Canada | Getting Your Veggie On In Victoria

Victoria is a wonderful city for vegetarian and vegan food. I set myself a challenge to eat out in non-veggie cafés and restaurants to see if their menus were vegetarian friendly and there was always at least one vegetarian option that wasn’t a leafy green salad. So I was pleasantly surprised. That aside, for this post I’m focusing on three restaurants and cafés that are solely vegetarian or vegan. If you ever visit Victoria do check them out. My favourite was Café Bliss.

Café Bliss

Café Bliss is situated at 556 Pandora Avenue. It opened its doors in 2008 with an ethos of nourishment and bliss. It serves a fantastic menu of smoothies, raw foods, fresh juices and yummy salads. I recommend their apple cinnamon sprouted buckwheat granola for breakfast.


Lotus Pond

The Lotus Pond is situated at 617 Johnson Street. They believe that vegetarianism is more that just a living style. It can also be a window through which great things can be seen from the small. Their Lunch Buffet is pretty much the best lunch special in the city. The decoration is simple and the food is delicious.


Green Cuisine

Green Cuisine is located in the lovely Market Square, downstairs. They’ve been serving Victoria’s best vegetarian food for over 25 years. The food is filling, hearty, healthy and you pay by weight.


Do you like vegetarian or vegan food? Are you a vegetarian or vegan? Are there other vegetarian and vegan eateries in Victoria that I’ve missed?

Marteen x

Check out these vegetarian and vegan eateries in Victoria, BC!

Canada | Victoria Gallery Walk

While I’m not an expert, I love art in all its forms and mediums. I admire the time and work an artist puts into their pieces and how open and curious they are of the world around them. I love how it sparks something in me, not necessarily to paint or to draw or to sculpt, but to create something. So whenever I visit somewhere I like to stroll around discovering street art or galleries and Victoria has a thriving art scene. What I adore about Victoria’s art scene is how it supports local and indigenous art. What better way to learn about the culture of an area you’ve come to visit then through it’s local and indigenous art.

Legacy Gallery

Legacy Gallery is situated on 630 Yates Street. It features the University of Victoria’s permanent collection of work by some of the best known artists of the Pacific Northwest.


Madrona Gallery

Mondrona Gallery is situated on 606 View Street. It features contemporary and historical Canadian paintings and sculptures alongside important First Nations prints, drawings and carvings.


West End Gallery

West End Gallery is situated on 1203 Broad Street. It features art from significant new and established artists from across Canada with a focus on original paintings and glass sculptures.


Alcheringa Gallery

Alcheringa Gallery is situated on 621 Fort Street. It features masterworks from contemporary indigenous artists of the Northwest Coast of Canada, Papua New Guinea and Australia.


What’s wonderful about the Victoria Gallery Walk is that all these galleries are within close proximity of one another and it’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon in Victoria. Does art inspire you? Do you like to learn about a specific culture through their artwork?

Marteen x

 Learn about the culture of the Pacific North West of Canada through its indigenous art work on Victoria's gallery walk

From Ireland With Love | The Hungry Monk Cafe

If you ever get to visit the beautiful village of Cong in Co. Mayo, Ireland, you should definitely pop in to the Hungry Monk cafe for some gastronomical delights. The cafe is owned and run by husband and wife duo Aisling and Jon, two of the nicest people I have ever met. To me the Hungry Monk is more of a bistro than a cafe, the food they serve isn’t your run of the mill cafe food and the prices are not over the top. Aisling and Jon pride themselves on using fresh, locally sourced produce, which I love to see and the way they present the food, it’s almost too good to eat!


I was really lucky to work just around the corner from the Hungry Monk and I became a regular over the past few years, popping in for ‘the usual’ hot chocolate and latte. Their menu is mainly meat based with one or two items meat free. The last meal I had there was a mouthwatering ‘crustini’ with spiced tomatoes, cheese and green pesto, and a side salad. I’m not a fan of tomatoes but they were just delicious spiced. Aisling always likes to put her own twist on things and it works every time.



