Aaaahh…there is nothing like a layover day. With nowhere to be and all day to get there, we enjoyed a slow morning on the boats. We sat sipping hot coffee in the cool morning breeze and watched the city come to life in front of us. I think we all felt pretty lucky to sit back and relax as we watched the world go about the Monday morning grind. After a leisurely breakfast, we headed out to explore Victoria, BC.
Victoria is an extremely tourist-friendly City. It is easy to sightsee by foot and there are plenty of shuttles to take you wherever you might want to visit. The Royal BC Museum is right across the street from our dock, and it offers world class exhibits. There, you can learn about the natural history and human history of this area, including fascinating exhibits about the First Nations people and their cultures. The historic Empress Hotel, where you can enjoy high tea in the afternoon, is also just across the road from us. Victoria offers the most restaurants per capita anywhere in North America except for San Francisco. So, finding a great meal is not an issue. A short shuttle ride takes you to the Butterfly gardens and the beautiful Butchart Gardens, where most of us opted to spend our day.
Butchart Gardens contain 35 acres of gorgeous flowers and gardens; including Japanese and Italian gardens and an impressive rose garden. The Butchart family moved to the area in 1904 and began a limestone quarry and cement company. Jennie Butchart worked for the company as a chemist, but her real passion was gardening. Once the quarry finished operating, Jennie decided to transform it into something beautiful instead of leaving an ugly scar on the land. Thus, began the incredible project which resulted in the beautiful sunken gardens that exist today. Jennie was so committed to the project that at age 60 she repelled down the quarry walls planting ivy as she went!
Our group was once again blessed with wonderful weather! We were able to explore the gardens in full bloom with warm summer sunshine and retreat to the shady Japanese garden with an ice cream cone when the sun became too much. I had the pleasure of wandering the gardens with the crew of AnamCara. They have been friends since their college days at Purdue, and have been proudly flying their school colors from the boat. Leslie is quite the gardener herself, so it was fun to let her lead us through the garden and point out details we might have otherwise missed.
After enjoying a relaxing evening on the docks, each crew went their own way for dinner. We feel fortunate that today was our layover day, since it appears to be rather windy out on the water. Tomorrow’s forecast is looking calm and hopefully our great luck with wildlife and weather will continue! Tomorrow we head back to the US, and to the quaint Roche Harbor on San Juan Island.