This morning we walk several blocks from our hotel through the grounds of the British Columbia Parliament to a park with a bronze statue of author & artist Emily Carr (with her dog ‘Billie’ & her Javanese monkey ‘Woo’). I have no problem walking this morning – I wore my comfortable sneakers!
We catch a bus to The Butchart Gardens, one of Victoria’s most iconic sights. Mike & I enjoy taking public transportation so we can see more of Victoria, including the “non-touristy” areas where people actually live.
We arrive at The Butchart Gardens at about 11:30 and spend three hours wandering around, drinking in the beauty. These 55 acres of gardens were created in the early 1900s by Jennie Butchard to beautify the worked-out limestone quarry on their property. Today the gardens are still owned by the Butchart family and receive about a million visitors annually!
My favorite garden is the Sunken Garden, an old quarry transformed with a riot of colorful tulips, daffodils, and other spring flowers.
At the end of the Sunken Garden, there’s Ross Fountain that rhythmically shoots the water in different designs, like the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas but without the music.
We also enjoy the Japanese Garden and the Italian Garden (it’s a bit too early in the season for the Rose Garden).
After all that walking, we relax in the shade at Butchart Cove Lookout and just gaze at the water.
At the greenhouse, we take a moment to ask the question we’ve been wondering about: “How many gardeners are needed to keep Butchart Gardens so beautiful?” The answer is anywhere from 50 (in the off-season) to 70 gardeners! We’re also shocked to find out that when all these beautiful flowers are done blooming, they’re simply pulled up & turned into mulch.
We take the bus back to downtown Victoria and then walk the rest of the way back to our hotel. We take just a minute to freshen up before heading out again, this time walking west (the opposite direction than we usually walk to the Inner Harbour).
We walk along the waterfront trail and see a community of charming houseboats. The houseboats turn out to be a in Floating Home Village that also includes shops, restaurants, & fishing boats in an area known as Fisherman’s Wharf.
We get a dozen oysters at The Fish Store (another “Buck a Shuck” special) and eat them at one of the picnic tables by the marina.
Five harbor seals are gathered there, begging for fish. The Fish Store sells cut up pieces of fish for the tourists to feed the seals! There are also river otters but there are also warnings not to feed them (Mike is told “They’re vicious creatures – they’ll bite your finger right off.”).
We don’t buy any fish because we can watch everybody else feeding them. The seals get impatient if they have to go a while without being fed and splash the people.
After we finish our oysters, we share an order of fish & chips from Barb’s Fish & Chips, which we also eat at the picnic table while we watch the antics of the harbor seals.
Then Mike & I walk through the marina looking at the working fishing boats, and stroll around the Floating Home Village. The eclectic houseboats are fascinating!
After dinner we walk back along the Inner Harbour waterfront. The sunset is so pretty and the British Columbia Parliament Building is all lit up.