Victoria/Empress end of April

Feb 28th, 2004, 11:30 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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Victoria/Empress end of April

We will be staying a few days at the Empress at the end of April. We'll be there for sentimental reasons so I've already read that the rooms are small, etc. We'll be visiting Butchart but I would like to know if there are any other gardens in the nearby area that one can tour. Also, would it be a mistake to have at least one dinner at the hotel? I think we'll have a car for two days and spend the rest of the time on foot, etc. How expensive are the horse drawn rides? Worth it? It's been 25 years since I've been to Victoria--am I in for any nasty surprises? Thanks in advance.
wantstotravel is offline  
Feb 29th, 2004, 02:15 AM
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I think you will be surprised by the number of panhandlers on the streets, the weedy/garbage-strewn highways and the lack of green space.

Drive down the (weedy/garbage-strewn) Island Hwy and turn off at Colwood to visit Hatley park and castle, which will be on your left as you head toward Sooke. It's free except for parking (at least last time I was there) and should be quite lovely in spring. In some ways I like it better than Butchart's. It has a Japanese garden, Italian garden and beautiful grounds. Some pictures are at:

You can stroll around the Lieutenant Governors mansion in Rockland for free. Not nearly as grand though and probably better when the roses are out.

In the same neck of the wood, roughly, is the Abkhazi Garden, which used to be someone's yard.

If you can only fit in only one garden besides Butchart's I would choose Hatley.

Victoria Carriage Tours shows prices from $70 to $180 on their website.
I've never been impressed by the food at the Empress.
April is offline  
Feb 29th, 2004, 06:21 AM
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Here's another vote for Hatley Park. It's absolutely beautiful. And yes, it's free, although the parking is metered.
I'm not sure Victoria is quite as run-down as April indicates. I was there last summer (headed back in about 2 weeks) and found it as lovely as ever. I guess it depends on what you're used to; if you live in a big city and are accustomed to panhandlers and a bit of litter, it's not as bad as all that.
The UVic campus doesn't have formal gardens, but the bunny-rabbits are fun to look at, and they like it if you bring them carrots. (Yes, I know, there are lots of people who say they shouldn't be there. But they are very cute.)
Meesthare is offline  
Feb 29th, 2004, 04:18 PM
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Thanks. I'll look up those websites. The carriage rides sound a bit spendy. We live in Alaska so seeing panhandlers and garbage unfortunately won't be new.
wantstotravel is offline  
Feb 29th, 2004, 10:43 PM
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They have that in Alaska? I should have mentioned Beacon Hill Park is within walking distance of your hotel. Not a garden exactly but you can wander through it for free. Along one side is the largest heronry (over 90 nests) on the island.
April is offline  
Apr 5th, 2004, 12:59 PM
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The Finnerty Gardens at the University of Victoria will be in their peak blooming season when you are there. The rhodos, which are always spectacular, are just coming into bloom now. There is no admission charge. Here is a link to their website
Roma is offline  
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