shopping


19
Nov 14

Get Your Skates on to Victoria

It’s winter in Canada so what are you going to do but enjoy the great outdoors? This year, Victoria’s Fairmont Empress hotel is hosting an outdoor skating rink on its front lawn, which faces out towards the harbour all strung with festive lights. There is something rather magical about skating outdoors and it’s hard to imagine a more beautiful background than the Empress. Special events include a Christmas Eve skating session with elves, hot cocoa and cider and Sunday skates with santa. Tickets are $10/$5 per session and skate hire is $5. The rink opens on Friday 20th November and runs till mid-January. Open from 5-9pm weekdays and 1-9pm weekends.

So, now you’re in Victoria, what else is there to do?

wiv2BREAKFAST:  Usually I’m not a doughnut fan, but Yonni’s Doughnuts at Discovery Coffee could be the one which changes my mind. I had a Honey Crueller, all eggy sweet and delicious, it matched perfectly with their Gob’s Magical Espresso blend. I took a bottle of the Cold Brew coffee home and had it for breakfast the next morning. Sure Cold Brew coffee may have more than a whiff of needless hipsterism about it but when it’s as buttery and chocolatey as this, well, call me a hipster and be damned.

wiv1LUNCH:  Oh hurrah! My all-time favourite Vancouver sandwich, the Meat & Bread porchetta is now available at their beautiful new location on Yates Street. Taking the idea of doing one thing and then excelling at it, Meat and Bread’s empire is gradually spreading and you know what? Good. They do things right: the bread is a custom-made ciabatta roll and the meat in their legendary porchetta sandwiches is the finest grain-fed, free-range pork from Two Rivers Meats. If businesses must become chains then at least let them operate on an ethical basis. And yes, I know that Meat and Bread also do other daily sandwich specials but after two years I’ve still not managed to go through the doors and say anything other than ‘Porchetta with extra crackling, please’.

WIV6TIME FOR TEA:  Silk Road Tea are based in Victoria’s Chinatown (the oldest in Canada! Take a look around on this Vine clip.), the creation of Tea Master Daniela Cubelic. I cannot say enough great things about this store! Going far beyond what you’d imagine a tea shop to sell, Silk Road have a wide range of beauty products (and an in-shop spa), shelves of wildly desirable tea paraphernalia –try going in and not immediately needing to own at least three tea pots, infusers and assorted pieces of cocktail ware – and best of all a long tasting table with comfy stools. I went to an iced tea event in the summer which was a blast and gave me so many ideas. This winter their free-to-attend workshop events include Winter Wellness classes, a tea jam-making event and learning about immune-boosting tea blends to ward off colds and flu.

wiv4DINNER:  Sure, there are plenty of great restaurants in Victoria but right now I am OBSESSED with the ambrosial brisket at Hanks Untraditional BBQ. This place is a tiny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it barbecue joint but oh my, it’s worth stopping in. All the meat comes from those super-ethical Two Rivers chaps and you can taste the quality in every bite. My recommendation? Have one of the platters with the cornbread, all warm and buttery from the oven. The pulled pork is amazing and the potato salad superb. Damn, I am actually drooling just writing this.

wiv5STAY:  With Veneto, one of the finest bars and restaurants downstairs and boasting a pole position slap bang in the heart of town, it’s hard to better the location of the Rialto. The rooms are both spacious and spotless and best of all, come with a pleasing raft of extras including free wifi, vouchers for coffee and pastry from the lobby cafe, and best of all, a voucher for a cheese plate at Veneto. Very cool! Oh, and the one thing that won me over completely? Ear plugs. Acknowledging that yes, they are a central hotel and so the street can get noisy is honest, but then immediately sorting that issue out is smart. I love that.

wiv3GET THERE:  I am obsessed with the float planes which whizz across the waters here in BC. I can see them soar above Stanley Park from my window and it’s always a fantastic day if I know that I’m going to be onboard Harbour Air. My advice? Don’t hang back and be polite. Immediately ask the pilot is there’s a chance that you could sit up front, as sometimes there is a spare seat and it’s the best view in the house! If not, don’t fret, you’ll still be amazed by the view from the windows. Top tip: at the Vancouver terminal downtown you can score free espresso-based drinks and tea, as well as a muffin or fruit when you present them with your boarding pass. Also, the Victoria terminal seems to have a penchant for playing excellent 80s music. Prepare to rock out before take off.

MORE INFO:

Tourism Victoria

 

 


23
Oct 12

Topshop: The British are coming!

A little piece of home.

 

Vancouver just got a little bit more British and a whole lot more fabulous. The largest international Topshop and Topman, has opened its doors down on the bottom floor of The Bay (think a Canadian John Lewis) on Granville street and I got to take a sneak peek the day before it opened. With 33,000 sq foot of retail heaven to check out, it may not be as enormous as my beloved Oxford Circus branch, but it’s the second-largest in the world and until I return to the UK, to worship at the ‘Temple of Topshop’ I rather suspect The Bay will become a favourite stop-off.

Love this VanCity art

 

The layout felt pleasingly familiar and I loved the funky dressing rooms with Vancouver-influenced art on the walls. Across the store, four main trends dominate this season: ‘Witching Hour’ – a gothic-influenced line with leather and lace themes running throughout. ‘Psychedelic Dandy’, all Paisley prints and clashing glitz. ‘Scandi-Girl’ which combines cool military khakis with lace detail, and ‘Factory Girl’ – a cavalcade of futuristic 60s Swinging London pieces with plenty of metallics.

 

Seriously – this is the personal shopping area. Clothes and cupcakes!

 

I spoke to a few of the staff in the Personal Shopping section (a brilliant way to find an outfit for a special occasion – totally recommended) to get a sense of why Vancouverites were so excited about this particular British invasion, ‘The UK is so fashion forward. You just can’t find clothes like this anywhere!’ they told me. ‘West Coast fashion is so laid-back, but the UK is all about dressing up a cool outfit or taking individual pieces to dress a look down. We’re like kids in a candy store!’

 

Bragging rights and Butter Chicken. Best Day. Ever.

 

So, did I manage to stick to my self-imposed ‘Just The Money In Your Purse’ budget and not totally spank my credit card?

Guilty confession: um… not thrifty.

But I got to waltz around the rest of The Bay swinging my well-stuffed Topshop bag, which drew excited comments from the friendly staff on the Elizabeth Arden counter, “Ooh! you went into Topshop! What’s it like? Is it amazing!?” and that soothed any pain. (Hey – no one said being over-excited about getting to go shopping first was anything but very shallow… But oh! So much fun). And if the day wasn’t perfect enough, I discovered one of my favourite food trucks, Soho Road, https://twitter.com/SohoRoad parked just across the street from the store with their superb spicy Butter Chicken. Cue moans of delight! Mmmmm…

 

 

Topshop are running a host of giveaways and contests to celebrate – so check out all the action on Twitter at @Topshop_Canada and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/topshopcanada

 

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