Victoria is a thriving city on Vancouver Island and the capital of British Columbia. Vancouver (the city) is not on Vancouver Island and is much larger, but not the capital. Could be confusing. Victoria used to be a much bigger city than Vancouver, until the railroad terminus was built in Vancouver and Victoria became a relative back water. We have enjoyed this city at least twice before, so again, we took it easy while most of our fellow passengers visited Butchart Gardens, one of the premier horticultural showplaces in the world. Ken figured that two visits to these gardens would do it for his lifetime, so we wandered around town.
Old Victoria has some spectacular buildings, namely the Empress Hotel where one can still enjoy high tea, and the parliament building. In these post 9/11 times it was nice to wander around inside this building, enjoying the stained glass windows, carved wood paneling, and lavishly decorated dome with only a discreet guard posted here and there. The British influence is still very much present in the shops downtown. Mixed in with the ever present T-shirts shops were tartans and kilts, lovely cashmere sweaters, and sophisticated men's suits.
We took a long walk along the boardwalk past many new condo type buildings that had been erected since we were here last. They looked to be full of retired folks enjoying their view of the sea. Just when we thought we had walked enough, we spotted a ferry pickup point. These little ferry boats carry about twelve people maximum and seem to dart around Victoria Bay whenever someone needs a ride from point A to point B. As the day brightened more and more tourists arrived by ferry and the harbor front took on a carnival atmosphere with artisans and performers.
We were sad to leave this port, knowing that this was our last stop and it was time to cram all those purchases back into our suitcases. The captain hosted the farewell dinner which included free champagne and mixed drinks and everyone got jolly once again.