Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Craigdarroch Castle at Christmas-A Must See During the Holidays

Christmas at Craigdarroch Castle
Every December Craigdarroch Castle provides visitors with more to see and hear on a self-guided tour.   Decorating the Castle for the Christmas season takes many hours and involves a number of staff and volunteers. Local businesses and individuals financially assist the Society with this endeavor and with their support we’re able to bring the many wonderful room displays you’ll see on your visit to the Castle.
To see the Castle decked out in traditional Victorian Christmas is a must see “thing to do” during the holiday season in Victoria. The details are exquisite!

Come on our short 3 minute tour of the Castle and wet your appetite for a real visit.  Be sure to spend time reading the self-guided signage so you can learn how they lived when the castle was lived in.  If you run into staff, be sure to ask all those questions you have!  You will be amazed.  Enjoy our tour!

Saturday, November 29, 2014


I know you are going to feel really bad for us because we rarely get snow. Of the snows we do get, this is the best kind, no shoveling required! This was taken at 8 am this morning.Hopefully by mid-afternoon it will all be melted. The predictions however are not good. Today we are celebrating our granddaughter Madison's birthday outdoors at Goldstream Park (burrrr). So, hardships aside on we go. Enjoy winter in Victoria, it won't be around long. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and move on...today is one of those days.  See you at Goldstream.  Those poor salmon, swimming upstream in this mess!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Mai Mai's Bistro Downtown Victoria

Last night VGSN members experienced the latest addition to the Victoria restaurant and night life scene, "mai mai's downtown".  Located at 525 Fort Street in the iconic Temple Building, mai mai's offers up sushi and west coast fusion cuisine in a newly renovated space with a contemporary coastal/surf theme.  The room features a bright turquoise back-lit glass bar where bar manager Megan serves up special house cocktails, including our favorite, the Raspberry Herb.  Open just three weeks, mai mai's serves food and beverages until 2 am, Wednesday through Sunday.  Plans include an open concept sushi bar, and Sunday "Down by the Fire" industry nights featuring local acoustic musicians in the near future. 

Owner Chef Jo Jo prepared and served a feast for the eyes and taste buds.  You won't find a speck of cumin in his kitchen (overused in so many Victoria eateries), instead he uses fresh seasonings to highlight the local ingredients he so lovingly creates with.  We sampled several menu items, including his Signature Sushi Roll with local crab, Pepper Crusted Tuna Tataki (the tuna is fished in Sooke waters), Pork Belly Skewers, both Beef and Salmon Tacos folded in corn tortillas, Kimchi and Edamame pizzas, Three Little Pigs (ground pork sliders) and Fanny Bay Oysters, smoked in-house.  Dishes were accompanied by a mild mango papaya slaw and fresh lime wedges for squeezing.  For a finale, Jo Jo brought out samples of his delicious and unique house made desserts, a rarity in restaurants these days.  Food and beverage prices are extremely reasonable, especially given the downtown location on the corner of Fort and Langley Streets.  Whether you are looking for a unique menu for dinner, a late night snack or dessert with a night-cap, mai mai's can provide.  Reservations at 250 590-8848.  The original mai mai's is located at 6676 Sooke Road, in Sooke, call 778 425-3763.
For more photos please go to our facebook wall.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bridgeman's Bistro Mill Bay

Thanks to a recommendation from good friends Edith and Darrel we set out to discover a great place to have lunch in Mill Bay. Mill Bay is just 25 minutes north of Victoria and the food at the Bistro as well as the ambiance and views were well worth the trip. It was a nice fall day and we could only imagine how beautiful it would be out on the deck in the summer. So if your looking for an exploratory venture from Victoria or Nanaimo or any point in between, we suggest that you give Bridgeman's Bistro a try. Enjoy, we sure did.
For more pictures, please go to our facebook page.

