Why Victoria?

Victoria has long been a retirement destination for the jodhpur and gin crowd, and why not? Mild weather, beautiful gardens, fine dining and more waterfront mansions than the Island of Capri. But not all of Victoria’s charms come at a cost. There are beautiful public parks and beaches, forest walks, charming coffee houses to while away the long days of autumn, and the bounty of the ocean there for the taking.

There is something for everyone in the capital city and it’s always close by. It’s a short trot from high tea at the Empress to a stroll around the Inner Harbour, snacking on the day’s catch at Fisherman Wharf, hanging with the hipsters on LoJo, sampling Dim Sum in Chinatown, not to mention the museums, galleries, shopping, architecture and an almost endless supply of local eateries, brew pubs, specialty shops and gardens in bloom.

The downtown core is surrounded by lovely historic neighbourhoods like James Bay, Fairfield and Fernwood where well preserved Victorian era houses are still in abundance. A few more minutes to the east and you can visit Oak Bay where many of Victoria’s most prestigious locations can be found including the Oak Bay Village, the Uplands, the Royal Victoria Yacht Club and the ever popular Willows Beach.

A 20 minute gallop north and you’ll find yourself in the well-groomed countryside of the Saanich Peninsula where hobby farms abound. Lucky Andalusians and Mustangs dine on the finest organic alfalfa and never have to carry a load heavier than a hundred pound trophy wife. While in the neighbourhood why not go for a swim or dip your rod in Elk Lake, stop to smell the roses at Butcharts’ Gardens or take in the stunning views of the Finlayson Arm fjord from Brentwood Bay?

To the west lies Colwood and Langford, Victoria’s growing suburbs collectively know as the Western Communities where working families buy homes subdivisions newly hewn from the forest, while the nouveau riche build mansions on the hilltops. Despite the encroachment of the Western Communities into the surrounding forest, wonderful examples of the island’s natural beauty can still be sampled in areas such as Goldstream Park and Thetis Lake.

An hour from downtown you’ll find a true west coast experience in Sooke. East Sooke Park, the Sooke Potholes and Sooke Harbour are all well worth the drive while French and China Beach give you a taste of the vastness and power of the Pacific Ocean (though you’ll have to head north to Tofino to really increase your opportunities for drowning while surfing). Sooke has long been associated with loggers, fishermen and white boys with dreadlocks, but there are also opportunities for delictable dining, or perhaps a stay in a cottage with your own private hot tub facing the ocean.

Victoria truly is a wonderful place to be and we are all lucky to live here. Yes, there is money, and plenty of it, but it’s quiet money. More Princess Grace than Paris Hilton. There is also a loopy west coast vibe; the hippies (young and old), artists, writers, hikers, hipsters, yachters and paddlers, yogis and swamis, and of course more than our fair share of food fascists (gluten hating vegan vigilantes). We have a strong gay community and like to think we’re pretty multi-cultural. Okay, it’s still a little waspy but we do embrace cultures and people from around the world and the constant presence of foreign exchange students helps to keep things vibrant and colourful.

So we ask you, why not Victoria? It’s not such a bad place to be…with many of the amenities of a much larger city, the natural beauty of farm, forest and ocean all around us, and a relaxed vibe forged by the necessity of tolerating 8 months of rain a year. And here’s one more reason it’s Monty’s choice…because no one cares who you are, where you’re from or how much money you have. Even he can walk down the streets of Victoria without the constant attention of frenzied fans or pestering paparazzi. That’s the kind of low key leisure he longed for in the great cities of Europe but could never find, and that’s why Victoria gets a Magic Unicorn Award in Monty’s book.

So saddle up, pull on your chaps and spend a little time with Uncle Monty. He’ll tell you about his favourite spots, and along the way we’ll try to find something for everyone… visitors and locals, thrill seekers and chaise chasers, young and old, those on a budget and those with more bread than a Paris boulangerie. No matter which way your stirrups swing we’ll get you there. Let’s ride!

Recommended Listening: “Victoria” by The Fall