How to Enjoy a Great Day in Victoria, BC

In this article, our guest author Robert Tellier shares his favourite things to see in his hometown of Victoria in British Columbia, from a seafood snack by the harbour at Fisherman’s Wharf to a stroll in the rose gardens and the best ice cream in town!

Are your travel plans bringing you to Victoria, British Columbia this season? If so, there are plenty of things for you to see in BC’s capital city located on the south shores of Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada.

Having been raised in Victoria, here are my suggestions for those wanting to take in some of the popular sites and attractions that are conveniently located within minutes of downtown.

Stroll by the harbour in Victoria, BC, Canada Photo: gr8traveltips.com

Stroll by the harbour in Victoria, BC, Canada

Arriving in Victoria

For those lucky visitors to Victoria as a stopover on one of the many cruises that come and go from Alaska, you are just minutes from some of the most popular attractions in the city.

For those arriving by passenger ferry or air, public transportation is readily available to the downtown core. Choose to arrive using Victoria’s affordable transit system, taking a ride in their unique double decker buses, or by taxi.

Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria, BC, Canada Photo: gr8traveltips.com

A stroll by Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria, BC

Ogden Point Walkway

One of my favorite things to do when visiting the city is taking a walk along the waterfront and the breakwater causeway. This is one of the most scenic and beautiful spots in the city where you can watch ships coming in and out of the inner harbour. You’ll see the scuba divers making their way along the huge breakwater blocks and can gaze across the water to Washington State and the beautiful Olympic Mountains in the distance.

Ogden Point, Victoria,  BC  Photo: gr8traveltips.com

Watch the ships come and go at Ogden Point, Victoria, BC

Victoria’s Beautiful Inner Harbour

For those who enjoy walking, there are two other options worth considering and each direction will not take you more than half an hour to walk, even at a gentle pace. From the port, you have the option of taking a leisurely walk to Victoria’s scenic inner harbor, passing by a popular attraction known as Fisherman’s Wharf. This is a favorite spot for those wanting to grab a snack or meal at one of the fresh seafood sit down or take out outlets on the wharf. We always enjoy a picnic at the park just down the street from the wharf. From fish & chips to oyster and fish burgers, Fisherman’s Wharf is always a favorite among locals and tourists.

Inner Harbour , Victoria,  BC  Photo: gr8traveltips.com

Stroll by Victoria’s Inner Harbour

A few minutes further down the road you will come to Victoria’s major tourist hub the Inner Harbour. There’s so much activity taking place down here, you could spend the entire day just wandering. Here you will find;
• The beautiful Government Parliament Buildings and Lawn
• The Historic Empress Hotel (take a walk inside & visit the gardens and shops)
• The Amazing Provincial Museum complete with dinosaur artifacts
• Inner Harbour Causeway with live entertainment, food carts, local crafts and souvenirs
• Government Street Plaza ( a variety of local speciality stores including native art, as well as an abundance of dining options)
• Trounce Alley ( more unique gift shops and dining in an historic setting )
• Historic Bastion Square ( Victoria’s oldest area and filled with history, now a great place to relax, also with a variety of shops and restaurants)
All of these great attractions listed above are in the immediate area of the inner harbor downtown. A great place to spend the day!

Empress Hotel, Victoria,  BC  Photo: gr8traveltips.com

Visit the historic Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC

Beacon Hill Park

For those just wanting to relax, and enjoy an afternoon at the park, then Beacon Hill Park is just down road from the cruise ship terminal. It’s a beautiful walk along the ocean, taking you past Mile ‘0’ of the Trans – Canada Highway (a popular photo spot) where across the street is the entrance to the park. If you have children, it’s a great place to spend an afternoon, complete with playground and a unique petting zoo, fun for the whole family. You can sit and relax among the beautiful rose gardens and then head across the street to a local drive-in for ice cream.

Beacon Hill Park Totem, Victoria,  BC  Photo: gr8traveltips.com

Beacon Hill Park Totem, Victoria, BC

Beacon Drive-In – Voted Victoria’s Best Ice Cream for the Last 20 Years!

