Victoria

Sunday in Victoria. Victoria Day Weekend. Victoria Day is a national holiday. Although Victoria Day isn’t until tomorrow. Still with me?

P&O dumped us at Ogden Point, a container port, surprise surprise, outside of town. Only 15 minutes from town, this time, though, so that was nice.

We went into town and had a quick look around before trying to catch the Butchart Gardens Shuttle Bus. I got on and asked if someone on the front seat would mind moving back a row, so that mum could have a seat with more legroom. One man willingly made to stand up but the driver told him to sit down and said mum would have to sit further back. I got off and went back to the ticket booth and made a formal complaint. Particularly, bearing in mind that the front seats of all buses in Canada say “Reserved for limited mobility only” on them. It all might have been less confrontational, if we hadn’t already been standing for half an hour – fifteen minutes waiting for the bus and fifteen minutes waiting to board, while they dealt with existing passengers who had boarded without paying. What a farce. Mind you, the ticket agent thanked me for complaining. She said the driver was new and had been rude to her too! In the end, we got on the next bus and the entire queue was appalled by what had happened, so they were all happy for mum to board first and take the front seat.

When we got to Butchart Gardens, we borrowed a wheelchair and headed off into the park. We had a light snack lunch and then dad and I took it in turns to push mum around the Sunken Garden. A fellow passenger warned us to avoid the Japanese garden, as it was very steep and the rose garden isn’t in bloom yet, but what we saw was beautiful. I’ll have some aches and pains tomorrow though! We browsed the shop and then caught the shuttle back to town.

We had time for a brief wander and some shopping before heading to the Fairmont Empress Hotel for afternoon tea. Delicious. Absolutely lovely, although, oddly there was a hint of mustard in the cucumber sandwiches! I had Empress Earl Grey, Dad had Empress Blend and Mum had a decaffeinated green tea, the name of which escapes me, I’m afraid, which she seemed to like.

We then browsed some more shops in town, including several purchases in a shopping mall called The Bay. We even found an Aerosoles store for Mum. You should have seen her move! We went into a shoe store and asked if they had any shoes by Aerosoles. The assistant showed us what she had and then said “You could try their store downstairs”. You should have seen mum go! She left me and dad in her dust as she hurtled towards the lift! She bought a pair of shoes and so did I, just to keep her company, you understand…

We couldn’t find a restaurant for dinner, so we grabbed a cab to Fisherman’s Wharf, which we were under the impression had eateries. Turns out to be a houseboat village with a couple of cafes and some visiting seals, one of whom came to say hello to us. So I took lots of pictures of the seal.

We had a look around, admired the pirate ship moored there and contemplated a property purchase (420,000 CAD or about £280,000), and then caught the Harbour Ferry back into town. The Harbour Ferries are the most adorable and manoeuvrable boats we’d ever seen and we all fell in love with them. Our pilot, Mike, recommended the Flying Otter for dinner, so he dropped us there. We had a quite a wait for a waterside table, but we weren’t hungry after our huge tea so it didn’t matter!

NB. The food is very good but the refills are 50 cents each, not free! And do NOT buy a t-shirt. They cost more than dinner for three! (although not as much as a t-shirt from the Empress Hotel with real Swarovski crystals making up its logo…)

After dinner, it was simply a short but steep stroll back up to ground level from water level and we found ourselves just feet from the shuttle back to the ship. Easy peasy. What a lovely day.

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