Monday, July 27, 2009


Nelson was high on my list of must-see places with many praising its location and its architectural heritage. Beautiful landscapes with water and mountains and the odd bit of well-preserved historic buildings are an irresistible combination.

Having cycled the dry, hot lands from Radium Hot Springs around to Creston, the steep, forested hillsides, distant snowy mountain and cool, long lake was a refreshing contrast to brown grass and pines. Lupins and other flowers blossomed and thimbleberries (just like raspberries), blueberries and Saskatoon berries were everywhere for the taking. I'd gorged myself on raspberries and cherries in Creston but wild and fresh off the bush was all the more special.

A thunderstorm was looming overhead and I rode faster than I've ever ridden before to outrun it. When it caught up with me, I didn't mind as I needed a shower. All I had on my mind for the last 20km was finding a comfy bed. I didn't find that - every accommodation in desirable Nelson was booked out but I found a wedge of sloping grass in the council campground in town to pitch my tent.

Nelson, on a very steep hillside, kept me busy for a whole day, meandering around the streets and lanes, looking at the timber, stone and brick buildings (dating from the 1890's to 1920's) and seeking out scrummy organic beverages and food. Nelson was clearly a prosperous city in its heyday and still is but now with tourism and the artist and alternate community that resides there.

I eavesdropped and participated in some odd conversations with local astrologists and others into the weird and wonderful. I found it hard to keep a straight face at times but enjoyed the experience while the rain poured down. The Cottonwood Park markets were another hub of all the local colourful characters. I first walked down for breakfast. Lucky I'd packed some as Canadian markets start at a far more civilised weekend time of 9.30am (Brisbane's are around 6am) but I returned later for a fantastic pie in spelt pastry, homemade root beer and some baked goodies to take to the cohousing project that evening.

The multiple dramatic thunderstorms on the Saturday encouraged visits to cafes, galleries and the local library. Sadly I didn't find the local gallery and museum until after closing time.

I felt very at home in Nelson - leafy streets, organic supermarket (amazing array of bulkfoods to fill panniers with), organic bakeries, art galleries, yoga, local produce market, street festivals, bike shops and bicycles. I'm adding it to my list of favourites, now joining Haines and Haines Junction.

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