Should you happen to feel like a snack or meal, either to eat on the patio or for take-out to enjoy in the park, then the Beacon Drive-In is your place. Located directly across the street from the park, it is one of Victoria’s true landmark eateries! I have been enjoying this drive-in since I was a little boy growing up here. There’s a variety of dining options from burgers, seafood, sandwiches and much more. They have the best ice cream and shakes in the city!

I really could go on for hours about the many things to do in Victoria, but this article is for those just wanting to take in the beautiful popular sites in the downtown area. Of course there are so many other attractions in the area that can be arranged either at the cruise ship port or directly downtown in the inner harbour, for example:
• Whale watching tours
• Horse drawn carriage tours
• Pirate Ship Tour
• World re-knowned Butchart Gardens

Whatever you decide, spending a day in Victoria will certainly leave lasting memories and having you want to return again and again!

Visit the #explorecanada official Canada Tourism Website for more information on things to do in British Columbia and Victoria as well as their social media channels on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

16087408110_08a891f237_qAuthor Bio: Many thanks for this article to Robert Tellier, who shares his special moments on his blog  at Gr8 Travel Tips, offering tips on travel, health & fitness, camping and much more. You can also connect with him on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter.

Pinit

Enjoy a great day in Victoria, BC

For more Canadian adventures:

Adventurous Canada with a Twist
Skyscrapers and snow-capped mountains – a winter break in Vancouver
Calgary’s family spirit for fun with the kids

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

 

A weekend in Paris, Nantes, Düsseldorf – with BMI Regional

As a travel blogger I’m lucky to live close to Bristol Airport, my gateway to countless interesting destinations in Europe and around the world. Flying from my local airport means I can stretch my precious holiday time with long weekends away, knowing that I can fly back into Bristol airport and half an hour later be walking through my own front door.

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Paris like a local

Paris is a city that’s on so many peoples’ wish list, but even if you’ve done the Louvre and the Eiffel tower I highly recommend going back again to discover some alternative things to do in Paris that are a world away from the tourist sights. Here are some ideas from my last trip;

  • Marche d’Aligre – Last time I was in Paris for a pre-Christmas break we tried to go for a more local experience, taking a walking tour through Marche d’Aligre in the 12th arrondissement. You actually get three market in one; a fruit and vegetable market, an indoor market selling meat, cheeses and deli produce and a flea market where you can buy anything from vintage shoes to delicate antique wine glasses.
Trying the cheeses in Marche d'aligre, Paris Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Trying the cheeses in Marche d’aligre, Paris

  • Dining with locals – We also tried out a dining with locals experience and had a very entertaining evening with Adelia who cooked us a delicious French Creole meal and regailed us with stories of her family in Guadaloupe. Read about it here.
  • Stroll along Canal St Martin – I can recommend a stroll along Canal St Martin, lined with houseboats and a walk along the Promenade Plantee, a garden above the street that is Paris’s answer to New York’s Highline.
  • Maison Victor Hugo – we loved our walk around the trendy Marais which ended at the elegant Place des Vosges and a visit to Maison Victor Hugo where the famous writer of The hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables lived in his later years. Read about it here.
Walk along Canal St Martin in Paris Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Walk along Canal St Martin in Paris

Fly with BMI Regional to Paris

Fly from Bristol to Paris six days a week, twice a day on Monday to Friday and once a day on Sunday. For more information read the BMI Regional destination guide to Paris and check out the Paris Tourism website.

Medienhafen in Dusseldorf by Wojtek Gurak on Flickr

Medienhafen in Dusseldorf

Düsseldorf on the banks of the Rhine

Düsseldorf in Germany is a modern, cosmopolitan city set on the River Rhine and has plenty to offer for a weekend break. Here are some of the things that you might enjoy for a weekend break in Düsseldorf;

  • Take a walk – along the Rhine embankment promenade that connects the traditional Altstadt or Old Town with the Medienhafen which showcases high tech modern buildings by leading architects. With many bars and cafés lining the route, you can stop for a coffee to relax and watch the comings and goings on the river.
  • Take the boat tour – during the summer you can take a boat ride along the river Rhine, taking in the city sites with English commentary, costing €10 per person.
Boat tour in Dusseldorf Photo by duesseldorf-tourismus.de

Take a Rhine Boat tour in Dusseldorf

  • Drink in the atmosphere of the Alstadt – the Old Town is one of the best places to try Düsseldorf’s world famous beer at one of the local breweries, but if beer’s not your thing, there are plenty of places to eat, from homely pubs to world-class dining.
  • Artistic adventures – Alstadt is also where most of the cultural venues are found, including the Museum Kunstpalast housing contemporary art and glass collections and the NRW-Forum with a fusion of popular art, culture and design.

