Vancouver’s West End Amazes With Giant Pocky and World Class Art

Photo Credit: Matthew Presidente

Photo Credit: Matthew Presidente

Think you know all the West End has to offer? Think again. Sure there’s the stunning forest trails and seawall walks around Stanley Park, the aquarium with its cute sea creatures and educational programmes, and on sunny days, the trio of sandy beaches which wrap around the park are unmissable.

However, there are plenty of hidden gems in the West End that even some of the locals don’t know exist. From a dazzling blown glass sculpture by world-class artist Dale Chihuly and Canada’s only outlet of Malaysia’s favourite baked treat, to one of the most photographed crosswalks in Canada it’s all here, you just need to know where to look…

Photo credit: Westbank Corp.

Photo credit: Westbank Corp.

Dale Chihuly

You don’t need to go to Seattle’s Chihuly Garden and Glass museum in the shadow of the Space Needle to see some of the glorious glowing colours of Dale Chihuly’s famous blown glass artwork. Tucked away on a quiet corner of Bute and West Georgia Street at the entrance to the Residences on Georgia, the Persian Wall is made up of ornamental blown glass flower-like discs of shimmering autumn colour encased in glass with a water feature in front.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Alley Library

Look for the rainbow pavement paintings on Cardero street between Comox and Nelson and you’ll find the Alley Library –or Alibrary– a little red-painted wooden box lined with books, CDs and other media that’s left for anyone to take and enjoy. Part of the fun is leaving something for someone else to take home and read too. When I last visited, some of the gems on offer included everything from a collection of love poems, a comic novel by British writer Keith Waterhouse and a Dan Brown tome. The Alibrary is part of a city-wide project funded by the Vancouver Foundation and City of Vancouver.

Photo Credit: D@LY3D/Flickr

Photo Credit: D@LY3D/Flickr

Papparoti

Halfway down Robson street on the corner of Nicola, you’ll find the only Canadian outpost of one of Malaysia’s most beloved baked goods, the Papparoti bun. The cafe is usually packed with happy ex-pats and new bun devotees chowing down on fresh-from-the-oven buns and cups of milky tea. What, you may ask, is so great about this bun? Well, bite through its crisp sugary coffee-ish shell into the soft buttery bready-y wisp of deliciousness inside and you’ll see. Beware: these buns are absurdly addictive!

Photo Credit: West End BIA

Photo Credit: West End BIA

The Rainbow Crosswalk

You’ll find another Canadian first in the West End on Davie Street – a permanent rainbow cross walk, but don’t forget your camera, because this double rainbow where Davie meets Bute is probably one of the most photographed in the city. The rainbow crosswalk was painted to celebrate Pride in 2013 and has become a much-loved part of the gay village and Davie Street community. In summer, a half-block section of Bute transforms into a pedestrian-only parklet and rainbow-coloured picnic tables pop up to perfectly match the pavement.

westend3Konbiniya

Part travel agency, part grocery store, part dessert cafe and all-awesome, the Konbiniya store on Robson, also known as ‘The Pocky Shop’ for the giant packs of Pocky on its storefront has long been a local’s favourite for the sheer variety of unusual Asian goods that it stocks, and its legendary low-cost/piled-high matcha green tea parfaits from the Bon Crepe cafe at the front of the store. If you’re looking for something quirky for a present, look no further: the selection of bizarre Japanese candies is outstanding (anyone for wine flavoured gummies or green tea Kit Kat microwavable desserts?) and it’s a must for all fans of Hello Kitty, and of course, Pocky.

Do you have a West End secret to share? What’s your favourite place?

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