Around Town: Touring Vancouver

Photo by Magnus Larsson, Creative Commons
Photo by Magnus Larsson, Creative Commons

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No other time is as bittersweet as late August. The last vestiges of summer linger amongst the telltale rains and winter boots. Wind replaces sunshine, and tank tops trade for sweaters. As the days get shorter, the school year looms. The atmosphere changes in more ways than one as everyone realizes there’s not much time left to enjoy summer.

While much needed relaxation turns to near frantic determination, kicking back starts to be less of a pastime and more of a goal. Campgrounds fill, flights are stuffed and the city tries to escape from itself before the leaves start to fall.

There’s so much a Vancouverite can do with the last two weeks of summer. Most people are either partaking in their own shenanigans in the city or getting as far away possible for as long as possible, but for those still kicking it back home, never fear. Escaping from the city can be as simple as venturing deep into it. Alongside whatever summer farewells you’re all up to, try something new. Maybe consider becoming a tourist in your own town for an hour or two and join one of the many Vancouver walking tours that no one seems to know about.

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Sins of the City: Vice, Dice, and Opium Pipes

You really can’t argue with a name like that. Led by the Vancouver Police Museum, this two hour tour has less to do with law-enforcement than it has to do with crime. Through the streets and alleys of the oldest parts of the city, Sins of the City resurrects the darker side of Vancouver’s history by revealing the opium markets, brothels, gambling houses, bootlegged liquor and other dirty laundry of our streets, showing a whole new side of a seemingly clean city. Edgy and absorbing, Sins of the City is perfect for both the passionate Vancouverite and the history nut. See the contrast of a near century, the now shining city of Vancouver and the sins from which it began.

This tour is 16+.

The Lost Souls of Gastown

Forbidden Vancouver is exceptionally entertaining in the way they blend history with theatrics through lively tour guides that enjoy enthralling their audience. Guides are half tour leader and half performer, blending character and history easily.

With its glass and sheen and clean streets, it’s hard to imagine Vancouver as anything other than what it is now. The Lost Souls of Vancouver tells history through stories -bawdy-houses, plagues, fires and murders, that shaped the turn of the century streets. The tour takes you through what is left of these tales. Tour guides take attendants through Gassy Jack, Klondike Kate and John Bray, unravelling a late 1800s Gastown murder along the way.

A Wok Around Chinatown

A relaxed tour, A Wok Around Chinatown is about the culture of one of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhoods. Led by Robert Sung of Robert Sung Tours, participants are taken through the markets of Chinatown, seeing the neighbourhood from a more culinary perspective. Sung reveals where to buy food, herbal medicines, teas and cookware in the small but delightful markets. Other attractions include the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and other historical landmarks. The tour includes a tasty dim sum lunch in Chinatown.

Tour Guys Vancouver

It’s not a specific tour, but these guys have a few to choose from. They offer a casual show of some of most interesting neighbourhoods and streets of our fair city, informative for the most knowledgeable Vancouverites. See art, history, environment and culture and, best of all, see it all for free. The Tour Guys, amazingly, offer up their services for free and for pick up along the way, drop in and drop out. With a price tag that can’t be turned down (don’t forget to tip your tour guide, though) and testimonies from people across the board, Tour Guys is definitely worth a look on a lazy day.

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