Friday, August 29, 2014

We've Got Whales

Victoria is one od the best places in the world to see whales.  Our waters have 3 resident pods (over 80), lots of transient killer whales, lots of Humpback whales and some Minke whales and some Grey Whales.  In addition we have lots of sea lion colonies most of the year and a whole lot more.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


The Just Love Animals Society held their 3rd annual Pet-A-Paluoza on August 9 & 10.  A good time was had by all.  It was held at Ogden Point next to the breakwater.  The dog diving was fun & exciting. Congrats to all involved in this free event.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cirque du Chablis at the Muse Winery

Don't miss this fabulous funny show!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Muse Winery & The Bistro Muse

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Il Covo - A New Victoria Trattoria

Tonight VGSN members had the pleasure of attending a familiarization event at Il Covo Trattoria, newly opened at the end of Superior and Kingston Streets. The menu specializes in Tuscan and Northern Italian food created from family recipes handed down over the years. Simple fresh food is served Italiano style, prepared by Chef Caesar and delivered by a competent team of servers. We sampled something delicious from each section of the menu, starting with warm fresh and tasty focaccia bread served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Antipasto Misto Della Casa followed, a delicious plate of cured meats, cheese, bruschetta, artichokes, baby shrimp salad & pickles. A salad formed the third course - Finocchi E Arance Alla Veneziana. Now that’s a mouthful and indeed it was, with mixed greens, orange segments, shaved fennel, red onions and black olives tossed with lemon basil dressing and pecorino cheese. Primi Piatti is the 'first plate' and our fourth course (!), we were served Penne Alla Puttanesca, a traditional and legendary pasta. This dish has an interesting history, it was originally served by poor Italian prostitutes to their families . Lucky families! The penne was tossed with black olives, capers, garlic and anchovies in a fresh roma tomato sauce. Our 'Secondi Piatti', Risotto Ai Funghi Porcini, was a creamy aborio rice with prosecco, porcini mushrooms & asparagus, finished with parmigiano cheese. By now, we are loosening our belt buckles! Dessert was an array of fresh fruit and custard on pastry. Il Covo has a fine looking wine list, and one of the best house wines we have ever tasted. Everyone enjoyed the meal in beautiful surroundings, with friendly, helpful staff. There is an inviting garden patio for outdoor eating in an al fresco Italian style. Il Covo is an authentic family-run Italian dining experience with a warm, old world Tuscan ambiance. There is nothing else quite like it in Victoria!  For more pictures visit or Facebook site.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"Cirque du Chablis" at the Muse Winery

Peninsula Players Presents - "Cirque du Chablis"

Opening Night - Saturday July 19th  
The curtain goes up at 7:30 pm to reveal another fantastic production by The Peninsula Players for the outdoor summer theatre at Muse Winery.

A ragtag band of circus freaks hankers for something more than cleaning up after elephants and biting heads off of chickens.  When former starlet Serafina offers them their own vaudeville show, they leap at the chance! But between a scheming ringmaster, a secretive starlet, and a lovesick cheese mogul, the freaks soon learn that life's not always a barrel of monkeys. 

There will be a total of 7 performances, so make sure to plan ahead.  For the evening performances Bistro Muse will be offering a special Harvest Table buffet for $29 plus GST
Reservations will be required.

Mark your calendars - performance dates are:
Evening Performances - Saturdays - July 19th & 26th and August 9th & 16th     7:30 pm  curtain
Matinee Performances - Sundays - July 27th and August 10th & 17th - 3 pm curtain

Tickets for all performances are $25 per person.  Add Harvest Table Buffet for an additional $29 per person, plus GST
Bistro Muse is open for lunch before the Matinees - reservations required.

These plays are exceptional and a whole lot of fun.  Be sure to get your tickets early as they sell out!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Where is the Lighthouse?

 No you were wrong, it is in fact on the Gorge Waterway just next to the Transcanada Highway just between Admirals Road and Helmcken Overpass. It  is a miniature.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Guess Where

Any ideas of where this cool looking light house is?


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Rodger, Dodger! The Fairmont Empress Mascot

Rodger is a yellow-bellied Marmot that likely came with a load of fill from Southern Alberta and he is proud to live on the grounds of the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria on the Inner Harbour.  Nice digs Roger. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Delta Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa's Lure Restaurant and Bar Showcase

The Delta Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa has recently undergone extensive renovations and Friday night 300 of their favourite guests had the opportunity to have the Delta experience. The Delta really knows how to throw a party! The restaurant and bar are beautifully decorated and with many different spaces to accommodate guest needs. Chef Dan Bain created an array of amazing local bites that provided guests with a taste of most of their menu items. Guests also had the opportunity to try some of Vancouver Island's best cocktails and some tastey wines and local brews. As you will see from the attached pictures, the restaurant and bar has extensive patio space and from everywhere in the bar and restaurant you can enjoy Victoria’s best views! The Delta is a class hotel, with very classy surroundings and a staff that provides great friendly service. This party was intended to show case the restaurant and bar… job very well done! Everyone had a blast. Near the exit, there was a photo booth with appropriate disguises. It was a real hoot to see party guests posing for photos. The final touch was that everyone took home a jar of dirty almonds (sweet & spicy, served warm). If you are looking for a great place to unwind, with great food and drinks, and incredible views, the Delta is the place to go.  For more pictures of this event, please go to our Facebook site.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Mayday, Mayday…this is ORCA SPIRIT!

