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North America

12 Dec 2019

Helicopters, Gardens and Bears - O Canada!

Monday November 25th

I was excited to receive the opportunity to experience Victoria and Vancouver with Air Canada, Destination Grater Victoria BC & Tourism Vancouver.

Our flights were Melbourne to Sydney, Sydney to Vancouver and then on to Victoria. I was looking forward to the day ahead despite having to change planes and connect twice, I figured that was nothing to be stressed about.

All our connections went smoothly, Vancouver airport is one to use if I am honest, as it’s extremely easy to get around immigration was easy and surprisingly pleasant, and our Air Canada flights were on time with plenty of personal space on both flights.

Upon arriving at Victoria Airport, we transferred to Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites and, after checking in and enjoying some refreshments, we met our tour host for the next 3days (2 nights) Mr Martin St. Pierre – Destination Greater Victoria

The Chateau Victoria is a Four-star Canada Select Hotel. It features Victoria's only rooftop restaurant and lounge on the 18th floor with a view unlike any other Vancouver Island accommodation and is home to Clive’s Classic Lounge.

The Chateau Victoria is located downtown, only steps away from Victoria's Inner Harbour, shops and attractions.

Getting around down town Victoria is easy, every attraction is based with walking distance from our hotel and, following the lead of our host Martin, we visited The Magnolia Hotel and Spa a 5 star boutique hotel with a number of local and international awards for their location a short walk from Victoria’s inner harbour.

Continuing our tour for the day, we began our Eaten Track Tour learning about the history and culture of Victoria while sipping and eating our way through some of the best local establishments in the city. From local craft beer to hidden gems tucked away in Fan Tan alley, it really is a great way to really explore the city and get some great foodie recommendations.

We concluded the Food and History tour on Fort Street and walked the short distance (10 minutes) to the Royal BC Museum.

At the Royal BC Museum we met our tour guide, Bob Miers, and enjoyed a one hour guided tour of the museum exhibits including the Christmas in Old Town. The museum is open year-round, every day from 10 am to 5pm (closing at 10 pm on Friday and Saturday evenings from May to October).

Afterwards we arrived at the Bard and Baker Pub Restaurant to have our dinner hosted by Bard & Baker and Destination Greater Victoria, championing local craft beer and other international premium beers.

Tuesday November 26th

Meeting our host Martin at the hotel, we proceeded downtown to inspect The Hotel Grad Pacific for breakfast and a site tour.

We were invited to visit Craigdarroch Castle, a 1890's mansion with exquisite stained-glass windows, woodwork and period antiques. Built by wealthy coal baron, Robert Dunsmuir, Craigdarroch Castle is a stunning example of the finest architecture, materials and craftsmanship available in the Victorian era.

We returned to our private coach bus, to visit Victoria Butterfly Gardens. Being surrounded by thousands of exotic free flying butterflies was an incredible experience. The Butterfly Garden is a 12,000 square foot indoor tropical paradise, with lush gardens boasting beautiful orchid displays.

Afterwards we proceeded to The Butchart Gardens, a breathtaking 22 ha (55 acres) of gardens, after having our High Tea (very good) we explored the gardens and enjoyed a ride on the Rose Carousel making a memorable end to a very beautiful garden.

Arriving back at our base hotel late afternoon, we enjoyed Dinner at Steamship Grill & Bar hosted by Destination Greater Victoria.

Wednesday November 27th

After Breakfast at 18 Westcoast Grill & Wine Bar, we checked out of the hotel, and arrived at Heli Jet where we would be transferred to Vancouver by helicopter! Definitely an experience we all were looking forward to.

Thirty-five minutes later, having enjoyed this fantastic ride, we arrived at downtown Vancouver in style!!! From the HeliJet pad we were transferred to our new hotel, The Sheraton Wall, and decided to start exploring Vancouver.

The Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre is an award-winning hotel located in the heart of downtown Vancouver. With 746 deluxe guestrooms and suites with a park, garden and fountain square. An ideal location for business and pleasure.

After we had finished exploring Vancouver, we were invited to a spectacular dinner by our host at the hotel Mr. Lee Meller.

Thursday, November 28th

Thursday was spent walking around downtown Vancouver with our Fam Escort Tracy Volb from Tourism Vancouver.

We arrived at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver for breakfast and a site inspection, and had an experience we all never expected! On our way up to one of the rooms were ended up stuck in a lift for 45 minutes!!! All good, I think it was the best ice breaker for all of us, we really got to know each other, and our tour guide and it gave her the opportunity to share what she was planning for us for the next 3 days

PS. We all survived!!!!

Our transport was provided by Landsea Tours & Adventures

Stanley Park -Beautiful Stanley Park is a 1000 acre evergreen oasis in downtown Vancouver, primarily surrounded by water.

Yaletown -Historically a fashion and warehouse district

The West End - Tucked up tightly against the city’s downtown core

Hotel Inspections

Rosedale on Robson Suite Hotel (Touristy)

Opus Hotel Vancouver (Great hotel)

After driving from the hotels, we arrived at Granville Island, to enjoy Granville Island Public Market for our foodie tour, a great market filled with all types of vendors bakers, fishmongers, cheese specialists, chocolatiers and more.

In other words, HEAVEN!!!

Chinatown

The city’s historic Chinatown reflects an authenticity of Chinese culture, food, architecture and festivities.

Gastown

The earliest origins of Vancouver can still be seen here in preserved Victorian buildings and cobblestone streets

Vancouver Brewery Tours

Vancouver Brewery Tours, visiting two of Vancouver craft beer 10/10

It was a busy day, we were happy to know our beds awaited us!!!

Friday, November 29th

Meeting our guide Tracy, we started our day. First up was breakfast and a site inspection of The Georgian Court Hotel then a short walk to Hotel BLU for another site inspection and yoga! After we were suitably relaxed from our yoga lesson, we were transferred by coach to Grouse Mountain.

Grouse Mountain is Vancouver’s most visited year-round attraction located just 15 minutes from downtown. The Grouse Mountain Skyride ascends to the top of Grouse Mountain, the amazing cover of snow at the peak made it worth enduring the -5 temperature, then it was lunch at Altitudes restaurant and finished at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is suspended 70 metres above and 137 metres across Capilano River, it is Vancouver’s oldest attraction. Located in the rainforest on Vancouver’s North Shore, the park features the world-famous Suspension Bridge, Treetops Adventure, bridges suspended high in the treetops.

After a very busy day we arrived back at the hotel for a well-earned rest!!

Wait, no rest for us, the group was still wanting more from this great city, so we decided since we are in Vancouver we will do what Vancouverite’s do, and we attended Cirque du soleil luzia Vancouver, what a night, I would highly recommend, it was a great end to the day!

Saturday, November 30th

Well-earned morning at our leisure, in the early afternoon our host had another surprise for us and we visited Canada Place to experience Flyover Canada and afterwards Vancouver Christmas Market, good food and lots of Christmas festivities

Onwards to the Airport for our flight back to Australia. We ended up a little early as our flight was delayed 4 hours, but that meant an extra 4 hours in Canada for us! What a great place to visit, can’t wait to come again as I’m sure we have only seen a small corner of a beautiful country.