MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 16 – Sarah MacPherson

Happy New Year everyone! Hope your 2019 is off to a great start! Excited to be putting out some brand new podcasts this year with some inspiring women.

My guest for this episode is Sarah MacPherson. She is a Canadian 1500m runner, currently training in Victoria, BC with the Vic City Elite. She is working towards representing Canada at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I had the chance to meet up with her on a recent trip to Victoria to find out more about her journey as an athlete. Hope you’ll enjoy our chat.

The podcast is just one click away or you can also listen to it below. If you enjoyed our chat, make sure you subscribe to the MELSAYS PODCAST here -> iTunes and Google Play.

Go Snorkeling with Seals at the Subsea Retreat in British Columbia

For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by marine life. There was even a period of time in my life where I considered studying marine biology, but that ambition quickly faded when I reached high school, due to my poor grades in science. That said, my passion for all-things water-related, has remained over the years.

So when I heard of the Subsea Retreat, out of Sidney, British Columbia, I immediately contacted them. This family-run eco-tour allows ocean enthusiasts like myself, to realize their lifelong dreams of snorkeling or even scuba diving with local seals and other marine creatures. The retreat is run by Jack Madro, who has over 35-years of scuba diving and tour organization experience, Pam and also his daughter Amanda Madro, who is a biochemist, a boat captain and an all-around inspiring woman who is passionate about ocean wildlife. Each bring their many years of diverse experience together to create not only a fun and safe retreat but also give you a ton of information on the area and the local marine life.

What’s great about the Subsea Retreat is that they offer different types of excursions for people of all-ages as well as skill levels. I had personally never gone scuba diving before, hence why I opted for snorkeling. Additionally, they have all the gear necessary for their excursions, so you don’t have to worry about bringing anything with you. You will be able to try on all the equipment with Jack by your side. The family will then bring you out on the water with their own private boat and make sure you are fully comfortable the entire duration of the excursion.

Sidney, is just a short ferry ride away from Vancouver (only 1h40 mins, and the retreat is a 5min drive from the ferry terminal!) or a quick 30min drive from Victoria. While you’re out in Sidney, you’ll be able to stay at their beautiful home that contains several private rooms, a large dining room and living room as well as outdoor deck, BBQ and pool, all located on a beautiful and quiet property. In between excursions, you can really kick-back and relax, you may also see hummingbirds, eagles or even deer while you’re lounging outside.

In addition to snorkeling or scuba diving, there are tons of other activities you can do while you’re staying at the Subsea Retreat such as hiking, SUPing, swimming, there are also lots of cafés, restaurants, farms and even wineries to check out in the area. The family gives great local tips on where to go, if you’re on the hunt for some additional activities.

I couldn’t believe that in just one afternoon, I got to cross two things off of my bucket list: I snorkeled with seals and also got to see a local pod of transient killer whales swim by the boat. I had such a wonderful time with the family that I’m already planning my return. Below is a little recap vlog of my adventures at the Subsea Retreat.

For more information on the Subsea Retreat, go here.

A major thank you to Toyota Canada, for allowing me to test out the 2018 Toyota C-HR during this trip!

48 Hours in Victoria

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In need of a little island vacation? Make Victoria, BC your next holiday destination!

Located just 30 minutes by seaplane from Vancouver, this wonderful city has so much to offer. From the little coffee shops, to cute boutiques, to the great nature landscapes and outdoor adventures, you can’t go wrong with an escapade in this buzzing town.

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Access to the island was made easy thanks to Harbour Air. It has always been my dream to fly in a seaplane, so I finally got to cross that off the bucket list last week. Harbour Air is North America’s largest seaplane airline and the first fully carbon neutral airline. It also showcases Canadian-made aircrafts and has over 35 daily departures between downtown Vancouver and Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Check-in and boarding is hassle-free plus they have a lovely lounge with complimentary tea, coffee and wifi that allows you to relax before your flight. The sights while flying are absolutely majestic and you get to downtown Victoria in just over 30 mins.

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Once in Victoria, there are many accommodations to choose from. On this particular trip, we had the opportunity to stay at a beautiful boutique hotel called Hotel Rialto, located right in the heart of downtown. Opened in 2009 and renovated again in 2012, this restored 1912 heritage building features 52 beautifully decorated guest rooms that include topnotch amenities. In addition to its central location, another plus is the Café Veneto, the bistro located in their lobby. It is the perfect location for your morning breakfast. They also have the Veneto Tapa Lounge, located adjacent to the lobby, which offers guests a complimentary cheese platter upon arrival and great dinning options.

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There are so many things occupy your time with while in Victoria. If you’re a nature lover, check out one of The Natural Connection‘s guided hikes. Led by Ryan LeBlanc, the company’s owner, you get to discover some of the most beautiful local hikes and point of views. He comes equipped with a gourmet lunch and supplies for your hike. He is a super knowledgeable guide, who invites you to use all five senses when exploring the area. It’s a great way to discover all of the stunning scenery just next to the city.

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If shopping is more up your alley, head on over to the colourful Johnson St. right in downtown to shop at some of the best local retailers, while sipping on a coffee or tea from Hey Happy. Another coffee hotspot that you’ll want to visit is Habit Coffee located on Pandora St. They offer delicious vegan treats and a wide-selection of drinks to choose from.

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Want to stay active while in Victoria, check out the newly opened SpinCo spin studio, also situated on Pandora St. in downtown. The city also has a handful of beautiful running trails located such as the waterfront trail on Dallas Rd or the circuit in Beacon Hill Park.

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Museums and art galleries are also a plenty in the area. The Royal BC Museum is a great way to spend a few hours going through all of the permanent and rotating exhibits. Their current exhibit called Our Living Languages: First Peoples’ Voices in British Columbia is a major eye-opener. They will also be showcasing a new exhibit featuring Terry Fox come April.

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While in Victoria, you can enjoy some of the best vegan and vegetarian food the country has to offer. My absolute favourite on this trip was Nourish Kitchen & Cafe, located in a beautifully restored colourful heritage house in the James Bay neighbourhood. They serve up fresh, seasonal produce and some of the most delicious vegan food I’ve ever had in my life. Note that though they aren’t fully vegan, they sure know how to make some tasty and healthy plant-based meals. You can even just stop by for a quick coffee or use their upstairs rooms The Study and The Parlour to work for the day.

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Other vegan and healthy stops in the city include Rebar – a funky vegetarian hotspot that serves up everything from fresh juices to vegetarian Reuben sandwiches and homemade berry crumble, Jusu – the best mylks, cold-pressed juices as well as vegan salads and bowls, Café Bliss – a cute breakfast and café perfect to satisfy an afternoon craving and Be Love – serves up raw, vegan and vegetarian-friendly creative dishes using organic, seasonal and fresh Vancouver Island products up to 95% of the time.

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Oh and there’s also Jam. It may not be the healthiest option but one cannot visit Victoria and not pay Jam a visit. It’s well worth the wait, their homemade scones and breakfasts are to die for!

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If all of the aforementioned info isn’t reason enough to visit Victoria, I made a little recap video for you to enjoy!

A big thank you to Tourism Victoria for their help with this wonderful trip!

Video shot with: Huawei Nova Plus.