Well it certainly wasn't a distress call, but an invitation from Orca Spirit Adventures to check out their whale watching business.  Oriana Smy, Sales Manager, organized a wonderful day for us.  Paul, our driver for the event, shuttled us over to the Canoe Brewpub where we enjoyed food and drinks. 

The CANOE BREWPUB, Restaurant and Marina located at 450 Swift Street features waterfront patios and the best western exposure along Victoria's Inner Harbour.  They offer some of the best handcrafted beers in Victoria, a diverse award-winning wine list, a pub, lounge, dining room, patios and friendly, knowledgeable staff.  The soaring timber frame and rustic brick architecture creates a vibrant atmosphere, the perfect setting for our group of twenty where we sat upstairs.  The Canoe Brewpub provides comfort food, showcasing local farmers and products.  The menu is always changing and highlights seasonal organics, local quality meat and Oceanwise sustainable seafood.

Our meals were delicious and the staff served our large group with ease.  Thanks to Amanda our host and Pam our server for a great lunch and brunch.  Part one of our Mayday Adventure was over and Paul shuttled us back to the docks behind the Coast Harbourside Hotel.

Whale watching was offered as Part Two of our adventure.  The “wild at heart” half of our group chose to go out in a zodiac, with Captain Tristan and Naturalist Alex.  Obviously they needed their souls stirred!  The zodiac ride was reported as being exhilarating and a tiche wet.  The zodiacs are fast and fun and certainly an adventure to remember.  There is a fully enclosed washroom on the zodiac… so no worries on that account. 

The “softer seat” half of our group chose to go for a little more luxury on one of Orca Spirit's covered vessels with Captain Christian and Naturalist Rachel.  Built specifically for whale watching and wildlife viewing, these vessels offer comfortable seating, washroom facilities and elevated outdoor viewing decks for excellent photo opportunities with uninterrupted 360 degree panoramic views.  Many of the Orca Sprit fleet vessels are equipped with hydrophones, allowing guests to hear whale vocalizations in the wild.

Our captains took us to the north end of San Juan Island where a small group of Orcas were swimming at high speed.  Unfortunately the whales are not trained to be where you want them and do what you want them to do.  On occasion, they are just not available but the percentage of views in the waters surrounding Victoria is very high.  You may see only one whale or you may be lucky and see a super pod (all three resident pods together), or something in between.  We enjoyed watching a group of three transient Orcas, with a mom and a young one in the group.  After some time with the whales, we headed for Sidney by the Sea, where Paul was waiting to transport us onward to Muse Winery.

Part Three was a private wine tasting while enjoying scrumptious appetizers, and a tour of the vineyard.  Muse Winery is a delightful stop on the north end of the Saanich Peninsula,  just off Deep Cove.  It is owned and operated by Jane and Peter Ellmann.  Jane & Peter bought Chalet Estate Winery in 2008.  With years of hospitality, food & beverage savvy betwixt them, the dynamic duo has found their dream lifestyle.  Peter’s homage to Jane, his life’s inspiration, was to rename the winery MUSE.

Muse grows grapes under the warm sun of the Saanich Peninsula.  With grapes from notable vineyards in other regions of Vancouver Island, the Southern Gulf Islands and the Okanagan Valley, they use this fine collection of high quality BC grapes to create exceptional award winning wines, with their signature Mermaid labels.

