Checklist for Victoria, British Columbia

I was in Victoria for little over a month, the first week I was there was all it took for the city to completely take my heart. The city has the country feel with city ambiance, it’s magical. My favourite memory is sitting on these steps between two restaurants(The Local and Darcy’s)  at Bastion Square, listening to a busker (Fintan O’neil) who’s there most Sundays definitely look him up urg amazing! Looking into the distance at the port where water planes are landing. It was a home away from home feeling. 

(Bastion Square- Finton O’neil busking)

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A Weekend in Vancouver

How a day trip to Vancouver turned into a weekend.

We went out the Friday night to Sticky Wickets, our favourite place in Victoria, and end the night earlier than usual but still at McDonalds. Because we were getting the first ferry out to Vancouver. We say goodnight and four hours later we meet back at the parking lot with a good morning.

That McDonalds was not enough for dinner, after bar snack and breakfast…so unfortunately we stayed in line for breakfast on the ferry the entire way and got mediocre eggs but filled bellies for tons of walking.

Off the ferry we get a day bus pass because we plan on seeing most of this city in the next 10 hours… Beginning with Granville Island. It was really cute. Reminded me of the distillery district in Toronto but surrounded by mountains and ocean. The food there was amazing. Grab some fresh bagels & smoked salmon, calamari, fish and chips and settle yourself a little picnic. SO delicious my stomach is growling writing this.

Next stop… we walked all around the pier. The 2008 Vancouver Olympics was an exhilarating time for me. I was old enough to understand and get the hype of the olympics plus they were in my country how could one not get hyped about it. So seeing the flaming torches was incredible and brought me back to my grade 8 excited self. Saw the huge cruise ships ready to doc to Alaska. It was a lovely walk, saw bridal parties, a hobo fishing for change in the fountain, lots of dogs… what a great stroll.

We then rented bikes from a store called Spikes, and rode them all around Stanley Park. I rode an old school bike and made the stroll so much better. It was a beautiful ride. Even my friend Maria, who is not into biking at all and really did not want to partake in this touristy activity, loved it. The ride was amazing and seriously so many spot for pictures and selfies with the group or by yourself. ALSO sooo many great spots for a picnic, literally anywhere. You can choose a spot with a mountainous view or a beach view, a great people watching view.. I may have seen a semi nude beach riding along.

**Still to this day when I’m bored I think to myself ‘’man if I were living in Vancouver I’d be riding my bike around Stanley park’’**

We went around for an hour, returned our bikes and all took a little siesta in a patch of grass in Stanley park. Ahah living that tourist life, nap wherever you can. We then went to Ladurée, the famous Macaron store, but the only one in Canada. MMMmmm it was definitely what I was waiting for. That salted caramel sweetness. Ate dinner at Milestones, ahah I know not to local but it was right there and we were hungry. After a great meal took our buses and trans back to the station.

We get to the station and the machines aren’t working, they’re not letting us buy a ticket to the ferry to Victoria. We go to the counter and ask to buy a ticket with the attendant, and she replies with ‘’it’s gone’’… that’s all she says. She looks up and realizes our blank stares, ‘’the last ferry is gone, it left at 9:30’’. We turn to each other, AHAH WHAT! There is 6 of us, how did that tiny bit of information slip all of our minds. We immediately start brainstorming. What do we do…

We are on the phone for about an hour until we find a motel in West Vancouver. Thank gosh. Our other option was to sleep at the airport. Now our next mission is to get to the motel before our day bus pass runs out. There we go take two trains, two buses, telling everyone on our way how dumb we are and how we’re in this situation now. Everyone just courtesy laughs. I mean we’re those crazy strangers.

We get to the motel, but on the phone we said there were only two of us soo the rest of us have to sneak in. Just our luck our room is two doors down and directly across the front desk.. So we really have to sneak in. This little room was not bad.. Although with all of our smelly shoes, leftover food, and sweaty bodies the room was not smelling so nice. But for a motel was not to bad, have definitely stayed in worse… don’t ask.

We wake up at 6am and get the first ferry back. Oh man we were all in moods. But it was just the cities way of telling us that one day is just not enough.Lesson learned always check the times, no matter how many there are of us.

~stay tuned for videos of this crazy weekend! ~

XOXO

Jac

My Top 5 Things to do around Victoria

Victoria has my heart! These are my top 5 things to do in my favourite place. As you will notice by the end of this post, yes they are all outdoorsy things. If you’re not an outdoorsy person push yourself to go on at least one of these because the view and the Insta pics are worth it!

