Sunday, 28 February 2010

Winter Olympics, 12th-28th Feb 2010

February 12th was the start of 2 weeks of absolute madness in Vancouver. Olympics you say? They are just the Winter Olympics! Well that's what we initially thought anyway, its strange. I guess coming from a country that mainly focuses on the Summer Olympics, you forget the Winter Olympics are actually something important as well. Now I'm just sounding ignorant but actually I'm not haha, 2 weeks before the Olympics it felt like any other city, then all of a sudden a week before the city was starting to buzz and so were we.

Friday was the opening ceremony, I had finished a night that morning and Cam finished work at 5.30pm, we didn't really think about this day. Thought we would just head out and find somewhere to watch the opening ceremony, however every man and his dog was doing the same thing. After heading around for ages and not being able to find anywhere, we decided to join all the other people with the same problem and watch the ceremony on the street, in the rain, being projected onto the side of the sears building. It actually worked out quite well and it was a great atmosphere.

So its the end of the ceremony and we find out unexpectedly that they are going outside to light another cauldron, so we are watching the guy (Wayne Gretzky) with the flame travelling in the back of the car. We can see what streets he is passing and realise he is coming towards where we are all standing. Its funny you look around and see the expression on every bodies face, its like one big penny just dropped. People are looking at the screen, then down the street to where the car is going to drive past, then back to the screen. When the flame finally goes past the street everybody just decided to start running, they're running down the middle of the street after the flame and the car. I'm not just talking about a few people, this is about 10-20 thousand people, running down the middle of the street, a street which is open to the public I might add. The cars just don't know what to do, there are thousands of people in the middle of the road, they just have to sit there ofcourse. It was the most fun and crazy experience ever!! Everyone is yelling out, screaming and running down the street, reminded me of the scene in Jumanji where they are being chased by animals, it was madness, but awesome!

We finally arrived at the waterfront after a 1-1.5 km run, unfortunately the cauldron had already been lit, but we were just in time for the fireworks. There was a huge pile of people yahooing, and singing the national anthem, with the cauldron and the fireworks in the back ground. This, I could tell, was going to be the start of 2 awesome weeks. We headed off for dinner and a few drinks after this to Cactus club.

I was off for the weekend so we decided to head out and about to experience some of the fun. Saturday our first stop was Granville Island. Most of the teams in the Olympics had a venue set up all around Vancouver, it was called their house. The Swiss house and Atlantic Canada were set up on Granville Island. The Swiss house was too busy to sit down in so we headed to Atlantic Canada where we had dinner and several drinks before heading on.
We were told NZ didn't have a house but there was a bar called Sin Bin where the athletes were hanging out so we walked there. Unfortunately it didn't look like any Kiwis were there, actually it didn't look like they were supporting Kiwi's at all. Oh well we still watched some of the moguls, had a few drinks and met these Canadian girls that had friends in NZ. After a few photos with them we left for town.

Once again it was very difficult to get into anywhere with out having to queue for ages, so we just wandered soaking up the atmosphere, town was crazy! Every night they had special events on at Robson square. This is an area right in the middle of town that they hadset up for the Olympics. This night Jeremy Fisher was playing so we stood around listening to him for the rest of the evening. We did attempt to get into the Irish house, but as it was 1pm and it closed at 3pm we didn't really want to pay $20. So we went home.

Sunday was Valentines day, we had a booking at Seasons in the Park a beautiful restaurant at Queen Elizabeth Park which over looks Vancouver from the top of a peak. During the day we went to Plaza of Nations, an area set up with foreign foods and a big screen for watching the Olympics of course. We hung out and had lunch, watched some Olympics and took a stroll around the waterside. Of course there were loads more people as there are a few Canadian Province houses down here. We couldn't get into the Russian house so queued for the Canadian Houses.
After walking around the Ontario and Quebec house, we stopped in the Saskatchewan house (easy to draw, hard to spell) for a drink and some music. A nice relaxing day so far. We didn't have too much time till our dinner booking so went to Doolin's for some drinks and to watch the final of the Mogul's (my favourite event in the Olympics). It was pretty awesome the Canadian came through in the end to beat the Auzzie, pretty good we all thought! We weren't even in a room filled of Kiwis either. After this it was time for dinner, as usual the meal and view were fantastic from the restaurant, we even got to see the fireworks from Livecity Vancouver from here, a bonus. All together another great day.