We were greeted in style as we arrived, being offered a glass of their Ortega wine as soon as we stepped from Paul’s chariot.  We were led to the spacious Bacchus Room, which is set up beautifully for art, music, brunches, luncheons, dinners, and receptions. Doug Stewart from Stone Street Catering prepares all the food for Muse and we were treated to some of his excellent appetizers and more tastings of Muse wines.  It was a happy crowd for sure.  After our tasting, Peter toured us through the vineyard and showed us how the wine is processed.  At Muse you can purchase their award winning wines, taste a few samples or just try a glass.  The gift shop has an eclectic choice of items to choose from.  One of life’s great experiences is dining al fresco on the Bistro Muse terrace and watching the resident eagles soar above while bees buzz in the vineyard.  Muse produces excellent and entertaining plays in partnership with the Peninsula Players during the summer.  The Muse Winery is a gem, well worth the short drive out from Victoria.  Thanks to Peter, Jane, Doug and their attentive staff for this part of our adventure.

Ever ready, Paul drove us back to the Orca Spirit office where they hosted an after-party.  Held aboard their newest vessel, the Orca Spirit II is a 29 metre (95 foot) fibreglass catamaran built by the prestigious Yamaha Corporation, known for its state-of-the-art technology, construction and design.  The vessel has a capacity of 168, a cruising speed of 20-25 knots and offers two levels of spacious, heated cabin area with large outdoor viewing decks and all the amenities.  What a boat for a party!  Great food catered by the Blue Crab Grill of Coast Harbourside Hotel, gracious hosts, the company of good friends and colleagues, and a nice evening made for a wonderful way to end the day.  Thanks to Orca Spirit for the adventure, you run a great show!

For more pictures, please go to our Facebook Page.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chateau Victoria Hotel

Tonight we had the privilege of attending a VGSN FAM (familiarization tour) of the Chateau Victoria Hotel. Located near the Inner Harbour, this is one of the better hotels in Victoria. The staff ise exceptionally friendly and the hotel has been recently renovated. It has always been kept in prime condition. The lobby is comfortable and appealing and there are lots of places where guests can lounge and enjoy the surroundings. Just off the Lobby is the world famous Clive’s Classic Lounge, undoubtedly the best cocktail lounge in Victoria. They have an extensive cocktail menu and a staff that can meet the needs of every lounge guest. We enjoyed some of their signature cocktails, then toured some of the rooms and suites. The room updates provide major improvements in comfort and amenities. Upstairs at Vista 18, Victoria’s only roof-top dining facility, we enjoyed unparalleled scenic views of Victoria’s busy Inner Harbour, the snow-capped Olympic Mountain range, impressive Mount Baker, the Strait of Georgia and beautiful downtown Victoria. The view is truly spectacular. The modern, comfortable d├ęcor allows you to enjoy a menu focusing on free range, organic and local products. The emphasis is on local food and a West Coast eating experience. We sampled items from their new menu and all were delicious. We encourage other VGSN members to check out this hotel and certainly recommend it to visitors who are looking for an authentic West Coast cuisine experience. Thanks to Chateau Victoria from VGSN. For more pictures visit our facebook page.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Dreaded Pink Snow Hits Victoria

Pink Snow Hits Victoria....you must be 18 and over to view this video.  For maximum scary effect, go to full screen if you can handle it!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Middle Earth Victoria Style

Yesterday our curiosity got the better of us, so we set out to find Greater 
Victoria's version of the Hobbit living in Middle Earth, which just happens to be off Metchosin Road in Colwood. Middle Earth Victoria style is the
dream of Joe Thompson. His imagination and hard work have produced something very unusual and certainly worth seeing. Joe does tours of his Hobbit home on Sundays from 3-5 pm and serendipity had us there at 2:50 pm on Sunday. We were content to take a picture or two of the home from the road until Barbara, Joe's wife came out and told us about the tour. Joe showed up shortly and our journey through time began. The home is visual overload both inside and out. His eclectic collections of rocks and wood are interesting in and of themselves. There are faces watching you wherever you go, some carved in wood, others created of rock. Some are subtle and many are not. It is easy to believe you are in Middle Earth. The Hobbit home is a labor of love in progress and Joe is very protective of it, being careful about who he takes on tour, so trust that your vibes are good. Although Joe and his creation have been featured on TV and in the newspaper, his address is not public, but a little creative sleuthing will help you find it. Please, if you go, respect their property and do not show yourself around.  For more photos, please go to our Facebook Page.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Inside JAM Restaurant Victoria BC - Great Breakfast Location

We just convened our Breakfast club in one of Victoria's busiest and popular places to grab a great breakfast. The restaurant is small so when you show up with 7 people it gets tricky. After a short wait, we managed to get our group seated at the bar which was perfect. The food was plentiful and very delicious. The ambiance and decor unique and the staff accommodating and very friendly. The JAM is homemade by the mother of the owner and man, it is really good. For a unique experience give JAM a try. You won't be disappointed. They also serve lunch.

