The typical Thunderbird doesn’t fly to Hastings-Sunrise very often. In the northeast corner of Vancouver, it’s as far from campus as you can get (without stepping on SFU turf). Luckily “as far as you can get” in Vancouver is about an-hour bus ride, and while Hastings-Sunrise is primarily residential, this relaxed corner of town is waell worth the visit.
I will argue to my dying day that the 14 is the greatest bus line ever conceived on this good earth. This golden chariot of the proletariat goes through the liveliest neighbourhoods and the quietest, the youngest and the oldest, the richest and the poorest, all in the space of an hour. The 14 is the great equalizer, a symbol of what makes Vancouver great, and it’s also a direct line to Hastings-Sunrise from campus.
Don’t believe me? Believe the theatre kids. The 14 has a long-running play in its name centred around the kind of characters you meet on an average ride. Commit a serious Vancouver social faux pas and actually talk to your neighbour. That’s right — with words and everything.
In eight years of taking the 14, some of this writer’s favourite encounters are ex-marines, a herd of ravers who mooned the driver in unison and a kid so high that he accused a Danish tourist of invading Canada. It’s magic.
Or you could just take the 7, I guess.
If you’re looking for a place to sit down, the faux-retro The Red Wagon is the neighbourhood’s best-known restaurant, with a Sunday brunch line that stretches around the block. Guy Fieri ate here once and didn’t hate it – but have you ever seen Guy Fieri say no to a piece of food? Kinda throws his credibility into question, no? Anyways, get the pork belly sandwich.
Other favourites are Tamam, a laid-back Palestinian restaurant whose name literally means “delicious.” Accurate advertising — the grilled eggplant and halloumi is $8 of perfectly cooked heaven. Down the street, Petit Saigon is the kind of phở restaurant you wish your neighbourhood had. Wash it down with a Vietnamese coffee — iced and with condensed milk — and ride that caffeine high for the rest of the day.
Commercial Drive may have been recently crowned Vancouver’s little Italy, but the real dolce vita is round these parts. Start at Felicia’s: you might have to wait to get one of her famous calzone’s, but that’s because she handmakes all of them. An Italian’s kitchen is their castle, and brother, you’d best respect that she takes her damn sweet time.
Right across the street is Bianca-Maria, an Italian deli with all the crazy Tuscan culinary voodoo that my Italian relatives won’t stop talking about. Pick your bread, spread, meat and cheese, and they’ll make you a panini on the spot. Venture down the street to Cannoli King for dessert.
Speaking of dessert: Pine Tree Bakery makes a scrumptious coconut bun for less than a buck apiece. Grab a half a dozen and share with a friend. If you didn’t bring a friend, remember that you’re your own best friend and eat half a dozen coconut buns anyway. Self-love is important.
Just want a coffee? Saunter down to Pallet Coffee Roasters, grab a coffee, pastry, a friend and get cozy. Again, if you didn’t bring a friend, you’ll have to get cozy with yourself. Stare into the void. Face your demons.
Sights to see:
Whew, that was a lot of demon-facing. Good work. Now take a walk down to Pandora Park and enjoy the fact that a park named after a mythical Greek box of nightmares and torment could be so damn cute. Keep on walking down to the light industrial zone by the water and check out the closed-down Roger’s Sugar Factory. It’s beautiful in a post-apocalyptic kind of way – if you’re into that. Or just look at the ocean, free country.
Next, make an obligatory stop at The Flag Shop. As you may have guessed, they sell flags. But, like, every flag. Wanna rep the small midwestern state you’re from? They have that flag. Liechtenstein? They got it. St. Stanislas? That’s not even a real country, and they still probably have it. Hell, if you have the money, you can get them to make your own custom flag. You could be declaring a sovereign state by this time next week. Hasta la revolucion, baby.
Autumn in Vancouver means 1) red leaves, 2) pumpkin spice, 3) people talking incessantly about pumpkin spice and 4) people talking about how they hate people talking about pumpkin spice. It also means Fright Nights at the PNE. Go pay someone $22 to scare you shitless – it’s funnier and cooler than adding much-needed fibre to your diet.
Stock up the pantry:
If you’ve been subsiding off of top ramen for the past three weeks, this is your chance to break free. Hastings-Sunrise is home to huge Chinese and Italian communities and they brought their incredible cuisine with them. Whether it’s authentic Pugliese olive oil or quality shumai, this is your chance to take a permanent ride into Flavortown. Plus, your roommates will think you’re cultured and whatever.
Hit up the legendary Bosa Foods to find the closest thing to Italian heaven on the West Coast. Afterwards, get an espresso at neighbouring Ethical Bean Coffee to really live that European fantasy. Proceed to pay way too much for said espresso because you’re not actually in Europe.
Roll down to East 1st and visit T&T to experience the closest thing there is to true love. The supermarket chain offers a huge selection of foods from China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand. Your fridge — and life — will never be the same.