Butchart Gardens and Galloping Goose Trail

We went our separate ways today. Kim caught the shuttle to Butchart Gardens, John hired a bike and Matt mooched around Victoria.

Starting with Kim’s day. Butchart Gardens began development in 1906 by Jennie Butchart, in a former limestone quarry. By 1926 she had transformed the site, bringing in tons of soil by horse and cart. The gardens remain owned by the Butchart’s great grand daughter.

The planting changes with the seasons and is all grown on site. Kim tried very hard to find a weed in the 55 acre site and couldn’t. It did pour with rain but even didn’t reduce the impact of the garden.

The first garden you enter is the Sunken Garden, the former limestone quarry. If you look closely you can see an original chimney.

The path takes you down to Ross Fountain, installed in 1964. Despite its age, the fountains still put on a fantastic display.

The Japanese Garden was the first to be created following the Butchart’s visit to Japan (this couple certainly had money). A calm oasis of simple planting and running water.

Kim was taken with the Boar Scarer, a simple bamboo water feature that made a loud bang as it filled and emptied.

The view from the top of the Japanese Garden down to the Butchart Cove was glorious.

There are boat trips around the cove and, if so inclined and wealthy enough, you can still arrive by seaplane.

Final verdict? The gardens are stunning – John would have loved the sense of order and control. Kim prefers things a little wilder and the Cornish garden at Trebah remains her favourite.

On to John’s day. After the drama of the water ballet, he cycled out over the New Johnson Street Bridge along the Galloping Goose Trail (spoiler alert – there are no geese, galloping or otherwise).

As only John would, he called in at a Pawn shop to have a look around when this caught his attention. In the UK, we make our gas smell so your nose will do the same job.

John thought it was Friday in Henlow, he’d ended up in Spinnaker Brew Pub where you could taste the beers before ordering very similar to the Engineers Arms.

We are learning to use familiar words in new and interesting ways. Everything is ‘awesome’ or ‘sweet’ when quite clearly it’s just ok. Word of today was ‘fantabulous’ from a very cheery waitress. Quote of the day from the CVS shuttle driver was ‘That would be peachy’. Our challenge is to use that at least three times tomorrow.

For our final day, we’re hiring a car and driving the Pacific Marine Circle Route. Bizarrely it’s cheaper to hire a car than three bikes.

Victoria – Part 2

Our ferry trip back was choppy and wet, we think the best of the weather is behind us.

Trailfinders have booked us another fabulous room in the Inn at Laurel Point, overlooking the harbour. We have a great view from our terrace.

and the biggest bathroom in the whole wide world.

We headed to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner. The wharf has a small selection of eateries, shops and float homes. We ate fish and chips outside and agreed that it was better (and an awful lot cheaper) than Rick Stein’s on Padstow harbour – and we didn’t think that was possible.

The wharf was originally home to the fishing boats and a few people live aboard in various shaped vessels some of which vaguely resemble boats. A quite eclectic community has evolved. There’s even a floating B&B which sounds tempting.

Victoria to Seattle

We survived our night in the swanky hotel and thankfully need never do it again. John pronounced it overpriced and all show. Fairmont Hotels have some fantastic locations and very grand buildings however it’s all a bit superficial. If you looked closely, it wasn’t that clean and we’d expected spotless. We all agreed the toiletries were good but that’s not enough to draw us back.

We headed out for breakfast at Sam’s Deli, half the price of a Fairmont breakfast but not quite as stylish.

Next stop, Victoria Clipper for our trip down to Seattle. Before boarding we had to negotiate US border control. We were fingerprinted, photographed, quizzed as to our travel plans and previous visits to the USA before being relieved of $18 for the privilege of having pieces of paper stapled in our passports. A sign said ‘Welcome to USA’ – we are not sure it means it!

The trip down the Puget Sound was sunny and smooth, always a bonus for poor sailors like Kim and Matt.

We arrived in Seattle in under 3 hours.

Like many places we’ve stayed this holiday, no-one said it would be hilly so we took a proper yellow cab to the hotel

Before heading out to explore, we needed to create enough clean clothes to see us through. We packed most things including cable-ties before leaving the UK but still had to go to the drugstore to buy string.

Next was an Underground Walking Tour which explored subterranean Pioneer Square. To kill time we had a drink in a local cafe. John went for a Cold Brew, Kim a London Fog and Matt had a smoothie. Guess which one was the sensible choice!

John’s iced coffee and Kim’s London Fog (Earl Grey, steamed milk and vanilla syrup – why would you do that to a cup of tea?) were revolting. We looked on with envy as Matt savoured his sensible smoothie.

Our tour, lead by Serena, was quirky and gave an entertaining early history of Seattle, bringing some of its early prominent citizens to life. Some of the original city remains underground as they simply built over it, there are even water mains made from wood which are still in service.

It’s worth reading Bill Speidel’s site for a little history – http://www.undergroundtour.com/about/history.html

Dinner was in Purple, a cafe bar just across the road from the hotel. It was very noisy and the menu paired food choices with wine so we gave it a go.

We’re not enjoying Seattle as much as we hoped. This is the first place we’ve stayed where it really doesn’t feel safe to walk at night and we’re rather pleased we’re only here for a two nights. Matt, who has run the risk of bears in the Rockies and drug addicts in Gastown after dark, decided to keep to the gym and declined to stay out by himself tonight.

Throughout the night, we are taking it in turns to do 2 hour shifts to dry the washing with the hairdryer.

Breaking news – 2019 Motorhome trip booked. Hands up who thinks John wasn’t paying attention when he agreed to 14 nights in the smallest Motorhome available!

Vancouver Island

We’re here for one night before heading to Seattle tomorrow.

John was keen to spend a night at one of the famous Fairmont Hotels so we’re in the Fairmont Empress in Victoria.

We have a one bedroomed suite, we can’t remember how much we paid (other than it was extortionate) – Matt is on a sofa bed.

There are fantastic views over the harbour. Those of you paying attention will notice our photos are out of sync – that’s what you get when dealing with amateurs!

John and I explored the waterfront up as far as Fisherman’s Wharf to see where we’d like to eat when we return.

Matt made the most of the hotel. When we got back, he was in the bar drinking cocktails and eating free popcorn.

There was live music, so we joined him…. and he treated us

There are only so many cocktails you can drink so we had a wander around the shops that are a standard fixture in Fairmont hotels. We had a lovely chat with an Irish ex- pat who’d been in Canada 20 years. We tried marrying Matt off to her niece but his dowry wasn’t enough. In turn she tried to sell us expensive pieces of carved marble.

We walked off the alcohol around Victoria’s harbour, they do like lights out here!