Cali Girl Does Seattle - Canada, Really...

2:10 PM

Let's go to Canada, eh!
Using my passport makes me giddy...

As our trip was approaching, I'd been doing minimal research and came across the idea to go to Canada. Victoria, BC to be specific. Apparently people tend to do it often for two reason: 1) It's not too expensive, 2) It's not to far by ferry. I looked into various ways to go, however the state run ferry website was confusing and I think it's more to move cars from location to location, not humans. I ended up booking our trip with Clipper Vacations. They had an on-line deal, because we were visiting in the off season, we were able to get round trip ferry rides for $115/person.

Pro Tip: Change your cell phone plan while there, everything costs more. Use your CC or switch your American cash for Canadian currency when you arrive. The bank, at least mine did, will charge you an International Transaction fee for each transaction made, each one depends on how much you spend. Many of the places will also take USD, but on par. So you loose a little, thirty cents on the day we were there. I still think using the CC and paying the fee was still cheaper than USD on par.

Lucky us, our ferry departed at 8AM, so we had to be there no later than 7:45AM. Bright and early, we grabbed some of the hotel's warm breakfast and coffee, then grabbed the shuttle to the Pier where the Clipper departed from.
Since we didn't have any luggage to check and we checked-in online well in advance, getting onto the Clipper was so simple. There weren't too many people headed to Victoria that day. We grabbed a seat with a window in front of us and to the side of us. There was so much room, more than an airplane. The seats were very airplane-esque though. The views were amazing, it was so pretty. J mostly slept and I tried too, but only nodded off for a bit. I decided to order a Mimosa and some chips for fun.

The ferry has two decks, we stayed on the bottom for the most part, but were getting cold near the windows. So we decided to go upstairs for the last part of the trip. It was much more crowded up there, but this is also where you could go on the outside deck. I went adventuring solo and boy was it windy...and cold. I didn't last too long out there. The restrooms were decent, slightly larger than those on an airplane.
Once we arrived, we docked at Victoria's Inner Harbour, and proceeded through customs. You have to fill out a declaration before you dock, which you hand over upon arrival. They check your passports and then you are free to go explore. We arrived around 11AM and had to be back no later than 4:45PM to catch our ferry back to Seattle.

We had no set plans. We were going to explore. We chose not to pay for the group trips to various places, although I would have loved to see the Butchart Gardens. It seemed a little pricey, so we just did or own thang.

