If you have not visited Victoria, BC at least once, you have no idea what "Beautiful British Columbia" motto published on each BC licence plate really means. Our trip to Victoria started from Tsawwassen terminal via BC Ferries.
It was a pleasure to see how well organized traffic was within the ferry. Sitting was taped off to allow for physical distancing, washrooms were marked for entry-exit routs, kid's playground was closed. All passengers were asked to wear a mask while on the boat.
Ferries arrive and depart on time and there is something magical about a ferry ride.
We stayed at Delta Ocean Pointe Resort in Victoria: nice hotel, conveniently located alongside inner harbour, close to downtown.
What is different during pandemic situation: everyone is required to wear a mask in the hotel hallways and there is no room service during stay. We have requested fresh towels and those were dropped off by our room door.
First place we visited upon arrival: Fisherman's Wharf. It is located across the Harbour from Delta hotel and we took a water taxi (it was fun!). There are many interesting places to eat and visit at Fisherman's Wharf, but we love Barb's Fish and Chips. This is a treat once in a few years, so tastes delicious. There was a pet seagull asking for food walking between tables. Sometimes there are sea lions asking for attention on a wharf, but there was none when we were there.
Next place we visited was Chinatown with famous Fan Tan Alley and souvenir shops. Always intriguing and mysterious.
We did a lot of walking around downtown and found interesting places:
1. Dutch Bakery-traditional bakery with roots going back 100 years ago. They make super delicious cakes, cookies, chocolate. I can honestly say their baking is the best in British Columbia. They also serve breakfast for dine in. Highly recommend for a visit.
2. The DOTS- interesting store for a visit.
3. Royal British Columbia Museum- you can no longer walk in, buy tickets and go for a guided/non-guided tour. Due to COVID-19 it is recommended to purchase tickets online in advance. Due to spacing requirements the amount of tickets is limited.
4. Butterfly garden- there is quite a drive from Victoria downtown, but totally worth it.
Character houses are charming, couldn't stop myself from taking a picture.
I am enchanted by Victoria and want to visit again. There are more reviews under Reviews Tab.
Okanagan has everything for happy summer - beaches, lake, wineries, golf courses, hiking. However it is good to get away for a couple of days just to change perspective, hit the refresh button.
North Vancouver is a great place to visit : so many dining options, beautiful sunsets on a pier, endless shopping opportunities. Things are a little bit different due to COVID-19 measures in place everywhere. Some places either remain closed or have reduced hours. However local tourists are enjoying North Vancouver attractions.
Place to stay in North Vancouver: Pinnacle Hotel, Seaside Hotel (both 4 star hotels). Both have limited room service, but you can always request towels or trash removal. Service is good.
Next to hotel is Tap and Barrel Shipyards, where you can eat with a great view. The pier has many benches for people to enjoy the sunset and a view of Vancouver downtown. The Vancouver downtown is exactly on the opposite shore and sea bus goes there every 20 minutes.
Vancouver is the most green city in the world and the best way to experience it- going into the park. Parks in the summer become attractions to families with children, yoga classes, bikers, runners, social circles (people sitting in circle, literally).
Vancouver offers so many dining options- it is hard to decide where to go.
Park Royal is a home to various stores. Unfortunately some stores will be closing indefinitely due to COVID-19 economic impact on sales, such as Loft, Macy's, Nygard. Tsawassen Mills is a huge shopping ground. It is easier to maintain distance from other shoppers, as this shopping mall is massive.
Naramata Bench deserved accolades for it's wine, picturesque country side soothing eyes with green grape aisles and blue water of Okanagan Lake. There are many wineries to visit and it is worth it to split in several visits.
The roads are easy to navigate with signs on both sides of the road, where to turn. Speed limit on Naramata bench road is 50 km/h.
Good news- all wineries are open for tasting, although some available through reservation only. The best thing is to plan your visit by checking their website/phoning in advance.
Red Rooster winery has tasting room open by reservation, but they might take in walk-ins if not busy.
They currently charge $15 tasting fee per person, waived with $30 wine purchase.
Winery follows COVID-19 safety protocols, safe distancing in place, employees wear PPE.
Moraine Winery tasting open air terrace is open by reservation, but they might take walk-ins as well. Tasting is free, there are discounts if you purchase a box of wine.
Township 7 winery has great classic wines to offer - walk- ins welcome. Tasting fee is $5, waived with wine purchase. It is difficult to leave without wine purchase though.
Elephant Island Winery - fruit wines and this year they added traditional grape wines to their repertoire. Elephant Island Winery tasting open by reservation only, so please book ahead. If you never tried fruit wines before it is worth it to taste all of them first.
We could recommend blackberry wine- it is perfect with summer salad, grilled meats, corn on the cob. Their fortified raspberry wine is savory and burst with flavor- best way to intake vitamins.
Elephant Island winery grows it's own cherries. I like cherry wine, it taste different each year, depending on fire season/rain/sun conditions. Naramata bench is very sunny place which is perfect for fruit and grape growing.
The summer weather is perfect for the beach, especially if you have so many clean and free beaches like Okanagan.