Of course you can’t do lunch without dessert. Every morning you’ll find fresh scones, plain, fruit or lemon and poppy seed; buttery croissants; cupcakes; cheesecake, etc. Of course I’ve sampled my fair share of their scrumptious pastries and desserts. Check out the banana and walnut cupcake and this berry cheesecake.



Aisling and Jon do a wonderful job running the cafe and the girls, Louise, Thirza and Amy bend over backwards to give excellent customer service. If you have any dietary requirements, Aisling, Jon and the girls would only be too happy to assist you in whatever you may need. The cafe opens Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm from March until November. So if you’re ever in Cong during the summer season, pop in, say hi and sample some of their delicious food.

Hungry Monk is situated on Abbey Street, Cong, Co. Mayo. Check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Marteen x

If you're ever in the west of Ireland, check out this wonderful cafe in Cong, Co. Mayo!

Feeling Homesick

I know it’s probably too early to make judgements and such when I’ve only been here a week and when I’m only in one little section of the country but I’d like to share my thoughts. Where I am in Victoria is just beautiful. There’s a harbour with all the boats and whale watching tours and First Nations artist along the causeway. The city is a little spread out but downtown is easy to get around. Victoria even has a China Town! But…it’s not home.

So I guess I’m homesick. Everyone keeps telling me that it’s only natural to be homesick and that it will subside. I should be excited but all I’ve felt is fear and dread. But that’s not a reflection on Canada. I hate the thought of not seeing my family and friends for two years and while I mentioned in my last post that emigrating isn’t like what it used to be with instant contact, it’s not the same though. I hate the thought of missing two Christmases. Even though I’m not in the least bit religious I love Christmas.

I was crying down the phone to my parents earlier in the week. I thought this was what I wanted. I thought I had to move abroad because it’s the ‘in’ thing to do. I thought I had to move abroad to learn about myself. Now I’m not so sure. This is a wonderful opportunity and I keep berating myself for feeling like this. I keep thinking why did I leave my job. Who leaves a job that they love for crying out loud?! A job that would allow you to travel a bit during the winter anyway.

I know you’re probably thinking that I’m crazy and that I shouldn’t give in so easily. Sometimes you think you want something and you have to experience it to realise that maybe you don’t. So I’ve actually found a temporary job for 6 weeks. This will give me to time to see how I feel. This was the whole point in coming out here to give it a try. In the mean time there’s lots of exploring to do! I’ll see how it goes ☺

Marteen x

I'm not long in Canada and I'm feeling homesick.



I’m Leaving On A Jet Plane…

The day has finally arrived. My move to Canada is here. As you’re reading this I’m already in the air and probably half way across the Atlantic. I’ve had a few doubts; I still have doubts but a wise person said to me recently that I need this adventure and not to falter so close to the finish line, I’d only regret it if I did. You know what? He’s right. I still can’t believe that I’m actually doing this.

So I said all my goodbyes this past month. I was dreading that part. I was so touched by my aunt’s and her partner’s efforts to throw me a surprise going away party, full of karaoke, lasers and the obligatory calling to the door of the police. Yes the police did call to my aunt’s house – awkward! But we didn’t let that stop us having fun. It’s been an emotional week saying my final goodbye to my closest friends and a job that I absolutely LOVE.

Of course it hasn’t helped that I watched Brooklyn last weekend. It broke my heart to see Eilis, amazingly portrayed by Soairse Ronan, having to leave Ireland for work and how homesick she was in America. There’s a strong history of emigration here in Ireland since the time of The Famine. I began thinking of the millions of Irish people who left these shores for a better life in America or England. All their hopes and dreams were tied up in one country.

They left because they had to, no prospect of work. Some would never see their families again, just letters to keep in contact. My own grandmother left at the age of 17 to England, although she left to chase after a boyfriend, but she still left. And she returned to Ireland many years later. She was terribly upset at the thought of me leaving and would constantly say to me that I might change my mind and not go. I reminded her how she went England and she exclaimed that it was different times. Yes it is different times, thankfully.

Gone are the days of people leaving and never coming back to visit family. Gone are the days where your only means of contact are letters that would take weeks to arrive. Air travel has come on in leaps and bounds with more routes and cheaper flights. We have so many options to keep in contact with our loved ones, and it’s instant. So while I used the word goodbye, it isn’t really goodbye. I will be keeping in contact with my loved ones through Viber, Facebook, and Skype. I’ll also be coming home, my cousin will be getting married in 2018 and she has asked me to sing for her wedding. There is no way I’m missing that.

