Statue of Queen Victoria
What better a place to spend the Royal Wedding weekend that in historic Victoria BC? After the excitement of watching the wedding of Kate and Will on TV, my friend and I continued the celebration with a weekend at the Queen Victoria Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia's capital city named after the Queen. Our hotel was centrally located, with a view of the fabled Empress Hotel, the Inner Harbour and the Royal BC Museum.
View from the balcony
Our hotel was near Beacon Hill Park
Victoria has a definite British flavour. The Hudson's Bay Company was established there when Fort Victoria was built in 1843. To ensure British sovereignty over the new colony, a naval base was established at Esquimalt and became the headquarters of the Royal Navy's Pacific squadron. It's still the base for Canada's East Coast naval fleet. Victoria is full of heritage buildings and sites including some of the city's most impressive structures: the Parliament Buildings, and the Fairmont Empress Hotel, designed by Rattenbury, and built by the Inner Harbour.
Parliament Buildings (rear view)
After arriving at our hotel, we started our day with a walk to the popular James Bay Tea Room where a special Royal Wedding Tea was being served. This little heritage house, built in 1907 as a family home, is chock full of royalty memorabilia, a museum of the royalty. And that day it was full of folks celebrating the big event including two tables of sweet young 10 year old girls dressed in fascinaters and fancy bonnets celebrating a birthday party. We enjoyed our royal tea with fresh scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam; cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, a plate of small pastries and of course a pot of fresh-brewed English tea.
The James Bay Tea Room
Interior of the tea room
The Royal Wedding Tea Party
The Royal Newly-weds
After our tea we walked around the Inner Harbour and looked at the handicraft booths, many of them First Nations artisans. Vancouver Island has an important aboriginal heritage and the First Nations culture is represented in Victoria with the cedar-plank Big Houses and towering totems poles that stand by the Royal BC Museum as a reminder of the region's original civilization.
Besides it British influence, when the gold rush began in 1858 Victoria grew into a frontier city with thousands of miners of European and Asian descent arriving to join the British, French-Canadians, Metis and Hawaiians who were already there working for the Hudson's Bay Company. Victoria still has an impressive Chinatown area, once known as "Forbidden City" a place of mystery and intrigue where few Westerners once dared enter.
History blends with contemporary life in Victoria. You'll see double-decker buses and horse-drawn carriages. There are beautiful gardens, pubs, tearooms, shops and restored heritage buildings in the downtown area as well as throughout the city. It's an elegant city and always a great place to spend a weekend browsing the sights along the Inner Harbour, the many beautiful gardens, such as the Butchart Gardens, the art galleries and the wonderful Royal BC Museum.
We topped off our day with dinner at Vic's Steak House. After dinner we walked along by the Parliament Buildings which are always lit up at night.
Steak, at Vic's Steak House. Yum!
Tally-ho in front of the Parliament Buildings
There are many excellent places to dine out in Victoria. Our favorite is Spinnaker's Brew Pub and Restaurant just across the Johnson Street Bridge. The weather was warm and sunny so the next morning we sat out on the deck enjoying the view of the harbour while we had a delicious Royal Wedding brunch: oysters baked in the shell, Bangers and Mash and a sparkling glass of mimosa. Then we headed out to Butchart Gardens for the afternoon. A perfect way to celebrate this special Royal Wedding weekend.