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Wonderful trip to Victoria - Tofino - Vancouver!

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Jul 25th, 2011, 10:07 PM
  #1
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Wonderful trip to Victoria - Tofino - Vancouver!

Thanks to all of you who helped me plan our family vacations. Had a great time. I just got back and hope to get a trip report posted in the next few days.
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Jul 26th, 2011, 11:14 AM
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I'm thinking about a Victoria-Tofino-Vancouver family vacation and am looking forward to your trip report!
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Jul 26th, 2011, 12:05 PM
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I am sorry that your weather was not better. The sun has finally arrived here I hate to tell you. I hope you enjoyed it none the less and wait to see your report when you have time.
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Jul 26th, 2011, 09:03 PM
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bon_voyage, I'm happy to answer any questions. Live42day, I wish it had been sunnier, but we had a great time anyway.

Background: Family of four (including teens 16 and 14), love good food and are up for new experiences.

Day 1 -- Arrived into YVR at 11 a.m. and were fortunate to be on the BC ferry by 2:00 p.m.
We actually just missed the 1:00 p.m. by minutes, but happily spent some time exploring at the market. Picked up some great (but pricey) caramel popcorn. The ferry ride was a pleasant surprise, comfortable with great scenery.

Easy drive to the Marriot in Victoria. I really liked the location (close to the Harbor) and the service was quite good. I strongly recommend the concierge level if traveling with teens who are always hungry. The rooms and beds were quite small and we had to change to a room that could hold a cot.

Had dinner that evening at Nautical Nellie's. The concierge suggested it because we said we wanted either sushi or fish and chips and Nellie's served both. We probably did not order the right things, because the only real stand out of the meal was the Red River roll. However, people around us seemed to love what looked like a seafood pot pie.

Then we were off to a late night ghost tour. This was spooky, silly fun. Buy your tickets from the tour operator, not the tourism office, for a better price.

Gosh, this may be too many details. Will try to be more concise as I move on.
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Jul 27th, 2011, 07:06 AM
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Misha-- I remember your querying here if Vancouver & environs would fit your wants in place of a European vacation. Then debating BC versus South Carolina in your mind. One day I know you'll enjoy all that SC has to offer, but I'm happy you ended up sticking with coastal BC for this trip.

Good stuff so far. Indeed, the ride across the Georgia Strait from the mainland to Vancouver Island is a beauty what with the coastal mountains!

Look forward to more! Daniel
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Jul 27th, 2011, 10:54 AM
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Details are good, misha2. In Victoria, the Marriott is on my radar screen, also the Magnolia.
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Jul 27th, 2011, 04:40 PM
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The more details the better - no need to skimp!
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Jul 27th, 2011, 05:19 PM
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Thanks Daniel. I am so glad I listened to the advice you and others offered. We loved BC! Bon_voyage and BC_Robyn, I'll keep the details, thanks for being interested

Day 2 -after breakfast at the concierge level (boiled eggs, bagels, fruit, oatmeal , great tea selection and good Starbuck's coffee) we went to watch the Sunday morning "water ballet" of the ( I believe) aqua taxis. It made us all smile. Apparently, on Sunday, they also offer free tours of the parliament house -- we didn't get to that. Instead, we roamed at the harbor a bit before heading over to the museum. It's truly magnificent. We purchased a family package with an Imax film because we felt like the film on whales would help us better appreciate the whale watching trip we planned in Tofino.

An aside: an employee at the tourism office in Victoria told us the whale watching in Victoria was superior to that in Tofino because of the type of whales one sees -- orcas as versus others. Don't know if this is true, but thought it was worth mentioning here.

I am so glad we went to the museum. We focused on the First Nations section and then rushed to catch the Gold Rush tour. My husband and I found it fascinating and we learned so much, but I think it was at this point that the teens' attention seemed to wane . We did make it through a fun recreation of the city as it would have looked early on (look for the room that smells like apple pie). There was so much more we could have explored, but it was well past lunch time and we went back to the harbor.

The sun had come out and it felt so festive with singers, other performances and merchants selling their wares. We finally meandered over to the lunch spot the concierge had suggested and were utterly shocked!

To be continued...
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Jul 30th, 2011, 12:13 PM
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Sorry for the delay.

We were shocked at the long, slow-moving line for Red Fish/Blue Fish. I sent the rest of the family off to explore and waited for about 45 minutes. Time went by quickly -- I chatted with others waiting, looked at the zodiacs taking off for whale watching tours and just people-watched. The fish and chips were very much worth the wait -- light, crispy, flavorful and delicate -- yum! The assorted Tacos were quite good too. We sat on stools overlooking the water and then rushed off to catch the IMAX film on whales.