Fly with BMI Regional to Dusseldorf

Fly from Bristol to Düsseldorf six times a week, with one flight a day, Sunday to Friday. For more information read the BMI Regional destination guide to Düsseldorf and check out the Düsseldorf Tourism website.

Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne in Nantes Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbera

Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne in Nantes

Nantes – gateway to the Loire

Nantes is located on the west coast of France on the Loire River and while many pass through to visit the rest of the Loire region, it worth a weekend visit. Here are some things to do on your weekend break in Nantes;

  • Château des Ducs de Bretagne – with all the turrets and courtyards you’d wish for, this was the residence of the Dukes of Brittany during the 13th to 16th centuries and includes the Nantes History Museum which traces the history of the city – Website here
  • Ride the Great Elephant – this enormous mechanised elephant will take you for a walk and is part of Les Machines de l’Isle artistic project to create a fantasty world of mechanical objects set in a large open space on the banks of the Loire. Website here
The Great Elephant at Les Machines de l'Isle in Nantes Photo: Mister_Jack

The Great Elephant at Les Machines de l’Isle in Nantes

  • Visit the Jardin des Plantes – established in the 18th century as a home for the exotic plants being brought by ship to Nantes from all over the world, this botanic garden is especially known for the collections of magnolias and camelias and the 100 year old heated greenhouses. Website here.
  • Take the hop-on-hop-off bus tour – from Easter to September, the bus stops at 12 locations; including the Cathedral, Botanical Garden and 50 Otages with commentary in English.

Fly with BMI Regional to Nantes

The Bristol-Nantes flight runs through the summer from 4 July to 12 September, twice a week on Saturday and Tuesday, making it ideal for a long weekend hop across the channel. For more information read the BMI Regional destination guide to Nantes and check out the Nantes Tourism website.

If you live close to Bristol Airport, it’s also worth checking out the BMI Regional flights to Aberdeen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Milan. I’m looking forward to flying with BMI Regional to Munich in August for a walking holiday in the Austrian Tyrol. To book flights, visit the BMI Regional Website.

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Read about a weekend in Paris, Nantes or Dusseldorf with BMI Regional

Photo Credits: All Paris photos by Heatheronhertravels.com, Düsseldorf Medienhafen by Wojtek Gurak, Great elephant in Nantes by Mister_Jack, Chateau des Duces de Bretagne by Jean-Pierre Dalbera

This article is brought to you in partnership with BMI Regional who have provided me with flights for some of my travels.

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Lloret de Mar – sun, sea and so much more…

Lloret de Mar on the Spanish Costa Brava is a holiday resort that holds a certain memory for many UK travellers. “That’s where I went for my first holiday abroad!” exclaimed my mother, now in her 70s, who visited on a coach tour in the early 1960s when she was a young nurse and Lloret was a pretty fishing village. In more recent years Lloret has gained a reputation as the place for a cheap holiday in the sun and while my son and his girlfriend had both been there on sports tours, neither of them seemed to spend any time playing sport! It seemed that everyone knew of Lloret de Mar, but perhaps for all the wrong reasons.

The Beach at Lloret de Mar, Costa Brava Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Beach at Lloret de Mar, Costa Brava

Towns like Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar expanded quickly in the tourist boom of the 1960s when many of the elegant mansions that lined the sea front were demolished to make way for multi-storey apartment blocks. This was a town that in the 19th century prospered from the wealth of those who left to seek their fortune in Cuba and returned as Los Americanos – the ones who had made it big in the Americas.

Passeig Jacint Verdaguer in Lloret de Mar, Costa Brava Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Passeig Jacint Verdaguer in Lloret de Mar, Costa Brava

The Museu del Mar

Curious to discover more about the old Lloret de Mar, I visited the Museu del Mar on the seafront, one of the few remaining old houses on the seafront that was built by one such Americanos who had made his fortune in Cuba, which now tells the story of Lloret de Mar. The rooms of the museum were beautifully decorated with painted panels in green, red and yellow and coloured floor tiles from Valencia laid in intricate patterns.

