Previously, I detailed how my Vancouver trip included a laid-back exploration of the city’s vibrant west side and downtown/west end neighborhoods. In addition to seeking out some of British Columbia’s slightly more rustic treasures, however, Mr Vix and I had two other goals to fulfill: find colorful plants in highly landscaped settings and observe Canadian hipsters in their natural habitats.
Hailing from a region where the descriptors “iconoclastic,” “weird,” “funky,” and “repurposed” are tossed around with both pride and derision, my travel partner and I were curious to see how Vancouverites lived/worked/played in settings known for fewer tourists and more attitude.
We were realistic about the hardships we’d face—including being surrounded by loads of appealing restaurants, bakeries, coffeehouses, and independent shops—but after securing our pith helmets and loosening our belts, we pushed forward.
Once we hit Commercial Drive, it didn’t take long to see that when it came to standing out, the stakes were high:
On Commercial Drive, it’s not cool enough to have a pristine vintage car: you also need Satan as your chauffeur
Luckily, having just watched comedian Simon King perform a set in which he shared his (hilarious, blistering) thoughts on “the Drive,” I was schooled in how to (theoretically) attend a poetry slam and one-up anyone who arrived on a bike decorated in Barbie heads.
Barbie heads with x’d out eyes.
Though it’s dubious I’ll ever be ambitious enough to steer my mid-life crisis in the hipster direction, I appreciated Mr King’s insights. Currently, however, I’m all about the intersection where bourgeois meets hip: food. Locally sourced, organic, family-operated, gluten-free, fair-trade, fusion…if that’s how you want to roll and the end result tastes good, I’m game.
Especially if cherries are involved.
Having gone wild for local cherries during our trip, we plucked more from one of the Drive’s many greengrocers to take home (and two sets of eyes were on the prize vs my rumpled clothes)
[As a fairly high-quantity purchaser of local cherries, raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries on this trip, I have to say with some regret but mostly glee that I deem BC cherries superior to Oregon's. Ours are quite good; theirs are extraordinary. We still reign supreme when it comes to strawberries, though.]
The day we were on the Drive, French-Tunisian won our lunch money. And not just because my (derumpled) Missoni-fabric-by-the-yard outfit coordinated with the setting.
An interesting French-Tunisian menu plus a great view of the Drive’s action made the Carthage Cafe our choice for a late lunch–but the flavors captured most of our attention
As I tottered toward the car with a belly full of chicken tangine, I realized that anytime I’m in an area described as being artsy or edgy, I encounter tableaux that make me want to squeal, “Oh, aren’t you just the CUTEST THING!”
Visual, consumer, and edible treats abound on the Drive
Of course I’m never sure if that’s irony at work or the desired response.
Rather amazingly, Vancouver seems to offer opportunities to reflect on social issues even when one swaps streets for leafier settings. One minute it’s all heirloom roses and fern grottos, the next, compelling biocultural art installations:
At the VanDusen Botanical Gardens, we came across artist Nicole Dextras’ captivating Little Green Dress Projekt (Earth Art 2012)
Somewhat confusingly, though, artist Nicole Dextras’ work made it both easier and harder for me to resist the wide variety of eco-friendly clothing for sale in Mount Pleasant/Main Street (SoMa) boutiques.
The silk saris that had been transformed into skirts and tops entranced my Persnickety Bohemian side, but I eventually managed to ignore them.
Main Street’s Mount Pleasant area, aka SoMa, is filled with shops (including Spirithouse, where silk saris have been refashioned into skirts and tops)
Then I offset the pain of saying no to featherweight multi-culti clothing by saying yes to ethnic food.
Also in resistance mode was Mr Vix, who abandoned yet another of the city’s temples to vinyl so we could continue exploring the zones labeled Riley Park, Little Mountain, Mount Pleasant, and/or SoMa.
While the decor of Bob Likes Thai Food demonstrates the warmer side of Main Street/Mount Pleasant, Red Cat Records & CDs is all about the cool
Sure, the Red Cat record store clerks may have eyeballed my [repurposed, thank you] top and [ancient but out-of-the-landfill] underlayer’d dress and wordlessly conveyed that they thought Mr Vix was taking a break from escorting his sheltered virgin aunt on a genteel sightseeing tour. But dammit, I wasn’t going to let that keep me away from admiring the neighborhood’s older homes and visiting the nearby Queen Elizabeth Park and its stunning gardens!
Besides: Queen Elizabeth Park, a former quarry site, really is a fantastic place. Multiple vistas of the city, great use of color and texture, and many an inviting spot to meander or rest.
What’s not to love?
Especially as I finally got to feel like a neighborhood insider when the flowers saw my blouse and gave me the half-nod that means “you pass, man, you pass….”
Just a short distance from the many charms of Main Street/Mount Pleasant, Queen Elizabeth Park offers visitors admission-free views of beautiful gardens
Next: Part 3 of A week of wandering in and around bold, beautiful Vancouver BC, featuring more and less rugged examples of British Columbia’s natural beauty
PSA: Get a probably NSFW taste of the bawdy Simon King during a Comedy Now show several years back or connect with him via his website.
Filed under: color, creativity, health + wellness, style over 40, travel | Tagged: color, Contrarian Classicist, Persnickety Bohemian, putting my photos to work, texture/pattern, travel, Vancouver BC | 3 Comments »