Recently I had an opportunity to visit Seattle and called my long time friend Cindy in Portland to join me for a whirlwind trip to Victoria. Here’s what we did and how we quite easily managed to fill in the brief 30 hours we spent on the island. We decided that this trip we were going to treat ourselves and not be TOO concerned with the cost of things. Cindy neglected to share this up front with the hubby, but surely he wouldn’t mind, right?
Our first night was in Seattle where we had an amazing dinner at Tillikum Café, but since this post is focused on our time in B.C. we won’t spend anymore time on that subject. But if you ever find yourself looking for a great meal in Seattle, check it out. Helpful hint: reservations are recommended.
Early (very early) the next morning we made our way to Pier 69 to board the Clipper Ferry which was scheduled for an 8:00 am departure. We were told to be there an hour early though, so we drug our groggy selves through an empty Seattle. The Ferry was an easy walk from downtown Seattle hotels. Cindy may disagree on this point, but you can be the judge.
Hint. Book ahead for savings including bundled accommodation/tour packages. Since we didn’t book everything in advance, the steward on the clipper was very helpful booking transportation to the gardens, the tea and a walking food tour for the next day.
On the Clipper complimentary motion sickness medication is available (big plus for me) as well as food and drink, the Berry Sunrise yogurt was yummy and ended up being the last healthy food ingested for the next 30 hours. Note that no cash is accepted onboard the clipper.
We arrived at the Victoria Ferry terminal and easily navigated through customs. A benefit to booking your transport to the Butchart Gardens on the Clipper is free luggage transfer to your hotel. Very valuable when you are short on time like we were. Tip – You do not need to convert to Canadian currency, credit cards are accepted at most locations.
We really enjoyed the bus drive to the Butchart gardens. Victoria is a beautiful city with a 12 month growing season and lots of public gardens. It’s often refereed to as the home of the flowerbeds, newlyweds and nearly deads. It’s a very popular place for Canadians to come and retire. We drove through the 2nd oldest Chinatown in North America, the first is in San Francisco. Check out the Victoria Tourism website to learn about this incredible city.
The 53 acre gardens were created by Jenny Butchart beginning in the early 1900s. The Butcharts originally moved to Vancouver Island to mine limestone for Mr. Butcharts cement factory. Eventually the limestone ran out and the mine was relocated to another area on the island. Jennie was left with a view of giant ugly pit! She started planting shrubs and trees in an attempt to block the hideous view and eventually came up with the brilliant idea of turning the whole mess into a sunken garden. As you can see, the results were spectacular.
Close to a million people visit Butchart Gardens every year. Even in early April it’s still on the chilly side, but the vast array of blooming spring flowers was spectacular. Tulips, daffodils and hyacinth seemed to go on for miles. I’m not sure which was better, the vivid splashes of color or the heady aroma that filled the air. Let’s go with the combination of the two.
In addition to the sunken garden, there is a Japanese garden, a rose garden and an Italian garden. It was too early in the year for the roses so this gives a perfect excuse to plan a return visit.
High Tea at the Butchart Gardens
We decided to treat ourselves to afternoon tea while at the gardens. For Cindy, this was a first! Tea was set in the sunroom of a beautiful old home (we believe this was the Butchart home) overlooking a private garden filled with purple and white hyacinths. We both chose the Tea Berry Blend that was a black tea flavored with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and currents. The first course was an English trifle and starting with dessert is never a bad thing in my book. Tea continued with traditional fare including scones, savory sandwiches and delicacies, and of course, the sweets.
Miniature World Museum
We had a “little” extra time before the food tour so we dropped in on the Miniature World, self proclaimed as the “greatest little show on earth”. This “small” museum contained more than 85 dioramas on display ranging from the historic to the whimsical. To learn more about this surprisingly large miniature world visit their website.
Victoria Food Tour
Because we hadn’t eaten enough yet we went on a guided afternoon walking tour of Victoria. We met our knowledgeable guide at the Sticky Wicket in the Strathcona Hotel. It’s an excellent way to eat your way across Victoria.
Victoria is a city not to be missed. I’m already planning my next trip for August of 2019! Have you been to Victoria? What are your favorite things to do? We would love to hear from you.