The Whales film was okay. And, we stayed on to watch another film narrated by Morgan Freemon. That was better. When we came out though, around 5:00 PM it was gray and drizzly. I was sorely tempted to cancel the evening in Butchart Gardens because of the weather and the tepid interest expressed by the rest of the family.

Thanks goodness I didn't. The gardens were marvelous!! In fact, after our first view of the Sunken Gardens, my 16 - year-old daughter looked at me and said "this is already worth the price." Our experience was particularly spectacular because barely anyone else was there. We were given umbrellas to use by the parking attendant. But, the rain cleared in minutes!
Highlights included enjoying lovely maple pecan gelato while listening to the terrific string quartet and the silliness we allowed ourselves as the only ones on the carousel

Tip: Ask the people at the information desk about the best "route" to view. Also, if you go later in the day you get to enjoy the magic of the gardens lit up.

To be continued
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Aug 1st, 2011, 03:54 PM
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Left around 9 am to make our 11:00 reservation at Wild Play -- Nanaimo. This was right en route to Tofino and we all had a blast! It was a great way to break up the long drive, offered fun physical challenges as well as fodder for later conversations.

I had initially planned on lunching in Coombs. But, we were all so hungry that we couldn't wait. So, I asked a local for suggestions. We took one of his suggestions and went to Gina's Mexican. We really enjoyed it, especially the coriander shrimp over rice and the chipotle chicken.

We also stopped at Coombs Market. Really fun and cute even though we must have missed the goats. If we had to do it over, we probably would have skipped the fudge at the market next door (not to our taste) and purchased treats at the market instead. We did buy some great Camberzola, crackers and four cheese jalapeno bread.

Tip: If you'll have a kitchen in Tofino, consider buying pasties, baked goods or more exotic items to stock your refrigerator. The offerings here seemed more varied than those we found in Tofino.

It was getting late so we didn't stop at some of the potential hiking locations on the way to Tofino. The drive is quite lovely and time passed quickly.

When we first approached the Cox Bay Resort, I was struck by fear. The front lot, before you enter the gate, looks a bit dilapidated. As soon as we entered, though, any qualms I had were put to ease. The check-in area is clean and modern. Our room, a two bedroom with a loft close to the beach was great!!! Beds were comfortable, toiletries were excellent, and we had an unexpected partial ocean view from the loft and the balcony. I would happily stay there again.

To be continued...
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Aug 1st, 2011, 04:28 PM
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Good to know to stock up at the Coombs Market. Looking at one map of the area, it appeared that the Cox Bay resort and Pacific Sands are close to to one another. If that's the case, did you have a chance to check out Pacific Sands?
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Aug 1st, 2011, 05:42 PM
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We could see the open/play (?) area of Pacific Sands when we stepped out of our 2nd floor room. They seem to have a large grassy area and a small "hut" where children were playing and doing some craft projects. If I had younger children I would want to be there and the reviews of Pacific Sands are wonderful. I understand they also have an adult area and offer special touches. However, from our angle it looked less "fresh" and older (which it is). We all agreed that we would choose Cox Bay because of the more modern look.

We were also right next door to Long Beach Lodge.
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Aug 1st, 2011, 06:33 PM
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Thanks, misha2, looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip!
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Aug 2nd, 2011, 10:01 PM
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This is great misha2 - it's really interesting reading about your trip. Thanks for sharing!
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 03:40 AM
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Thank you guys.

That evening we had dinner at Shelter. I had not read about it on this forum, so, I was a bit leery about going there. But, it was very good. The night was cool and it was getting dark, which made the warm heat lamps and cozy blankets they offered especially welcome. We could have taken a seat inside, but the view was so nice. (Shelter is not right on the water, but it still looks out over it. ) We enjoyed our meal (burger, salad, fries, calamari etc.) and the great service.

By the time we crawled into our very comfortable beds at Cox Bay we were exhausted.
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Aug 17th, 2011, 08:25 PM
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So sorry for the delay!

The next day was my husband's birthday and I had planned whale watching with Ocean's Outfitters ( they were great!) and a private glacier flight with Atleo air. Thanks to suggestions here.

Unfortunately, by the time we came back from the whale watching the weather was not great. So, the flight was postponed to the next day. Had tea and snacks at the Long Beach Lodge, good service, great view, rather pricey. Dinner at the Spotted Bear was truly terrific. We all had the chef's tasting menu.

The next morning the kids and my husband enjoyed surfing lessons with Pacific surf school. The weather was still spotty. So, we canceled the Atleo tour. They were so very gracious about it.

To be continued
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