Spending time on the beach is by far the most popular summer activity in the Okanagan, check for yourself. The picture below was taken 10:40 AM, before everyone made it to the Boyce-Gyro beach. However it is already busy.
The beach has washroom/change room/shower facility, multiple tables with benches, 2 volleyball fields, kids playground, boat/flotation devices rental. It also has water/snack stand. There is a new restaurant open in the area, which seems to be very popular "Diner Deluxe". You can see on my picture a waiting line to get in.
Marble Slub Creamery also opened their doors near Boyce-Gyro beach, offering freshly made ice-cream and various treats. We are so happy to see Marble Slub to return to Kelowna, as they have tasty treats.
The sign below got vandalized -some people doubt the restrictions are being followed.
Summer is here to stay for a next little while, time off booked with employer, it is time to plan stay-cation in beautiful British Columbia and Okanagan area. Okanagan offers plenty recreational activities: boating, hiking, golfing, biking, swimming, playing beach volleyball and tennis. And of course, it is very well known and deserved wine tasting destination.
It is up to you choose the activity you like.
In this blog I wanted to mention Predator Ridge Resort and golf. One resort features several activities: hiking, biking, golfing, tennis, pickleball, yoga classes, fitness classes, swimming, dining.
They are located 301 Village Center, Vernon, BC. They are currently open to public, bookings at email@example.com or by phone 1-888-578-6688.e.com
As resort is located away from HWY 97 and nestled between rocky mountains it has fresh air filled with grass and flowers aroma, beautiful nature, some wildlife to watch. It is suitable for all ages from babies to adults and the resort is pet friendly.
I encourage everyone to visit, whether for a couple hours or a couple nights.
Meats and the variety of sausage from Helmuts Kitchen can't leave meat lovers indifferent.
They have beef, bison, turkey meats raw and seasoned. Variety of cheeses is sold here as well, if you need to assemble a charcuterie board.
Sausage ranges from smokies of all sorts to apple whiskey salami with black forest ham in between. This is a must visit place in Kelowna for a protein treat.
What is different about Helmuts Sausage and Kitchen is that they are transparent: you can trace where meats are coming from. They offer custom meat processing to hunters as well.
Bilga farm is well-known for their juicy strawberries. The taste of strawberries you remember since childhood, before big-box stores started pumping out tasteless, crunchy strawberries with a texture of an onion year-around.
The strawberries at Bilga farm are hand-picked fresh daily and sold the same day. This is a cash only operation: 1 lb. box costs $5, 2 lb. box $10, 3 lb. box $15, 4 lb. box $20, 5 lb. box $25, large flat $35. The customer gets to pick which box they like, so I am pretty happy with what I got! The strawberry season is expected to last for another five weeks this year, so help yourself to fresh strawberries!
Their address is Rutland Road North, which is behind MacDonald's.
After 2.5 month of lock down, we are using every opportunity to go for a hike. There are so many beautiful provincial parks in the Okanagan area.
It is important to wear hiking shoes, pants (it is a tick season), sun hat, have a water bottle with you. I tried to take a picture of a tick hiding in the grass next to trail, just waiting for a new home with a meal!
Trepanier Creek Greenway Regional Park is a natural, forested park that borders the canyon of Trepanier Creek. The trail links to a linear trail in the District of Peachland and creates a five-kilometre Greenway recreational corridor from the Okanagan Lake waterfront to the Okanagan Connector Highway 97-C.
From 1909 to 1947 there was a small hydroelectric power plant on the creek that supplied the District of Peachland. Remnants of the Trepanier Creek Dam are still visible.
I wanted to share an inspirational video by Duiwaigh Studios. Angi Sullins and Silas Toball are talented artists that have their own Duiwaigh Gallery, inspiring each one of us to love our inner child.
" Between the worlds of right and wrong
Inside the Duirwaigh wood,
We beckon weary passers-by:
"Forsake the world of 'should'!"
Rekindle long lost hopes and dreams
Refuse the ordinary
Engage your heart in matters light
Remember how to love unleashed
Remember why you are here!"
It is time to take a long breath in after the first wave and enjoy what life has to offer in the Okanagan. Specifically all it's unique beauty: the lake full of fresh water, blooming orchards, beautiful beaches and wineries.
This time we are going to cover Sleeping Giant winery in Summerland. It is a short drive off the HWY 97, just past the Summerland entrance if you are coming from West Kelowna.
The Sleeping Giant winery is located in between the orchards and along Bottleneck drive together with other wineries. Sleeping giant winery produces fruit wines only, but a huge variety: apricot, gala apple, cherry, pear, peach, Saskatoon wine, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry-rhubarb, cranberry, pumpkin, black-currant wines. This is for people that complain they don't enough fruit and vegetables. Definitely a pleasant solution:
"What did you have for dinner last night? "
- "I had a bottle of fruit salad"
- "How did you manage to get fruit salad into the bottle?"
- "It was apricot fruit wine".
Summerland Sweets is the parent company of Sleeping Giant and it produces a variety of jams and waffle syrups. The variety is unlimited: from traditional peach jam to apricot and brandy. Anything you wanted, but were afraid to ask for.
We expect the second wave the middle of June 2020 and into July 2020, so now is a good time to take a breather, get outside. It is a time to enjoy life!