Tuesday, 7/21/09 We arrived at Diamond Point RV in Sequim, WA and OUR plan was to leave the RV there for 3 of the 7 days we had reservations for....4 of the days would be spent over in Victoria, B.C. However (the management) had different plans....you cannot leave the RV unattended for more than 24 hours so "they kicked us out." Actually, we spent only the first night there then drove the RV down to the ferry dock & parked the RV & car in one of the lots located around the area the next morning. I think Will worried the whole time the RV would still be there when we got back (it was!)
Wednesday 7/22/09 Day 1 -This was too early of a morning for Will, as we had to be up at 4 am to be at the ferry by 7:30 am - breakfast, unhook & get ready to travel, then travel about 15 miles to the dock, of course we made it with time to spare. I had purchased a Victoria travel package thru http://www.victoriaexpress.com/ the ferry outfit which included ferry passage over & back, hotel for 3 days, Butchart Garden transportation & tour plus the Gray Line city tour of Victoria. I'm so glad I did all this as it worked out great, everything went according to schedule. When we arrived in Victoria, that morning, after the one hour ferry ride, a bus was waiting to take us right to Butchart Gardens & they took our luggage directly to our hotel, Queen Victoria so we could check in later - not one minute of wasted time for us!! http://www.attractionsvictoria.com/
Butchart Gardens are world famous http://www.butchartgardens.com/ at it was one of the main reasons we came to Victoria but I must say all the words & pictures can't really do it justice -you must see it. We lucked out on the weather front as we had WARM weather about 80 degrees. The natives are dying but we loved it. The gardens are 55 acres of year round gardens. It is over 100 years old & was started by Robert & Jennie Butchart. He was a limestone king & as the limestone hole was mined out Jennie started dumping soil in the hole & planting flowers. They told us she used to go to farms in the area & bring back top soil & throw it down into the hole. I'm sure there is lots more to the story & I bought a book which I plan to read latter on it. However, very fascinating and it is still owned & maintained by the Butchart family.
They have many different areas of the gardens, the sunken garden, which was the original and the most beautiful to see, the rose garden, Japanese garden, Italian garden and many more areas. Upon entering they give you a flower brochure that is arranged by colors so you can look up "the red flower" to identify it which was really helpful. We walked & walked and thank God I didn't have a camera or I would have taken a picture of everything there. After seeing everything in about 4 plus hours we boarded the bus back to our hotel.
When I booked the hotel I told them we were "elderly" (my usual description) and needed a hotel close to town & the inner harbor (where everything happens) and we hit the jackpot on that one. The Queen Victoria was right next to the Royal BC Museum, around the corner from the Empress Hotel (of high tea fame) & 2 blocks to the inner harbor....it was perfect. When we arrived they had our bags in our room so we were ready for a nap. After our nap, we went out to explore a little & have dinner, which we did at a small outdoor, very popular fish place. It was delicious but everything here is VERY expensive. I can't imagine what the fancy restaurants get for a fish dinner but this was good enuf for us!
In walking that evening we discovered the Harbor Ferry Co http://www.victoriaharbourferry.com/ which are small "little tug boat looking" boats that offer tours of the inner harbor, plus is a water taxi so we jump on & take the harbor tour of 45 minutes which is fun & very interesting. Along the way we discover Fisherman's Wharf where we decide we will come back & have dinner tomorrow night. By this time we are exhausted & go back to the room & crash. Thankfully, the room was very quiet so Will was able to get a very needed night of rest. I of course can sleep through anything but quiet is good.
Thursday, 7/23/09 Day 2 - Today will be our Gray Line city tour http://www.graylinewest.com/ which will take a couple of hours, but you have hop off, hop on privileges. This guided tour is through the city seeing Chinatown, Craigdarroch Castle, Beacon Hill Park & many other sights around the city. It is all narrated & a wonderful way to learn about any city. We always try & take a Gray Line tour when it is available. Of course we are at stop #1 early soooooo we can be first on the bus & sit upstairs in the first seats, which has a great view, but more important, protected from the wind. (Guess who planned THAT???) Well we make it, & off we go at 9:30 am. We decide to take the entire 1 1/2 hour bus tour & then go back around & get off at Craigdarrock Castle, the only stop we want to see that we think is to far to walk to.
The tour is so informative & enjoyable and we have GREAT seats. We enjoy all the commentary about the places we are seeing & the weather is still good, but not as warm as yesterday. We even get to see the big draw bridge go up as a "tall sailing ship" comes out from the harbour. They have given each of us a blanket, which we use & of course we are some what protected from the wind. After we complete the 1 1/2 hour tour we stay on so we can get off at the castle.
Craigdarrock Castle http://www.thecastle.ca/ was completed in 1890 by a coal baron, Robert Dunsmuir who died before the castle was completed. His wife, and some of their 10 children & grandchildren lived there until 1908. It has been used as a military hospital, a college, a school board but since 1969 used as a historic house museum. There are 4 floors all of them decorated in the period of the time with lots of information on the family. There are over 25,000 sq ft including the basement, the walls are filled with oak panels, there are 17 fireplaces and so much more to see & learn about this place. I have only been inside of Hearst Castle but this one looks like the castles of Europe might look like, absolutely beautiful. We spend a couple hours there & discover the downtown area, where we want to be, is not that far of a walk but most important it is all downhill, so we walk back to town instead of waiting for the tour bus. We arrive back in town in Chinatown & walk thru & see the sights. One great ally we walk thru is about 3 feet wide & was used in the filming of a Goldie Hawn movie, but of course we can't remember the name of the movie they told us. Instead of lunch we buy some cherries to eat as we walk around.
