QV2018: Day 7: Butchart Gardens and Victoria, BC

31 10 2018

We were up early and grabbed our bagged breakfasts from the hotel ready for our 7:15am bus ride to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. We were on the 9am sailing, and our bus was the first one on Deck 2 with all the trucks and other large vehicles — that meant we were the first off! Some of us braved the cold, wind, and rain on Deck 7 (the open deck, with some sheltered areas fore and aft), while others hunkered down inside on the lounge chairs on the much-more-comfortable Decks 5 and 6. Deck 7 was brisk and bracing — just perfect for waking up! We landed at Schwartz Bay, some 90 mins later, and were soon on our way to Butchart Gardens.

It’s been 30+ years since I was last at Butchart Gardens. I think I was there in summer, with all the summer crowds. Coming in autumn was so much better — not many people, the gardens had been washed with the overnight rain (which continued for the first 15 mins or so after we arrived), and it was in full autumn colour. Just stunning. We had nearly 4 hours there, and I walked for close to 3 hours, before having lunch and visiting the gift shop (I didn’t buy anything). One thing that was an excellent touch was the provision of see-through umbrellas for guests — you could pick up a brolly at the entrance, and there were several stations around where you could drop your brolly if you no longer needed it, or pick up one if you did. No extra charge. (NOTE: Many hotels and tour buses also provide umbrellas for their guests — in a city that gets a lot of rain, like Vancouver, that’s an added bonus.)

After Butchart Gardens, we headed towards Victoria, stopping off at a quilt store along the way. Well, what an eye opener that was! This was a random stop, not reconnoitered earlier by our fearless leaders, so they were as surprised as us as to how long it took the person behind the counter to calculate our purchases. Eventually, Michelle stepped in behind the counter and did the cutting while the shop assistant did the money. But it was all so antiquated in these days of point-of-sale/inventory systems! First, she wrote down on a paper spreadsheet each item purchased (one item per line…) — customer number for the day (I was 16), code number of the item purchased, quantity, and price. Then she entered each of those prices into a till from the 80s that was basically an adding machine with a drawer. Mine was easy — just a couple of fat quarters, But for those who bought yardage, she had to calculate the price, then deduct the 20% discount for the sale price, then add the tax etc. all on a handheld calculator and when that failed, on her phone. Then sometimes the till wouldn’t give her the correct change price, so she got all flustered and had to calculate that by hand. One other strange thing — Michelle had phoned ahead at least an hour before to see if they would take a busload of eager shoppers. But when we got there, the other shop assistant held open the door for us, then left, leaving the one person to manage sales for 20 women. Why she left, I have no idea.

After more than an hour waiting for everyone to get served, we were finally on our way to Victoria. We drove through Beacon Hill, and saw the Mile 0 marker for the Trans Canada Highway, and the Terry Fox statue there. Then down to the waterfront, stopping outside the Empress Hotel (now without her coating of ivy!). Back on the bus and through Chinatown, then back to the ferry terminal for the 7pm sailing back to Tsawwassen and on to the hotel, arriving around 9:30pm.

Capt James Cook

Capt James Cook, Victoria, BC




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