jen yu: canada 2007 - day 2

canada 2007 - day 2

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victoria, butchart gardens, richmond
july 24, 2007
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Whistler's weather forecast was for drizzle and overcast skies again, so we chose this day to drive out to Butchart Gardens in Victoria where the weather forecast was similar. We left at 5:45 am with Jeremy at the wheel. The cloud deck was higher than when we drove up to Whistler two days earlier, so we could see some of the lovely islands along the sound. My Dad is obsessed with his GPS and relies on it heavily to get around in a car. In addition to his incessant running commentary, we also got to listen to the GPS announce random left and right turns with Dad repeating each instruction after the GPS had. We drove down to Tsawwassen where we caught the 9 am ferry to Swartz Bay, Victoria.

The ferries were enormous! I had never been on a ferry so large before. Once parked, we made our way up to the main decks where we found restaurants, shops, and lots of seating. In spite of the plentiful seating, any chair with a good view was taken within minutes. The ferry ride was 90 minutes long. As we neared the Southern Gulf Islands, I tore myself away from Harry Potter to go outside on the front deck to find Jeremy. I always forget how much the water captivates him. I almost take it for granted because I grew up on the water (and spent much of my spare time sailing it). We watched the islands grow larger and spotted several seals playfully surfacing in the water ahead of us. It was slightly foggy and almost cold on the deck. Before long, it was time to get back to the car for docking.

We arrived at Butchart Gardens around 11:15 am and already I could tell my dad was getting hungry. As we entered the grounds, we decided to check out the handful of dining establishments at Butchart before walking around (and perhaps having a cranky parent on my hands). We opted for the Dining Room Restaurant and learned that tea was being served. Well, you can't go to Butchart Gardens and NOT have the tea! Seated in a bright and charming greenhouse-esque dining room, we enjoyed a full afternoon tea of finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries. Potted flowers surrounded us and through the large windows we could watch hundreds of visitors walk past while viewing the fine display of double begonias outside.

What better way to walk off afternoon tea than with a stroll through the impressive grounds? We followed the suggested route on the map and began with the Sunken Garden. The site used to be a limestone quarry which was tranformed into the most stunning display of flowering annuals, ivies, trees, and shrubs. All of the trash receptacles in the park were adorned with an impressive array of annuals. Everything there was so pretty. At the southern end of the Sunken Gardens we looked down toward the Ross Fountain. The weather threatened to rain, although it never did while we were there. Butchart was pretty full considering it was a Monday. We passed through the concert lawns (I imagined how awesome it must be to see fireworks or hear a concert there in the evenings) to two totem poles, carved in 2004 to commemorate the gardens' 100th anniversary.

Beyond the totem poles visitors swooned over the brilliant display of majestic dahlias which ushered us along to the Rose Garden. I am not a fan of roses, but botanical gardens manage to grow them in such vast quantities that you cannot help but be impressed. I think my mom was really enjoying the flowers. From there, we walked past the Sturgeon Fountain to the lush and shady Japanese Garden. I personally love Japanese gardens, and this one was no exception with secluded alcoves and adorable bridges past koi ponds. We finished up through the Italian Garden and I revisted the double begonias and the show greenhouse (which we had rushed past at the start to get some lunch) before dropping by the gift shop.

Since the ferry took longer than I had expected, I decided we should skip the Butterfly Garden in Victoria and head back to Vancouver so we could grab dinner in Richmond and return to Whistler in a timely manner. We caught the 4:00 ferry and I finished Harry Potter shortly before we pulled into Vancouver. We had dinner at Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant which was just about the most expensive Chinese meal I've ever had. Although the meal was fairly good, it certainly didn't live up to its pricetag. On the long drive back to Whistler, my stomach began to feel the effects of having eaten something bad. Jeremy wasn't feeling so hot either, but he managed to drive us home so I could make the mad dash to the bathroom. Butchart and the tea were definitely worth the drive, but I couldn't say the same for the Chinese food. We got in around 10 pm and were all ready for bed.

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