somewhereawesome #19: Exploring the East of Van: Sunrise in Hastings

Hello East Village! After a few month living in Vancouver I finally made it to this part of town. One reason why it took so long was because I got scared when I see the Hastings street for the very first time. Because it really depends on which strip you are.

view to downtown
view to downtown

The “poor area” begins right after hip Gastown – when you walk a couple of blocks up you are in Downtown Eastside, where residents living in tents in the park and selling and buying staff or drugs on the street. The contrast couldn´t be any bigger: You are coming from fancy and touristy Gastown and in the next moment you are in the middle of one of the poorest and dirtiest areas in North America. You see homeless people, drug addicts, prostitutes and diseases all over the place.                                                                                                                           Meanwhile I am quite often here (it´s my daily commute to my work at JJBean in Railtown) and after a while I really got used to it. Actually I was more sad sometimes angry to see all the poor and lost people right in front of me as they have given up their lives. For me it belongs to Vancouver and shouldn´t be ignored. It´s of course a big issue in the politcs and they already made some progress, but there are so many challenges remaining. The rich would like to build houses, offices and hotels in that well located place, extend the chic Gastown area and much more. On the other side there are communities and the government who are under pressure to provide more housing and services to bring down the number of unsheltered homeless. Mayor Gregor Robertson promised on his election race in 2008 that he was going to end homelessness in the city by the year 2015. Not much time left and it doesn´t look like that he will achieve his goals…

spyhole – the “behind”

It takes you about 10-15 minutes with the bus and you are within the district “Hastings-Sunrise” which is also called the East Village, an increasingly vibrant pocket that runs from Commercial Drive to Renfrew Street.Welcome to a completely different neighbourhood! Here you find old one floor heritage storefronts with little shops, cafés, grocieries, butchers, thrift stores…It’s not fancy, but has absolute charm and it´s own character.  It´s said that East Village is “the next hip, affordable place to live within minutes of the downtown core.” ( it is comparable to my home district “Obergiesing” in munich!)

After exploring the area for 2 days my first recommendations are:                        Eat a fish burrito at Tacofino Commissary (the Tofino Taco-place again), drink coffee at the sunny East Cafe and have dinner at the Red Wagon. Between food, there’s a lot more to do – like hanging around at the New Brighton Park and enjoying the view to the nearby Northshore mountains, riding the Hastings skatebowl or driving the wooden roller coaster from 1958 (maybe not – looks not very sturdy) at the Playland (the oldest amusement park in Canada). Just keep walking and you´ll find so many more different things…