Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Pacific Marine Circle Route

Today we set out to visit Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew. When it rained most of the way there, we decided to pass on Botanical Beach because of the hazzard of slippery surfaces on the beach. Too bad, it is such a magical place. So as the guide, and with my wife Linda and Cousin Deb and her mate in tow, we stopped first at Sombrio Beach. You can drive your vehicle down from 14A to a parking lot which is only 5 minutes from the beach. If you take the trail to the right, it takes you to a suspension bridge over the Sombrio River. Take the left trail and it takes you out onto the magnificent beaches with views of the Olympic Peninsula and the shoreline from in front of you. The beach has smooth rocks of almost every color under the sun and we also found some jade. The trail through the bush produced a unique pic of mushrooms under one of the bridges. Just to keep you all stumped, I have included many pictures that appear like natures art, along the trail. After the stump we had lunch at the Hotel on the dock in Port Renfrew. Then we went to see the San Juan Spruce, the largest tree I have ever seen. the base is huge. After that we went to see the Harris Creek Fir. Then we travelled through Lake Cowichan, Duncan and home. Nice day, eh! will get you to the trees. For more pics go to our Facebook page.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tour of the Bay Centre

Tonight members of the Victoria Guest Services Network had the opportunity to tour the Bay Centre in the heart of downtown Victoria on famed Government Street.  This is truly a classic shopping centre with something for everyone.   There is something new to discover on each and every visit.  Improvements are underway right now to bring new and better stores, creating a wonder of choice for the shopper.  Our tour refreshed our memories about all the services available to tourists.  Anything missed from the packing list can be found, as well as souvenirs and unique gifts.  The Bay Centre features a mix of over 90 street front and interior shops where you'll find name brands, tasty dining options and exceptional service in an urban shopping environment.  There is a bright and cheery food court on the 4th floor with a beautiful outdoor patio.  At the other end of the building you can have a reasonably priced meal with a great view of the Inner Harbour at Café Bon Appetit on Level 5 of Hudson's Bay.  There are another half dozen places to eat on the perimeter of the Centre, including Earl's, one of the finer casual restaurants in Victoria.

Just to give you an idea of what you might find in the Centre, here are some of the stores we passed: Aerosoles, BCBGMAXAZRIA, Club Monaco, Eco Chic Aveda Salon & Spa, Call It Spring, Guess?, JACOB, Crabtree and Evelyn, L'Occitane, Melanie Lyne, My Foot Reflexology, Sport Chek, Hudson's Bay, Tuscan Kitchen, Purdy's, Marble Slab Creamery, Smart Set, Quiksilver and many more.   So if you live in Victoria, come back to the Bay Centre soon and find out what you are missing.  There is convenient parking in the lower level and you can now even charge your electric car at one of the new charging stations in the parking area.  Come and find out what 7 million visitors see each year.

Following our tour, we were invited to Earl's for refreshing  mint and lemon infused water and a selection of delicious appetizers.  Thanks Earl's, it was great as always.  For more pictures of this tour, please go to the VGSN facebook page. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Put this on your June Schedule -Father's Day at the Muse

I wanted to make sure that you got this on your June Schedule, so mark it down now.  You will be glad you did.  This is an exceptional place for a show such as this.  Take Dad out for something special and be sure to include  stop at the Bistro Muse.  You can thank me later.

Friday, May 24, 2013

100 Words Expert Authors Should Know

How many of these do you know the definition of?  Both the words I know are on the list!  Yahoo!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Victoria Guest Services Network Tourism Showcase

Today I attend this annual event where tourism staff in greater Victoria can meet the tourism vendors that make experiences outstanding.  They are a great bunch of people.  Check out the event by visiting this link.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tour of the Muse Winery in North Saanich

Tonight we had the opportunity to attend a industry tour at Muse Winery, 11195 Chalet Road in North Saanich, about 25 minutes drive from downtown Victoria. We have been there multiple times before, but we wanted to see what was new and what vintages were now available. Doug greeted members arriving via LA Limousines with glasses of chilled Ortega wine. They came in style with driver David at the wheel. Inside the main winery building we found the gift shop and tasting room, and we were then ushered to the Bistro Patio for some delightful appies and more wine tasting. The food manager for Muse Winery is Douglas Stewart, owner of Stonestreet Café and Catering. Meals are prepared on site at the winery and it was all delicious - various cheeses, crackers, bread, fruit, Dungeness Crab on Belgian Endive, Three Cheese Crostini, and some wonderful chocolate truffles. Each of the wines is distinctive and made from grapes grown at the winery itself, at other sites on Vancouver Island and in the Okanagan. Linda and Ron enjoyed the Merlot the best and took home a bottle to enjoy. We were toured through the winery by Doug and owner Jane Ellman, who described the events planned for spring and summer. Muse is a destination winery catering to weddings, special events, cocktail parties and other occasions. It was truly an enjoyable evening in a spectacular setting overlooking the grape vines and an eagle's nest in a nearby tree. Sitting on the patio in the warm sun, we thought for a minute we might be in Tuscany. However, we know there are no Bald Eagles in Tuscany. They are having a Mother’s Day Buffet, but word is, if you haven’t booked yet it may be too late. You can contact Muse Winery at 250-656-2552. Enjoy the photos!  For more photos go to our Facebook Page.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Craigdarroch Castle

Tonight we were invited to an industry open house at Craigdarroch Castle. At the time (circa 1890) mansions in Victoria were going for about $15,000. Craigdarroch Castle cost coal baron Robert Dunsmuir many millions. When you tour this fabulous four story (plus tower), you will see the exquisite stained glass, the intricate woodwork and the expensive furnishings that filled the castle. This palatial home has 25,572 sq. ft. of space. It took 5 rail cars to bring the 2128 oak panels from Chicago. There are 17 fireplaces and seven long chimney stacks. The castle had gas lighting, electric lighting, hot and cold running water for indoor plumbing, central heating, telephones, and even a burglar alarm. It is easy to see why this restored castle is designated as a National Historic Site. It was completed in 1890. Robert Dunsmuir died before its completion, so only his wife Joan, three of their daughters and two orphaned grandchildren lived on the 28 acre estate. The castle is owned by a not-for-profit charity (The Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society) and the conservation of this national treasure is funded almost exclusively from revenue contributions from the 100,000 annual visitors. 

If you missed today’s tour, tough luck! This is an amazing place. There is information throughout the castle that teaches you about the furnishings, the people of the time, what they wore, and much more. There are volunteers throughout the building that would be thrilled to share their knowledge about the castle with you. It is such a great attraction, one that visitors should not miss. There are seasonal events at the castle that make it even more interesting. If you have not been there yet, it is time you went there. There was a lady we met there today who has lived In Victoria for 20 years and this was her first visit. Don’t wait 20 years and when you do visit, be a generous visitor and leave a healthy donation. It takes a lot of money to keep up with the renovations and upgrades. For more photos, please visit our Facebook Page.