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Posted By Robin & Jim

Christmas in Victoria wouldn't be complete without a visit to the famous Butchart Gardens.  We visited the gardens by boat in early summer, and were astounded at the size and variety: an Italian formal garden, a Japanese garden, an amazing rose garden, and the huge sunken garden.  There are things to see in every season, even in winter when little touches like a small owl totem are easier to notice.  Locals recommended that we get an annual pass so we could visit the gardens as often as we liked, especially around Christmas.

butchart sleigh

We had heard about all the lights, but we wanted to see the gardens before it got dark.  The sunken garden is a favorite area, with a meandering path, cliff sides, a pond, and a small waterfall all surrounded by tall evergreen trees.  Here's what it looks like in winter during daylight hours - pretty, but without the explosion of color that you would see in the other seasons.

sunken garden before

And here is the view of the sunken garden at night...

sunken garden after

The theme throughout all the gardens was the 12 Days of Christmas, which you begin to discover as you walk around.  We saw the tree with sparkly pear ornaments... and there was a partridge sitting in it.  The two turtle doves were in a small cage... but the three French hens had a bit of whimsy...

3 french hens

I won't bore you with the rendering of the entire song, but we almost missed the four calling birds.  We saw this little grouping of birds - a cockatoo, parrots, and macaw with cell phones and didn't make the mental connection until a little later.

calling birds

We just loved it - lots of creativity, cleverness, and humor.  We were warned that the last element could only be seen as you drive away at the end of the evening... the drummers were animated in lights and there really were 12 of them arching over the driveway.  If you EVER get a chance to visit Butchart Gardens at any time of the year you must do it, but to see it at Christmas is the best. 

We were dressed warmly, but it still got cold after a while, so we took a break and had some dinner, then went back outside to hear the carolers and the brass quartet playing holiday music. 

butchart brass

I think it was most fun watching little children so excited, with their rosy cheeks and smiling faces.  Christmas is about being a kid, no matter how big or how old you are.

We wish you all a very Happy Holiday season and a Joyous New Year.


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

Where are we?  We're now settled for the winter in Victoria, BC on the south end of Vancouver Island. 

map

You might notice that Vancouver is at the top of the map, on the mainland... not on Vancouver Island.  The yellow line is the US-Canada border, and the group of islands under the "RES" of our boat name are the San Juans.  We traveled as far south as Tacoma, and much farther north than this map shows in this first season of cruising the Pacific NW.

Here we are at the dock - decorated for Christmas, with the lights of Parliament in the background.

adventures decked out for the holidays

Victoria is a lovely small city, and it really goes all out for the holidays.  The first big event for us was to go see Tuba Christmas - a 40 year old tradition where musicians of all ages come together to perform.  It's a very special memory for us since we always went with our friends the Halls to hear Ed play.  We even trooped up to NYC one year to hear him play on the ice at Rockefeller Center!  We loved hearing all the music and getting into the holiday spirit, despite the fact that this year Victoria was in the midst of an unusual cold snap - the temp was 20 degrees.  Imagine holding a big chunk of brass and playing in that!  (Today we're back in the mid-40s - typical winter temps.)

tuba christmas

With frozen toes but a bounce in our step we headed home to watch the boats gather for the evening's lighted boat parade. 

parade boats gathering

The sailboat approaching the dock turned out to be the star of the parade.  He had an animated Santa that popped out of a package, with balloons that floated up.

best boat

We've participated in the Annapolis boat parade (cold!) and enjoyed watching them in the balmy Florida Keys.  Despite the bitter cold, Victoria's parade did not disappoint, and it only started after the amazing lighted truck parade moved through town!

parade

There is a lot more to photograph around town - all the pretty lights and decorated store windows.  Now that it's warmer, it's much more appealing to go out with my camera after dark. 

It has been pretty quiet around our dock, and we were hoping to meet more liveaboard neighbors... but there don't seem to be many, and people aren't outside as much in the colder weather.  We're working on finding people and community that we can connect with for the winter months, and I'm sure we will.