Because of a really old maritime law in the states, cruises originating and ending in the USA have to visit at least one foreign port. Victoria, British Columbia, was our token foreign port and because of our cruising schedule, sadly we arrived in the evening. To make matters worse, we were almost an hour late and by the time we got on the shuttle in to town, the sun had set and it was just about 8 p.m. Due back on board at 11, we only had three hours to see what we could--in the dark.
But the city of Victoria wasn't dark. Many stores stayed open late to accommodate the ships in port and the quaint street lights added a warm glow to the main area around the old Empress Hotel (built in 1908) and the legislative buildings. The legislative buildings were illuminated with over 3500 lights adding to the ambiance.
Victoria is the oldest city in western Canada dating back to 1843 when it was known as a Hudson Bay Company trading post. It's chosen name was to honor Queen Victoria and it is considered to be the most British city in all of Canada. So if you are craving that British tea and scones with clotted cream, you can drop into the Fairmont Empress Hotel's lobby and enjoy your high tea with a great view of the Inner Harbor.
This night the Inner Harbor was alive with a craft market and
street entertainers and surrounded by delicious smelling restaurants making me wish we'd opted to eat on shore although it would have been a bit late for us. Instead, we wandered up Government Street and enjoyed the shops and cafes and people watching. It was Saturday night and there were a lot of young people about having a great time together.
What we didn't get to see because of time restraints and the time we arrived in port were the beautiful gardens we have heard so much about. There was an excursion but who wants to see gardens at night even if they are lit up with twinkling lights as the brochure suggested?
Other points of interest besides the Butchart Gardens we would like to return and take in are the Craigdarroch Castle, the Legislative Buildings in the daylight, Beacon Hill Park, and of course the high tea at the Empress. There is a ferry that runs from Seattle to Victoria and lets you off right at the Inner Harbor. Since we are always looking for an excuse to visit our Seattle grandkids, it sounds like a perfect idea for some time in the near future.