Unfortunately work got in the way of things again, it was back to work for the week. Monday night we did head down to Robson Square to watch the firework and display there. We didn't realise until the Sat night that they actually did this show every night at 9pm, we had arrived just near the end of it that night so came back to watch the whole display. It was actually really good, can't believe they can do things like this every night, must have cost quite a bit.

We had a few days of rest then went to Live city Yaletown on Thursday 18th to wander around. Live city are 2 areas that had been put together so people that couldn't go to any of the games cold hang out there, drink and watch the Olympics. This one had a coke tent which gave you free coke and you got to participate in some activities, quite fun actually. There happened to be a Canadian band playing that night also, they are Marianna's Trench. I really enjoyed them, think I may have to get the album. Kind of similar to Green day we thought. After that we enjoyed the fireworks display, once again another thing that was put on each night. This one comes with music and a visual presentation while the fireworks are going. North America really does know how to do fireworks.

Friday night Paula from work joined us for a walk around Robson Square, we watched the fireworks again as Paula hadn't seen them, this night happened to be particularly busy, people just filled the streets. We attempted to be on camera, standing behind one of the news stations, we may have been on there, but I guess we'll never know. After a few drinks at the Art Gallery Cafe we headed for a walk along the waterfront to see the cauldron. There were still loads of people walking around and getting photos with the cauldron. It was hard to get a nice photo as there were plenty of barriers surrounding, and the only way you could get a good view was by standing in another huge queue. I swear if we had waited in every queue we would never have seen as much as we did.

The next week we didn't really get up to much Olympic stuff. I guess work was getting in the way. Plus we had, had some full on Olympic days. We decided to just watch some events on the TV.

It was coming up to the last weekend of the Olympics and I am glad I
happened to have the weekend off. Vancouver was absolutely packed this weekend, it was great to see all that effort put in to organising stuff for the city paid off. Friday we went to the other Livecity Vancouver, it happened to be raining lots that day, we stood outside and watched the semi final, I think, of the hockey. Canada won anyway but they were very lucky. After this we went inside to listen to some music and for some drinks. There was a crazy but nice guy there from Montreal who provided a bit of entertainment. A relatively quite night for us I guess.

Saturday we went to the Rowing house can't remember who they were supporting, maybe Austria can't remember. There wasn't much going on here just some drinking and food. We wanted to find somewhere to stay for the night as it was the Saturday night and we knew it would be difficult to get in anywhere, which it turned out it already was. In the end we just found a good sports pub where we could watch the Olympics and drink.

Sunday 28th was the last day of the Olympics with of course the match of the Olympics. Today was the final of the Ice Hockey and the game was Canada vs USA, don't think you could wish for a better game really. Once again everyone was up super early to get a spot somewhere for the game, we thought we were up early enough but it appeared this was the one thing people wanted to do today, felt like the place had stopped. We found a place finally in front of the big screen at Plaza of Nations. What an amazing game!! It was so intense, including the times that the big screen failed and all we could do was listen to the game and not see it except for a tiny corner of the screen. I thought a riot would break out, luckily for them they got the screen working, however this happened several times throughout the game and always at the worse possible moments. So with not long till the end of the game the score was 2-1 to Canada, very intense. With about 1 minute to play USA pulled their goaly to have one more player on attack and they scored a goal with about 20 seconds to play which forced overtime. Overtime is 20 mins and its the first to score a goal. Of course the screen decided to turn off one more time in this moment, lucky not for the final section of play. Cam was filming the end of the game. It was very tense and both teams had shots on goal. Finally Canada got the winning goal and the crowd went absolutely nuts, screaming and jumping about, us included. Cam got so excited with his jumping that the camera turned off. Oh well the memories are more important.