Museu del Mar, Lloret de Mar Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Museu del Mar, Lloret de Mar

Our guide Joaquim showed us around the museum and explained how the ‘Cabotage’ trade up and down the Spanish coast had expanded after 1778 when direct trade across the Atlantic was allowed from Lloret de Mar. The beaches that are now enjoyed by sunbathers and families were used at that time as shipyards to build the ships that would cross the Atlantic to bring back rum, sugar, coffee and tobacco.

Ships in the Museu del Mar, Lloret de Mar Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Ships in the Museu del Mar, Lloret de Mar

In the 19th century many people from Lloret emigrated to the Spanish colony of Cuba, often at the age of only 13 or 14, to join relatives who would give them their first job. They set up small bodegas or import export businesses and those that made their fortune would return to Lloret de Mar to build fine houses in the town and marry local girls. The term Americano or Indiano was given to a rich man who had made his money abroad, but if any returned without making money it was joked that they had ‘lost their suitcase in the straits of Gibraltar’.

Daiquiri cocktails at Hotel Sant Pere del Bosc, Lloret de Mar Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Daiquiri cocktails at Hotel Sant Pere del Bosc, Lloret de Mar

The Daiquiri Cocktail – the drink of Lloret de Mar

Another tradition that originates with the Cuban connection is the Daiquiri cocktail which is now considered the cocktail of Lloret de Mar. The drink was invented by Constanti Ribalaigua who emigrated to Cuba from Lloret in 1914 and opened the Floredita bar in Havana. The bar became the fashionable place to drink, with the stars of the day such as Gary Cooper, Ava Gardner and Ernest Hemingway coming to drink their daiquiri. When you’re in Lloret you can pick up a tapas and daquiri guide to all the bars in town where the cocktail is served or view it online here and I enjoyed my daiquiri cocktail at a special demonstration by Lloret’s most famous cocktail maker, Manuel Casademont of Bar Hula Hula.

Church of Sant Roma, Lloret de Mar Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Church of Sant Roma, Lloret de Mar

Around the historic centre of Lloret de Mar

My exploration of the old Lloret de Mar continued as I wandered along the sandy promenade of Passeig Jacint Verdaguer that was being used for a petanque tournament, reaching the neo-classical town hall. In the square set behind the promenade was the 16th century parish church of Sant Roma, its fortress-like stone tower in contrast to the colourful modernist style of the side chapel beside it, built in 1916 with decorative turrets and domes.

Church of Sant Roma, Lloret de Mar Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Church of Sant Roma, Lloret de Mar

Continuing my walk along the promenade I climbed up to Dona Marinera or Seafarer’s wife sculpture, which represents all those women who looked out to sea for their menfolk, the fishermen or those who had gone overseas to make their fortune. If you are at one of the summer festivals in Costa Brava you may catch a performance of the Havaneros, the mechancolic songs named after the capital of Cuba and sung by those who were missing their loved ones across the ocean.

Dona Marinera in Lloret de Mar, Costa Brava Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Dona Marinera in Lloret de Mar, Costa Brava

From this viewpoint I could look across the bay towards the small d’en Plaja castle built in 1935 as a neo-gothic folly and now one of the most photographed landmarks of the town. Turning away from the apartment blocks of the main beach I skirted the headland to discover a rocky coastline with turquoise water, much more the ‘wild’ Costa Brava coastline I’d been hoping for.

Coastline by Lloret de Mar, Costa Brava Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Coastline by Lloret de Mar, Costa Brava

The Santa Clotilde Gardens

I had planned to continue along some cliff path but here the path ran out, so I used the map on my phone to guide me for a 20 minute walk through residential areas, until I reached the gardens of Santa Clotilde. This was truly a different side of Lloret de Mar, a tranquil green haven with terraces and sea vistas,  interspersed with statues, pools and fountains. The gardens were commissioned in 1919 by the Marquis de Roviralta, named after his wife Clotilde, and his family still use the house overlooking the sea as a holiday home although the gardens are now maintained by the town council.

