Our train pulled in to Vancouver on time Wednesday morning. We spent one rainy day there doing a less than informative trolley tour. Early Thursday morning we took a bus and ferry to Vancouver Island. I didn’t know that the huge city of Vancouver is on the mainland but the Capital of British Columbia is Victoria, a small city (78,000) at the southern tip of Vancouver Island and a 50 minute bus ride, 95 minute ferry ride and another 40 minute bus ride from Vancouver city.

Our B&B is three blocks from the seafront and six blocks from the harbor and center of town. I found it purely by accident but it is a perfect spot from which to explore the city. The Parliament buildings and the Royal BC Museum are just down the street as well as the very impressive old Empress Hotel. The architecture of the old buildings reminds me of Christchurch, New Zealand. I’ve heard Christchurch described as being more British that Britain.

Walking to the center and back we’re struck by the way everyone we meet says good morning or hello. It’s what we found when we visited American towns in the south although not in cities. I’m reminded of Ipswich in the way that motorists stop for pedestrians. On the other hand, pedestrians wait patiently at traffic signals for the walk sign. Such a civilized custom.

This morning we rented a car and drove to the Butchart Gardens about thirty minutes from Victoria. It is a Canadian National Historic Site and apparently world famous. The gardens cover 55 acres of what was a 130 acre estate. A limestone quarry on the property supported the owners cement company. His wife wanted to beautify it and over the years designed and planted multiple formal gardens including Japanese and Italian. The most interesting is the Sunken Garden that has been developed in the abandoned quarry. The view from the top is stunning. Once in the garden and looking up at the ivy and plant covered limestone walls it is equally impressive. I’ve visited gardens in many parts of the world but don’t think I’ve seen anything to match this one.

The Sunken Garden

The Sunken Garden