If you visit Vancouver Island plan on falling in love like we did – with Victoria. It was a most special day when we departed The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa to take a short break from beautiful British Columbia golf to explore Victoria Harbour. Arriving early for the Prince of Whales tour gave us a chance to stroll the streets. The Parliament building is one of the most impressive in North America and is the gathering place for many festivals. On this day, there was a very moving Police Memorial. Royal Mounties and ranks of officers prayed together, honoring the fallen and their families. Two bagpipe bands crooned their mournful yet hopeful respect and canons blasted on command, ending with a short parade and official dismissal. Hotels, shops and restaurants surround the Harbour where street performers entertain and artisans offer their crafts.
The Prince of Whales zodiac ride is not for the faint of heart nor the weak of stomach. Sit straight and hang on so the spinal column stays intact as the boat thumps to its own
rhythm over the ocean waves. It seemed like a far but scenic and thrilling reach before we spotted a spout out of the water and then the black and white of the killer whales. There turned out to be several pods diving in and out of the water, thrashing and feasting on unseen harbor seals then disappearing for moments beneath the ripples. As we scanned the water in all directions for reappearance, several “Shamus” sprung up in astonishing proximity. We all squealed, “They’re coming at us!” It was an exciting, scary and wondrous experience to witness these marvelous creatures communing so close. The return ride delivered more exhilaration as the waves had increased and so did the speed. Laughter mixed with, “oh my.” There is a reason we sign release forms for such adventures. Again, align the spine and pray, both for safety and gratitude for the experience of a lifetime. All aboard dismounted back at the harbor elated with the Prince of Whales.
Another rare and Godly treat in Victoria is The Butchart Gardens, over 100 years in bloom. The wife of a concrete plant owner was a painter with time on her hands and set out to make the quarry landscape pretty. Jennie Butchart dug deep in her soul and the dirt, collaborated with the best in horticulture and created what is still maintained as a kaleidoscope of colorful blooms, a symphony of sensuous scents. This lovely labyrinth instills a sense of blissful solitude. Clear umbrellas are supplied during rain. It’s actually a good time to stroll through. It’s less crowded and the flowers are very happy. Comforting chili, salads and sandwiches are enjoyed at fireside tables in the coffee shop. Check out the array of floral accessories and sundries in the gift shop.
Just down the road we suggest pulling in to Church and State Winery for a tasting. They are most famous for their Lost Inhibitions wines with 140 different sayings on crazy labels. They offer a white blend and a red blend, one saying, “Absofrickin-lutely Perfect.” It fit the wine and the destination – lovely Victoria.