Over Labor Day weekend the weather forecast in the Cascades was for rain, as is the usual these days it seems. Wanting to escape as much of the wet as possible, and still feel like we had a vacation, we turned our sites north. To Canada that is. We took the ferry up on Saturday morning under beautiful blue skies and landed in Sidney, just outside of Victoria around lunchtime.
We went directly to Goldstream Provincial Parkto make sure that we got a campsite for the night. We decided to camp the first night, as the weather was supposed to be nice. The campground was very pleasant, with wide sites and a beautiful forest, and our tent was right at home.
The afternoon was spent eating lunch, and wandering around the harbor side in downtown Victoria, looking at all the Britishish architecture. We ducked inside the ivy-covered Empress Hotel, decided that the tea was way too outrageously expensive, and decided to visit the gift shop, and return for the free tour on Monday instead.
That evening, we headed over to Butchart Gardents, though we were unclear as to how the flowers would look at this sometimes awkward time between summer and fall. I’m glad we went though, as the dahlias were in full bloom and stunning. There was also a beautiful rose garden, Japanese garden, and manicured “sunken” garden. It rained on us a bit, but the well trained workers at the Garden were quick to hand out adorable clear umbrellas to everyone. Butchart Gardens is a very well oiled machine, with helpers always at the ready to hand out an umbrella, direct you to the nearest hot chocolate stand, or give away “blanket weights” for holding down your picnic blanket for the fireworks later in the evening. The fireworks show was one of the best I’ve ever seen, and it left me wide eyed as a little girl, as fireworks often do.
The following day we hiked up Mount Finlayson, which was in the provincial park we camped in. The trail was noted as being “steep, rugged, and hard to follow”. Since many trails in Washington are labeled as such, we didn’t figure it was much of a problem, so we weren’t really prepared when our “hike” tuned more into a Class III scramble! After much huffing and puffing, we pulled ourselves up to the top and took in the view.
Later in the afternoon, we checked into our hotel for the evening, The Oswego. The room was nice, though it had a weird, pull-down, Murphy style bed. After a short bike ride, we decided to check out a fish and chips place we had seen on our walk around the city the day before. The shop is called Red Fish Blue Fish and is run out of what looks like a shipping crate and positioned right on the docks in the harbor. We had thought it must be good to have such a large line the day before, and we were definitely proven right. Everything we at was spectacularly tasty, especially the coconut curry fish chowder. NOM.
Our final day was filled with rain and tours. We stared off touring The Empress, with an adorable tour guide named Margaret who was dressed in Victorian garb and an English accent. So CUTE! After visiting The Empress, we headed over to the Parliament buildings for their tour. The architecture and art were quite impressive.
Later in the afternoon, it was back to the ferry we went, and back to Seattle. It was wonderful to get away and finally visit Victoria.
(Sorry for the long post, we did lots of stuff and I take lots of pictures. Plus, brevity is overrated.)