It’s fall and usually rainy in the Northwest but the sunny days shout at you to come out and play. While visiting the Seattle area, I decided to take my own advice and take a day trip to Victoria to the Butchart Gardens and photograph the autumn colors there.
Travel Tip #1: The most convenient way to get there is to take the Victoria Clipper tour that I outlined in my Examiner article Fall Evening Cruise or Day Trip…. The round trip ferry ride from Seattle, bus tour of Victoria, and Butchart Garden two hour tour was only $140 for the day. Not included is car parking but the Clipper ride gets you a discounted rate.
It was a comfortable two hour ride to Victoria on the speedy catamaran. The crew was very friendly and helpful with all you can drink delicious coffee for $1.00. We passed Bainbridge Island, Whidbey Island and the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln skirted by the coastguard cutter. The Clipper Vacation Magazine onboard was full of helpful information about Victoria and Seattle too.
Travel Tip #2: Make sure you plan to get there an hour early as they say in the confirmation letter. I was delayed by an accident on the highway, did not get directions or parking information before leaving, and almost missed the boat. If not for the helpful staff giving me parking instructions and allowing me to board the Clipper late, I would have missed this glorious day trip.
Victoria inner harbor docks are so picturesque; it is not a surprise that the number one source of income for the Canadians who live here is tourism. One of the other popular tour additions is high tea at the Empress Hotel, I just wanted pictures. The bus drove past the myriad Government buildings and through Chinatown, then through the country to Butchart Gardens. There are so many other places of interest to visit in Victoria – like the Royal BC Museum and the Butterfly Garden near Butchart – I wished that I had planned more time there.
Travel Tip #3: Eat one of the Clipper meals while you ferry over. Being somewhat of a foodie, I wanted to eat something fun at the garden. By the time the bus arrived at Butchart, I was so hungry and time was so short (2 hour tour) I ate hastily at the coffee shop. I ordered the turkey stew in puff pastry that came with an organic salad and house dressing. It was so yummy, tasty, and comforting that it was almost worth the delay of starting my walk around the garden; but in the end, I did not get the photos that I wanted and needed the time back.
Photographers like me were all taking photos though the gardens at every turn. Even though it was during the off season and many of the garden flower displays were finished for the season, it seemed like we were in each others shots along the way. I did not get the perfect shots of the sunken garden that I wanted… Next time I think I will go in the late spring and take the whole day to set up my shots.
Back again in Victoria, I meandered around the dock area before departure time, deciding I needed some fresh gourmet seafood and found several places on Humboldt Street. I chose the Oyster Bar where I could sit on the patio and enjoy the day. I highly recommend the Lobster and Crab Canaloni in rich sauce served there.
Next time in the Northwest, I hope to take a whale watching tour from Anacortes, Washinton. They also have a combination Butchart Gardens tour and whale watching at www.princeofwhales.com departing from the Victoria tourism center.