|View from Condo balcony|
This year we picked a few weeks to take for our summer holidays. I often like just chillaxing and sticking around home, after all it is two full weeks we don't have to get up early and drive downtown every day. But this time we decided to head out to Vancouver Island and Seattle for a little getaway.
I love Victoria and wanted to go the to Butchart gardens and Chad's grandmas has been asking us to come for a visit so we thought we could make a vacation out of it. We decided to fly and stay with his grandma. She has a beautiful condo on the inner harbor in Victoria and was a very gracious host. We were within walking distance of the downtown and took a trip around the Empress hotel and some of the other touristy spots.
|Beady eyed bird - |
I didn't zoom in..he was this close.
One evening we went to a Brewpub called Spinnakers
. Its an old house and we sat outside on the second level. We had some drinks and ordered some Nachos. While we were eating a big seagull came and sat beside me just outside the glass divider. He stared at us with his red beady eyes for quite a while. I think he REALLY had a craving for some nachos!
And now comes the garden porn. Chad was a great sport and spent about 4 hours with me and his grandma hanging out at the Butchart Gardens. We took pictures, oo'd and aww'd over the roses and the Japanese gardens. It was spectacular. It was started in 1904 and is a Canadian national historic site. The sunken garden was started in the abandoned limestone quarry. Everything seems so carefully planted and yet somehow random. Everywhere you look there is contrast in color, leaf shape, foliage color. It really is living art!
At the end of the sunken garden is small spring where they have a dancing fountain. There is also a waterfall coming down the side of the quarry.
The site has approx 55 acres of gardens to walk through. Even flowers as basic as geraniums look beautiful in mass plantings. Some of the color groupings were fabulous.
One of the most popular areas was the Rose garden. Camera's were out and people taking in the heavy fragrance that was surrounding us. Apparently a Garder snake was also taking in the smells, but luckily I was too occupied to notice him. (did I mention I don't like snakes?) There were many lovely tea roses from all over the world as well as climbing roses and rose trees.
Many of these roses can't be grown here in Alberta as they will winter kill. One Butchart gardener did say that over 1300
roses had to be replaced last winter as Victoria experienced a flash freeze. It went down to -12 very quickly and the roses were not ready for this drastic change. Last winter sucked by Victoria standards.
Here come the close up porn pics....viewer discretion is advised.
One of the other spectacular areas of the garden is the Japanese garden.
This is such an interesting spot. It isn't one of flowers and color, but a spot that looks like it has been there for years.
With interesting trees covered in moss that look like they could tell a story. Small little creeks of water trickled under the cool shady canopy. Its an area where you want to just sit in contemplation. I love this style of landscape design.
One of the final areas we looked at are the Italian gardens. This was a bit more of a formal garden and next to the restaurant. It was great to have a great lunch on the patio of the garden restaurant and look out over the Italian garden
. You can enjoy a lunch menu or ask to have the tea.
If you get the tea service you get a fancy little plate with small sandwiches and pastries. We sat for a few hours and took in the view and the wonder food.
Finally we hit the gift shop and the Gallery and made our way out of the Gardens. I hope to go back again one day for my next flower fix!
We decided to take a side trip into Seattle. You can catch a Clipper from the Victoria harbor that will take you right into Seattle harbor. It takes about 2.5 hours and was a fairly nice boat.
Once we got into Seattle we had to find our way to our hotel. We wanted to walk rather than cab it so we could tour around a bit. We just barely got off the ship and were walking down the main harbor street when a group of Naked people on bikes
rolled by! It was kind of surreal. Much to Chad's dismay almost all of the cyclists were doods! Some on bikes, some on roller blades, some with body paint or fairy wings.
I have since learned that this is an annual event
that is meant to draw attention to biking and loving your body in it's natural glory. I have to wonder how comfortable it would be to ride a bike with no pants on : (
We walked through the Pike Market
which was crazy busy. It has shops on many different levels so it was confusing to get around and there we tons of people as it was a Saturday afternoon. It is a bunch of old buildings and you can really smell the age of the place. I think this would have been a better place to explore during a weekday as it was hard to get around with the mobs of people. It had a combination of food and shops like you might find on Whyte avenue except on multiple levels.
Downtown Seattle is a very busy place, lots of big stores like Macy's and Nordstroms. I think would be a good place to visit if you are a shopper. I have to say though, that the wackadoo per square block ratio was high. I am used to some of this working in downtown Edmonton but it is nothing compared to the folks in Seattle.
Within our 10 block walk we must have passed every religious nut faction there is. There were the Harry Krishnas, some Muslim faction with nutso signs, the Scientology gang and many others that were just chanting and preaching stupid crap. Plus just a whole bunch of other random people with signs looking for money.
We met some friends for Dinner at a restaurant called Zoes and had a nice evening out. We didn't stay in Seattle long and did a fair amount of walking around. I can't say it was my favorite place, but maybe if we got out of the downtown area it would have been more to our liking.
We headed back to Victoria which was much more our speed and did some touring around the city. We went out to the Oak Bay Marina where Chad's grand parents took them as a kid. We saw a very cute seal and had a lovely dinner with a beautiful view of the Marina.
All in all it was a great trip, I could certainly live on Vancouver island and be very happy. The weather was nice and apparently we missed a lot of rain here in Edmonton.