We’d decided to do something different for my birthday: stay home.
And we stuck to that plan until 1 p.m. when we did something so spontaneous that we both were still shaking our heads as we stepped ashore in Victoria, British Columbia a few hours later.
We often describe our travels as going ‘where the winds blow us’ but this one struck with gale force. I’d been working on a blog post and mentioned Victoria . . . an hour later we were packed and in line on the Seattle waterfront ready to board the day's last sailing of the Victoria Clipper, a high speed catamaran that would whisk us off to what has been a three night stay in the “City of Gardens.”
Victoria, B.C. is at the southern tip of Canada’s Vancouver Island. Cradled between Haro Strait and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, it is 71 miles from Seattle, just under three hours away on The Clipper (which blasts along at 30 knots, or 35 miles an hour).
Incorporated in 1862 and also celebrating a birthday – its 150th – this year, the city is decked out in its usual summer finery. . .including its trademark hanging baskets. The flower baskets have been a tradition since 1937. There are 1,500 baskets adorning the old-fashioned light posts. (And if you want to replicate those baskets at home, the city’s web site, www.victoria.ca offers a brochure with instructions.)
Every street corner is decked out with a garden. This Orca whale topiary sits across the street from the visitor’s center at the Inner Harbor.
While its Butchart Gardens is the most famous of its gardens there are so many parks (78 in Greater Victoria) that we usually don’t have time to visit Butchart, as was the case again this trip. Our first day was spent strolling through Victoria’s many gardens and parks that are within an easy walk of the Inner Harbor where we were staying.
One such place is the beautiful lawn of the iconic Empress Hotel, pictured above. We had a special treat: watching a bride and groom starting a new life together at the lawn’s rose trellis.
Only a couple blocks from the Inner Harbor, we strolled through the grounds of St. Ann’s Academy National Historic Site (835 Humboldt St., www.stannsacademy.com ). Just beyond it is the 25 hectare, or 62-acre Beacon Hill Park which led us to the seafront promenade that stretches for miles along Dallas Road.
We walked nine miles as we explored but a corner of this magnificent city of some 80,000 people but in full disclosure, our long walk was in part to ease the guilt of the amount of food we had consumed the night before at our favorite restaurant, The Tapa Bar, (620 Trounce Alley, 250-383-0013, www.tapabar.ca) and although we turned down the offer for dessert, the waitress decided my big day shouldn’t go past without. . . .
That’s it for this week’s Travel Photo Thursday, so head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos. I’ll tell you more about the gem of a place - often overlooked by travelers - that we stayed at here in my next post.
For more information on Victoria, B.C.: www.tourismvictoria.ca or the city’s blog www.goinglocal.tourismvictoria.ca For information on the Victoria Clipper, www.clippervacations.com .