The long trip across the Pacific Ocean from Australia to Vancouver is not only one of the longest flights possible; due to the time zone change, you also get there before you actually left. However, it is a trip that is well worth it.
We travelled literally from Victoria (Australia) to Victoria (Canada) and arrived on a sunny autumn morning bleary-eyed and not-so-bushy-tailed. However, when we flung open the curtains of our harbour-front rooms at the Delta Ocean Pointe Hotel, it was hard to keep ourselves contained and we were out there and amongst the ‘Victorians’ in blooming beautiful Canada before we knew it.
First Impressions of Beautiful Canada
Victoria, at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, is the capital of British Columbia and an absolutely charming and lively city. Not to mention beautiful. Everywhere you look are its famous hanging baskets filled with flowers. Victoria is not known as the ‘city of gardens’ for nothing.
They adorn every light post and garnish every corner, and have done so for more than 75 years. Everywhere you look is a sea of colour, and against the backdrop of a perfect blue sky, the sights were mesmerising. In fact, every year Victoria proudly enjoys over two billion blooms!
Only a short hop, skip and jump from the hotel are the iconic sights – the famous Fairmont Empress Hotel, one of the cities original buildings, and the beautifully domed Parliament Buildings. One of the best ways to explore the city had to be by horse and carriage – a nod to Victoria’s British influences and a peaceful and refined experience that perfectly suited the location. It was one of APT’s ‘Freedom of Choice’ touring options in Victoria and seemed perfect for the glorious afternoon!
Clopping our way through the streets behind the Clydesdale ‘Johnny Cash-or-Credit’, Canadian drivers simply accommodate our more simple method of transport, and as we are told by our Tour Director Linda, ‘no-one honks anyone here’. How refreshing!
Flowers and Gardens
The next morning, we ventured out to one of the huge reasons so many people visit Victoria. The famous Butchart Gardens.
Privately owned and operated since 1904 when Robert Butchart bought the land to establish a limestone quarry for their cement business, his entrepreneurial wife Jennie conceived a plan to refurbish the bleak pits he had created and began work on what is now the ‘Sunken Garden’. Jennie’s private pursuit gained some fame and since the 1920s, visitors have been visiting the ‘Butchart Gardens’ to see the magnificent gardens, which now display over 1 million bedding plants in some 700 varieties from all over the world.
We were lucky enough to gain entry before the general public, with an exclusive breakfast in the Butchart’s original house thanks to APT. After a delicious eggs benedict with local salmon and great company, it was time to get out and explore.
Everywhere you look is colour and we witnessed non-gardening enthusiasts completely captivated by the display. There is something for everyone, and you can even bring your dog for a walk amongst the beautiful gardens! There is a historic carousel for children (and grown-up children) and an antique popcorn cart, which has been popping corn since 1904.
It had to be one of the most beautiful and colourful welcomes to a city that we had ever experienced, something that remains imprinted on your memory for a long time to come, and was only the beginning of our adventure in beautiful Canada!
If you’ve visited Victoria, Vancouver Island, before as well, we would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!