Delightful English tea weekend in Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria, BC is a lovely little island of Canada that is picturesque and well known for Butchart Gardens. But if you don’t know, it’s also a delightful place to pass the time away with fun little bookstores, tea shops and walks along the harbor.
It’s also the location of a tea festival every year, and so every year a friend and I drive up there to enjoy a weekend of bliss.
Gorging ourselves at Murchie’s - though the lines are some times long, many of the cakes are worth the wait. I am sorry to admit that instead of a healthy lunch, I opted for a sandwich and two entire desserts just for me. The cheesecake was tasty and the fruit tart delicious. I do not regret this decision.
Tea display at the Victoria Tea Festival – usually full of vendors and providing an enjoyable afternoon with displays, samples, souvenirs, talks and classes. If you like tea I definitely recommend it.
High tea at the Fairmont Empress – a very posh affair with a fresh fruit cup, sweet treats like chessboard cake, Key Lime chocolate cake and nut shortbread, delightful little sandwiches with traditional egg salad or fancy crab, and a scone with tiny jam jars and fresh cream. You have to dress up a little and it is a fun time.
Wine and cheese plate at the Magnolia Hotel – a nice hotel that is central, with excellent service (better than the Fairmont Empress in my opinion). Everyone was extremely friendly and their Girls Getaway package features money to spend at their spa or restaurant, and a cheese and wine plate. They were so nice about providing goat and sheep’s milk cheeses only, all fantastic (I regret not asking for the names) and a bottle of very good red wine. The spa was a relaxing way to start our morning, I highly recommend it.
A French inspired lunch at Bon Rouge – right next door to the hotel is a French bistro that is packed at night and reasonably quiet on Sunday afternoons. The duck prosciutto with toast and the pistachio-crusted pate were both delicious, as were the main courses. Service was nice and we sat in plush chairs that were practically couches for one.
If you go visiting Victoria, BC you can get there by a seaplane, the Clipper ferry or by driving up and taking the car ferry across. I’ve done all three and I recommend the seaplane for the views or the Clipper ferry for the speed, but we go by car due to my getting seasick. If you get seasick too I warn you that there’s a strait on the way that you will not enjoy. I have a special and irrational dislike of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
There are many other great sights even aside from the world famous Butchart Gardens that I still have not seen. Great tea shops, restaurants, bookstores and clothing stores, surprising for such a small island. One year the Royal BC Museum had an Egyptian exhibit on loan from the British Museum that was superb. It even had real mummies, something I haven’t seen since. Even after 3 weekend trips I can’t seem to fit it all in.