Friday, November 6, 2009

Seattle/Victoria Trip: Day Two (Butchart and Swans)

When we booked our clipper ride to get to Victoria, we found out that the cheapest way to get to the Butchart Gardens (which is the most popular tourist attraction in the Victoria area) was to take a bus tour offered by the Victoria clipper people. We are not usually "bus tour" type of people, but this worked out well. The bus driver was appropriately funny and informative. I learned a few fun facts about Canada:
  • Lots of people have hobby farms. Canadians get a big tax break if they make a certain amount of money each year by selling their own produce. So Canadians will put out little tables at the ends of their drives with their produce laid out. They put up a sign showing how much the food costs, and buyers simply put the requested amount in a jar. No one mans the booths. Do you think that would work here in the US? Seems like Canadians are more trusting than we are!
  • When I saw my first gas station in Canada, I was shocked. The price was just $.97! That was a fabulous price! Why would the price be lower in Canada than in Texas, I wondered? But then the bus driver cleared it up for us. Of course, those prices are per liter. Duh. So, that wonderful price ended up being about $4 per gallon.
  • In 2004, Canadians voted Tommy Douglas as the "Greatest Canadian" in a nationwide contest. Douglas was a socialist and founder of the country's universal Medicare program. (Alexander Graham Bell and Wayne Gretzsky were in the top 10.)
  • Canadian elementary children go to school for 10 months out of the year. High school and college kids have an 8-month school year (mid-September to April).
Okay, enough useless Canada facts. On to The Butchart Gardens! We went to the gardens because....well, as tourists, I suppose we were expected to go. Flowers aren't really our thing (I tend to kill them, unless you count all the beautiful little white flowers that cover our lawn) but we wanted to go anyway. In the end, I'm glad we went. It really was beautiful, in spite of the light rain while we were there.

There was no shortage of photo opportunities.

For those of you who don't know my husband, yes, he is always this goofy.

I want this tree in my backyard. LOVE it. Of course, it's probably bigger than my backyard, but whatever.

I hear the gardens are really special at Christmas. They put lights everywhere and they have a twelve days of Christmas theme. You can round a corner and find "nine ladies dancing" or "ten lords of leaping."

We had about 2 hours at the gardens, which was plenty of time for us. Afterward, the bus drove us back into Victoria proper and even dropped us off right at our hotel. We stayed at the Delta Ocean Pointe right on the Inner Harbour. I would recommend it highly. Here is a view of our room:

The room had windows that opened and offered great views of the Inner Harbour. In the harbour, you saw everything from cargo ships to sea planes. It's impressive how all that was orchestrated.

That night we headed out on foot to walk around Victoria. Most of the shops were closed, but it was a nice night (the rain had stopped for awhile, and it was just nice and cool) and we enjoyed our walk. We settled on a pub called Swans for dinner.

We ate on a covered patio area, which was cozy and full of locals. There was a couple behind us who played cards while they drank some in-house brew, and a couple of elderly ladies at another table who split a pitcher of ale. I had shepherd's pie (with lamb braised in oatmeal stout). It was so good, I don't even remember what Scott had. Anything smothered in mashed potatoes is my kind of meal. Ha!

Here's a goofy pic of me before we ate.

Next post (hopefully it won't take me 2 more weeks to write): wrapping up Victoria and heading back to Seattle!


lucylucia said...

I'm probably completely wrong about this, but that tree might be a Japanese Maple? What a great trip - it looks like you guys went to Europe!!

Angela said...

That garden looks amazing... like something out of a fairy tale!