12.04.2008 - 13.04.2008 14 °C
Fortunately we were able to check out and in of our same accommodation and store all our luggage while we went to Victoria for the weekend. What a bonus for us as we head off in the morning to LAs Vegas and it has allowed us to get back into familiar beds and conveniently get all the washing done from the weekend. Thankfully we packed almost everything up before we left on Friday so we were quite well organised and could relax tonight.
After checking about travel arrangements to Vancouver Island we were rather stunned as to how much time we would have to allow for travel. We initially thought we could afford 2 nights but ended up deciding on just the Saturday night so we were comfortably back in Vancouver to ge to the airport on Monday without the stress.
To give us more time on the island we decided to splash out and instead of booking the bus and ferry both ways we booked a seaplane that would deliver us directly into Victoria Harbour and then the bus and ferry for the trip back on Sunday night. What a fabulous plan and definitely worth the extra if anyone is planning this trip. The sea plane was not only an awesome experience, it was an incredible scenic flight to fly at that height over Vancouver, the islands and then up the coast of Vancouver Island. We even flew over the top of Vancouver airport and watched a plane taking off underneath!
It was another early start but it meant we were in Victoria by 8.30am and had decided to get the 4.45pm bus to the ferry on Sunday. This gave us 2 full days for exploring Victoria. We were all starving for breakfast so dropped our overnight bag at the Quality Inn and strolled off to a Dutch coffee shop down the street.
We had a most beautiful day, clear blue skies and perfect for walking about, checking out the sights.
We started with Miniature World at the Empress Hotel. Beautiful display of scenes ranging from Canadian history to exotic dolls houses. Very intriguing and amazing works of obsession on all the projects, some taking over 20 years to build, complete with flushing tiolets!! I think the one us grown ups found the most amazing was a complete replica of a timber mill, all totally hand made with all working pieces. It actually operated the same as a timber mill but due to fire hazards couldn't be operated but instead showed a video with the designer explaining all the working pieces. The kids loved the parade and fair ground display the best and of course pressing every button that made "something" move!
After no luck with bike hire we decided a chardonnay in the sun and a lazy lunch looking over the harbour was a must. Victoria is great for people watching, I can imagine it would be a lot like Freo in the summer, but the fact that the sun was shining, all the motorbikes were out of the garage and cruising, so there was heaps to look at. A great lunch at The Local Bar and Grill, I enjoyed the best chicken burger ever! Not your average fare, the pesto and roasted vegies made it very yummy!!
I managed to convince Wayne that a trip to the Butchard Gardens were a must if you come to Victoria so we decided to go and hire a car for 24 hours and we could get out and take a better look around.
Saturday was the warmest day we have had since we have been away, I think it was a max of 14 at Victoria but it felt about 30 for us. It was perfect for a peaceful stroll around the gardens and enjoy all the stunning areas and floral displays. The spring garden was extremely fragrant and the variety of bulbs was amazing.
The kids loved the Japanese garden the most with its meandering waterways and features. We spent a long time here and enjoyed the cool shaded areas. The kids amused themselves for ages playing leaf boat races under bridges and the open spaces of the park allowed them to let off some steam. The girls spent the entire afternoon riding their "horses" along the paths!
We enjoyed dinner at The Sticky Wicket before collapsing into bed.
Sunday morning we decided to head off east towards Esquimolt Bay not really knowing what to expect or what we might see. The map showed a light house so we thought that was a good point to focus on. We came across the Canadian Forces Naval Base and while we couldn't get very close from here the security officer directed us around to Saxxe Point where he said we could view the last of 3 ships leaving the base off to the Middle East.
There were already a few groups of people at the point so after a bit of a wait we saw the fire boat come out the bay with spouts shooting water then afterwards the navy vessel came out behind. We were fortunate to be standing next to a lady, who was also in the Canadian navy and could answer all our questions. A few minutes later 2 helicopters flew right in front of us giving everyone a wave. We all thought that was awesome and Denver nearly had kittens with excitement.
A further drive around the bay we discovered Hartley Castle and Historic Sight which was originally a private residence of a VERY wealthy family but now is part of the Royal canadian university. A beautiful building with huge grounds and once again lots of space for the kids to let off some steam. The cherry blossom trees through Canada at this time of the year have been stunning with many of the roads having them as street trees and adorning most parks around the city.
Our transport back to Vancouver was hassle free and another interesting mode of transport. The coach took us from Victoria to Schwartz Bay where it drove directly onto the lower deck of the ferry. From there we had a very scenic ferry ride through islands and across open water to Tswassen where we got back on the coach and drove off the ferry onto the highway back to Vancouver! The beautiful sunset across the water was a very special sight for our last night in Canada until the 8th May.