Here’s what I did during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver:
1. I went with a friend to Robson Square to see the new and improved skating rink. There was a good crowd down there that night. We stood on the steps leading down to the rink and there was a laser light show, music, mini-fireworks and some giant flame shooters around the Square. The nearest flame had to be at least 20 feet up and away from me high in air, but you could really feel the heat every time it ignited. The show only lasted about 10 minutes but it was fun. Oh yeah, two people went across the zip line — the first one was decked out in downhill ski gear with skis and poles and the second one was in hockey gear wearing skates and wielding a hockey stick.
2. That same night my friend and I continued on to the First Nation House on the plaza outside Queen Elizabeth Theatre. We walked right into the dome-topped theatre and listened to some excellent musicians. I’m not sure how they did it, but when we went back outside I looked up at the dome and they had projected the musicians onto the dome – you couldn’t see that from the inside. And because of the dome shape it was a bit distorted but I recognized the shirt of one of the musicians. It was pretty cool. (I went by the dome a couple of other times and they were projecting a live feed from the Olympics and some scenery shots of BC and Canada.) Of course there was a gift shop to visit showcasing a display of 4 foot high, carved wooden coke bottles, all decorated by First Nation artists. The statues weren’t emblazoned with the Coke label and at first glance, I didn’t even notice the ubiquitous shapes.
3. On a Monday night, my friend Sue and I and went to the Saxony House which was conveniently located at the Rowing Club right at the entrance to Stanley Park. We drank German beer served in a traditional glass beer mug ($9.00), ate a german sausage on a bun with an incredibly smooth, in both texture and taste, mustard (again $9.00) and I couldn’t resist a piece of German style apple cake – the plum cake was gone ($7.00 — at least not $9.00). We watched some live sports on one of many tv screens, listened to a bit of music – accordion of course, were forced to watch a travelogue film on Saxony – the MC almost cut off the last of a race we were watching but he wisely gave in to the cry of the crowd and let us watch a Canadian win the gold. The mood was good but the drinks were pricey – a common occurence found at many of the venues, some of which had entrance fees.
4. I went down to Granville Island on a Friday afternoon and went to The Candahar Bar – not to be confused with Afghanistan. It is was a piece of interactive sculptural art of ‘a detailed recreation of a Belfast public house’ based on various pubs the artist, Theo Sims, had attended. Two of the bartenders were brothers from Belfast. I stopped for a pint of a black Irish beer and a bowl of stew with soda bread. It was a quiet afternoon so there was an opportunity to talk with the bartender and I had a nice chat with an English ex-pat who was relatively new to Vancouver. Instead of the Olympics, you could watch horse races and other past sporting events from the UK. It was a nice bit of time travel to Dublin for an afternoon. It probably was the most reasonable venue – $5.00 cover charge but that included your drink of a beer or glass of wine. The Irish stew was only $5.25.
5. I went to one of the medal ceremonies at BC Place Stadium. It was fun to be in the crowd that night because one of BC’s own, a female snowboarder from Whistler got her gold medal. They also had a live feed from Whistler for several medal awards held up there. I had a spare ticket and luckily I met a woman in the ticket pick-up line and asked her if she wanted to go. Mary Rose, originally from Ireland, has been living in Vancouver for quite some time. We had a fun time talking about the games, Vancouver and just basking in some Canadian pride. A good time was had by all.
The operative words to my Olympic experience was ‘no line-ups’. There were masses of people lining up for hours to get into the Pavilions. There was even a 6 hour line for the zip line trek across Robson Square. I’m too old for line-ups, standing for hours and heavy drinking which was the main nightly events. I strolled around the downtown area a few times to take in the vibes from the crowd. There was always something to see – giant wraps on high-rise office towers, sculptures and everything Olympics. The people-watching was fantastic.
Those were the highlights of my games. There was excitement in the air. Everyone was happy, out-going and friendly. It was like Christmas in a way — all the anticipation in the lead-up to the games, except for 7 years, the Opening Ceremonies was equal to Christmas Day, the games were the Christmas holidays and the closing was like New Year’s Eve. Now we will have a little quiet and then some more excitement again leading up to the next holiday – the Paralympics. Although a lesser holiday, we’ll go through all the same stages. The January blahs won’t really hit until after the conclusion of the Paralympics. Luckily by then, spring will be in full force and that will keep the mood of the city up. We will be remembering this holiday for years to come. It was Expo 86 before this – I wonder what will follow?