We were hungry and made our way toward the main "downtown" area. We passed the Legislature, the Fairmont Empress, and saw the harbor. Our mission was to find a place to eat, but eventually I used Yelp.
Inner Harbour
St. Andrews Church
We found our way, after a few failed attempts at places we didn't end up liking, and landed at the Clay Pigeon. The breakfast and lunch menu was very reminiscent of SF or Sacramento-esque. I went with the lunch side and ordered the Graham Slam -- golden gram breaded chicken breast, apple, arugula, (sans grainy Dijon aioli), and add melted brie! J went with breakfast and feasted on the Grilled Cheese Benny -- cheddar, sourdough, hollandaise, and add pork belly. He loved his, which was a grilled cheese with pork belly inside and the poached egg on top, not really my thing :( Mine was okay, not worth the price. Also, they only have homemade ketchup and the spices in it were not the business. I think it was too much curry, we both didn't like it. We both washed our lunches down with adult beverages, him beer, her wine! We were split on how we liked our meal, but at least he was happy and satisfied.
Again, no plan in sight, we just kept walking around. The server mentioned seeing China town and then a park, which seemed like a good plan to us. Especially since we didn't know what to do for five hours. I mean Lulu is from Canada, so it only felt right to go into the store. I wanted it all, but left with nothing :( We popped in random shops here and there. I wanted to taste some Canadian coffee, so I found Hey Happy down the street from Lulu. It was a cute, hipster little coffee shop. It was really warm out, so I opted for an ice coffee. It was really good and really strong! The barista did let me try their nitrogen coffee, but it was too weird.
Not too long after I acquired my coffee, we found Chinatown. What a let down. We both literally said, "this is it?" It was underwhelming to say the least. After that we made our way to Beacon Hill Park. On our way there, J found an area of cool shops with old school games, comic books, and memorabilia. He was super hyped off a few of the stores. I was getting bored and tired (re: cranky) so I found another coffee shop. I couldn't stomach another coffee, so I bought a bottled water so I could hang out in there. He headed back to one of the stores to ogle at more stuff. I may or may not have dozed off for a few minutes in the comfy coffee shop couch.
After a much needed resting of my legs, we made our way to Beacon Hill Park, again it was very underwhelming. We didn't scour the park to see what it was all about, but we did climb up a little of the hill and took in that sight. Then we decided to go find a snack for our ferry ride home, since it would be right through dinner time.
We walked back toward the downtown area, where a lot of the shops and restaurants are, even though we'd already explored here. We had noticed a few of the poles in town had boxes attached to them, the cool part was they had maps painted on them to tell you where you were in the city. Again, we walked past the Fairmont Empress. I really wanted to have high tea here, but was worried we didn't have enough time left. Also, they were doing construction to it, so we didn't get to see it in it's true beauty. They added a tarp that emulated what the hotel should look like, which was funny. I was kinda bummed we didn't make time to do that, but that just means we have to come back.
On our adventure to find a snack, we stopped at Murchie's, which is almost like high tea at the Empress. They sell lots of tea and baked goodies. At first I grabbed a few macarons, but then I wanted to bring home some of their tea to try. It seems like that's what they are known for. They also had a huge store, selling everything you'd need for a fancy tea party at home! After we left there, we stopped at the 7-11 to grab snacks. Fancy, right?!? We got chips and a Red Bull to share.
I had to see what these were all about!
We made it back to the ferry with plenty of time to spare. However, again, you have to check in with customs before you can load the boat. The trip home had more people on it this time, but it wasn't overly crowded. This time we chose a seat right in the front of the boat, but it was pretty warm up there since the window let the sun shine on you. It was on this trip that we saw three Orca whales. It was such a cool sight. The captain also said there were Porpoises, but I didn't see them because I was a little preoccupied.
I didn't have a flight home. Long (re: super long) story short, I booked two tickets home under J's name and none for me. Thus the issue and Southwest was no help in this matter. So, at that moment, I purchased a third ticket (unknown to me at the time). However, I had to leave at 7AM and J wasn't set to leave until 9PM. Ugh, I was stressed out to say the least. I couldn't sleep like J did. He was trying to calm me down, but I was irritated!
The sun was setting as we got into Seattle, the views again, were gorgeous. When we docked, we had to go through customs again. It went fairly fast. We were going to use the hotel shuttle to take us to dinner, but J convinced me to walk to dinner. I'm glad we did, we got to see the prettiest view.
Apparently I didn't know where I was going and we walked well past the restaurant, but it allowed us to walk through PPM during the evening with all the lights lit up! It was worth it in my book! Finally, we made our way to the nondescript Pink Door. No sign, just a muted pink door with a small pink sign with the hours. I didn't make reservations, so I was really hoping we'd get a table. Lucky for us, we did. You go down stairs and you're there, engulfed in the entire dining area. It was very Speak Easy feeling and awesome. Come to find out that they are very eclectic here with live bands, burlesque, and an ever changing menu. Apparently the woman owner is fun and spunky and keeps it fresh by always changing things up!
This was by far our favorite meal of our trip. We ordered a half carafe of their house red wine to peruse the dinner menu. We started with an order of their garlic bread to share. Then J ordered the Lasagna Pink Door -- fresh spinach pasta layered with besciamella, pesto and topped with marinara sauce (sorry, it was veggie). I ordered the Pappardelle Al Ragu Bolognese -- slow simmered meat sauce, fresh pasta. Then, since J's was veggie, we ordered Two (menu reads Three, but the server said we could order 2), Mama's Meatballs and sauce.
Seriously, this place was amazing. The flavors were so full, the food fresh, and nothing obnoxious about the food. It was simple, yet beyond flavorful. Other than that, I can't really describe why we loved it. It's just worth it, I promise! We perused the dessert menu, but decided against it for some odd reason. Weird, right?! It was a little pricey, but it was worth every penny and bite. Just thinking about it, I want that pasta again!

We decided to walk back to the FIRST Starbucks to see if it was open, no dice! So I snapped a quick pic of it and a selfie, then we called the hotel shuttle to come swoop us up. We were beyond tired from walking and exploring all day, but loved ending our day with the Pink Door as our last dinner in Seattle!
Pictures and selfies are the only evidence of our visit to Canada...I want a damn stamp ;)

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  1. Victoria is definitely super cute! I went a few years ago for high tea at the Empress and then to the Buchart Gardens. Even though it was rainy it was gorgeous! The Pink Door is SO good, I'm so glad you tried it (:

    1. Oh, I'm jealous of the high tea -- it sounds so girly and regal, I need to do it next time. I'm sure BG were so pretty! If there is a next time, we're going to spend the money and go, since we walked everywhere already! Yes, it was simple, yet really tasty. I'm already thinking about my pasta dish again! Love your city! xoxo, ganeeban


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