Monday 22 August 2022 – Today was going to be such a simple day, doing just two Tourist Things – visit the Butchart Gardens and have Afternoon Tea at the Empress. That would leave plenty of time for processing a few photos and writing a brief blog entry for the day.
Why, then, have I somehow got to get about 90 pictures into a coherent story of the day, which included extra activities that weren’t in the plan?
Brace yourself, reader, for a plethora of photographs!
The Butchart Gardens started life in 1904. With a former limestone quarry for her backyard, Jennie Butchart envisaged landscaping a sunken garden in its place, transforming the property for her family—and visitors—for generations to come. You can find more history on its website. Long story short: it’s a brilliant way of spending a couple of hours wandering around being dazzled by the riot of colour, moved by the elegance of presentation and impressed by the skill of organisation. There are a million plants spread across 55 acres of different types of garden – sunken, rose, Japanese, Italian, Mediterranean; there are special features – fountains, statues, a carousel, a performance lawn and stage; and it’s all laid out so it’s easy to walk around.
The gardens lie some 45 minutes from downtown Victoria; buying a ticket gets you a coach journey there (and back, happily) and entry to the gardens. Our coach was driven by a larger-then-life chap called Dan, who, it transpired, used to be an Ice Road Trucker until he visited Victoria, after which he saw no reason to return Up North. He gave us a stream of useful information and terrible jokes on both legs of our journey.
Here are just some of the many, many photos we took at the gardens.
There’s a Rose Carousel, which the kids love. All the animals are hand-carved.
There are fountains.
The flowers are lovely.
It’s just generally a nice place to be.
I could go on. OK, I will.
We got back from the gardens with time to spare before our booking of Tea At The Empress. So we decided to visit the Legislature, because one can and it is very close. It’s an impressive building, both outside
We had to queue a bit and they didn’t approve of the penknife that I habitually carry, but we came to an agreement that allowed me to pick it up on my way out and it was generally an interesting place to wander about inside – there are free tours which one can join to get more detailed information.
Then we had Afternoon Tea at our hotel.
It’s very posh (well, the surroundings are), and very expensive. We were served with grave courtesy by a waiter whose name should be Karl, but probably isn’t. We took photos of the food. No, you can’t see them. A waiter back in Vancouver told us that it is among the top Teas In The World and that people travel to Victoria just for Tea At The Empress. I suspect that many people travel to Victoria and take Tea At The Empress, which is subtly different. It’s easy to mock, but it really was excellent and we enjoyed it.
After it, though, we needed to walk it off. So we took a stroll around towards Fisherman’s Wharf and beyond.
Fisherman’s Wharf is very photogenic.
and having gone that far, we completed the loop, visiting Ogden’s Point, a sundial art installation, the native art on the breakwater, the world’s tallest totem pole and Beacon Hill Park.
Sorry for all the photos – I left out several dozen – but it was a lovely 5-mile walk discovering a whole section of this very lovely city. It’s very easy to understand how people can come to visit and simply stay.
Tomorrow we leave Victoria, after three very enjoyable days here. To use C. W. McCall’s phrase, “we’re gonna go chasin’ bear”, although he wasn’t talking about what I’m talking about, if you know what I’m talking about. To understand what that last bit of rubbish was really about, come back to these pages. It’s possible we may be off the grid for a bit, so you might have to wait for the next update. You might be mightily relieved about that, I don’t know. Anyway, see you soon, I hope.