Our next stop, on our way back to the hotel, is the famous Empress Hotel. Now we have already decided we will NOT have high tea at $68.00 each. I must say to Wills credit he brought clothes over (no jeans or tennis shoes allowed) & was willing to do it but I just couldn't do it ..... cucumber sandwiches & lots of desserts. I much rather have another good fish dinner for a lot less money. The hotel is beautiful & very impressive & majestic. We walk all around looking at all the old pictures hanging on the walls and reading about the history of the hotel. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a web site for this place. It's so famous they don't have to advertise. After heading back for a quick nap we head out to Fisherman's Wharf for another fish dinner.
We walk to Fisherman's Wharf (definitely NOT like San Francisco's wharf) which is a beautiful path along the water front about 1 1/2 miles. Now this Fisherman's wharf consists of several eating places but the most famous is Barb's Fish & Chips. A fish stand that you order from & find a table somewhere around the wharf. The best thing about this wharf is it is home to "floating houses" think, Sleepless in Seattle movie. You are able to walk up & down the docks & just peer into these houses. We saw a "two story" floating house for sale at $174,000 - no property taxes, just docking fees! Our fish dinner was good but not as good (I thought, as the night before) but still good. We are stuffed, I mean I'm stuffed so we decide it would be a good thing to walk back instead of taking the water taxi...which we do. We want to stay up late one night just to see the lights of Victoria but it doesn't get dark here until 10 pm which is really late for us. However, we head uptown, to a pub Will wants to go to but find few tourist out & mostly panhandlers or bums as Will calls them. We decide before we get to far maybe we better turn around & head back to the hotel as we seem to be the only tourists out on Douglas Street. Another fun but exhausting day & we can't wait to shower & hit the bed.
Friday, 7/24/09 Day 3 Is reserved for the Royal BC Museum http://www.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/ and touring the Parliament Buildings as Victoria is British Columbia's capital and both are right across the street from our hotel. We head out early, of course, and are the first ones there for the first free (finally something FREE) tour which we are the only ones on. Our tour guide, Amanda is delightful & takes us through the hallways explaining about parliament procedures & tells us about Queen Elizabeth & her visits to Parliament. The tour is about 45 minutes & really wonderful. One thing we discover there are small white lights outlining the Parliament building & come on about 9:45 pm, we are determined tonight to stay up so we can see them. Yikes, does this sound old or what!
After the tour we head next door to the Royal Museum & get our senior package which includes an IMax theater. Now they offer many whale watching tours here at Victoria but they all seem to be the "pods" of Orca whales that live off the San Juan Island so we opt instead to see the IMax Whale movie....which was an excellent choice.
The museum is 3 floors, the first floor being the featured tour called Treasures - The World's Culture from the British Museum. It was about Africa, Middle East, Europe, Asia, Oceania, The Americas & The Modern World. Interesting but our least favorite of the 3 floors. The second floor was all about the ocean, animals, the weather, the environment and the third floor was our absolute favorite - lots of history of British Columbia that included rooms & rooms of setting of olden days. This would be a must to see on their web site. We spent more than half the day there looking at all the exhibits. At 1:00 pm we took a break to go in & see the IMax whale movie which was amazing. We felt we made the right decision in seeing the movie instead of the $100 EACH whale watching
When we got out of there we walked back down to Fisherman's Wharf but the line was so long & probably more than an hour wait we decided to have eat at the "noodle box" which was very brave for Will. True to form, he didn't care for it but what I tasted it was delicious. I on the other hand splurged & had an cup of ice cream....now your talking a real dinner. Another full day, we walked back to the inner harbor determined to stay up late enough to see the lights of Victoria. Well we made it & it was just beautiful, the Parliament Building is spectacular to see at night with white "Christmas bulbs" outline this beautiful building. We head back for another deserved night of sleep, thoroughly exhausted but have really enjoyed out stay in Victoria. Tomorrow we go back to the good old USA.
Saturday, 7/25/09 Day 4 - Our day to go home to our RV and we are both ready. After breakfast we check out of the hotel, they hold our bags & we go back into town to walk around. Our ferry leaves Victoria at 2:00 pm so we head down there after 12 noon to wait to go thru customs. With nothing to declare but a tee shirt & post cards we move through very quickly. We board the ferry for our 1 hour ride home. When we get back we can't wait to get to the parking lot just to be sure our RV & car are ok.....which they are. Of course we have no place to go...I mean like an RV park so we head for the local Indian casino for a free nights stay in their parking lot. Exhausted and with NO electricity or hot water for a shower we just fall into bed & go to sleep.
Sunday, 7/26/09 We are headed for Tacoma, WA but I have been on this computer toooooo long so will give more details about our fun Sunday!!! Much love to all our family & friends and the adventure is still continuing.