Throughout the Olympics there was a intersection
that everyone decided was the area you would just go, have music playing, do the conga, dance and sing. It was a massive street party every night. None of the nights however compared to tonight. I have never seen so many happy and excited people. There were thousands of people just everywhere you looked. So much fun! We sat at the art gallery over looking Robson square and thousands of people. We sat there people watching, chatting and drinking. Why pay to go somewhere when you could have this. The big screen happened to be back up on the Sears building which we could conveniently see from where we were sitting, so we watched the closing ceremony here. Finally we watched one last fireworks before heading home once everything had finished. There were people playing hockey in the streets, dancing and of course singing the national anthem. It was one big city street party.

Overall this was one of the most busy and amazing 2 weeks. Definitely a once in a life time thing. If you ever get the opportunity to be part of something like this do, don't head away to be out of the madness just join in!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Bits and Pieces - 28th Jan - 7th Feb 2010

After our visitors left things slowed down for a little while. Along with that it was back to work after a short amount of time off for entertaining. Nothing much happened during this time but I'll give you a little run down.

Thursday 28th we went to Granville Island for our first taste of theatre sports. This is a non-profit organisation that has different shows every week on certain nights. Its a great evening out and reasonably cheap. We loved it and will have to go back again some other night.

Sunday 31st Jan we headed to Whytecliff Park at Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver. This area is on edge of Howe sound and has beautiful views to the mountains and out to the ocean. The day was a little over cast but we were still able to take some nice photos out here. We walked around the waterfront and onto the beach. We were going to go over to a little island area via rocks in the water, but as the tide was coming in we decided against this. Even though I would have liked to have the night off work, I didn't particularly feel like spending a cold winter night out there. As I had to work that night we headed toward the bus to get home. Its always nice going to different parks around here, they all have their things that make them slightly different from the next park.
On Wednesday we headed out to Doolin's for dinner and somedrinks after Anna's nursing exam. Another fun night at our local, mind you it was a bit tame for us as Cam had to work the next day and I had a study day at work.

This weekend was very exciting, it was the weekend before the Olympics so we thought we'd get a weekend of snowboarding in before it all began. Friday 5th Feb I was off work and headed out to a little cafe with Paula and Lynne a couple of friends from work. It was really busy and a great place to eat. After this I headed home to pack for our weekend away. Once Cam got home from work we left for the bus station. We decided to go in the evening to get a early start the next morning.

So on the Saturday morning we got an early start, ate some breaky and then headed up the mountain. What a beautiful day, the sun was out today which was nice as it didn't look like it would be the best this weekend. Today I was on fire, I think the best day on the snow in my life, for some reason it was like I had been snowboarding for years, Cam unfortunately wasn't having the best day, always seems to turn out this way for us. This didn't stop him however, why would it we were snow boarding on Whistler mountain!! Well actually blackcomb but same difference really. They really don't know how lucky they have it here, there is no such thing as ice, well there is but not the same kind of ice we have in NZ. Even being early in the morning the snow was pretty good to us, actually it was pretty awesome. We thought it would be quite busy being the last weekend before the Olympics but it was actually the opposite, there were no queues well if you count 2-5 mins as a queue then there was. It wasn't just nice in the fact we didn't have to wait for a chairlift, but you could be snowboarding down a run, then just sit down on the ice in the middle of the mountain, surrounded by trees with a fantastic view of Whistler, and hear absolutely nothing!! It was like we were the only peopleon the mountain, absolutely stunning!!

We headed out for some dinner at the Old Spaghetti Company, it was a nice meal, nothing to rave about but I guess it had to be done at some stage. We were pretty tired at this stage so headed back to get an early night for our next day on the snow.
Sunday we packed up, put our luggage in storage and headed up the mountain again. Like I said before we always tend to have opposite days on the mountain and today was no exception. Cam had one of the best days on the snow today, and I had a pretty average day. Most of the time I put it down to fatigue but today it could have also been the weather. The day started out reasonably good but toward the afternoon first the snow came down and then some rain, along with this came the poor visibility. We were getting pretty tired by now and had to get a bus back to Vancouver, so decided to call it a day. We were pretty close to the top of the mountain and headed all the way down. Its nice to finally be at the stage where you can go down the learner section and zoom past all the learners feels great!!

Overall an awesome weekend, think we'll be heading back here more often next year now we have had a taste for Whistler. Just awesome!!