1.Sooke Trails

This is one of the best hikes I have ever been on. It’s got tons of inclines, tones of tree roots to climb over. It has amazing classic BC views along the way. Bring lots of water and snacks! The beach is a great end point. We stopped and ate lunch with an amazing view of the snowy mountains across the ocean in Washington Park. 

2. Sooke potholes

This is by far the coolest place on the island… well that I’ve seen. You’ll need to be quite adventurous for this place. There’s a hole in the fence that you have to climb to go through. Climb down a rocky hill and you’ve found these pockets of water between rocks and some have little cascades and waterfalls. If you climb around you can jump in. Most places are deep enough to jump, but just a warning check the pothole before you jump!! There are rocks everywhere so be careful! I could spend every weekend there if I could.

~I didn’t bring my phone or camera for pics because knowing me I would have left with water damage to both… but soon there’s a BC video so stay tuned for those vids! ~

3.Mystique Beach

Definitely worth IT! I would say this was a highlight of time in BC. It was a bit out of Victoria, a 2k hike, with roots and inclines but don’t stress. I didn’t get the memo that we would be hiking to the beach… I thought we were just having a beach day… so that’s what I wore…flip flops and jean shorts but it was still fun. There’s a beautiful suspension bridge and huge trees. The beach is like no other. It was simple picturesque with a rope swing… which is way harder than I thought. A day well spent. When we were packing up I saw many people getting their camping gear ready so I’m assuming it’s a great place to camp as well.

4.Town of Duncan

This town is small, very small. We stopped for an hour on a Sunday and that was all we needed.There’s 80 totem poles around the whole town, with beautiful architecture. It has a large First Nations population and it is definitely apparent in the boutique stores, very cute stores. (The ones that are open on Sundays)  

5.Goats on a roof – Town of Coombs

This was interesting… very interesting. There’s grass on the roof tops so that the goats can feed off of. It’s a lovely little street with ice cream and souvenir shops but goats on the roofs… like how? What? I woke up from a nap when we arrived and thought everyone was just fooling me. But no there are goats on the roofs of the stores. They are so cute.

~ my BC video will be out soon where I show the really cute little goats on a roof! ~

If you check out any of these places don’t forget to tag @thebrokegirlsofficial so that I can see all the awesome adventures you went on

XOXO

Jac

Must Try Pubs and Restaurants in Victoria!

Food is always one of my favourite things to do on vacation…well in my everyday life too. But I mean while on vacation checking out new restaurants and local specialties is one of the most exciting things about the trip. During my time in Victoria, BC I tried to go to as many local places as possible. Most of these places are well in the student budget and I guarantee will fill your belly for more exploring and walking!

1. El Furniture Warehouse – @elfurniturevictoria

This place is awesome! Whether you’re on a low budget or want to feast on many things! This place is your place! EVERYTHING on the menu is $4.95… yea EVERYTHING! I had french onion soup on the side of a grilled cheese, but let me tell you about this grilled cheese! Oohh it was like the Joey, a friend we made in Switzerland who fed our pour asses made us dutch grilled cheese! This grilled cheese had goat cheese, white cheddar and cream cheese, urg so good my mouth is watering thinking about it… and the cost.. Did I mention it was $4.95!!! Also they’re open till late.. Like 2 am! So yea I know they have these everywhere but when you’re travelling why not eat somewhere to save a few extra coins.

2. Red Fish Blue Fish (best food truck in Victoria)

This is a Victoria must… fish and chips from a food truck… looking at the water.. I don’t need to say anymore other than it’s really good.

3. Bard and Banker @bardandbanker

THIS PLACE IS A MUST! I walked into this place every time I passed by. It’s an old bank from 1885, that in 2008 got turned into a pub but they left all the original staircase and lights. It has a Gatsby ambiance that makes you want to stay for hours. They serve lunch, dinner and amazing drinks! Also live music every night! It is an older crowd but definitely worth a visit! SO much Fun!

4. The Sticky Wicket Pub & Restaurant- 919 Douglas St

Oh dear this place! The first couple days all our friend decided to go here. When I called to confirm the where everyone was I understood it as Sixteen Witches, so there I was going up to anyone on the street asking for directions to sixteen witches and every local was like ‘oh no that must be new’… which is why I though maybe thats why it  wasn’t on google maps… nope just my brain.

So eventually we figure it out after about an hour, but seriously every town should have a place like this. It has an amazing rooftop patio with heating lamps (those are important) and and AND a volleyball court! The downstairs portion has a great big bar with tones of seats and then in the back… a dance floor that turns into every into a hot, sweaty Shakira. So this place has really got it all.  

5. The Local – 1205 Wharf St.

This place so yummy! Patio food with Insta story worthy patio pics, facing the water.

