As someone who just recently moved to Seattle not too long ago, I’m always boasting to friends and family in land-locked states about how majestic the water around the city is.
There was always just one problem—save for a day-trip to Bainbridge Island last May, I had never, fully, taken advantage of it.
That all changed once Caffe Vita teamed up with the Victoria Clipper as the sole provider of coffee on each one of their three vessels and in their cafe—with our Caffe Luna drip recently coming aboard in the past few weeks.
A staple in Seattle since 1986, the Clipper has proven to be the premier choice for visitors to pack their bags for an easy, three-hour trip to beautiful Victoria, B.C., allowing passengers an opportunity to cross the border without too much fuss.
And because the people over in the Clipper offices are so great, they sent me over to Victoria for a day to see what the experience was all about—and it turned into something that was pleasantly unexpected.
Here are the details.
Departing from Seattle on the 6:45am boat, I can honestly say that I couldn’t sleep the night prior, feeling as if I were a kid on Christmas Eve all over again.
With low-70s and nothing but sun in the forecast, it’s easy to see why I tossed and turned all night in anticipation.
Listening to the Andrea Bocelli Pandora station to help get me in the European mindset, I was blown away with not only how easy the process of loading people on the boat was, but, upon arrival, how much Victoria resembles that of a small city in France or Switzerland.
From the architecture to the narrow streets and nooks and crannies, to the small shops and blend of cultures, Victoria is very much European—and deceptively large, with nearly 150,000 residents.
Very quickly, I felt as if I was on vacation—but was quickly reminded there was work to be done.
Arriving in Victoria, our journey began walking around the dock and passed The Empress Hotel, which we later found out is about as classy of a place as one could find.
Old ivy lives on the walls giving the hotel an appearance of a castle in the middle of Scotland, with big porches and an incredible view of the bay.
Continuing up Government—a popular, main drag in downtown Victoria—we were instantly introduced to a number of great shops, restaurants and bars. Since the road extends a few miles through the heart of the city, we used Government as a guide while walking around.
With so many different options to choose from—especially cafes—we popped into a quaint shop called Grindstone Café, which on first impression, shares the same love for coffee and laidback personality as Caffe Vita does.
After speaking with the owner, Alex, about everything from our mutual love for local, organic coffee to the World Cup, we walked away with a few suggestions on key places to check out when visiting Victoria for a day.
Located at 504 Herald St., both the friendliness of the staff and the espresso they pull, make Grindstone a place that is a perfect start to the day. We recommend that anyone exploring Victoria stop in to Grindstone and say hello
Fresh after an espresso, we made our way into Chinatown, which featured a discrete alley housing a number of shops hidden from the main drag.
Our favorite was the album shop, The Turntable, which had an unlimited amount of vinyls for sale and some cool Van Morrison playing over the speakers.
It may have been small and congested, but it made for a great time.
We even joked that, if not for a day ahead of us full of walking, we could have spent hours in the store browsing the selection and, more than likely, buying our fair share of records.
Once hunger set in, we followed Alex’s recommendation to watch some soccer and enjoy a cold, homebrew beer at the Canoe Brewpub.
With a huge patio, a large dining room with multiple TVs, and a diverse menu,, we housed some food while catching the first half of the Germany-Algeria match.
Following some grub, we walked around some more and stopped into a few more cafes and saw some interesting sites in town.
One of my personal favorites was the Victoria Lawn Bowling Club.
Located in Beacon Hill Park, the club was full of people playing a version of bocce ball in the sun on a pristinely cut lawn. If not for our busy schedule and time restraints to get back aboard the Clipper, I would have been out there challenging anyone to a match, but sadly, it will have to wait until my next trip.
With an hour or so to spare, we checked-in with the folks at The Inn at Laurel Point—situated nicely right by the Clipper’s dock—ending our day in one of the best cities in Canada with a Summer Hefeweizen at the attached hotel bar called Aura.
Sitting outside and overlooking the water, Aura is a great place to relax and enjoy good conversation, while getting a terrific view of downtown Victoria.
Nice and relaxed, the Victoria Clipper was our next stop, departing soon after our final beer of the day.
As great as our time in Victoria was, the highlight of the trip may have been heading back to Seattle, given the opportunity to stand in the cockpit of the Clipper IV during our travels to interview and hang with the crew, as we took in the beautiful scenery up-close and personal.
As giddy as kids on a playground, we asked captain David Mayden, co-captain Robert Reeder and Kurt Sutter who is in charge of Engine Control, questions about their thoughts on the new, Vita coffee on-board, their favorite parts about being aboard a boat all day and, hobbies outside of work.
We all agreed on a few things—the three of them have an amazing job and, even better, the coffee on the Victoria Clipper boats is an amazing perk.
Wrapping up our trip and docking, the long, entertaining day had come to and end—but not without a lot of memories and great experiences.
With a booming coffee culture and an abundance of great shops to stroll into, the city of Victoria, B.C. is an incredible place to take in the Great Northwest—with a hint of European flair—and thanks to the Victoria Clipper, Caffe Vita was able to enjoy a day that won’t soon be forgotten.