Vancouver and Victoria
Totem Poles at Vancouver's Stanley Park
experience British Columbia’s most intriguing cities.
Vancouver is a bustling, beautiful metropolis, totally modern city.
Towering, sleek apartment buildings hug a shoreline marked by boats, both big
and small, and a Sea Wall Promenade that circles the city filled with runners
and bicycles. You can feel the excitement in Vancouver as it prepares to host
the 2012 Winter Olympics.
Victoria, more British than Vancouver, is both gracious and remarkable for its
Inner Harbour with its cluster of classic buildings, notably the Parliament
Building and the stately Empress Hotel, a monolith of by gone days. We’re happy
it still exists. And Butchart Gardens described in several guide books as “one
of the gardening wonders of the world.”
Marina at Granville Island
Arrive in Vancouver, transfer
on your own to our hotel on Granville Island. This hotel is not in the center
of town. In our view, the center resembles most large cities marked by tall
buildings and a bustling shopping district. Granville Island, on the other
hand, is an enclave of small theatres, casual restaurants, art galleries and a
Public Market filled with every type of fresh produce (some you have never seen)
and diverse eating alternatives. You
will be able to walk everywhere and explore this small area at your leisure.
Sights of the city…Gray Line
city tour visiting Stanley Park, Gastown, Chinatown, Canada Place and more of
the city’s top sites. If you want to see more of Stanley Park, Vancouver’s
988-acre, mega-park, you can go back on your Optional Day to take the one-hour
horse and carriage tour that will drive you to many areas you haven’t seen and
perhaps visit the Aquarium with its adorable dolphins.
lunch at Caffe Artigiano, hyped as serving the best latte in town. The plus,
if you order a coffee drink that has foam, the counter person will decorate your
latte with a heart, a leaf or other motifs. Does it taste better when coffee
becomes art? Of course, it does.
cross the street to the Vancouver Art Gallery. Explore on your own for an hour
or longer. Don’t miss the paintings of Emily Carr (1871-1945), noted
Victoria-born painter, whose biography includes study in London, Paris and San
Francisco. Her large body of paintings of First Nation themes (native Canadians)
gives us insight into their lives, homes, and landscapes. Time to explore
downtown shopping on your own after your Art Gallery visit.
at Chef’s Table at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. I first encountered
the Chef’s Table concept at the Dorchester Hotel in London. The chef, a
superstar, started inviting a few people to join him in the kitchen for a meal.
The trend of a Chef’s Table is now popular worldwide. You actually eat in the
kitchen while the activity of food preparation swirls around you. It’s a
behind-the-scenes look. The bonus, a five-course gourmet tasting menu prepared
by talented student chefs.
First Nation Art
Morning….A Look at First
Nation Art. We’ll visit Eagle Spirits Art Gallery, a handsome art
gallery right on Granville Island that displays a stunning array of First Nation
Art from totem poles to jewelry. The merchandise, we feel, is all
Afternoon…Grouse Mountain. An eight-minute funicular takes us to the top of the
mountain ( 3,642 ft. high) for a spectacular panoramic view of Vancouver.
(Incidental information: Famous in Vancouver, the Grouse Grind, a near vertical
trail that challenges the best athletes in the world. The record, almost
impossible to imagine, to reach the top of the mountain is 28 minutes.)
Explore Granville Island …the
Public Market and an array of interesting shops.
Visit the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden
in Chinatown, built by master craftsmen from China in the 1980's using the
principles and techniques of a Ming dynasty garden. A fascinating look
into Chinese life and culture.
Evening…We’ll see a play at the Arts Club Theatre, a few minute walk from our
hotel, that usually features the work of Canadian playwrights.
A day trip to Victoria…We
take a 7:30 a.m. bus to the Ferry, then a one-and-a-half scenic trip on the
Ferry through the Gulf Islands, and then back on the bus for the half hour trip
Tea at The Empress Hotel in Victoria
our visit to Victoria with Tea at The Empress Hotel, a former Canadian Pacific
hotel, one of the magnificent hotels built in the heyday of the railroads. I’ve
heard people knock tea at the Empress Hotel as being too touristy. True, the
dining room is full of tourists but the tea at the Empress Hotel was superb.
I’ve done tea all over the world -- in London, Hong Kong, Toronto, New York –
and I have never had a better, more delicious tea. Trust me!
followed by a brief visit to the Royal BC Museum, to see its exhibit of First
Nations Art and Culture. Then on to Butchart Gardens for a leisurely tour
through the gardens.
return to the Bus Terminal for the trip to Vancouver. The trip back is the
same as our three-hour plus trip to Victoria. Alternatively, you can take a
seaplane that leaves near the Empress Hotel and only takes 35 minutes to
downtown Vancouver. There is an additional charge of $140 for the seaplane
fare (not included in tour price). I did the bus, ferry, bus routine round
trip in February -- long but comfortable, not arduous.
Your Optional Day to do just
what you want. Activities not included in tour price.
suggest some possible activities. A couple of options include a whale watching
trip or a Hammam, a Middle Eastern spa ritual that includes steam heat, a soap
down with a wonderful black Moroccan soap, gommage (rub down with a loofah),
shower, massage, and, finally, mint tea and a pastry.
a farewell dinner. Conclude with a festive chocolate dessert buffet at a
downtown hotel. This chocolate orgy includes cakes, pastries, ice cream,
and chocolate-dipped fruit.
Leave for home.
There will probably be adjustments in the itinerary due to changes made by local
tour operators, theatre schedules, etc.
$3,300 (USD) includes 6 night hotel (single occupancy, no single supplement), 4
meals (including tea at The Empress Hotel in Victoria), bus/ferry transportation to
and from Victoria, all activities in itinerary except Optional Day.
Price does not include airfare, transfers to and from airport, breakfasts,
meals not included above, wine and alcoholic beverages,
coffee stops, Optional Day activities, and personal expenses.