6. Milestones – 812 Wharf St.

Oh man my favourite restaurant! Monday nights girls nights! Seriously the view from this place is like no other! Right on the boardwalk port! Facing parliament!

7. High Tea at The Fairmont Empress-721 Government Street… But it’s really expensive if you still want the experience of high tea in Victoria find a sugar daddy … maybe you’ll have better luck than me! But I hear it’s an amazing place to feel bougie ! Maybe one day!

8. Darcy’s Pub-1127 Wharf St. 

OOOOOoo yea ! Again this is just beside the local and is your basic pub but with an amazing view. At night they have live bands and great people walk in, definitely a lot of opportunity to make some friends.

9.Chocolats Favoris- 1010 Government St.

Ah-Mazing place for a little sweet craving! I recommend getting the smallest size because it can be so rich and that’s coming from me! I love sweets! So you can pick your ice cream and then what ever flavoured chocolate you want it topped with. My go to was chocolate ice cream with s’mores chocolate coating! mmmmm Mmm mouth still watering.

10. The Joint- 1219 Wharf Street 

This has the best pizza in the city. Best for mid day snack touring around or midnight snack after a night on the town. Right beside the restaurant to the right theres a window… that sells mac and cheese and it is beyond amazing. Sometimes if you go at the right time, they may give you a free one… also fun fact BC is very eco friendly so their forks are wood…adds flavour.

 

~A video of my Victoria Adventures are to come!!~

XOXO

Jac

Saving that vacation $$

Most of us know that travelling is one of the best experiences you can have. It allows you to immerse yourself in new cultures, learn more about other parts of the world, gain independence, and have a lot of fun. However, it is not usually the cheapest thing to do, and as a broke girl sometimes the thought of affording a trip seems unrealistic. I’m going to share with you guys how this broke girl saved her butt off to afford a 2 week trip through Europe with her girls. This is going to be a documentation of personal experience, but hopefully you can relate it to yourself and use some of the tricks I used.

To begin, you should know at this point I had already saved the money and had paid for my flights. This was just money I had saved from working over the last while, and what I am saving for in this piece is the rest of the trip (accommodations, food, shopping, fun, emergency money etc). The trip was on May 24th, and I finished my last year of university on April 30th, with about 100 dollars to my name, meaning I had a lot to save and very little time to do it. I also was working a minimum wage job at the time, with only about 10-15 hours a week. It didn’t really make sense to get a new job, as most places won’t hire you to work less than a month before leaving for vacation, so this was it.

The first thing I did was calculate exactly how much I would be spending on accommodations. To make sure we were prepared, my friends and I booked our hostels and air b&b’s in advance, meaning I knew the total amount of money I needed to make sure I had a place to sleep at night, which was about $600. Next, I spoke to some friends and relatives who had done the backpacking trips before, and just vacationing in general. I asked about the cost of food, and fun, and how much they would say they spent on average throughout the trip. It may seem easy to say you just won’t really spend much, but even when you do it frugally, you have to eat, and many of the attractions you will see cost money. Also, while travelling you may want to buy something nice you see a long the way and have some general spending money. Finally, and this is a tip I HIGHLY recommend, I went to a banker and asked their thoughts on budgeting. I told them approximately how much I thought I would be spending and they talked me through saving tips, and how to take your money farther. They told me I would be smart to start with $300.00 in cash to begin with, and only take a little bit with me out at a time, leaving the rest of it in my bag in the hostel. They also told me a smart tip to save as you travel is to use debit when you are at restaurants or stores. This is because it costs a lot of money to take cash out from an atm machine in another country, and places like this will not charge you to use your debit. Saving cash is key. Finally, when I went to them with the total amount of money I had saved, they helped me come up with a budget for food and fun to try and stick to, to ensure I didn’t run out. The best part of speaking to a banker, was the fact that they were accounting for the exchange rate I did not think of when I was doing my own calculations, because 5 euro’s is approximately $7.50 Canadian, which really adds up.

Once I had calculated the average cost of spending money, and added it to my $600 I needed for accommodations, I knew I had 24 days to get about $1500.00 This meant I was left with 900 dollars for spending money, which seemed like a lot at the time but really isn’t a ton.

The key for me over the next 24 days, was to make as much money as I could, and save every penny. Let me break down how I managed to save 1500 in less than a month.

