We are now in Victoria. Not Victoria in Australia. But Victoria on Vancouver Island. Allthgo has taken along his Victoria (Australia) base ball cap with ‘Portsea’ emblazoned on it. It caused a waitress some confusion when Allthego showed it to her and asked if she knew where ‘Portsea’ was. We had quite a chat on the merits of the two Victorias.
It had taken us about 1.5 hours on the ferry, after an hour on a bus getting to the ferry terminal in Vancouver and then 40 minutes from the Vancouver Island terminal down to Victoria. Victoria is the capital of British Columbia. We are in a hotel overlooking the inner harbour with the huge old Empress Hotel in the background. Down the street from us is Parliament House, another classic old building. It is a very pretty place, green lawns abound and light poles are adorned with flower baskets in full bloom.
We have arrived late in the afternoon and set off on a short walk up Beacon Hill, a rambling 1oo acre public park that over looks the harbour. On the other side is the outer harbour where the cruise ships tie up. Along the way we stop for a refreshment at The Bent Mast, a quaint suburban ale house with a nautical theme. Further along we call in at Fisherman’s Wharf for a fish n chip dinner. It’s then back to the hotel for sleep time.
One of the key attractions near Victoria is Butchart Gardens, a labour of love for many years by the Butchart family. Portland cement barons and property developers from the late 1800s. Jenny Butchart turned the old limestone quarry into an enormous area of themed gardens. It was in full summer bloom, quite an amazing achievement and well worth a visit. The guide sheet says to allow an hour and half to get around. We took 3 hours. With an hours travelling time either way it makes for a full day.
We are here over a weekend and Victoria is throwing a dragon boat racing festival. Teams come from all over Canada as well as from the USA. The racing takes place on the inner harbour and there are male and female teams of all age groups. 4 canoes race with 20 paddlers each, quite a spectacle as they charge down the harbour to the finish line. The weather has been kind to us too, normally cloudy in the morning but fining up to clear blue skies in the afternoon. Sun doesn’t set till around 8.30 so we have long balmy evenings to recover from the days activity.
After 3 nights in Victoria we have returned on the ferry to Vancouver and tomorrow will set off for Banff aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. At the Museum in Victoria we saw an IMAX film documentary on the building of the railway and are greatly looking forward to the trip, hoping that the fires that have been burning for weeks now in the Rockies have abated and the smoke cleared. We will see.