Friday, February 25, 2011

Victoria and The Butchart Gardens

We left Vancouver today, this time to go to Victoria, still in British Columbia province. The trip started early at Pacific Central Station where got our tickets with Pacific Coach Lines for the transfers CAD44 (walk-in), all-inclusive. They do not allow prior reservations so we had to get early at the stations to make sure we have room for that trip.
 
From Vancouver, we stopped at Tsawwassen port, the bus boarded a BC Ferries ship to Swartz Bay. The crossing time took almost 2 hours before our bus was able to continue its journey towards Victoria.

 
Overall journey time from Vancouver to Victoria took around 4 hours. It was a good thing that in between there was a ferry service as we were able to get down from the bus and walk around.

The bus terminal was just nearby Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour Hotel, where we were staying for tonight before we leave for Seattle tomorrow.


I have booked for a 2 Double Beds Guest Room, City View, Low Floor but was upgraded by the hotel to a 2 Double Beds Concierge Level Guest Room, City View, High Floor due to my Gold Elite status in Marriott Rewards. The room rate was CAD99++ taking advantage of their Dine Around & Stay In Town 2011 promo rate. I would say that our stay in this 34sqm is a good deal!

Room view is superb! We can see a lot of Victorian style architectures from where we are!
 
Church of Our Lord as viewed from our room
 
Our agenda today was to go to Butchart Gardens. There were no tours operating for the gardens and it would be too expensive to take a taxi so we just took the local bus transportation.

As we wait for the bus, snow started to fall and for us who live in tropics, we found that amusing and actually played with them.

The bus fare was CAD2.50 per person. It took almost an hour for us to get there coming from Blanshard Terminus (Fairfield at Blanshard).

My mom and I took the Spring Prelude Special Offer which aside from the entrance, included a High Tea experience at the Dining Room Restaurant (CAD44.71 tax inclusive).

me
 
I have been to the gardens 2 summers back. Butchart Gardens today was very different from how I remembered it was. Before, it was so colorful as flowers grow left and right but today everything was mostly covered with snow. 
 
pig fountain
 
We immediately went to The Dining Room. Due to excitement, we didn't notice we haven't taken our lunch yet. It was mid-afternoon and just the right time to have our high tea.
 
If the whole place outside is covered with snow, The Dining Room was totally the opposite as it was very cozy and warm.
 
There weren't a lot of guests at that time. In fact, a couple was just about to leave when we arrived and we were the only one left at the place.
 
High Tea is considered as an early evening meal (or meat tea), a tradition usually followed by elites in UK and other British-related countries.
 
menu

As we pre-purchased our meal with our entrance tickets, we didn't have to order any. They instead asked for our preferred tea and took time to prepare our food.
 

As advertised, we are to have the following:

Signature ginger scone, served warm, accompanied by strawberry jam, whipped vanilla Devon-style cream and maple butter

Hot traditional delicacies: Cornish pasty, Roasted vegetable and cheese quiche, Chicken and mushroom vol-au-vent

Sandwiches and savories: Locally smoked wild B.C. salmon and asparagus pinwheel, Egg salad and watercress, Cucumber with fresh ginger cream cheese, Smoked tuna loin on curried mango chutney

House-made sweets: Chocolate and brandy Napoleon, Marzipan-wrapped Battenberg cake, Vanilla pot de crème, Lemon cheesecake tart with Port glaze

While waiting for the food, I took a chance to admire the flowers they grow indoors at the restaurant and the view outside.

Finally they served our teas, a kettle for each of us. I had their teaberry blend while my mom rose congou tea.
 
 
First they served is their signature ginger scone. My mom actually liked it and was glad they have provided the recipe.

Our food tower. At last I really was very hungry already by the time it came (as I find the scone bit sweet to make it my starter).

me
 
my mom and me
 
hot traditional delicacies
 
sandwiches and savories 
 
house-made sweets 
 
I am a "low maintenance" person and not usually do these "elite activities", but hey, it was a good experience for me and all the food served was good! Then we were lead to a series of historical displays they inside the house, which served as like a family museum.
 
 
 
After the high tea, we went outside to roam around the place. Unfortunately nothing much to see really as the flowers and plants were covered with snow.

Well, there were a few flowers peaking from the snow, but across the whole garden covered with white, it is a very seldom sight to see.
 
 
 
 

There was in indoor garden that we visited and is the only place where plants and flowers grow in abundance.
 
 
 
 
 As we go out, it was amusing to see that even the waterwheel was frozen at that point. During summer, I remember this is one of the places where a lot of people take their picture on. 
 
We took the same bus service back to Victoria and got off in one of the streets as we approached the city.

From there we walked around the city to check out the buildings and places around. The architecture of the buildings in the city are very beautiful. It may be old style but very elegant and classy.
 
 
 
 harbor
 
The Empress Hotel
 
 British Columbia Parliament Buildings

Queen Victoria statue
 
 Royal BC Museum

We got back in the hotel just in time for hors d'oeuvre (cocktails). The view from the hotel (same view from our room and the Executive Lounge) was simply marvelous at night!
 
The Executive Lounge was almost empty at that time. In fact, just one other guest and an attendant was there tonight when we had our hefty servings of food.
 
my food
 
We were tired already as darkness came. Instead of going out, we stayed in our room as the whole atmosphere and weather was very inviting for a good night sleep.

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