Enjoying The Butchart Gardens and High Tea at The Empress
Writing this from Victoria, British Columbia aka the sister city of Ottawa, Ontario where I’m from. It’s been a while since I visited Victoria and believe it or not, I’m at the Laurel Point Inn which is a fine establishment that I organized an Annual General Meeting at 6 years ago in my “previous life”, random isn’t it? Besides that walk down memory lane, spent the day strolling around The Butchart Gardens and slowly sipping on cascade peppermint tea. If you like peppermint gum and loathe caffeine, it’s simply the best choice at The Empress, I assure you…
Today was the first real day of the #ExploreBC road rally. Myself and Brendan met in the lobby at 7am and we headed to the ferry for Vancouver Island. From what I hear it’s very similar to Portsmouth ferries in the UK. After a two short hour ride we were in Swartz Bay and on our way to the Butchart Gardens, what a place. I’m not a big garden guy but that place was serene and if you’re depressed or sick, I think it will heal you! It was like walking around holding hands with Eckhart Tolle while he read me “The Power of Now”, for real. That sorta sums it up but there is more…
The Butchart Gardens were created in 1904 by Mrs. Butchart in an effort to take the old worked out quarry site that was owned by her husband and transform it into something beautiful. The gardens occupy 55 of the 130 acre estate and it’s are mind blowing. The amount of care and consideration is just astonishing. I spoke with one of the gardeners and she told me that in high season which is approaching, there are usually 500+ staff and I believe it.
There are numerous sights to see but some of the most popular are the Japanese Gardens, Sunken Garden and of course the Rose Gardens. Personally, I fell in love with the Sunken Garden and there is this massive mound in the middle that you can climb up via a well placed staircase and overlook the entire Sunken Garden in all its splendor. I’m not exaggerating that it’s a place where I found myself sitting on a bench with a smile and a clear mind as though I was a vegetable, very relaxing.
I wouldn’t go there with my friends but I most certainly would with any other company I keep now or in the future. Long story short, I recommend you visit and I’m very glad I had the opportunity to see it. I saw these kids chasing butterflies or something, they seemed so happy but I digress… That said, supposedly it’s even more beautiful in mid July, we are still technically early in the season, fyi. The plants sent a sort of sonic boom through my brain but supposedly it’s even more of a scene in full bloom, makes sense doesn’t it?
After that we made our way to the Laurel Point Inn that is situated in the downtown core of Victoria. I really love this place and as you know, I have a history here. I wish I remembered the ladies name who I did all that work with countless years ago but let’s be real, things change and nothing is constant who knows if “she” even works here anymore? Suffice to say the place is top class and when I was parking the car with my hooded sweatshirt a lady asked me if I was the painter, ha.
Not long after checking in we were off to The Empress for High Tea. It’s basically a fancy sitting area where people slowly but surely sip their tea, eat their cucumber and ham sandwiches, scones and divine desserts. It’s the kind of place where you arrive with someone special and enjoy each others company surrounded by opulence and have every opportunity to ask the more than helpful staff for anything your little heart just may desire. I really enjoyed it but could see my parents loving it if that makes sense to you?
I’m 100% off the caffeine so I opted for the cascade peppermint tea, I can’t even write that while keeping a straight face but yeah and guess what, it was delicious. It’s naturally decaffeinated and I’m a convert. In case you’re wondering The Empress is run by the Fairmont and it’s one of the iconic buildings in the harbor area, you can’t miss it and it’s a stones throw from the Parliament.
The time is 4:49PM and I’m getting ready for an interesting evening that starts with a ferry ride from the Victoria Habour Ferry that will take us to Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub and Guesthouses. I’ve never been there so I really have nothing to say on the topic, strange I know. We’ll see where the evening takes us and I’m only sure of two things right now and that is that it involves beer and a ferry, the rest is unknown aka the way I like it…
I’m here with the Explore BC Project, to learn more visit the Tourism BC Facebook Page and look up #ExploreBC on Twitter.