Flying over the clouds never gets old, my son took this shot on our flight to Calgary, AB. This our first married family trip, Salt Spring Island here we come! We flew into Abbotsford as I'm finding that the price difference for West Jet is huge rather than flying directly to Vancouver. (For those of you that don't know, my hubby lives there.) We are definitely becoming vigilant at checking prices, Air Canada is always out to lunch with pricing so we don't even bother. Abbotsford can be anywhere from $100-150.00 difference, so the half hour drive (depending on traffic) isn't that bad. I would be interested in hearing from anyone that's flown New Leaf.
We hopped on the ferry at Tsawwassen Terminal, our first ferry ride and loved it. It really is truly beautiful in British Columbia. You can hop on with the family in your car for around a hundred dollars one way or walk on, for about seventeen. For a bit extra cash you can reserve your spot which I would recommend, we wouldn't have been able to come back at the time we wanted if we hadn't. To check out the ferry prices, schedules and tickets, check out the BC Ferries website.
We landed in Ganges Harbour, and what a lovely little town that was. As you know, my favourite thing are water and boats, anything quaint and pretty. This place had it all. Oh and let's not forget amazing food.
We wondered around the shops as there were many galleries with extremely talented local artists, one of the reasons I wanted to go to Salt Spring Island. It is known for it's artistic community, that includes, artists, craftsmen, cheesemakers, winemakers, and really anything else you can think of. I can't help but think that the sheer beauty of the place helps to feed those creative juices and keep them flowing! The peace and serenity that comes with island life would be so incredible. You can tell that the pace is a bit slower on the island, and if you're a Vancouverite like my hubby, it felt like a snail's pace for him. I loved every minute of it, so did my son.
I decided on this trip to stay in Bed and Breakfasts, as well as, venture into the Airbnb world, first time ever. If you decide to try it out once you've read this, please let them know when you sign up that I gave them a glowing recommendation! I wanted to try something different than the normal hotel route, primarily because my experiences over the last few years haven't been great. My biggest beef, cleanliness. I was sick of stinky rooms, dirty bathrooms, poor room service, and it goes on. The other part of that is I actually don't like eating in restaurants 3 times a day.
I like to be able to have fresh food on hand as well as the staples from the eating program we are all on, I don't particularly want to stray to far from that just because I'm on holidays. Moderation, everything in moderation, so it's become important to be able to prepare some of our own food. That being said, the airbnb or BnB option seemed perfect, and I'm looking for a cozier experience, and I really like meeting new people. Let me declare now, it was a fantastic experience.
Linda and Harry were our hosts of this newer guest house, The Gatehouse B&B, that they added on to their beautiful home. Truthfully the pictures online or mine for that matter do not do it justice. The place was immaculate, and I liked the fact that it was newer. The beds and furniture was comfy and fresh, we had a full kitchen with all of the goodies we could need and a lovely view out all of our windows. We were only there for one night, but it would be so easy to stay for an extended visit, the outdoor space is yours to use as well as a Barbecue. It was a quick drive into Ganges, and there was plenty of things to do there. the best part, Linda baked us a fresh loaf of bread for the morning along with homemade preserves, a pear and walnut jam and marmalade, it was glorious.
There were so many great little shops to venture into and peek at all of the fine artistans work from the Island. Everyone is very Island proud and definitely try to showcase island residents at their best. The galleries and artwork is spectacular, if I actually had more wall space, I would have purchased more art. Not only were there paintings, jewelry, organic soaps and toiletries, the list goes on and on. We managed to pack away a few goodies while we were browsing. Jill Campbell had her own little gallery and I think it might be my favourite of all. Her paintings were happy, whimsical, and bright. My son looked at them and said, "Mom, I feel like if you actually painted THINGS instead of blobs, it would look like this." I laughed, I think he is right, it's just not where I want to paint at the moment. If you would like to check out some of my own pieces, check out CharisOnArt. Instead of painting my own, which I could do, I sure would like to buy some of the pieces I found in Ganges!
Our next stop, and the place that actually peaked my interest enough to get to Salt Spring Island was actually the Salt Spring Cheese Company. I had seen there specialty goat cheeses in the stores in Vancouver and literally fell in love with them. They are little works of art, and as you know me so well, presentation is everything. The picture above is some of the goodies that we purchased at their store and tasting room, except for the bread, I made that today. But we are eating it with this lovely selection of cheeses and jams made on Salt Spring Island.
The great thing about this little gem was the set up. You could walk around the cheese factory and peek inside at the gourmet cheese makers, creating their deliciousness inside. It was like a big barn fish bowl really, but they were lovely little cheese fish. On the other side of the walk way, there where some of the goats that they raised, some chickens and then their cafe. Like I mentioned in my food blog, Savoury Salt Spring Island, my hopes were to eat here once we arrived, but sadly, they were still closed for the season. Damn!
Our next rainy day adventure took us to the Salt Spring Vineyard and Wineries, met up with them on bottling day and were able to steal them away for a few tastings and pack up a case for the ride home! Our hostess a lovely gal originally from Greece, let us try the freshly bottled Apple Pie dessert wine as well as their current Red Pinot Noir, a White Chardonnay and a blueberry Dessert wine, which we brought home as gifts as well as for ourselves. (Okay me, the hubby doesn't drink wine, oh well, don't have to share!)
The trick was going to getting it home in one piece. Let me add that I was able to do so, I first bagged it in ziplock bags, then wrapped with bubble wrap and packing tape around that, then another layer of bubble wrap, nestled within the middle of each of our suitcases wrapped in clothing. It was well worth the bother!
I should add here that I was not able to carry the cheese on board the plane. I seriously thought I should be able to carry it on. I thought if the amount was good, and it was solid it should be fine, but no. As I went through security they told me I had to throw out all of the cheese or go back to West Jet and get it checked in somehow. I wasn't bought to throw away the $200.00 worth of cheese I bought so we trudged through security and all the back to the counter to get it wrapped up and checked in. Both security and West Jet were great, we breezed in and out in no time and didn't mess our timing up.
That was really our only mishap with the food purchases, most of the wine and cheese has been given away as gifts to our other children that were at home, and they were ecstatic about it.
Although there was hiking trails everywhere, and more exploring that could have been conquered, it was raining like nobody's business and our time was short. I would like to go back and do the artists and studio tour that they have once the season is open, and I was really hoping to catch their Saturday Market in Ganges, the other reason why I wanted to go. Timing was just off, as the market didn't open until April, I get it, it was still a tad cool.
I would definitely recommend travelling over to Salt Spring Island, but stay at least five days, do the tours, relax, hike, and just slow down and enjoy the beauty.
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