Saturday, February 6, 2010

Why I love Vancouver

Yep, it's spring already in this rainy city. Photo by Galit Mastai.

There are so many reasons to love Vancouver, but here are a few of them for those of you that need a pre-Olympics pick-me-up.

The weather

It's already springtime. One year I played tennis outside every week starting the last week of January. It's not uncommon to see our first flowers coming up in the middle of January. Yes, we'll have some shitty weather in February, and then it will rain until the end of April, but right now it's sunny. Here are some photos my friend Galit took recently in our Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood.

The neighbourhoods

Today, to enjoy the sun, we went over to Commercial Drive to grab some coffee and pastries for breakfast. I miss two things about Commercial after moving over to Mt. Pleasant last year: Italian cafes and Chinese grocers. I was once a denizen of Abruzzo, the best place to watch soccer in the city, and it feels very good to go back to order an Americano con leche para ir (the servers are always Spanish-speakers). We got our coffees, and while waiting were treated to a goal by Messi in Barca's match against Getafe.

Abruzzo, Magpie and Highlife, the Saturday trifecta. Sadly Magpie
closed down a couple of years ago.

From Abruzzo we wandered up to Fratelli's, an amazing Italian bakery at 2nd and Commercial. A spinach and feta brioche and chocolate croissant complimented the Italian coffee perfectly. From there we wandered back down the street, stopping at Highlife World Music to buy some records, a new offering in an excellent music store.

The bookstores

I've written before about Pulp Fiction, the best bookstore in the city, and I'd like to mention another. Bookstores, more often than not, accurately reflect the neighbourhood they are situated in. Like Pulp Fiction, like Little Sister's in the West End, the People's Co-op Bookstore on Commercial embodies this principle well. In addition to the standard fare, it also features local and Canadian writers, labour theory and queer fiction, and a great selection of magazines. Unfortunately they were out of Charles Demers' excellent Vancouver Special, a book I highly recommend to anyone with an eye on Vancouver's history and politics.

I tried to pick a good quote, but there are too many.

I almost never leave a bookstore without a book, so I apologize, PCB. I've been on a tear recently, and need to read the ones I already have.

It's home

On my way home from coffee, pastries and shopping, I stopped in at Tino's, my barber shop on Commercial. For $15, and about 12 minutes of my time, he gives me a perfect haircut with only the briefest of instructions. Here is a typical exchange:

Tino: A trim?
Me: Yep. Pretty short.

And that's it. Really. I'll be good for another couple of months, then when my hair's to shaggy again, over to Tino's I'll go.

Then I stopped in at Dollar Grocers for some Avalon milk and to say hi to Quoc (who asked for my autograph... guess I haven't been in in a while).

So, yah, the Olympics may suck for some folks who commute to downtown to work or need to take transit during the gold medal hockey game, and homelessness may still be a huge issue, and the Downtown Eastside may still feel like a warzone on occasion, and there are huge swaths of South Vancouver that deserve zero attention and gang warfare may spill over onto our streets, and it may rain for a month straight at times (for real, it did a few years ago), and there might not be many corporate headquarters and we may all dress in Gore-tex and it might be hard to find a slim-fit dress shirt...

But I sure love Vancouver.

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