Our Honeymoon Journal
     Entry 12 - 1 September 2000
Vancouver, then ferry to Vancouver Island, through farmlands to Victoria. Overcast with some light showers.  Click here to see what the weather is like today in Canada.
  Sightseeing on Vancouver Island (Victoria)

Vanessa A couple of observations about Vancouver and Canada:
  • French is very much the other language in Canada. Nearly everything seems to be written in both English and French - even down to shop dockets and labelling on jars.It's weird how the light switches work in reverse.
  • Light switches follow the USA standard and work in the opposite direction as to how they do in Australia.
  • The traffic light boxes in Vancouver are painted yellow, not black.
  • Some cars don't have separate turning indicator lights but are wired to use the red brake lights as indicators (the same as in the USA).
  Today we had an even earlier start than yesterday as we wanted to catch an early ferry across to Vancouver Island. The weather was rather grey and it was spitting a light rain - the forecast was for light showers. This didn't please us, but of course, there was nothing we could do about it except hope that it would clear a little as the day warmed up. To save time, breakfast was a meagre affair on-the-road - a couple of items purchased at "Country Style Donuts and Fresh Food Ideas" and eaten while sitting in the car in the shop's carpark.
  For a while, it seemed our rushed breakfast may have been in vain, for we were stuck for quite some time in traffic on the main highway that led south to the British Columbia Ferries' terminus at Tsawwassen. Three lanes of heavy traffic had to merge into one. I think the delay was because some lanes in a tunnel we had to go through that were normally for southbound traffic were given over to the huge amount of northbound traffic coming into Vancouver.
  There were a lot of people waiting for the ferry.Even with the long delay, we managed to get to the ferry terminal with some time to spare. I was most impressed by the terminal. It reminded me of an airport as it even had a control tower! The whole place was very well organised. After purchasing our ticket, we were told which lane to wait in. There were rows and rows of cars lined up, parked, waiting to board the ferry. Many of the drivers and passengers were out stretching their legs - some people were even walking their dogs, even though it was raining a little at the time. There was a large video billboard for information about the ferries and it also had music clips for entertainment and local advertising. You can tune in to the sound on the car radio. When the signal was given, everyone hopped back into their cars and the lines of traffic drove onto the ferry.
  Those ferries are huge! We were parked on level four - I think there are a couple of levels designated purely for vehicles Chris didn't trust the quality of the power supply...(mostly cars and buses). Above that are two more decks (decks five and six) for the passengers. People are advised to leave the carparks for safety reasons - though I did notice a number of people stayed in their vehicles. The ferry has a video arcade, restaurant, cafeteria, coffee cafe, gift shop and play areas for children as well as the spaceous seating areas. There are also ATMs on board, ship-to-shore phones and even powerpoints where you can plug in your laptop!
Chris I briefly toyed with the idea of getting the laptop from the car just to plug it in and play around for a while, however I had no power filter to protect the machine. That the ferry had a clean power supply was something I doubted greatly.
Vanessa We supplimented our breakfast with a few items from the cafeteria and then spent the remainder of our time on board exploring the ship and taking a few photos. The trip to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island lasted about one and three quarter hours and we went past some beautiful scenery. Leaving the ferry was much like boarding it. The exit was like a freeway with two lots of lanes of traffic flowing onto the shore.
  Our main aim for today was to visit Butchart Gardens. Chris had been there once before in 1992 when he took a day trip on a bus tour from Vancouver city across to the island. He is not that interested in gardens or gardening, but he had been thoroughly amazed by the place and had been adament that we go there on our honeymoon. I love gardens and gardening and I can honestly say I was almost moved to tears by the beauty of the place. Chris said it had become much more commercialised than when he had last been there. In addition to the expensive restaurant and tourist shop, there now was an auditorium/outdoor stage area which has reduced the size of the rose gardens. There are also nightly fireworks shows.
Chris As Vanessa mentioned, I've been to the gardens before. From memory the bus tour gave around an hour to see it. I recall that I was too rushed, so the opportunity this time for a more leisurely pace was welcomed.
Vanessa There were still lots of roses to see, even though it was off season for them.The garden itself is breathtaking - and we were there at a time when many of the flowers were past their prime. The garden is made up of many different kinds of gardens, including an old quarry that had been made into the beautiful "Sunken Garden", a rose garden, a formal Italian courtyard style garden and a Japanese garden. There were so many different kind of plants! I recognised many of them as they grow at home in Queensland, but of course there were many plants I didn't know. Apart from being enraptured by the garden, it was interesting listening to the other tourists. Many were obviously gardeners - bending over the wonderful flowers and commenting wistfully to their partners how these plants don't grow at home. (Myself included!) Chris and I spent a number of happy hours wandering through the flowers and trees. Needless to say, we took lots of photos. The day had warmed up nicely, and even though there were still a few clouds about, it didn't rain.
Chris It's possible I might have got carried away here with the number of photos I took. I believe we took a bit over a hundred photos here, of which I did about 70.
Vanessa Lunch was at "Smitty's" family restaurant, conveniently located at the turnoff from the main road to Butchart Gardens. It was a late lunch (2.30pm!) and we were both ravenous. Chris had a sweet 'n sour chicken skillet (too much capsicum) and I had a very nice roast beef with baked vegetables.
  After an hour or so's drive through pleasant farmlands, we arrived in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. Victoria does not appear to be a big city as there are no tall skyscrapers. There are, however, lots of wonderful old buildings. We found our motel and checked in. As I was not feeling well (another bad sinus headache - too many pollens from the garden?), we rested in our room for a while.
  There were lots of people walking their dogs in the park.Fortunately, my headache eased with the help of some painkillers and I was ready for some more sightseeing. We drove around Victoria for a while and ended up watching the sun set over the water from a park at Beacon Hill. It was very pretty and romantic. When it was dark, we drove through the city centre and saw the Pariament Building and the famous Empress Hotel all lit up with thousands of tiny lights.
  Dinner was at a "White Spot" restaurant. I chose the "original grilled chicken" meal, which was very nice. Chris had a Japanese-style prawn dish with Thai-style dipping sauce and a green salad. The waitress who served us had been to Australia. She told us that she'd been to Sydney, Brisbane and, of all places, Lismore! She apparently has some friends there.
  It was about 10pm when we got back to our room. While we wrote up the day's events in our journal, we turned on the television and watched the weather channel. (There were 117 cable channels, but our TV only got 40.) We were interested to see that there were daily pollen counts - hayfever must be a serious problem over here. I can certainly relate to that! Of most interest, however, was the weather reports concerning the areas that were next on our itinery - even though it was still Summer, it had been snowing!