From Victoria to Victoria

Yes folks, that’s what we spent our first day doing – travelling from our home in Melbourne to our hotel in Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, Canada.

We reached our hotel room late in the afternoon, so the first pictures are from our evening meal: some delectable oysters, possibly the best we’ve ever eaten; a pizza style bread topped with rocket leaves; and some smokey, slow-cooked pork ribs, as only North Americans know how.

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We awoke to sunny, mild weather – as shown in the view from our hotel’s lobby – and we set off to explore the heart of Victoria – population about half a million. It’s a port/coastal city, with many nearby islands and small towns that are best reached by sea-plane, while small water taxis shuttle tourists from point to point around the harbour.

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Also popular with visitors are the horse-drawn carriages. This is the one that took us on a 45-minute exploration of some of the older parts of the city. It was a very pleasant and interesting sojourn.

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On the evening of our second day in Victoria, our group tour began with a ‘welcome dinner’. Next morning, we were taken out for breakfast at the famous Butchart Gardens, established in and around redundant quarries early last century by the owners of a Portland Cement company. Their graceful residence was located nearby and, guided by the Mrs Butchart’s enthusiasm and vision, Mr Butchart’s financial resources, renowned designers and skilled gardeners, the old quarries and their surrounds were transformed into a series of themed gardens and decorated pathways.

Here is the first, in the main quarry, known as the ‘sunken garden’.

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This fountain was conceived and financed by a later generation of the family.

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Then there is the magnificent rose garden, planted out with 2,500 different varieties, some of them only developed in the last two decades.

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Elsewhere in the gardens, we had this view of the inlet from where the cement products were once loaded onto boats and ships.

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The last of the main gardens was inspired by Japanese garden designs and plant varieties.

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