So it’s not goodbye, just farewell for now ☺ Have you moved to a different country? How did you cope leaving your friends and family?

Marteen x

The day has come that I'm moving to Canada. Read my reflection of this milestone in my life.

Farewell Quiet Man

Well it’s the end of an era. Monday is my last day working in The Quiet Man Museum. I still can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that I’ll be finishing up and moving to Canada. I don’t know where the last three summers went to; time flies when you’re having fun. I’ve certainly had a blast tour guiding.


For those of you who don’t know the film, The Quiet Man was made in 1951, directed by John Ford and starred John Wayne and Maureen O’ Hara. The film tells the story of John Wayne’s character coming home to buy his ancestral home and falling in love with Maureen O’ Hara’s character in the process.


This quaint, romantic film was shot around the small village of Cong in Co. Mayo, Ireland. Little did the cast and crew know that they would be making one of the best all time films and that sixty-five years later it would have a cult following. It’s a film I’ve fallen in love with.


I’ve met some wonderful people and made some good friends along the way. Mateli Lopez (who has the biggest crush on John Wayne; she actually sends her husband out of the room if John Wayne is on TV so she can be on her own 😲) and Toss from Co. Cork (who threatened to send his wife to some slimming classes!) spring to mind. Mateli and I are Facebook friends now. All are Quiet Man Crazies in my eyes!


My most memorable moment was a proposal last summer. And no it wasn’t me who was proposed to. I gave a tour to two lovely couples. We arrived at the last stop of the tour where I like to re-enact one of the scenes from the film. I picked the younger couple to kiss and the gentleman from the mature couple to be the matchmaker.


I explained to them what was happening in the scene, made the matchmaker say his lines and told the young couple that I wanted to see the biggest kiss in cinema history. Next thing I know the young gentleman is down on one knee asking his girlfriend to marry him, she’s in hysterics and the mature couple and I are looking on in excitement and anticipation for her answer.

Thankfully she said yes. I had no idea that he had planned to propose to his girlfriend. He told me afterwards that he was going to pop the question inside the museum. In my opinion the way it turned out was much better. It couldn’t have been more perfect and I was so glad to have been apart of that special moment in their lives. That’s why I have no pictures of the moment.

I’m going to miss Gerry and Margaret, two of the nicest people I’ve ever worked for; Mary who worked in the gift shop with me, we had some laughs; all the CIE bus drivers/tour guides; the view from the museum entrance and of course Aisling, Jon, Louise and Thirza from the Hungry Monk, they do the best food and hot chocolate in town.


Marteen x

Reflecting on my time working in The Quiet Man museum.


My Canadian Wanderlust List

I can’t believe that it’s now two weeks until my move to Canada. It seems like only yesterday I was applying for the visa. Canada is such a big country to explore, that I hope to make the most of my time living there while honouring my values of slow and responsible travel and return (or not 😉) with some awesome stories and wonderful memories ☺

  • Visit the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks.
  • View the Northern Lights at Yellowknife.
  • Explore the Canadian Rockies by train.
  • Visit Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre.
  • Visit Vancouver.
  • Hike the West Coast Trail.
  • Go whale watching around Vancouver Island.
  • Explore Victoria.
  • Explore Horne Lake Caves.
  • Learn to snowboard in Whistler.
  • Go on polar bear safari in Manitoba.
  • Visit Niagara Falls.
  • Visit Quebec.
  • Attend the Montreal Jazz Festival.
  • Visit Prince Edward Island National Park.
  • Spot icebergs in Newfoundland.

I’m so looking forward to this experience and crossing off what’s on the list. Although I understand that sometimes things don’t always go to plan but it’s nice to have a rough guide of what you’d like to experience in a new country. Do you live in Canada? Have you been to Canada before? What would you recommend as a must experience activity while in Canada?

Marteen x

Click to find out what's on my wanderlust list for Canada! If you have any recommendations of what to see and do there, let me know.