Oct. 16, 2014
Though we had planned to sleep in, we were up fairly early this morning. For a change, Terry showered first while I slept a little longer. Once we were dressed and had everything we felt we needed, we walked over to Budget Rental Car to get a car. Terry choose a Ford Fusion with GPS for 2 days. Once that was taken care of we programmed the GPS to take us to the Royal Oak Shopping Center so we could attend a 10:00am weight watcher meeting and weigh in. We both weighed in (don’t ask) and skipped the meeting which was almost over. We then we let the GPS help us find a Starbucks. This was a crowded one and a girl I talked to said it is the second busiest in Victoria. We got drinks and Terry got an oatmeal cookie and I got a molasses cookie. It is hard to resist these treats now that they are no longer available in California. Sipping and munching we headed to the Butchart Gardens.
We parked in the “Seahorse” area and entered the park. Terry had his camera out as we strolled through this incredibly beautiful place.
It is hard to imagine that this was all developed to be the real backyard of a wealthy family. It is all designed to look natural and yet, each area has a specific feel and theme. “Look at this!” was a constant refrain on the lips of all the visitors. The sounds of birds and small creatures filled the air for a while, then a bus load of Chinese tourists came into the gardens and the sound of excited voices and clicking cameras drown out nature. We walked slowly to let the crowds get ahead so we could get pictures of larger areas and enjoy the relative solitude.
There were ponds and fountains and trees galore. And of course there were flowers. The roses and tulips were hiding from the cold weather but there were so many other flowers in bright colors that they were not missed. We saw a huge redwood that had been planted in 1934. The Dahlia path was by far my favorite, these were gorgeous flowers, they seemed to be trying to out do each other by having the brightest color. There was pink and red and orange and yellow, so brilliant that it seemed as if they had been painted. And perhaps they were, on God’s canvas. The Japanese Garden had many hidden grottos with benches and small fountains. One large area with a lovely dancing fountain used to be a limestone quarry, to bring such beauty from something so ugly surly took a great deal of talent and money. There were small statues throughout and lots of forest animals, made of plants. We strolled for a few hours, and I know if I lived in Victoria I would have a 12 month pass.
When we had finally seen every path, we went to the coffee shop for a bite. I had corn salmon chowder and Terry had a sandwich. While Terry finished eating I went into the gift shop. The gift shop is very large and sold quite a variety of items, including seed packets. I purchased a few things and then we headed to the parking lot. Just before we got to the car, there was another garden, the Mediterranean Garden. A few more snap shots and we drove away.
Once on the road we headed for Craigdach Castle. The GPS was helpful, but our bus tour the other day also familiarized us with a lot of the city. When we reached the castle we were not terribly impressed. We took some pictures from the outside but chose not to go in.
Next we did my favorite thing, Terry just drove around. He never worries about getting lost (even when there is no GPS) and just turns here and there to see what’s around the next corner. We saw two small does walking along in front of houses, just as we might see a cat walking along at home. Then we were on the coast and got out at an unnamed area and walked along a very rocky shore covered with large logs and bits of wood. Took two small rocks for souvenirs and several pictures. Our next stop was called King George Terrace and it was also an ocean overlook.
By now I was ready to go back to the hotel, so we let the GPS give us a hand and were soon parking in the hotel lot. We gave the license number to the hotel clerk, glad that there was no charge.
We rested and played on line for a while and discussed dinner possibilities. I wanted to try a place we had often walked past called Bard and Banker. It was in the top 100 out of 1000 on Trip advisor, so Terry agreed to give it a try. It is a very pretty pub inside of an old bank building. The bard in the name is Robert Service, a poet I am very familiar with. He wrote one of my favorite poems, that is also a reader’s theatre called “The Cremation of Sam Mcgee”. We sat in the Robert Service room with the poem on the wall above our heads. I ordered fish and chips, with the potato chip crust. Terry got a crab salad. My food was ok. Terry’s crab was shredded like tuna and seemed canned, it was to the side of the salad in a mound. He did not care at all for his, and found mine to be just ok. One thing that was delicious was the beer. This place is a pub and has craft beers. Terry ordered Race Rocks Amber Ale and it was so good, that I, who never drinks beer, liked it. I had several swallows of Terry’s and he ordered a second.
Our waiter was very nice and after paying we headed out to get me some ice cream. Speaking of paying, most places have a small credit card machine that they bring to the table and when you are doing the transaction the machine asks if you want to tip, if you click yes it offers you a choice of percentage or amount. I click percentage and then put in 20%. Very easy.
Out on the street we saw the Gelato shop I wanted was right across the street. We walked over and bought some salt water taffy, licorice for Terry and banana for me. Then I got a scoop of mocha almond. They had dozens of flavors, ice cream and gelato. The sweet treat was displayed beautifully and when I go back (which I will) I’ll take some pictures. We paid in cash and got our change in Canadian money. As we walked back to the hotel we saw a street performer that inspired us to tip. She was a cute young women playing a banjo and singing in a high, sweet voice. She was actually worth listening too. We dropped our Candian coins in the banjo case and continued on our way. We stopped to get me a coffee at a small café very near our hotel. Terry also got a lemon loaf, he loves lemon.
Now back in our room we are relaxing, watching TV and of course, writing the journal. We will go on a drive tomorrow morning and perhaps in the afternoon Terry will explore with the car while I shop.