Tag Archive for yyj

Victoria, BC is for Lovers

Last month, I took off for a couple of days of much-needed R&R to our Province’s capitol. Ostensibly, I was there to research a piece I was writing, but I was also there at the end of a very busy semester, to have some chill time.

I was there alone, and that was nice under the circumstances, but there were a few times when I wished I hadn’t been by myself. Victoria, BC, you see, is a very romantic city. There’s a reason folks have been honeymooning here for oh, a hundred or so years, and it’s been named “The Most Romantic City in Canada.”

So, if you are thinking about getting your sweetie something something special for Valentine’s Day, might I suggest, a quick trip across the Straight? The dollar is crap right now, anyway, so going south of the border is out of the question. There’s tons of wonderful things to do in good ol’ YYJ.

Where to stay:

While in Victoria, BC, last month, I stayed at the Magnolia. It’s grand. It’s a boutique hotel, right in the heart of the city. The rooms were incredibly romantic–mine had a fireplace and a view of the Parliament buildings. You can sit around by the fire with your sweetie and drink Bailey’s Hot Chocolate (or wine) and just relax. They also have a spa, and one of the options there is a private room with side-by-side tables for a couples massage. I’m just saying. The staff was also wonderful–super friendly and accommodating.

What to do:

Okay, so you have a home base. And maybe an appointment for a couples massage. What do you fill the rest of your time with? I can think of a few things, but this post is rated PG-13, so let me suggest a few things…

Inner Harbour by Moonlight

Take a romantic stroll. Government Street will be all decked out in pink-and-white fairy lights for V-day. Go for a hand-in-hand stroll with your sweetie down this charming old street, and end up in the inner harbour. Walk down the steps to the seawall, and maybe stop and make out on one of the benches there while looking at boats and lights.

Stoke the fire with aphrodisiacs. Chef Shirley Lang at Kitchens of Distinction is offering aphrodisiac tasting menus. This dinner focuses on food, drink, herbs and spices that are thought to help to *ahem* get you “in the mood.”

spanish old fashioned

Play some games. Check out The Interactivity Board Game Cafe. They have tons of board games here for you and your partner to go head-to-head on, perhaps while sharing one of their homemade milkshakes with two straws? How romantic.

Learn about Victoria’s Debauched Past. You can take a Scandals and Sex walking tour after dark in downtown Victoria. You’ll see sights and learn all about Victoria’s not-so-prim past, including bordellos, saloons, and gambling dens. Oh la-la!

Have a cocktail. Well, nothing seems to get people in the mood more than a few good drinks, and Victoria is known for its Cocktail Culture (read my article on that subject here). My favourite places to drink in YYJ are Little Jumbo and Veneto. You may also want to check out the brand-new Be Love, as well (how aptly named!). They’re serving Dirty Old Fashioned, a take on the classic cocktail, this one served with Shilajit, an ayurvedic medicine which delivers focus and mental clarity.

Brunch Out. The morning after the night before, you’ll want to sleep in late, but then indulge in mimosas and eggs. Victoria, BC has an amazing selection of brunch joints. I recently brunched at The Village, and the latke bennys were outstanding. For more brunch suggestions, check out Chantal Ireland’s list of the best brunches in Victoria.

So, get out of town this Valentine’s Day, and take your sweetie someplace nice. I promise you, the effort will be worth it.

For more ideas on a romantic (or down and dirty) Valentine’s Day in Victoria, click here.


A few weeks back, I drove over to Victoria to give a presentation at Social Media Camp Victoria.

Last year, my dear friend Simon moved to Victoria, so I asked if I could stay with him while in town. It turned out he was going to be away that weekend, but Simon offered to get me a family and friends rate at the hotel he worked at, the Hotel Rialto.

It was like living in the lap of luxury. The bathroom alone was worth the trip: wall-to-wall marble, and the greatest bathtub ever. I could have spent the entire weekend in there.

On Saturday night, after the conference was over, and after the Canucks won the game against the Bruins in overtime, a few of us from the conference headed into Veneto for dinner.

The room was sleek and classy, the service was friendly and impeccable (my water glass was never empty!) and the food was yummy. Because I was staying at the hotel, I had a gift certificate for a free appetizer: a trio of dips with flatbread. Yum. I also had the grilled Caesar salad, which I don’t have a picture of, because I inhaled it, but you’ll have to trust me when I say it looked and tasted delicious. My favorite Caesar of all time is the one from Cru, but this rated a very close second.

And oh, the drinks…

Simon is responsible for many of the drinks on the menu, so I had to order one of those. My friend Brian had a Gin & Tonic, and declared it to be the best G&T he had ever had. There is such attention to detail in every cocktail they create at Veneto.

I had the Wax Poetic, so named forĀ  “the iconic red wax that seals the bottle of the drink’s base spirit, Maker’s Mark Bourbon,” says Simon, who created it. He was kind enough to share the recipe.

The Wax Poetic:

  • 1/4 of a pink grapefruit, pressed in the bottom of a shaker glass.
  • 2 oz Maker’s Mark
  • 1/4 oz agave nectar (a sweetener made from the same plant that tequila is made from)
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters (a specific bright pink bitters from New Orleans)
  • 1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz egg white

Shake vigorously and double-strain into a double rocks glass over fresh ice. Finish with a flamed grapefruit zest.

And do drop by and say hi to Simon at Veneto the next time you are in Victoria. Tell him I sent you.