Vancouver Olympics 2010

Ok, I admit, it has been a while since I have last posted. Probably not the longest gap in posts, but I just never felt like sitting down and writing something lately. Even now I don’t necessarily, however, I have so many different events built up to post about that if I don’t post something now, I may never get to it.

Vancouver Ticket Pick-up 144  A few days before my last post I headed up to Vancouver, BC to pick up my ticket to see curling in the Olympics. It was a really nice day and there was no line at all when I picked up my ticket. I had gone early in the day with the expectation that I would have to stand in line the whole day, but no one was there. So I used that time to walk around the city and take pictures and enjoy it while no one else was there yet. This turned out to be a good idea since I didn’t end up walking around too much during the day when I went up for the actual event, so I was able to get some good shots of the city while I was there the first time. These pictures are added to my collection of Olympic pictures on Flickr.

The Cauldron

  If you have not taken Amtrak anywhere, I highly recommend that you give them a shot. This was my second major trip relying on the rails. The first was a trip to Portland that I took recently. (Wow, I just realized I haven’t uploaded any specific Portland pics to flickr. Well, you can check out the ones that made it in last year’s slideshow taken on Nov 5th, 6th, and 7th. These are just the ones which made it into the slideshow. Maybe I should post more some time.) But, I have had good luck so far with the train trips. They have power outlets at each seat. If you get their on time, then you have a chance a getting a row to yourself as well if the train isn’t full. Also, I was getting good 3G coverage on the trip to Vancouver. The 3G coverage on the way to Portland is really poor. At times not even getting Edge coverage.

Well, I arrived in Vancouver just before midnight, the day before my curling match. I had shifted my ticket to be the night before because a friend of mine had a pull out couch available where they were staying (I had found it next to impossible to find anywhere to stay). Once I got there, we proceeded to make a night out of it. We first went to Saskatchewan House in the Olympic Village. We followed that by a late night dinner / 4th meal at Yaletown brewery. While at Yaletown, we realized we were going to miss the last train back to where we were staying (last train left downtown at 2am). So in an attempt to then just make the most of the night, we head over to Granville area seeing some sites along the way. (Note the time in that picture. Crazy.) After that, we head over to the olympic store (which was open 24 hours at that point). EVERYONE it seems was looking for maple leaf mits for some reason. They had lots of kids mits, but none for adults. All sold out. After that (I think around 4:30), we then were trying to decide whether we pay the huge fee for a taxi, or just wait the extra hour for the first train. My vote (since I wasn’t about to pass out, and wanted to see more) was to wait and then head over to the cauldron. This is what we did. You can see the picture above. Well after that, a short nap at a local hotel lobby, and an early breakfast at Tim Hortons (as well as picking up lunch for the next day), we finally head to the train station to catch the first train. I would say we were definitely first. The train ride out was about 45 mins. It seemed like an eternity. By the time we were there, I was ready to crash.

Curling Venue (Wide Angle)

Well, the “next day” (really meaning about 5 hours of rest later) we awoke to find we completely slept through “check out time” and the cleaning woman had come in shocked to fine people asleep (whoops). We all quickly got ready, had a fast lunch, and head out. It turned out I underestimated the time it would take me to get to the curling venue. What was a 45 min train ride at night became more like an hour during the day (and these trains were PACKED). Then after getting downtown, I had to switch trains and catch a train on the other line to the venue (where I then also had to walk a mile from the station as well). I got to the venue about 10 mins late, only to find a line outside. Whoops. The line moved neither fast, nor slow, it was another 15 mins before I got inside. I quickly made my way to my “seat” (this term NEEDS quotes because I would call it more of a bleacher with a plastic flat portion sticking out a few inches to delineate where the assigned places were. But I was there, and I got to be AT an olympic event to watch the US team lose badly. I just wished that they looked like they were more involved. At one point most of the coaches and team were not even watching their own match. Sigh, oh well. At least watching Canada was exciting. I failed to realize when I bought the tickets that Canada would be playing. I would say 80% of the people there were only exclusively watching the Canada match (if you didn’t figure out by now, they play 8 teams / 4 matches at once). But that’s ok, I did at least have a view of all the action (see above). Though had a terrible view of the US match (though I suppose with them losing, that didn’t matter).

After all of this though I still haven’t gotten to the part I would call the most moving / iconic part of the trip. After the curling match, I head back to the city only to find that just about EVERY single place to eat was completely packed because of the USA vs Canada hockey match. Canadians take their hockey SERIOUSLY. While I would easily call Vancouver the nicest city I have every visited (I didn’t post it here, but there were just a  number of incidents where the people of Vancouver were overly polite and nice when they didn’t have to be to the hoards of foreigners coming for the games). They get VERY serious over hockey and around the US/CAN match was one time where I wasn’t going to offer up my nationality. So, every bar and restaurant (even coffee shops) was completely packed. Most with signs up saying they were closed until after the match was over since they were too full. So I found probably the only place in existence at that time without a tv or radio. By the name / style, you would think this is more of a food stand, however, they actually had places to sit inside and was kept up very well. It seemed somewhat new and was very clean (again they were also friendly there as well). So I had a Coney Island Dog, Mac ‘n Cheese, and of course a Stewart’s Root Beer. It was nice to sit and have dinner without the crowds or shouting, etc. Soon dinner was over and it was time to start heading to the train. (Actually I was late.)

I started walking back thinking of taking a train there (since my ticket gave me free rides all day that day), but for some reason I decided to walk the whole way there. I am glad that I did. My route took me down by the water and right past the arena where the hockey match was. You couldn’t help but know the score, everyone on the street was talking about it, most bars had the game blaring out the windows, and while walking, I past two jumbo screens setup at local parks for people to watch on just for this game. But the best part was that while I was walking, there were 3 points scored. The first that I heard was actually a tying point for Canada. I was JUST outside the stadium at that point when I heard what sounded like a fog horn go off inside. I was very deep and darn loud. A moment later, I heard the whole stadium (again, from the outside) erupt in cheering, and about 10 seconds after that (probably because of the speed of light), I heard just about every park, open window, bar, restaurant or otherwise erupt cheering as well. It was like the whole city just started making noise at the same time. I have never been ANYWHERE in my life where that has happened like that before, it was amazing. But it gets better.

You see, about 2-3 minutes later, I heard the same sound again. It was another fog horn, but while I waited for the cheering to follow, I heard nothing. The silence was golden. I knew this means that the US had scored, putting them in the lead again. And finally, JUST as I was about to get to the train station (another few minutes later), I heard it again. And again, the following silence was just confirmation that I was sure we were going to win. While I wasn’t going to ever pay the 30k on ebay for a ticket to the game (yes, that is what people were saying the tickets were going for), I feel my experience of it was just as good as any other US citizens who may have been walking around the arena that night as well. It was a great way to end the trip. Of course just about everyone on the train was from the US as well and the train was all shouting USA, USA, USA for a while before we left. Some guy ran outside the train holding a flag behind him as well. (They waited until they were past customs of course to behave this way.) I owe my friend a favor for agreeing to come get me after the trip back as well. You see the last train from Vancouver arrives just after the Seattle busses all stop. Leaving me with the option of parking downtown for several days (expensive) or getting a hotel (even more expensive). So in the end, it was a great time.

Stay tuned to this channel for some upcoming posts on hiking and biking around the area.


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