This past weekend we saw the ocean, we breathed salty air, we walked through wet, green grass and strolled through old, brick alleyways. Calgary is a wonderful city, but one gets a bit bored of the white blanket (still) covering our lawn and dreams instead of the freshness of the coast.
That dream became a reality on Sunday. Jesse and I hopped on an early morning flight with simply our backpacks (sporting a camera, reading material and a great hunk of cake) for a day on the Island off the coast of Vancouver.
We rented a car and explored the quaint city of Victoria before heading inland. First stop in Victoria; coffee.
Thanks to recommendations from our friends we knew where to head. A morning at Habit ensured some much-needed down time to read, relax and enjoy one another’s presence, most importantly with a good (NZ style) espresso in hand.
Victoria has some EXQUISITE buildings and the oldest Chinatown in the country (and second oldest in the world next to San Franciscos). We strolled the alleys downtown before making our way to the indoor Public Market.
The Market was fairly insignificant, mostly because Calgary has ruined me for the size and range of Farmers Markets available. However we did enjoy visiting the vendors and learning what Vancouver Island creates itself, from cheese to teas, handcrafted meat products to French baking (although we regret trying a croissant at The French Oven – certainly not the lightest, flakiest pastry).
Our homesickness for NZ had us hovering around the waters edge, delighting in the waves on the rocks and the persistent rain. We ordered fish and chips from Red Fish Blue Fish and devoured our salmon taco and fried halibut on the boardwalk, the rain bouncing off our heads, as we watched the seaplanes from Vancouver land in the bay.
Heading North we stopped by a local handcrafted chocolate store before hitting Cowichin Valley.
There something beautiful happened; I had the pleasure of meeting Korena in the Kitchen, in her own kitchen. We enjoyed tea while we munched on Smitten Kitchen’s Blue Sky Bran Muffins and shared stories of our blogging and food experiences. As an avid follower of Korena’s blog, it was quite surreal to meet her personally (hi Korena!).
We continued North to Cowichin Bay and visited a very cool classic marine store (my Dad would love it!), a delicious smelling artisan bakery and some cute antique stores.
A drive back down the island to Victoria for dinner at Rebar, a restaurant whose cookbook is a favourite for their healthful, vegetarian cafe-style recipes (way back I made their Vegan Energy Bars). I enjoyed a rich, vegetable and tofu curry on brown rice, and Jesse devoured his Almond Burger with miso-sesame dressing.
It was a whirlwind of a trip, and we returned to Calgary with grins on our faces, reflecting on the new sights and tastes of the day. We are grateful for flight benefits (thank you Air Canada) and to be living in such an expansive, explorable country.
Now.. where to next?