Gastown is interesting – equal parts hipster haven, cheap tourist shops and outdoor homeless shelter. New and cool surrounded by old and run down.

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The parts that David and I loved were the unique restaurants and brew pubs, eclectic shops and the general vibe all around. The Fluevog shoe store was great fun to see (in part because of the limited edition little space robots they were selling).

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Tourists take photos of steam clock that chimes on the half hour (we never stuck around to hear that), and we laughed at “Gassy Jack” – the namesake of this part of town (and as a Jack, who has occasionally been gassy in my life, it could be a new nickname).

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And then, you walk smack dab into a group of addicts clearly tweeking on something, a random drug deal, the smell of piss in the air as you pass an alley…or you get asked – aggressively – for spare change every five steps. This is not unique to Vancouver – it happens everywhere. But it is very prevalent in Gastown and no one is hiding anything. You can’t ignore it, and you shouldn’t.

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I didn’t really know what to do with the feelings that seeing people in distress brought about in me. It’s sad. It just is. And sometimes it made me nervous and I was glad David was with me. We didn’t take any pictures of people here out of respect, because that would be wrong.

But we did take this picture, because we both glanced at this “Glory Hotel” sign and thought it said “Glory Hole.” And we giggled.

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