For those of you who know me, you know that I spend the summer living at home with parents and the rest of the year living in the Greater Vancouver Area while I go to school. I originally moved to Burnaby when I was 18 and a brand spanking new first year student at Simon Fraser University. I lived in dorms then, but my living spaces would shift all over the place. For a time I lived in a basement suite on South Granville, a suite new BCIT, with my then boyfriend just off of Kingsway near Metrotown, just off of Hasting’s and Holdom and a few other places. Since moving away from home I’ve moved 15 different times over the space of just under 6 years. As a result, I’ve fallen in love again and again with the cities that make up the Greater Vancouver Area. Here are my top 5 favorite places in no particular order:
1. 135 and N35 bus routes to and from Simon Fraser University to Downtown Vancouver – Why? Because it’s the most interesting route to take of them all! Not only do you get to see one of my favorite areas of Burnaby along Hastings, but the 135 SFU stops right outside of my favorite used book store which is a walk away from my favorite butcher which is very close to my favorite food market. I love this route simply because it has so much character. From Boundary road on you notice an almost immediate change in the environment as you stop and go along East Hastings and see a place that sells $7 hunting knives, a bar called “Funky Winker Beans” and another used book store that usually has all sorts of treasures in it. However, my favorite reason why I love this bus line is the fact that it often gets the most interesting people on it. I can’t count the number of times I’ve made a new and fun acquaintance or friend while taking a late night 135 or N35 back to SFU. Also the 135 stops near the PNE and a 24 hour sex shop…need I say more?
2. The SFU rooftop above the Maggie Benson Centre – Having lived in 3 separate dorms while going to SFU (Shell House, McTaggart-Cowan Hall and C Tower) I know that SFU can be a sick, sad and very depressing pike of concrete salad. Seriously! Try living on a campus that sometimes looks like it’s trapped in a black and white scary movie where all you ever see is drab buildings with fog always floating around. It’s not fun. There is a big “BUT” to this dreariness,thankfully. You see, in my first year I was awake at 6am every morning to go for a run before my classes started for the day. I would run from residences over to Convocation Mall and up the stairs that led to the koi pond where I would do a Rocky dance at the top of the stairs before turning and running back to residences. It wasn’t a long run, nor was it an interesting one because of all the c-c-c-cold concrete everywhere. So one morning I decided to run back to dorms across the rooftops and wow. I saw a city blanketed with fog so that only the tallest buildings were peaking out of the sea of fog while a vibrant pink sunset shone over top of it all. I fell in love then and there. Whenever I would feel down, needed a place to be alone or was just downright bored, I would head to those rooftops and look out over Vancouver and I would dance. Moments like those demand dancing.
3. The Lonsdale Quay – This was another gem that I discovered in my first year at SFU. I was hung over and visiting a friend and after a stomach rolling Sea Bus ride (I loved the Sea Bus despite that) I stumbled into the Quay. After quickly exploring the market and nearly barfing from the smell of all the fresh seafood, I went off to meet my friend with a self promise that I would be back. And hours later, I was back and fully exploring this new world within a world. I got fresh, but expensive fruit, chocolate peanut butter cups and a cute necklace for a dormmates up and coming birthday. It’s actually where I go to buy fresh pasta whenever I’m in the mood to actually cook a great bowl of pasta. Mostly I just like the market atmosphere and will usually make my way out to the Lonsdale Quay once or twice a month just to hang out with myself and sometimes others. That and I’m always interested in seeing all the different fish on display and am convinced that someday I will make myself eat something seafoody from there…someday.
4. Waves Coffee House on Hastings and Richards – I didn’t find this place until well into my third year at SFU. At the time I was living at SFU and working at Vera’s Burger Shack down in South Granville. It was a freaking one and a half hour commute! On two buses! My long commute led to me pushing to work longer shifts which led to me working closing shifts. Thankfully I had friends in low places who were more than happy to meet up with me after my closing shifts and drink the rest of the night away…or at least until I had to leave to catch the last N35 bus home. One of these particular nights I needed to detour from my usual route because I had to pee and I had to pee “RIGHT NOW!” as I yelled at a friend over my phone while I frantically tried to remember where I last put the 7/11 that was close to my bus stop. I searched high and low while steadfastly refusing to pee in an alleyway as my friend was urging me to do. Finally, as my bladder was about to burst from the 7 or 8 double vodka/Red Bull’s that I’d downed, I found salvation. It’s name was Waves Coffee House and it was open 24/7 and had a washroom. And brownies. How can you beat fresh baked brownies, a clean toilet and free wireless internet? At that moment I didn’t think that you could and I swear the angels sang as I sat there peeing to my hearts content with a fresh and chocolatey brownie safely stowed in my shoulder bag. Waves also turned out to be a great place to hide from the world and pull an all nighter writing a paper though it still mostly remains a drunken pit stop so that I can pee and get my brownie.
5. Commercial Drive – Seriously, grab yourself, grab a friend, grab a pet or grab a stranger and walk along Commercial Drive. I started visiting here after I’d failed out of SFU and had started taking courses at Douglas College. For whatever reason I was making my way to work at Vera’s one day when I realized that I’d taken the day off the week before for whatever reasons I scheduled days off from work. I was bored and figured that since I was out of the house I might as well go and get Booster Juice. I flipped a coin and wound up at the Booster Juice location that’s right inside the Commercial Drive skytrain station. From there I noticed a clothing store that looked interesting and from there I noticed…lots of places that looked interesting. I’m actually still exploring C-Drive, but every time I go back I find something new and fun whether it’s great donairs, a fun cafe or just really fun people who I make silly faces at for the Hell of it. There isn’t enough I can say for this stretch of street except that you should just go there.
There you have it! 5 favored places of a 20-something Burnaby girl! They may not be the most awesomerest thing you can do while visiting Vancouver and area, but to me, they’re among the best way to spend your time, smiles and bladder.
Note: I’ve been sick and sleeping through my usual writing time and anything that I’ve written has been sub-par and therefore not posted. Trying to develop this habit of writing every day is tough to say the least. However, I am determined that by the end of this ear, my something everyday will be as natural to me as shooting free throws and farting.