We had driven through Victoria on our way to Seattle a few weeks ago and it had just left us wanting more. British Columbia’s capital is truly a beautiful city that we had the chance to visit during the first weekend of December. From its British architecture to its impressive garden, it certainly did not disappoint.
We started our visit in Craigdarroch Castle. It doesn’t look like much on the outside, but the inside had my eyes open wide as saucers as soon as we crossed the front door. No expense was spared in the construction of this castle; just the fireplace located right in front of the door probably cost more than my car. I had no idea what the castle had been built for or when it was built, to me it was just a pretty building that I had seen while looking at pamphlets on the ferry to Port Angeles, but as we made our way around and up the castle, we learned about its history through dozens of boards. It turns out the castle was built by the Dunsmuir family, immigrants who invested in the right things at the right time and became one of the richest families in Canada at the time. The castle was later used as a hospital during the World War and as a university later on. You can visit the Craigdarroch Castle website to learn more about the Dunsmuir family and the history of the castle.
After hours visiting the castle, we made our way to downtown Victoria to see the parliament and tourist shops. We were lucky and got to go on a horse drawn tour of the Downtown area. These tours were organized to celebrate Christmas and were totally free. It rained all afternoon, but it didn’t stop us from going to see the Fisherman’s Wharf. It is a very pretty and original neighborhood made of about a dozen houses that float on the bay. The houses are multicoloured and decorated in all sorts of styles. Since it’s wintertime and the weather was awful, no one was there, but the little booths, shops and restaurants make me dream of a hot summer day, eating ice cream while walking around the floating houses and keeping an eye on the water in the hopes of seeing a whale or a friendly duck or two.
After dinner, we drove our frozen solid butts to Walmart to buy some more warm clothes. The rain had found a way into our coats and boots and the 0 °C weather had almost frozen our will to see any Christmas decorations at night. We decided to go for a movie and walk to town after the film, when the streets would be mostly empty and we could feel our fingers again. We saw Disney’s latest animated film, Moana! I could talk about it for days, but that’s not what you are here for. Just go see the movie!
We kept our promise to ourselves and took a walk downtown at night and it was totally worth it. First, the rain had stopped so it was actually comfortable outside. Second, the decorations are absolutely beautiful! Being from Quebec City and having visited Disney World at Christmas time, I am kind of used to Christmas decorations being all kinds of amazing, but the lights on the parliament were just incredible. To make it simple, there were lights everywhere! I couldn’t have hoped for a better end to my day… except, maybe some Christmas music to put us even more in the Christmas spirit, but we took care of that! My singing voice may not be the best, but there was no one there to complain. Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree, Thy leaves are so unchanging!
We didn’t have a lot planned on day 2 because we wanted to take our time driving back to Comox to stop at the lookout points, but we had kept the best for the sunny day! We left early and arrived at Butchart Gardens at 9. We literally opened the park.
I had heard that it was beautiful, but I had not expected it to be so big. We spent more than four hours in the park, walking around, taking hundreds of pictures, and going on the Ferris wheel, of course. Unfortunately, the pictures don’t do it justice, but the cloudless blue sky with the bright green trees and the multicoloured Christmas decorations were simply gorgeous. My favourite part was the Japanese garden with its waterfalls and red bridges. I can’t wait to see it in the spring when all the flowers are in bloom!
When we finally got back to the entrance of the park it was almost two in the afternoon and time to leave Victoria, but our visit wasn’t over. We stopped at every lookout point on the way back and it was one of my favourite thing about this trip. We got to take our time and look at the amazing view while enjoying the rare rays of sunshine at this time of year.
We will have to go back to Victoria at one point before the school year is over, but for now, it’s time for Christmas break and a little vacation back home in Quebec City. I can’t wait to see where 2017 will take me!
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