There are two types of travellers: one who believe in ‘strength in numbers’ and then there are those who love a quick independent tour of the place. Throw in a bicycle and a holiday is made. This is exactly what I did in Gastown in Vancouver, Canada. The stunning British Columbian city had a lot to offer and I soaked it all in. Here’s what I found about the city astride a bicycle.
Cycling along the popular sea wall route, the popular Stanley Park and the busy Robson Street stirred up quite an appetite and a quick refreshment in one of the al fresco cafés brought up the history behind the town that had an old European vibe all around.
Gastown –Vancouver’s birthplace, its history dates back to the 1800s and to Gassy Jack Deighton, a Yorkshire seaman, steamboat captain, who later came to be known as ‘Gastown’s father’. He arrived here in 1867 to open his saloon and in no time his success attracted many other businesses too. Luckily, the town’s seaport location offered mammoth advantage for every kind of business and this finally led to a rise in population and later a couple of decades later in 1886 the town was incorporated as the city of Vancouver. A neighbourhood in particular was named after him—Gastown. Also, for everyone to see, Gassy’s statue is at the same place where he opened his business, right on the corner of Water and Carrall streets.
Speaking of Water Street, one can’t ignore the most popular landmark of Vancouver—the historic ‘steam clock’. Yes, it’s exactly as how it sounds, it is powered by steam, built and designed in 1977 by Raymond L. Saunders, a Canadian clock maker. It is also the world’s first steam engine clock.
It turns into a cynosure every 15 minutes as it begins to whistle, blowing steam becoming a thing of amusement for people around. Tourist, young or old, everyone waits patiently for their turn in long queue for pictures with the clock. I definitely didn’t sit back on this one. Post clock there were endless cafes, restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and art galleries to explore. Also to explore in the neighbourhood, the passing and docking of cruise ships and sea planes at Canada Place waterfront, just a few minutes away.
I won’t go so far as calling it some fairy tale land but one thing is sure, the place would look like a dreamland during Christmas. The place just has too much character to not be a perfect destination for a white Christmas. I may just try that one out too.
Gastown is minutes away on foot from Vancouver’s waterfront station from where one can catch not only trains heading all over the city but also sea buses; Next to the same station is Canada Place, downtown’s lively square facing the waterfront.
There are also several hotels favouring different budgets in Gastown and around. Pan Pacific at the Canada Place or any of the three Fairmont Hotels close by are some great luxury stay options.
Avoid buying souvenirs from Gastown shops as they are a bit expensive from several other neighbourhoods but do try the creative cafes and restaurants of Gastown.