Romantic Dinner…on a Ferry?!

On Sunday evening, I turned to Armando and asked him what his schedule was like this upcoming week.  This was a regular conversation between us because his job requires him to travel on a regular basis.  “I’m taking the ferry to Victoria tomorrow and will be back on Tuesday.  Do you want to come?”

This was a new opportunity for me recently, being able to travel with him on his business trips.  Before, I was working full-time and couldn’t take time out of my schedule to join him.  But now that I am in-between jobs, I was able to go with him to San Diego last month, and I jumped at the chance to travel to Victoria this time.

He informed me that we had to catch the 7am ferry, which meant that we had to be at the terminal by 6:30am for our reservation to be accepted, which meant a wake-up time of 4:45am.  I started to reconsider.  Nah, let’s do it!

The plan was to take my computer with me so I could also work and do some job searching while there so when we started our drive to the ferry terminal and I realized that I forgot my computer at home, we had no choice but to turn back to get it.  That gave Armando a free pass to drive like the Mexican that he is as we raced back home, grabbed my computer and tried to make it to the terminal by 6:30am.  As I hung on for dear life, we eventually saw the ferry notification sign advising drivers that the 7am ferry was full.  That meant that we HAD TO make our 6:30am reservation, otherwise, we wouldn’t get on, Armando would miss his 9:30am meeting and I would never be invited on another business trip again.  As we got closer, we headed down a long stretch of road and at the end we could see the terminal calling out to us, “Hurry your asses up!”.  Screeching to the finish line Fast-&-Furious-Style, we handed over our reservation receipt and asked, “Did we make it?”.  Straight-faced, like she’d seen our grand entrance a million times before, she responded, “I don’t know, we will find out in a moment.”  Armando and I refused to breath as we waited those few moments to find out our destiny. She plugged in our reservation number and out popped a receipt, dated and timed,  “June 27, 2011 6:30am”.

We had made it!  Armando was not going to ban me from traveling with him!!  I breathed a sign of relief.  Let the trip begin!

It was a great two days.  As Armando did his thing, I worked out of a couple of great coffee shops, the Red Rooster and Serious Coffee.  I had two long overdue lunch dates with friends; one at a delicious vegetarian restaurant called Rebar where I highly recommend the hummus appetizer!

When Armando and I drove into Victoria, he had pointed out a mall to me, exclaiming that it was a great mall and that I should go see it.  Neither of us are big mall shoppers so for him to make the effort of pointing it out, it must be worth the while so I decided to fit it into my schedule.  When I got there, I was disappointed that there were only a small handful of stores there.  Was this the mall that Armando was raving about?  Was I at the wrong one?  There were enough stores equivalent to a strip mall but not a mall that should have been given the, “You gotta go there!” exclamation.  In meeting up with Armando, he asked me how I liked the mall and I explained my disappointment and that I couldn’t understand what was so great about it.  His explanation…”There’s a Best Buy and Future Shop there!”   Arghhh…..I should have analyzed the source of the Mall Review.  Live and learn.

It was a quick trip and we were soon on our way home from the Swartz Bay Terminal.  Hungry, we decided to try the Pacific Buffet that we saw advertised the previous day on the ferry at $19.95 per person for the dinner menu…were we hungry enough though to eat our money’s worth?  Buffet ferry food just didn’t seem too appetizing, and for $19.95 per person?  I reconsidered for a moment until Armando convinced me that this will end up being just a few dollars more than what I would pay for a burger meal in the cafeteria. Okay, I decided to give it a try.

They make you pay before you enter the restaurant, which made me nervous.  Why wouldn’t they let me see the buffet before I commit to paying?  Do they think that once you see it, you would reconsider?  Armando again explained to me my only other dinner option…burger and fries.  Well, at least I’d know what I’d be getting.  I decided to take a gamble and go with the unknown.

As we paid for our meal that we had yet to see, a gentleman escorted us to our table.  I forgot about the food for a moment as I giggled with excitement inside as he seated us at a window table…a table at the back of the ship overlooking the most amazing West Coast view as the sun was getting ready to set.  The kind of nature’s beauty that just makes you take that extra long inhale of oxygen as you try to take it all in.  The view itself was worth the  $19.95 buffet price.  Yay, took a gamble and won this time!

And the food….OMG the food!  For $19.95, the food was so above and beyond what I thought a ferry buffet would be. There was variety, from pasta and salmon to butter chicken and hot wings.  Soup, salad bar and more was found and sampled.  The highlights for me were the butternut squash soup that tasted like it was made from scratch, and the delicious grain salad that had a great flavor without being over-dressed.  Armando had two helpings of the butter chicken that I’ve heard him rave about to others since.  And to push my belly to its limit, they had a dessert section…a chocolate lovers dream!!  Mini cupcakes, mini chocolate cups filled with whipped mousse, chocolate caramels, chocolate cakes and much more!  Kudos to the pastry chef!  There was also a cheesecake bar where you could add your own toppings and Armando grabbed his piece as soon as we got there, in fear of them running out.

As we ate and continually commented on how surprised we were with the food, we couldn’t get over our view.  It truly felt like we were having a romantic evening on a cruise ship in some exotic location.  But, we were on a BC Ferry, traveling home to Vancouver.

The view we had as we ate at the Pacific Buffet.

We’ve been to Paris, the city of romance, and I’d have to say that not one dinner we had there compares to our romantic $19.95 dinner on the ferry.  Heck, $19.95 could barely buy us a coffee, tea and a couple of croissants in Paris.  I guess we have a bit of Paradise-on-a-Budget in our own backyard.  And we definitely enjoyed it!  If you decide to give it a try, just make sure to make a quick exit out of your car when you park and head straight up to the restaurant.  Others have found out about this surprising delight and the lineup accumulates quickly with the window seats filling up fast.  And don’t forget to try the mini chocolate cupcakes…they have a surprise centre-filling!  I love surprises 🙂

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