  1. My part time job. Although this didn’t pay a lot, I was making about $300.00 a pay cheque, and in this time period I received 2 pay cheques. However, this was not the only thing I had to pay for. My first pay cheque had to cover some of my credit card, and paying back a friend for some flights. So I ended up with about $300 from work.
  2. Graduation presents. Now I was lucky, and was going right after I graduated, so as a present from my mum, I asked for a bit of money. She ended up giving me 200 dollars which was very generous, but even 100 would have been great. I was also given 100 from my grandparents, and 150 from my aunt, which was extremely kind and helpful.
  3. Odd jobs. Again family and friends blessed me hard here. I used my spare time to offer my services and help family and friends. My best friend’s dad was starting a business, and had me come in a few times to do some clerical work for him, formatting documents and what not. He paid me hourly, and after working for him a few times I had about 200 dollars. After this, I had my 600 for accommodations, plus an extra $50. I was also paid $500.00 for cleaning and organizing my house top to bottom (including the basement which was a huge mess of garbage and bins)
  4. Taxes. I was travelling around the time that taxes were due, and I ended up with money back. I thought I was getting 300 dollars, however when the cheque came in the mail (the DAY I was leaving) it was only for 150, because I had owed money I didn’t know about.
  5. Empty bottles. I collected all the empties I could from my student house, my friends and my family, and brought it all in to LCBO, giving me about 30 extra dollars.
  6. Government cheques. I get government cheques for approximately 50 dollars every month, so this months cheque went straight to the savings.

After this I ended up with 1680 dollars. Which worked out quite well with the exchange rate added in, but here was the struggle; not spending any of the money before the trip. That first 2 weeks I sparingly used the 100 dollars I had when I started the summer, and a bit of my first work paycheque. For the last week and a half before the trip I did not spend 1 single dollar. This was not easy, but worth it for me. Here’s how I did it, it’s quite a simple concept really.

  1.  I did not spend money with friends, instead I suggested we did fun things outside, or made food as a group at home. When the group wanted to go to a bar, I offered to be DD so I wouldn’t buy a drink, and opted for just water.
  2.  I made sure I brought all my meals and ate them at home instead of going out to eat and buying food (which I have a terrible habit of). I also brought my tea and coffee in travel mugs whenever I thought I would be tempted to buy one.
  3. I avoided malls. I LOVE to shop, and I knew I would spend money easily if given the opportunity, I was going on a trip, I had to look my very best right?! Instead, I went through my whole closet, and put together outfits I liked with clothes I already had.
  4. I didn’t drive far. Luckily I worked close by, and many of my friends were close, but I didn’t have the money to spend on gas, so I would walk everywhere I could. If I had to drive I would, (like I mentioned before, I was DD when we went out) but I avoided going too far without having someone else who was willing to drive. This wasn’t bad considering many of my friends had cars, and I did feel bad not offering to drive, but in the span of a week and a half no one was going too far anyway.
  5. I had (almost) all my money in cash and cheques. The cash I had is what I used to change to Euros and hold in cash. The cheques I didn’t deposit until the day before I left, and I asked anyone e-transferring me to wait until the few days before I left. It makes it really easy to not spend money when it seems as though you have none to spend.
  6. Finally, on the day I left (my flight was at 10 pm) I broke out the change jar. This is something I recommend for everyone to do, keep lose change in a jar. You will be SHOCKED by how fast it adds up. I have a bad habit of spending the money, or forgetting to add my spare change, but I ended up with about 30 dollars in change. That morning I went to the bank and asked for it to be made into bills, and used that money to buy the last things for my trip. This included a new tooth brush, travel toiletries, and snacks for the plane.

Good luck saving and happy travels!!

Love always,

Nic

Living ‘the life’ in the African Safari

We drive from Cape Town for about an hour and half to the reserve. We enter the gates and drive down this long dirt road for probably a good 15 minutes. Our white rental car is no longer white. Right when we walk in the wood chalet looking house, were given warm toilettes, ok yes this is the life. It get’s better, we’re then greeted with ‘sangria’, yup ok I’ll stay here for the rest of my life.

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The getting off the plane feeling

Fun Fact: I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and spent the first six years of my life there. Do I remember anything… nope not at all. Well that’s a lie I remember hiding in dog house eating the dog’s food which… really had nothing to do with the culture or the lifestyle we had down there. OR maybe the contrary…

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Stuck Squatting

While on the trip I made notes in my phone on the events that made me definitely feel the cultural difference between Canada and South Africa. This one I had to share. It was something I had never experienced before.

May 9th 2017

We just went through a township, a township is not what I was expecting. It’s a township of squatters. I recently learnt that squatters are people who are living in poverty and have taken unoccupied or abandoned land to create a shelter for them and their families. Together these squatters form a community called townships. Through our travels around Cape Town we have seen quite a few townships from the highway, but this time we got up close and personal. 

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