For more pictures visit our Facebook Site.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Day On Victoria's Waterfront

 Today I had a couple of hours to kill between appointments so I went down to the waterfront on Dallas Road where there is always something to watch. The cool little birds with great haircuts were first. Then one of the many planes flying from the Inner Harbour to Vancouver and Seattle passed by. The a small group of Mergansers huddled together. The breakwater is also the location of the Pilot Boats.

 Every large ship that comes into Juan de Fuca Strait that is headed for Vancouver must pick up a Canadian pilot to guide the ship to and from Vancouver. Every time I go to the breakwater there seems to be something new. The art has progressed along the sides and the handrails look great. I then followed the scenic tour into Oak Bay and passed the Victoria Golf Course. Along the way I discovered a daffodil display. The recent cold spell has made their spring appearance a bit behind the normal schedule. All this only killed one hour, but a very enjoyable hour indeed. For more pictures go to our Facebook page.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wolf with Seal Pup for Lunch near Victoria

Today BC Whale Tours sent me this picture that was taken from their boat while out on an excursion.  The cool thing is that it was on Discovery Island which is just off the shores of Eastern Victoria (Oak Bay).  The Wolf was dining on a Seal pup.  Life goes on in the wild.  Enjoy the photo and thanks to BC Whale Tours for circulating it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Steamship Grill and Taphouse

Tonight we had the opportunity to check out Victoria’s newest restaurant, the Steamship Grill and Taphouse.  General Managers, Steve Baert and Shona Bellows explained the restaurant's impressive philosophy and operating plan.  The Steamship Grill & Taphouse team provides a food style that incorporates international flavours with interesting and eclectic use of the world's spice rack to enhance the fresh west coast seafood and local products that are the mainstay of the menu. Chef Jim Romer's approach emphasizes organic, local and sustainable products — featuring British Columbia, and in particular Vancouver Island ranchers, micro-brewers, vintners and artisanal producers that share his vision and passion.
This is a unique restaurant in a restored heritage building, the former steamship terminal on the Inner Harbor.  When the massive water-front deck is finished, it will be one of the premiere restaurant locations in Victoria.  The patio and deck will have a glass windbreak and high-tech umbrellas with built in radiant heaters and lighting, making the patio usable 10 months of the year. 

The menu is varied with plenty of seafood choices.  The liquor menu is extensive as well with interesting house cocktails, micro-brews and wine.  The staff provided us with a sample of their appetizers, all of which were delicious.  The Monterey Bay Calamari was soft and tender with a delicious batter.  The Old Bay Popcorn Shrimp were served with fresh popcorn… how unique.  The Voodoo Meatballs were to die for and the incredible Mini-donuts were warm and came with a chocolate dipping sauce.  The Flatbreads were full of fresh flavors.  Check out their menu at http://www.steamshipgrill.com/#!menu/c24tf
The staff was very friendly and helpful.  We think that this is the birth of a winner on the restaurant scene in Victoria and we will soon be back for dinner.  Members of the Victoria Guest Services Network who attended the Steamship’s Meet and Greet were truly impressed.  Visit their web site at http://www.steamshipgrill.com/.  The Steamship Grill is participating in Dine Around Victoria with $30 and $39 menus.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tour of Facilities | Victoria Butterfly Gardens

Be sure to put Butterfly Gardens on your  to do list as it is a world class attraction you just don't want to miss.  Take our advice and you will be glad you did.  We are the tourist experts and send you to only the best places.  Enjoy.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Nautical Nellies Special BC Family Day Offer

Canoe Club Special - Super Bowl Sunday

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Super Bowl Sunday @ Canoe

The SPIRIT OF 12 is alive and well at Canoe Brew Pub.

Join us in the pub on Feb 2nd as The Denver Broncos take on the Seattle Seahawks and catch the game on our big screen tv's. Kick off at 3:30pm PST, doors open at 11:30am. Come down early to grab a table and enjoy our all day food and drink specials.


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