Saturday, September 21, 2013

Butchart Gardens & Victoria

By Chuck

As we prepared to leave Galiano Island, I began to worry about not having a confirmation number for the ferry ride to Victoria. Once at the parking area, I was wondering how to determine which line to be in, since we knew the ferry had more than one stop. Claire said she wasn't worried about any of it--she's learning to let things go. Well, it turns out that trips to the island are often sold "round trip" and that our passage to Galiano also included the fare to Victoria--which explains the high cost of the ticket. And the person in front of us in the line was confident that he'd be able to disembark in Victoria. So, I relaxed.

After the 90 minute ferry ride from Galiano, we arrived on Vancouver Island at Swartz Bay and decided to see Butchart Gardens along the way.  Rain was predicted but we had mostly sun with an occasional drop.

The Sunken Garden, housed in a former quarry

Looking back at the initial overview of the Sunken Garden

Claire beneath a giant weeping willow

We were quite taken with this unusual tree bark formation

Looking back at the stairway to the highpoint in the Sunken Garden

The Visitor Center, Shops and Restaurants--built around the original home of Jennie and Robert Pim Butchart.

In the Japanese Garden

Walking on water

Looking through a manufactured hole in the hedge, looking at the private harbour

The view from the hole. Weather permitting, boat tours are possible

The Star Pond--originally designed for Robert Butchart's collection of ornamental ducks

Once in Victoria, we stumbled upon a nearby restaurant that looked interesting. It had a variety of Spanish, Mexican and Fish menu items. We started with a half pitcher of Sangria then decided to split an order of guacamole and chips and the day's special, Halibut Vera Cruz. Both were excellent, but I still wanted dessert. The Taco Sundae more than delivered. Need I say more?

After dinner, we captured this shot of the Provincial Parliament building as the sun was going down

I also tried to capture a shot of the famous Empress Hotel in low light

We ended the day with a view of the harbour

Our last day in Victoria was predicted to have a 100% chance of rain, accompanied by high winds. So, we opted to spend the day indoors at the Royal British Columbia Museum. They are running a special exhibit of the Race to the Pole between Amundsen and Scott. Amundsen reached the South Pole first; Scott and his small Polar party perished on the return trip back to base camp. Wonderful exhibit.

I had never seen an IMAX film, so we decided to also view Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure. I was totally amazed at all levels with the quality of the production.

We had agreed that we would have dinner at Santiago's again, tonight. This is the outside view. 

Inside Santiago's

We liked the sangria so much last night that we had another half pitcher today

Main course was a shared veggie quesadilla. Claire also had a cup of black bean soup. 

I simply had to have a dessert to round out our delicious meal. Claire wanted to try something new, so we got the Coco Loco--chocolate ganache cheese cake, with caramel, fudge, butterscotch, nuts, white cheese cake chunks, with a chocolate cake crust, topped with fresh whipped cream. How could I ever have questioned her judgment?

Tomorrow we return to the US; but, we will be without any Wifi for four days! Later.

"I'm just going outside, and may be some time." Last words of Lawrence Oates before dying, according to Robert Scott's diary of the Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913