I don’t always heart East Van.
Like last Wednesday evening when the neighbourhood exploded in sirens and unmarked police cars bombing down my street. A man was stabbed to death near the playground my son played at earlier that day. Or the time I was cheerfully baking cookies, heard someone outside my window and looked out to find the police with my neighbour on the ground at gun-point.
Those days, I don’t heart East Van so much.
Unfortunately, East Vancouver is known all around the world for one unfortunate reason – The sadness of the broken heart that is the Downtown Eastside. The intersection of Main Street and East Hastings is a land of lost souls, the discarded and forgotten.
It’s easy to paint the whole of working class East Vancouver with the same brush, but that wouldn’t be fair. It is a quirky cat, that’s for sure. Today found it shining in all it’s strange and wonderfully delicious glory. We are drinking the city up before we (hopefully) leave it behind for good.
First stop : The Food Truck Fair at the Waldorf Hotel on East Hastings
The Waldorf has certainly reinvented itself.
My memories of the Waldorf include the strangest wedding I have ever been to – A wiccan wedding in the basement tikki lounge with it’s murals of bare breasted women. The bride’s dress caused everyone to think she was a guest in costume, the bride’s mum officiated the ceremony wearing a racy red lace bustier, her cups seriously overflowing, the ex-wife and mutual friends crashed the party wearing neon wigs and the groom’s elderly mum kept reassuring everyone they were already legally married, not to worry, this didn’t really count.
I felt like a moron for dressing for a wedding and not halloween.
Typical East Van, really. Colourful.
Today was a little different. The parking lot was full of people and food trucks – mostly tacos for some reason, but also grilled cheese and an everything pig truck. How to choose?
I chose based on my hubby and son’s (in)tolerance for waiting in line. (I had what they were having.) It was beautiful. We went to Street Meet – hubs had a lamb burger and pork belly, I had a chicken burger and fried risotto balls. Yes, there were as good as they sound.
We took our food to Strathcona Park, which is beautiful, if a little sketchy. The folks who picnicked before us enjoyed a bottle of Brut aftershave. Really. The DJ spinning at the skate park serenaded us while we ate.
Next stop : Cottonwood Community Garden
Ridiculously beautiful. Seriously. What a gorgeous space.
The little monster wandered it’s many shade-dappled paths and we were greeted by some friendly hippie fruit harvesters who educated us on the mind-altering properties of unripe mulberries. Um. I was thinking more along the lines of jamming them, but ok.
The garden is in this strange, kind of industrial neighbourhood next to Strathcona Park. One of the many contrasts I love about East Van.
Last but not least : La Casa Gelato
I am so ashamed to say today was my first trip to the pink palace of ice cram, La Casa Gelato. How on earth has that happened?
They have 218 flavours on hand at any given time. TWO HUNDRED EIGHTEEN. Seriously. I saw everything from mint-lemon to wild mushroom and everything in between.
It was an absolute gong-show in the best way possible. The boy was in heaven. The music was loud and cheerful and it was absolutely rammed with people of all walks of life trying to make up their minds. I mean RAMMED. You could barely move. It was wonderful.
The little monkey even got a free baby ice cream cone, which he devoured.
The owner offered to keep my son (who was shameless flirting, as usual) if we ever felt inclined to give him away. I can think of worse places for a child to end up!
All in all it was a fantastic day in East Van.
I heart you, for today.