Victoria, BC Weekend (May 6-8, 2016)

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Conditions: Cycling Weekend
Gear: Road Bikes
Map: n/a
Area: Victoria, BC
Reference: n/a
Stats: 64.80mi, 2582' gain (for all 3 days)

It was Steve's birthday and I wanted to treat him to a fun weekend. I booked a hotel right off the ferry in Victoria, BC and booked passage for each of us and our bikes on the Victoria Clipper. Originally the plan was just a two day weekend but the opportunity presented itself to do a three day weekend so the plans got updated.

I drove to Steve's in the Green Lake area of Seattle. We loaded up the bikes with only that which would fit on them and in the panniers Steve had. It wasn't much...but then we didn't need much.
day1_coverDay 1: Seattle > Victoria
May 6, 2016

Cycling Victoria Slideshow

Bright and early Friday morning (about 6:30am) we had the bikes loaded up and we hit the road. We road down Roosevelt Way > Eastlake > Fairview Ave > Dexter > Wall Street and about a half hour later found ourselves right at the Clipper Ferry. We checked in and then unloaded all the gear off the bikes. We found a nice spot on the lower level of the ferry and we had a good sailing up to Victoria. Steve had a huge smile on his face. This was going to be a fun weekend...

The ferry left Seattle about 7:30am and arrived in Victoria about 10:30am. We went through Customs and then collected our bikes. After getting them all geared up again we road right off the ferry landing and up the hill about 2 blocks to our hotel, The Oswego Hotel. It is a little on the pricey side but we had the US/CA exchange rate on our side. We checked in and then chatted about what we would do the for day. First up was a short ride over to the Visitor Centre to see if we could find some cycling maps and recommendations. Then it was another short ride over to the Blue Fox Cafe for lunch. Then it was time for a good ride. We settled on doing a 14 mile loop trip first heading out on the E&N Trail and then connecting up with and returning on the Galloping Goose Trail. This made for quite a nice ride. Good paved trail. Not too much elevation gain or loss. Both trails look like they get quite a bit of commuting traffic. Just my kind of trail. After our trail ride we headed over to MEC to check out the Canadian version of an REI. We topped off the day with a trip over to a grocery store near the hotel where we got some fixings that we could bring back to our suite to make dinner.

Stats for Day 1: 23.50mi, 810' gain
greenlk_to_ferry ferry_to_hotel hotel_to_visitor_centre visitor_centre_to_blue_fox e&n_trail_galloping_goose_loop mec_to_grocery_store grocery_store_to_hotel
(click on map to view a larger version)
butchart_gardens_coverDay 2: Ride out to Butchart Gardens
May 7, 2016

Butchart Gardens Slideshow

Today was the "big" ride day. Even then, it wasn't too long which was nice because it gave us plenty of time to explore the gardens and boy oh boy was I glad we went to the gardens....

Now I've only been to Victoria once before but I've heard about Butchart Gardens for a long time. I'd heard they were class. We'll that's all correct...but what an understatement. Basically, this guy had a cement manufacturing operation and cement needs limestone. The west coast of Canada is rich in limestone deposits so the guys starts a limestone quarry there. By 1904 this guy, Robert Pim Butchart, has a home near the quarry. In 1907 Mrs. Butchart commissioned a Japanese garden for her estate. By 1909 the limestone quarry was exhausted and Mr. Butchart set out to turn the quarry into a sunken garden. The gardens grew, and grew, and grew to their present state. Butchart Gardens today is a designated National Historic Site of Canada. Butchart Gardens is ranked #4 on the list of the Top 10 Gardens in the World by National Geographic.

We hit the gardens in early May and I think we hit the timing perfectly. To say the gardens are spectacular is an understatement. We arrived about 11:30am and while the place was packed, the landscape easily absorbs the crowds. We purchased our tickets and headed first for the Sunken Garden. There were lots of delays getting there. There is color EVERYWHERE. We explored the Sunken Garden and then followed the map to make sure we covered as much of the grounds as possible.

At about 4:30pm we had seen so much color that we thought it time to leave, we still needed to ride nearly 14 miles back to our hotel and eat dinner. We reversed our cycling route to the gardens to get back to the hotel. I think Steve really enjoyed the gardens. I can see returning there some day. It is definitely worth the visit and price of admission $29.90CA ($23.10US). It might even be worth the 12 month pass ($58.70CA).

Later that evening we headed to Parliament Building which is nearby (Victoria being the capital of British Columbia).

Stats for Day 2: 27.60mi, 1004' gain (round trip)
hotel_to_gardens gardens_to_hotel
(click on map to view a larger version)
victoria_coverDay 3: Around Victoria > Seattle > Green Lake
May 8, 2016

Cycling around Victoria Slideshow

Today was a day to just wander and roam around Victoria. We had all day to wander around because out ferry didn't depart Victoria until 7:30pm.

We got up and first headed over to Murchie's Tea & Coffee which is one of my favorite places for breakfast. For me it was "simple" biscotti and a decadent mocha. Steve settle for just a pastry. After Murchie's we headed over to Craigdarroch Castle. It's an interesting place but does look like it's seen better years. Even's a wonderful old estate and worth the visit. We didn't buy a ticket for entry because we wanted to spend more time down at Government House which was downhill and next on the list. Government House if the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. The gardens of Government House were the attraction. We spent several hours touring the gardens (free admission). The rhodies were in full bloom and I thought I was going to loose Steve since he seemed entranced by the grounds and the color.

After leaving Government House it was time to head towards the ferry. We wanted to find a place nearby and Steve got a recommendation for Red Fish Blue Fish which was right on the water. The food was inexpensive and tasty. It's out outside eatery which was perfect since we had wonderful weather all far...

Finally, we boarded the ferry and crossed back over to the US. Another Customs check and then it was time to saddle up for the ride back to Green Lake. By now it was dark...just after 10:00pm and it had started to drizzle was we loaded the bikes up. The drizzle turned into full on rain. Thankfully while the 7 mile (45 minute) ride back to Green Lake was in the rain...the roads were nearly deserted.

What a fantastic way to end a great weekend...

Stats for Day 3: 13.70mi, 768' gain
hotel_to_murchies murchies_to_craigdarroch_castle craigdarroch_castle_to_government_house government_house_to_red_fish_blue_fish red_fish_blue_fish_to_ferry night_ride_back_to_green_lk
(click on map to view a larger version)

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