay

and an array of shops (many specializing in outdoor gear and wear).

Bay Centre

 Immediately regretting not bringing a warm hat, I found just what I needed in Old Town.

That's the hat...arriving in Seattle after our Victoria trip

H-O H-O Bus - Second stop (and last stop for the day, with evening approaching)... The Coho Ferry Pier, directly across from our hotel.  

Considering our dinner choices, we spotted a friendly indoor/outdoor patio restaurant and bar next to our hotel.  Turns out it was the Days Inn and a great choice!  Lucky us! It's happy hour, and happy hour is always welcome!  So, we ordered wine and perused the appetizer menu, deciding on Asian Ribs and Halibut.  Wow!  Delicious and actually  both large dishes were full meals for us!

Before going back to our hotel for the evening, we decided to stroll along Belleville Street, the main street on the waterfront where our hotel is located.  Within a short walk, we came upon a fantasy of lighted Victorian buildings, located directly across from the Clipper ship pier!    We were so intent, that morning, on getting to our hotel after disembarking the ship, we missed this treasure, until now!  Huntingdon Manor (a bed and breakfast), Pendray Restaurant and The Gatsby Mansion! 

We knew we wanted to find a wonderful Tea Room for Afternoon Tea our last day in Victoria and...a beautiful Tea Room sign told us "This is the Place"!  

We'll talk about our lovely Tea on our last Victoria day.

Back to our hotel for our first night in Victoria, we reminisced the day, enjoying the night view from our balcony.

Day 2 -   We always like to take some time to explore the local neighborhoods, so this morning we walked up Menzies Street, stopping for coffee and croissants at a lovely local cafe.

 Spotting a grocery store, we shopped for some hotel room staples...fruit, pastries, wine and soda.

(This might be a good time to mention that, contrary to popular belief, it does not always rain in Victoria..or was chilly, as expected, but sunny most days, with some rain during the late night.) 

After dropping off our groceries, we were ready for Day 2 of our Hop On - Hop Off bus exploration.  

Day 2 - First stop - Chinatown, with it's welcoming Gate of Harmonious Interest, the ornately decorated arch marking the entrance to Chinatown.  

Many colorful and unique shops, restau
rants, nooks and crannies!

Dr. Pan Chinese Medicine

We couldn't resist a venture down very narrow Fan Tan Alley, named after a gambling game in the 1940's.

Fan Tan Alley

Lots of friendly people!  Here's Shaun AKA Brave The Wave

With a full day ahead, we hopped the bus and made our second stop... Fisherman's Wharf!  We were captivated by this working harbour floating village of picturesque restaurants, shops and private residences...all built on the water!


A perfect place for lunch, we

had heard many praises for the fish and chips at Barb's, so we decided to see for ourselves.  Yes!  Barb's Fish & Chips is all that it's cracked up to be....scrumptiously delicious!

This is such a fun area....water activities;  colorful, quirky and eclectically decorated dwellings on water...even the water taxis are fun!

This is an all time favorite place to visit!  We could have spent the entire day here, but, alas, we have places to go and more things to on the H-O H-O bus.

Third stop - Craigdarroch Castle, a Victorian castle, built by wealthy Robert Dunsmuir, a coal baron, during the reign of Queen Victoria and now a meticulously restored National Historic Site.  

A bit of an uphill hike to reach this castle in the city, but well worth it.  A fascinating home, with an equally interesting tale of an intriguing privileged family.  

Fourth bus stop - We spotted Oak Bay Village on our first bus tour and knew we had to stop, shop and look around!

 An attractive, artistic neighborhood, wandered through the area of flower and gift shops, art galleries and restaurants.  The corner Oaks Restaurant was highly recommend by it's patrons.  We just had fish & chips at Barb's, so we will remember to save a breakfast or lunch at Oaks on our next Victoria visit.

Side Street Studio is one of our favorites where we purchased wonderfully scented and designed soaps for ourselves and gifts.

A full day of discovery, so back on the bus for some window exploring ... beautiful Butchart Gardens (late in the season for this trip, but a must see for warmer weather);

Mile 0, the start of Canada's Highway 1 which stretches through all 10 Canadian provinces; the Terry Fox monument marks the spot where this local hero's amazing Marathon of Hope ended;

and, Beacon Hill Park, with a petting zoo, 126' totem pole and peacocks freely roaming.

Final stop for the day - Coho Ferry terminal, conveniently directly across from our hotel.

A pleasant rest and a quick decision to catch a shuttle bus to Victoria's View Royal Casino!  Yes...a casino in Victoria!...small, yet plenty of slot machines, friendly employees and bonuses that made our 2 hours of gambling alot of fun! 

Coming back on the shuttle bus around 10:00 P.M., and entering the Bay area where our hotel is located, we were amazed to see the magnificent Parliament buildings aglow in thousands of lights!  A stunning display!  These buildings are just a block from our hotel and we passed them often, always admiring their beauty and expanse, but seeing them in lights, at night, is remarkable! What a beautiful sight for our last night in Victoria!

Back at our hotel....a glass of wine, fruit and filled tarts enjoyed on our balcony with a great view while making plans for our last day in Victoria. 

Our last day in Victoria - After packing and stowing our overnight luggage with our hotel, we take our final Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour, enjoying all that is Victoria!   

With a little spare time before our afternoon Tea, we couldn't miss a visit to Royal B.C. Museum.  

Our final Victoria adventure...Afternoon Tea at The Gatsby Mansion.  

 We take advantage of the photo opportunities offered by the lovely manicured gardens of Huntingdon Manor and Gatsby Mansion and then on to our Tea.

We are seated in a splendid Victorian setting and served a marvelous and beautifully displayed tiered silver tray of savory filled scones, petite egg and sandwiches and shrimp croissants, mini quiche, a delectable layered fruit and pudding goblet, salmon, fancy cream puffs, petite cucumber sandwiches, a scrumptious mousse and, of course, beautifully blended, aromatic teas!  Our highest compliments to the chef and our sweet server! 

Looking forward to our relaxing Clipper ship ride back to Seattle, we settle at one of the table areas with comfy seats and plenty of room to stretch out.  

Reminiscing on all that we experienced and the fun we had in Victoria, we leaned back and enjoyed the ride....taking time out for tasty sandwiches and hot cocoa mid-trip.    

This is a wonderful mini vacation, we recommend to everyone visiting or living in the Tacoma/Seattle area!  You will love it!