Vancouv-her | The Tale of a City Girl in Vancouver: Part 3


Up and at it early this morning! Up at 7:00a.m. for some coffee, a quick breakfast, tossed a few items in a bag and we were off to Victoria for the day. The trip was definitely not as easy as it may sound, since we had to walk, take a bus, take the Skytrain (the Vancouver subway), take another bus, then take a ferry ride, and finally after 3 and a half hours of travel we finally made it in Victoria.

My boyfriend and I were guided around the city by one of the best tour guides I know – my Godmother – and her husband for a whirlwind trip to basically see all of Victoria in 7 short hours. We started with brunch at the Beach House for some fuel, which for me included lots more coffee, eggs benedict on crab cakes, and a spicy Caesar for good measure. Plus there was a beautiful view out the window that I got to enjoy the whole time of the ocean, with the mountains, and an adorable boat anchored just off shore. Then the crazy walking adventure started with a walk through Victoria Inner Harbor, past the Parliament Buildings, through the Totem Pole Park, into the Empress Hotel, visited Rogers chocolates, Munro’s bookstore, Munchie’s teahouse, the Bard and Banker pub, watched seals being fed at Fisherman’s Wharf, Drove up Mount Doug Forest to see the amazing panoramic views, and finished off with a well deserved glass of wine at the Penny Farthing pub. I sure wasn’t lying when I said it was a jam-packed whirlwind of a tour day!

Two places we visited in particular really stood out in my memory, and of course it was for their beautiful designs. The first of the two was was the Fairmont Empress Hotel. This stunning hotel is over 100 years old, but with restorations and redesigns over the years, you would have never known. When this process was underway, they were determined to keep all the charming character of the hotel in tact, but to just add to that beauty. And in my opinion, it was perfectly done. They seamlessly combined the old building with a new contemporary design that still incorporated many of the traditional elements to create a unique and beautiful new space. As soon as we enter the hotel, a stunning wood staircase with intricate carvings and cutouts greeted us. The main spaces that I was able to walk through were the dining room and the formal tea area. The hotel serves a high tea during the summer months to over 800 guests each day, and they over 21 different varieties of loose leaf tea- one of which I was able to purchase in there store and am looking forward to trying. Tea is served in a large room, which is divided with bistro style seating as well as booths along the walls, just like a typical restaurant would be set up. But in keeping with the updated traditional style of the hotel, the tables are gorgeous square marble tables with a simple tulip base, and paired with simple black French bistro chairs with a natural finish cane back. The dining space had a very similar layout to the tea room, but with more of a contemporary spin to it with large organic chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and gold rods used as a divider down the middle of the space. Of course the furnishings in this space were also glammed up a little comparatively, with lush Heather green velvety swivel chairs finished with a gold base, accompanied with similar square tables with a simple gold tulip base but with a glossy black glass top instead of the marble found in the tea room.

The second place I vividly remember was Bard & Banker, which was an old bank in 1862 but was turned into a restaurant/bar in 2008. I wasn’t able to walk around this space too much, but like the Empress Hotel the goal was to maintain the old elegant charm but to repurpose the space with new life. They were able to keep the old coffered ceilings, and the old gaslights that were switched out to suite today’s needs. In particular, I loved the lights that can be found along the top counter of the bar, perched in each round booth, as well as large chandeliers hanging all along the ceilings. I always find it so inspiring when people look at something from a new angle and give it new life. Especially now that people think once something is old or outdated it’s time to throw it out, but with a little creative thinking those objects can have meaning and purpose once again.

We spend the night at my Godmother’s condo, and spent the evening having dinner, drinking wine, and catching up. She has a gorgeously spacious 2,000sq.ft. condo with breathtaking views, with tons of windows and a giant wrap around balcony to really maximize that view of course. To put it in perspective, my entire 1 bedroom plus den condo in Toronto could fit into her kitchen/living/dining area of her condo. After dinner, my boyfriend and I curled up with a couple of blankets and a glass of wine and just sat on the balcony and watched the moon rise. The perfect peaceful ending to a busy day.