At the Santa Clotilde gardens, Lloret de Mar Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

At the Santa Clotilde gardens, Lloret de Mar

The garden was made in the Italian renaissance style with formal hedges and shrubs, punctuated by the tall columns of cyprus reaching for the sky. All the steps were fringed with ivy and beautiful sculptures graced the steps and terraces, with bronze mermaid statues created by sculptress Maria Ilimona Benet. From the top of the garden we walked through the pergola dripping with wisteria and down the pathways until we were overlooking the beach below, which can be accessed from a path near the entrance to the garden.

At the Santa Clotilde gardens, Lloret de Mar Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

At the Santa Clotilde gardens, Lloret de Mar

I noticed that there are other gardens in the area such as the Pinya de Rosa Botanical Gardens and the Marimurta botanical gardens which can be reached on a garden route of bus, tourist train and the boat that runs between Blanes and Lloret de Mar. Take the bus from outside the Lloret town hall and buy a combination ticket that covers both the transport and the garden entrance. The Lloret card which you can buy in town also allows free entrance to the Santa Clotilde Gardens as well as several other museums including the Museu del Mar.

View from the Santa Clotilde gardens, Lloret de Mar Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View from the Santa Clotilde gardens, Lloret de Mar

On my walk through Lloret I felt I’d discovered a different side to the town, the connections with Cuba that have shaped the town and the beautiful wild coastline. Personally I’d avoid the bright lights of the nightclubs and take the time to explore beyond the obvious, and of course drink a daiquiri or two to remember the ‘Americanos’ who brought their fortunes back to Lloret.

Where to stay in Lloret de Mar

While in Loret de Mar I stayed at the Evenia Olympic Palace Hotel where the TBEX travel blogger’s conference was being held. The hotel is part of a large resort complex comprising 4 hotel buildings with large pool areas and had excellent conference facilities. Although I typically prefer smaller boutique hotels, I was pleasantly surprised by my spacious and well furnished room with a modern bathroom and seating area.

Bedroom at the Evenia Olympic Palace Hotel, Lloret de Mar Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bedroom at the Evenia Olympic Palace Hotel, Lloret de Mar

The hotel is set in a residential area, around 20 minutes walk from the seafront and the food we ate as part of the conference was excellent. The other guests were mainly French families, and I would recommend this hotel for families looking for a good value sunshine break in Lloret de Mar. The rate for rooms in May and June starts from around £60 per night.

For boutique luxury – Hotel Sant Pere del Bosc

Hotel Sant Pere del Bosc in Lloret de Mar Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotel Sant Pere del Bosc in Lloret de Mar

I also visited the gorgeous Hotel Sant Pere del Bosc which is set in the hills above Lloret de Mar for drinks and dinner as part of the conference, although I did not stay there. The hotel was originally a monastery but was bought in the early 1900s by Nicolau Font, a wealthy local businessman who had made his fortune in Cuba. When he returned to settle in Lloret de Mar, he added the chapel, tower and the house which was opened as a restaurant and boutique hotel in 2000.

Diane Fossey Room in Hotel Sant Pere del Bosc in Lloret de Mar Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Diane Fossey Room in Hotel Sant Pere del Bosc in Lloret de Mar

We were treated to the amazing specialities of the hotel including smoky grilled mussels and creamy potato soup topped with smoked caviar, which were created on a special ‘gastro-grill’ that we were shown in the hotel kitchens. Each of the individually designed hotel rooms is themed after a notable woman and I especially liked the Diane Fossey room which had antique leather furnishings with an ‘out of Africa feel’ together with an amazing sink shaped from a piece of polished wood. The hotel is set above the town in an area of protected woodland so you’ll either need a car to get up the gravel road or take a taxi and then stay put for a few days enjoying the peace and natural beauty. This is just the kind of hotel I’d love to relax with my husband for a romantic getaway.

Visitor Information for Lloret de Mar and the region

For more information on things to see in and around Lloret de Mar, visit the Lloret de Mar website  | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

For information on the Costa Brava coastal region around Lloret de Mar visit the Costa Brava website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

For information on the wider Catalunya region including the Pyrenees visit the Catalunya website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

I visited Lloret de Mar as part of the TBEX blogger conference and some of the experiences described were provided by the tourism board as part of the conference.

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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