It was a rainy morning, and as the ferry started our journey we could just barely make out the Seattle sky line receding in the fog:
The trip took around 2.5 hours, and after passing customs in Victoria we hopped on our bikes and rode to our hotel, which was near the waterfront and called "Swan's Hotel" or something like that (details become fuzzy when I write blog entries months after the events). We then set out on foot to explore Victoria, with the first stop being at the Fairmont Empress for their famous afternoon tea:
I was not overly impressed with the service, but overall it was fun and also interesting to explore the rest of the Empress a bit afterward. We passed the rest of the afternoon walking around downtown and exploring the sights, finishing off with a delicious dinner at a brewpub called "Canoe".
It had rained throughout Friday, but Saturday morning dawned with some breaks of sunshine so I managed to convince Roanne that we should ride our bikes on a scenic tour toward Butchard Gardens, which are about 20km from Victoria. I neglected to mention that the scenic tour started by heading in the opposite direction from the garden and would end up being a lot more than the 20km direct route to the garden. Unfortunately it started to rain about 15 minutes into the ride and continued to do so for the next hour or two as we toured along the coast. Neither of us was particularly dressed for the rain (with Roanne being the worst off), so by the time we were about 10 km from the garden we were getting really cold and decided to turn back. We made it back to Victoria cold and wet, and not having reached our objective of Butchart Gardens we decided to postpone that to the next day and chalk this day up to rainy touring. After drying off and warming up we headed out to walk around the town some more, finishing up with an amazing dinner at the famous ReBar Cafe (so good!).
The next morning dawned with legitimately nice weather and we decided to give it another go for reaching Butchart Gardens by bike, and were more successful this time with taking the direct route and having the weather cooperate. We spent a few hours looking around the gardens which were really nice, though maybe not quite as good as in the spring when all the flowers would be blooming. Here is Roanne making her way along a board walk:
Here is the renowned sunken garden:
And here is Roanne in front of some of flowers that were still blooming at this time of year (dahlias):
After touring the gardens we decided to finish off with high tea for lunch, and it was pretty good by comparison with the Fairmont Empress (better pastries, worse sandwiches, better service):
We then rode back to Victoria where Roanne made a beeline for a store called "She-She Shoes" that she had discovered the previous day, and promptly purchased as many shoes as could be comfortably loaded onto our bikes with their boxes (this turned out to be 3 pairs). We then boarded the ferry for the ride back to Seattle, where we faced a steep and wet ride back up to Capitol Hill.