Early start today!
Quick run to Breka (a bakery chain) for coffee and breakfast, then downstairs ready to be picked up for our Vancouver Island tour at 8am! A quick bus change and we were on our way. Forecast is for clouds, but no rain.
It is a 45 min drive south from Vancouver to Tsawwassen (silent T) where the ferries depart. The bus drives onto the ferry, they are fairly large! We went on the Coastal Celebration - holds 300+ vehicles and 1600 people (so not like the Lawrence ferry!). You are not allowed to stay on the bus for the 90 minute sail across the Juan de Fuca Strait through the Gulf Islands, so have to go from Deck 2 (taking note of where your bus is parked - one of 4 identical green buses!) up to Deck 5,6 or 7 where there is seating, coffee shop, cafe, gift shop etc. Just before arriving in Swartz bay on Vancouver Island, it's back down to Deck 2, to play "find the right green bus".
Gordie, our bus driver/tour guide, had lots of interesting things to say about the local area on our drive from the ferry terminal,
through the Saanich Peninsula to The Butchart Gardens. I had completely the wrong idea about Vancouver Island - thought it was small, but it is 280 miles long.
These gardens cover more than 22 hectares and were established in 1904 in an old limestone quarry. They are still owned and operated by the Butchart family and it was great to see them in summer, with lots of flowers in bloom (I could even identify some!). The sunken garden was lovely, as was the Japanese Garden, but the Rose Garden was really beautiful. An amazing number of different roses, lots in bloom, but some not (we were just a little early in the season for all of the roses), most labelled. Also a very popular spot, so not easy to walk around some of the time. Had a quick lunch in the coffee shop there, then a browse through the gift shop where we (Trina) bought a box of Maple Cream Cookies - (under instructions from the bus driver- apparently you can't visit Canada without trying these), then back on the bus for the drive to the city of Victoria.
Victoria is the capital of the Province of British
Columbia, and only about 60 miles (across the water) from Seattle in the USA. We had a driving tour around the city before being dropped off in the historic section near the harbour. A very pretty place, we wandered around, took photos of the Fairmont Empress (an historic and expensive hotel), and found a coffee shop (and surreptitiously tried the Maple Cream Cookies with our coffee - seriously good - hope they sell them at the airport), By this time, the weather had improved and the sun was out, and while you wouldn't call it hot, it was very pleasant. We continued walking and found the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, a shop where we tried Caramel Apples -very nice, but very sweet. Walked to another historic building (the Legislature - home of the government), found some hand made lemonade, sat and watched lots of little boats/ferries and seaplanes, then back on the bus for the bus/ferry/bus journey back to Vancouver.
The ferry back was the Spirit of Vancouver Island, bigger, 350+ vehicles and 2100 people. We decided to have dinner on board, since we wouldn't get back to the hotel till 9.30pm. Had a very yummy West Coast Baked
Apparently there are many moss covered animals in the gardens
Salmon burger, but sadly, could not find any wine to go with it.
So we were very happy when we got back to see that the little cafe/bar at the hotel was still open, and not only would they sell us two glasses of wine, they were more than happy for us to take them back to our room!
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