Today I accidentally slept in late because I turned the ringer on my phone down so low I didn’t hear the alarm, so instead I awoke to Mom throwing a bandana on me. We got ourselves all ready to go and stopped down to the Copper Owl diner for a quick breakfast before making the trek to Craigdarroch Castle. While we had hoped to make it the Butchart Gardens, they’re actually pretty far out of the city and we just didn’t have the time.
On the way we walked up Antique Row and looked in some of the shops, including Russel Books, which had amazing stacks of books that reached all the way up to their ceilings. Antique Row also had lots of pretty Victorian homes on it. I also accomplished one of my missions for the trip at a flag shop Mom noticed: a Canadian flag sticker for my laptop. We also stopped in to a record shop just to see if there were any Prince vinyls left; sure enough, they were totally sold out!
The castle itself was impressive. It was the family estate of the Dunsmuirs, a family from Scotland that made their fortune in coal. The matriarch, Joan, wanted a castle, so a castle she got. It was full of beautiful woodwork and art, and a surprising and somewhat perplexing multitude of chairs. The castle has served not only as a family home, but also as a conservatory and college over the years. There were pictures and stations explaining what different rooms were used for over the years, as well as museum-style installations. There were some pretty spectacular views from all the windows; I can only imagine what they were like before the neighborhood and city were built up around it. I learned today one of the reasons why older homes like Craigdarroch Castle usually didn’t have closets, which brings us to Weird Things I Learned from Other Travelers (or Tour Guides) Today:
For a long time, a home’s value wasn’t based off not how many square feet is was, but by how many rooms it had. Closets counted as rooms, so to save money on taxes, homeowners would avoid having too many closets, if any at all.
After touring the castle, we made the walk back down Fort, made a quick stop at the Bay Centre, and walked up to Paul’s to rest our feet, which after two days of intensive walking are killing us.
We meet up with Andrew at Pagliacci’s for delicious dinner! Their risotto bianco was fabulous! After dinner, Andrew took us to Roger’s Chocolates. The store has preserved the original interior and the chocolates were so tasty! After Roger’s, Andrew led us on a walking tour of places we’d missed. We went down Government Street, including Munro’s Books, which had lots of amazing tapestries and old architecture, and an old cigar shop that also had an old style Victorian interior. The Empress Hotel is under restorations, but we did walk inside to look around a bit. The woodwork and molding on the ceilings was so neat, and the Bengal Lounge was remarkable. It had big fans that looked like giant palm fronds on the ceiling, and pretty elephant-shaped handles on the doors. From the Empress we walked through the lawn of St. Anne’s, which is right across the street from the store Andrew’s mom used to run.
We finished up the night with drinks at a small local bar called Smith’s. I had a pint of Hoyne’s Summer Haze Honey Hefe, a local Vancouver Island beer. We all sat around, mostly talking politics and some of the differences between like here in Canada and the US. It’s interesting to hear from people like my mom and Andrew, who each grew up living almost entirely in one country, and contrast that with my life having lived and experienced both to a certain extent.
After drinks, Andrew sent us on the walk home down Broad Street towards Centennial Square, a place we hadn’t seen yet. Now, Mom and I are settling in for bed. She has an early morning tomorrow to fly back to Minneapolis, while I’ve got a decent chunk of the day to do some last minute exploring in Victoria before taking the ferry back to the mainland for a night in Vancouver.