Literary City Guide | VICTORIA, CANADA
Tour Guide: Ariel Sorley
Ariel grew up all around the world—from Singapore, to Houston, to Victoria, to London, to Vancouver. Victoria is where Ariel spent her formative years, and occupies a warm chamber in her heart. She's excited to share it with you! Follow Ariel on Instagram @thearielviews.
Relationship to Victoria: I went to high school here.
Writer you'd like to invite to dinner: Sarah Kay… Scratch that, Marnie Jackson… No, scratch that… Lauren Eden. Actually, can I invite all three?
Chef you'd like to prepare the meal: Jamie Oliver
Writing soundtrack: Not a soundtrack, per se, but the faint noise of TV in the background.
Pen or Pencil: Pen, but with an ample amount of whiteout handy.
Coffee or Tea: Tea
Paperback or Hardback: Paperback. There’s nothing like limp book corners.
Munro’s Books. It’s all about the ABC’s: architecture, books, and character. Founded by Jim and Alice Munro, this is one of Victoria’s bragging points. (P.S. they have an excellent poetry section).
Bolen Books. It’s like an independent bookstore and a chain bookstore had an overachieving baby—taking the best qualities of each parent. Stocked with anything and everything, while maintaining that indie-charm.
Russell Books. “Rare, used, and out-of-print books”. I couldn’t have put it better myself. Old-book-smell addicts, be warned.
Greater Victoria Public Library – Emily Carr Branch. Modern and bright— this is the library all libraries want to be. Come for the books, or the Emily Carr paintings (or both).
University of Victoria Library. Sometimes, a college library atmosphere is what you need. I would say you should come and feed the bunnies too, but that’s a sensitive topic for us Victorians.
READINGS & CONFERENCES
Victoria Festival of Authors. An annual shindig, it’s Victoria’s biggest literary festival. Come if readings, panels, and workshops are your thing.
Victoria Poetry Project: Vic Slam. Vic (clipping for Victoria… say it if you want to feel like a local) Slam is a Wednesday tradition (most Wednesdays, at least) at Caffè Fantastico. It’s open mic, if you’re feeling brave.
Munro’s Books Events: Munro’s hosts many book launches and readings, so I guess it can add an “E” for events to its ABC’s.
Oak Bay Marina. Let your inner-kid squeal by feeding the seals here. Psst. It’s less busy than Fisherman’s Wharf, and excellent for writing inspiration.
Regional Assembly of Text. The best place for an old-fashioned typewriter session (yes, you can book typewriter time slots). Also great for quaint stationery.
Mount Doug (or Mount Pkols). A light hike, with a more-than-deserved view of Victoria (and surrounding islands). Bring a book or journal to read or write at the top.
Township Coffee Co. A little off the beaten track (situated in Gordon Head), come here for a cup of whatever you like (they do it all), a pastry, and a good conversation.
Murchie’s. Right next to Munro’s, Murchie’s is somewhere between a tea shop, pastry store, and lunch spot; a great place to catch up on a good book.
Habit Coffee. The spot to sip and people-watch.
A PROPER MEAL
Zambri’s. Really. Great. Pasta. And I don’t even like pasta that much.
Bin 4. If you’re looking for a good burger, Bin 4 is the J.G. Melon of Victoria.
The Village. Brunch is the name of this spot’s game (my favorite location is the one in Estevan Village). Yummy food and a great atmosphere.
Don Mee. If you love (like, heart-eye emoji love) dim sum, Don Mee is the place to be. Follow it up with a walking tour of Chinatown and you have a perfect day.
Agrius. Take someone here if you want to impress them (even if it’s just yourself). Tasting menus, modern décor, you get the picture.
High Tea at the Fairmont Empress. One of those necessary things. Think: classic high tea in a beautiful, ivy-clad building.
Beacon Drive In. Come for the soft serve ice cream, stay for the ocean views (and more soft serve ice cream).
Pure Vanilla. Another quaint spot for some afternoon tea (Victoria is very good at this). There’s a patio out back to soak up some splendid (albeit rare) sunbeams.
ARIEL's 5 Favorites
1. Favorite view: Dallas Road. Whether rainy, sunny, or overcast—it’s the perfect place to soak up some atmosphere.
2. Favorite place to write: In the passenger seat of a car.
4. Favorite coffee shop: Township Coffee Co. Go there—tell them Ariel sent you.
5. Favorite thing about Victoria: No matter where you go in the city, there’s always a familiar and friendly face (this can be a blessing and a curse, particularly on no-makeup days).