Victoria and beyond
As our seaplane bounced along the waters of Lake Union past the colorful houseboats and the billowing sails of boats my heart skipped a beat. There is nothing more invigorating than examining a place you call home from a different vantage point because it allows you to come home with different eyes. The sun was glistening off the water, the skies were a brilliant blue and my husband and I were off on a much needed romantic getaway weekend sans children. As we passed over islands and skirted our way along shores my eyes were keenly enthralled with our journey. When you are up in a plane embarking on an adventure the possibilities seem boundless. After a short flight we were already serpentining our way back down into Victoria's inner harbor.
Upon disembarking we were swept away by our shuttle and driven the short fifteen minutes to our highly anticipated destination- Oak Bay Beach Hotel. Although Oak Bay is a short distance from the city it feels like you are miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Our spacious and sumptuous room opened up to sweeping views of Chatham and Discovery Island in the foreground and the San Juan Islands in the background. Our room's water view enticed us to take a dip in the heated mineral pools which are situated on the shores of the Haro Strait. Throughout Oak Bay Beach Hotel there are moments of pleasure to be had at every turn from watching a pair of bald eagles laze in the midday sunshine from your balcony, partaking in a cup of hot tea by the fire, savoring a treatment at the spa or curling up with a good book in your sunken tub.
The next morning we reveled in uninterrupted conversation and a hearty breakfast of vegetable frittatas and brioche french toast. As parents of young children we know there is nothing better in life than a good night's rest, hot food and being able to complete your sentences. Fueled for the day we met up with Mark from Hike Victoria and spent the day hiking at Gowlland Tod Provinicial Park. The peaks of the Gowlland Range from which the park derives its name loom high above Saanich Inlet. As we hiked along the snow covered trail Mark taught us about the local flora and fauna of the region and generously offered to snap our photo at each overlook. We were astonished how with minimal effort we were able to see a breathtaking fjord a mere thirty minutes drive and a couple mile hike from our hotel. As Seattle residents, we are accustomed to invariably hiking along trails brimming with people. We thoroughly relished a day of having both an informative local guide and the trail to ourselves. Feeling as though we had hired our own photographer for the day felt especially novel.
After settling into our room, we took a quick taxi ride downtown and boarded a bus to Butchart Gardens. We weren't certain what awaited us at the gardens since a mere two weeks prior we had a fairly legendary snowstorm. Much to our astonishment we were greeted by the gardens being covered in a thick blanket of snow. Undeterred by our snowy surprise we enjoyed a few activities unique to the garden this time of year. From the months of January to mid March guests are able to enjoy the Spring Prelude Indoor Garden and the historical displays in the family's original home. After gathering a plethora of gardening inspiration from the Spring Prelude we enjoyed a leisurely and restful afternoon partaking in Winter High tea. Shockingly, this was our first high tea experience and we enjoyed pots of steaming tea, miniature sandwiches and delectable bites of dessert. After stocking up on tea and flower seeds a short taxi ride later and we were back at our hotel enjoying a quick dip in the mineral pools before an unhurried dinner at the hotel. A candle lit, floral patterned room was the stage for our dinner and the over the next several hours we enjoyed course after course of distinctive food like sea scallops, crab cakes, and seafood bouillabaisse culminating in contented stomaches.
After a dreamy night's rest we headed back into the city for a quick shopping excursion and then boarded our flight home. Whenever we travel I like to find locally made items to take home to remind us of our trip later. Salt Spring Island Cheese is at the top of our list time and time again.