Girls Weekend Away!!!
This year for my mums birthday I surprised her with plane tickets to Victoria, BC…bucket list item #45. We are both working to check off a number of places from our lists that are in and around BC, and Vancouver Island was one of them. As neither of us had been before, and it’s relatively close to Kelowna, I thought it would be the perfect place for us to get away for a few days…without being too far from home. This was my first over-night trip away from Ollie and I was definitely a little nervous about it.
I planned for us to leave first this Saturday morning, with a return flight scheduled for Sunday evening. Yes, you read that right; we went on this Girls Weekend Away for a whopping 36 hours. Hey, if you’re anything like us though…you can see and do a LOT in 36 hours!
Our flight out of Kelowna was scheduled for the crack of dawn, giving us an entire day to explore the downtown area of Victoria once we arrived. Though Henry had already agreed to driving us to the airport, I question if he regretted that decision when I was waking him up at a cheery 4:45am on his day off.
As much as I would love to tell you that exploring Victoria was the highlight to this trip, I would sadly be lying. Victoria itself was fine! But I learned something important about myself on this trip…I am not a city person! Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy wandering around a metropolitan area every now and again. But, as a once in a blue-moon girls get-away…the city really did nothing to excite or inspire me.
Life lesson # 36…I am not a city person!
Perhaps as I’m getting order I’m truly learning to appreciate history more. That could be why I booked us into a hotel room that hasn’t changed much since the early 1900’s (a total blast from the past experience). And though Victoria itself does have a fair amount of history…it all felt very similar to the stories you hear across much of Canada.
My idea for the weekend had been for us to play tourist in a city we’d never been to before. Though we both enjoyed hoping on and off the double-decker sight-seeing bus and wandering around Craigdarroch Castle…we went to bed that night feeling slightly underwhelmed. We were in a port city…with the ocean just steps from our room and yet we couldn’t smell the damp salty ocean…we couldn’t hear any wailing gulls. Having spent plenty of time in other ocean towns, we were surprised by the lack of ocean feel. We slept with the windows open hoping the winds would change in the night and yet we woke to the same non-salty air.
With rain in the forecast for Sunday we really weren’t sure how enjoyable the remainder of our trip was going to be. But oh well…it had been an lovely time away just the two of us….something we hadn’t done in a few years.
‘Who needs sleep’…
We woke up bright and early Sunday morning (like 5AM…haha) and went to find ourselves some tea. Our game plan for the day was to walk to the Fisherman’s Wharf, check out the pier and breakwater, then head back to the hotel to check out and head to Butchart Gardens for the late morning/afternoon.
We woke to beautiful sunshine, a pleasantly warm March temperature and mostly clear skies. Meandering along the David Foster walk-way, we made our way towards the Fisherman’s Wharf. The Wharf has a very eclectic flair to it…a mishmash of colours and styles. Clearly a very vibrant and popular place in the summer months, visiting in the early hours of a Sunday morning in March, meant we had the entire place to ourselves (aside from those that live there of course). We wandered around and marveled at the life that these home owners must have. From tiny homes to multi-story floating B&B’s…there was a little bit of everything along the docks.
From the wharf we continued along the walk-way towards the pier and breakwater. The cool winds were starting to pick up and a storm was blowing in, but we wanted to at least get a few photos before heading back to our hotel. The views were spectacular. The horizon was dotted with the occasional transport ship amongst stormy skies and crashing waves. We sadly didn’t make it all the way to the end of the breakwater to the lighthouse, as we had to turn around before we reached the half-way point, in order to get back to our hotel before the storm hit.
Minutes after we arrived back in our room the skies opened up and the rain hit. It seemed like as good a time as any to hop in a taxi and head for the gardens!
OMG…have you been to the Butchart Gardens in Victoria?!? What an incredible place!
We started off by touring around the Spring Pre-lude exhibit…an incredible indoor oasis full of vibrant colours and plants from various regions around the globe. It was such an incredible breathe of fresh air (even though it was indoors), to see such bright and striking colours in full bloom…all while it was stormy and even snowing outside the doors. Complete with hidden nooks, multiple water features and a beautiful bridge over a pond full of koi fish, this was an amazing way to start our time at the gardens.
In true Mum & Jo style, we actually did the gardens backwards from what is suggested on the visitors guide…haha…go us! After leaving the Spring Pre-lude, we ventured through the rose tunnels towards the Japanese garden. The geeky, moss-obsessed photographer in me was over the moon by what we discovered. (Talk about #moodygrams and #gameoftones on my Instagram account thanks to this place). The Japanese garden was an unbelievable collection of meandering paths, bambo tunnels and bright red bridges.
Wandering around the gardens was the most incredible experience!
One thing we’ve learned and would suggest when considering any major tourist attraction, off-season or ‘shoulder-season’ is definitely the time to go. It was like we had booked the entire place to ourselves. During the 4 hours that we spent strolling though the gardens we only encountered maybe a dozen other people. We were lucky enough to spend half an hour in the sunken garden alone…talk about a chance to truly appreciate the beauty unhindered.
(A little insiders note…if you visit between January and March a small selection of rooms from the main house are open to the public. There is some incredible history inside those walls. And touring the house adds a wonderful addition to your time at the gardens.)
Come lunch time, we were ready for something to eat and decided that High Tea was a must! Being British, the idea of sitting down to enjoy fresh brewed tea with scones and mini sandwiches was an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up. And WOW…were we ever glad that we decided to indulge!
Though High Tea at the gardens is a little pricey, it is so worth the experience. The overall ambiance in the dining room is incredible…you can actually imagine what it would have been like sitting in the same spot some 100 years earlier. The fires were roaring and the music was at just the right volume to be heard without being overbearing. I’m certain if we lived closer, High Tea would become a yearly tradition for mum and I.
In the end, there were so many reasons why the highlight of the entire trip was our time spent at Butchart Gardens. As much as I had planned for the weekend to be about spending time in a new city, I was definitely questioning if I should have planned a Vancouver Island road trip instead. Perhaps venturing through the forests and out towards the coast..or something along those lines. However, our time at the gardens made up for a lovely overall experience, that we had on our rather rushed Girls Weekend. If we went back, we would do it differently….but that’s part of the fun of traveling and exploring new places.
(A big shout out to my wonderful hubby for helping to make this fantastic weekend happen by offering to stay home with Ollie.)
To see more photographs from this girls weekend away, check out our extended gallery at Lostlake Studios by clicking [here].