Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Destination: Victoria, British Columbia

I went to Victoria on business, quite unaware of any facts about the city, right? But what I discovered in this hamlet on Vancouver Island was more than I ever expected. Victoria, as a vacation destination, could not disappoint you at all, and I am definitely going to go back soon. The people (most of whom are either retirees or twentysomethings) are abundantly polite. The restaurants are among some of the best I have ever visited, and I recommend Earl's, then Ric's Grill. The nightlife is pretty bumping, even on a Monday night. There are clubs like The Upstairs @ Darcy's, Plan B, The Social Club, Hugo's, Lucky's, and the Sticky Wicket. (Just make sure you get there before, say, eleven, lest you will be waiting in a long line. Alternatively, ask someone at your hotel to help you get on the guest list, and you'll dodge the line, altogether.)

Just so you know---you have to try the Black & Blue Tuna at Ric's, which is the best rare tuna on the island, and there are great tempura shrimp at Earl's. Don't be too surprised by the chipolte mayo or the other spicy versions; Victorians who love their seafood also love their mayo with fish and chips, with shrimp, with roasted potatoes, with...well, you understand. And you'll also have to try the Hpnotiq Martini at Earl's; definitely the bluest and smoothest and trendiest of shaken drinks. And speaking of drinks, the Shark Attack at the Sticky Wicket is a killer combination drink, eh.

If you do visit, do remember to bring your wallet and even a credit card with a generous spending limit. The fact is that things are pretty expensive in Victoria, and at about ten percent, the sales taxes are a little more punitive than they are in the most places in the United States...Just keep that in mind, eh.

Here are a couple of "don't do's" for you to consider. Don't stay at the Fairmont Empress. Though conveniently situated on the Inner Harbor, it is wildly overrated. Just so you know, blueberry pancakes are $23 (Canadian), and even at several hundred per night, you still cannot get a copy of the Wall Street Journal unless you are a gold club member of the hotel.

And here is another big don't: take care to leave Victoria in time that you don't miss your flight. It will destroy your whole itinerary, be/c if you do miss the flight, you will have no hope of meeting any of your other connecting flights. And Air Canada is unapologetic when it comes to their lack of willing to assist you in getting off the island. (Try to book something out of Vancouver or Seattle. Trust me on this one.)

Oh, yeah, when asked about your profession, don't call yourself a consultant. As one little vixen from Vancouver told me, "Well, our drug dealers are also 'consultants'." And that was it. I got snubbed.

Okay, here are a few photos...

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