Thursday, December 30, 2010

Goodbye 2010: I Will Miss You

It’s hard to believe 2010; the year of our Vancouver Winter Olympic games is almost over. It’s also hard to believe it’s been about 10 months since those Winter Olympic Games took place. I kind of don’t want it to end, 2010 has a nice ring to it. Even though the year is coming to an end, the memories and the friendships still live on. Recently I’ve met some more Vancouver 2010 fans who were also at the Olympics. For us, we talk about those games as if we just got back from our trips. It’s been great to reminisce and hear about other people’s experiences. I have certainly had my share of telling my stories, ones I never get tired of talking about. I remember every moment of our trip and the experiences leading up to it. This time last year I was getting ready to welcome 2010 with open arms. At last the year of the Olympics was about to start. And now I feel a bit sad that it is almost over. I’m sure 2011 will be a great year but it doesn’t have the same ring to it, or the same kind of significance.

People often ask me what my favourite moment was. It is very difficult to pick only one, the entire experience was incredible. If you were to push me into picking one it would definitely be seeing Canada win the Gold medal in the Figure Skating Ice Dancing final. To go to your first ever Olympic event and watch Canadians like Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skate amazing and win gold, I almost can’t even find words to describe it. For my Mom, brother and I it set off a chain of events that entire week that would be magical and better than anything we could have dreamed would happen. To be there and be a part of it while it was unfolding was amazing.

Leading up to our trip I often wondered if it would all be worth it. Would it be worth the money, the time, the planning and the stress? Yes it was, it most definitely was. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I have absolutely no regrets about any part of our trip. It was worth every single penny. I consider it to be the highlight of my life. When will something else even begin to compare to this I don’t know. When it does I know it will be quite extraordinary, because to have been a part of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games was a dream come true.

Happy New Year. Wishing you all the best for 2011.

Christina Wallaert

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Two Months Have Passed

Has it really been just over two months since I left Toronto for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics? It almost seems like a lifetime ago. Two months isn't that long but it feels like forever. I guess with the change of seasons, it makes it seem further in the past than it actually is. I'm holding on to whatever feeble Olympic spirit remains. There are some people that I'm seeing for the first time since coming back. Obviously they are asking about my trip and I get to relive it every time I tell the stories over and over again.

Some great Vancouver people that I met through this Olympic stuff have been kind enough to send me souvenirs that were on sale. I went so crazy collecting pins, I forgot to add to my key chain collection that I've had for years. Thank goodness for kind hearted people like Robert and Gary. Both of them have sent me packages in the last month with some items they purchased for me (which I reimbursed them for) and some other little things that couldn't be bought at retail stores. It's been fun to come home and have an Olympic care package waiting for me. It's great that I had friends who could take advantage of those sales for me.

I also have the problem of trying to figure out what to do with my Olympic leftover's. I have trinkets from the Torch Relay, my Olympic tickets, a various collection of souvenirs, extra pins, tons of photos. What am I going to do with all of it? For the paper stuff a scrapbook is a must. I've had that in my head to do for awhile. Maybe I can do a scrapbook that combines my blog posts, pictures, ticket stubs, boarding passes? When my Mom unpacked she put all that stuff in my bedroom at their place. If I had to stay over there, it would be a big problem. The bed is covered in stuff. For now, I'll pack it away until I decide what I want to do with it. It may take awhile to figure out how I want to document all my memories.

As fun as the Olympics was, the one thing I would love to recreate again is the spirit and unity that was apparent in Vancouver. It is the one thing I make sure to tell people about. Watching their faces as I try to describe it, I can see they get it when they all do a silent "wow". I'm happy to know that this visual of Vancouver 2010 can be painted in their minds.
I feel sad that there are only memories now, the events are in the past and there isn't this exciting uplifting event to look forward to. I try to keep perspective about it. I was lucky to have been a part of it at all. To the degree that I was a part of it is very special to me. I will remember this for a long time. It's been some of the happiest, fun filled days of my life. There are so many elements to it that made it special from the people to the torch relay, Olympic events, our great athletes and my family and friends who cheered on my Olympic efforts with as much enthusiasm as they did the athletes. Yes it was a great time in my life. It is hard to be sad about that.

How long until London 2012?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Back To My Real Life

I’ve been home for over two weeks now. Vancouver 2010 is sadly becoming a distant memory. Last week when I returned to work, it was great to relive the experience over and over again as co workers wanted details on what it was like to be there. I find it very hard to try to get across the look and mood of what was happening in Vancouver. Hopefully a bit of it gets across. It was so amazing to be there I hate to think I can’t do it justice in trying to describe it to others.
One of the things I’ve been asked by almost everyone is, “What was your favourite moment?”. I usually respond with it was all my favourite, how could it not be? There wasn’t anything that I would have changed about the trip. But they all want to know what my one most favourite moment was. After some thinking, I finally started to say watching Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir win a Gold medal for Canada was my favourite moment. How lucky am I to have seen that? There are so many events over so many days, it is really luck and chance that you will be in attendance at a medal event and see your country win Gold. It was great to see the young couple skate a flawless performance, to experience it with a whole arena full of people who made more noise than you ever thought possible and an absolute thrill to see them awarded their medal and sing O Canada with them and everyone else in Pacific Coliseum. So if you’re making me pick one moment, it is that one. If you haven’t already you can read my previous post about it here.

Virtue and Moir on the podium with the Gold Medal

Flags being raised during medal ceremony for Ice Dance

It has also been interesting to hear from friends and colleagues who watched the Olympics on TV. Most people that I spoke to said they had never watched so much Olympics ever. They were glued to the TV and raced home from work to see what had happened during the day. I’ve also heard stories of people out running errands and everyone they saw wearing Canada apparel. Flags were flying on cars, people were celebrating all of our athletes achievements. It’s nice to know that Olympic Canadian spirit was carried throughout the country. Vancouver 2010 was a great event for our entire country, not just people who were present in Vancouver.

Another question I get asked is if this is the end of my Journey to Vancouver 2010 blog. No it is not the end. Post will definitely be more infrequent now because the Olympics are over but there will be things that I write about. For one, I have a shopping post I need to do, pin traders I need to write about and there will be ongoing stories and posts about the new friends I have made and are staying in touch with. I want to show people that Olympic spirit does last beyond the 17 days of the competition. For one, the Paralympics is going on right now. I’m very interested in seeing all that I can from that. I was at the Torch Relay in Toronto on March 5th and I saw the Opening Ceremony and some Sledge Hockey games on TV this past weekend. And after the Paralympics are over, what will occupy my time? Well it’s time to devote attention again to my Not A Shopaholic blog. It’s the first one I started and it’s been ignored for a long time while I wrote this blog and my contributions to Inside Not A Shopaholic stems from my shopping adventures and a deep desire to find unique items whether in apparel, accessories, home decor or anything. So if you miss me and come here and there isn’t a recent update, visit me at Not A Shopaholic.

Vancouver 2010 was a wonderful experience. It was worth all the money that I spent to go there. I would do it again in a heartbeat. And there is always London 2012. I put my name in to volunteer so we’ll see what happens with that. And it is not the Olympics but the 2015 Pam Am Games in Toronto will be a big event for us. I hope to be involved with that in some capacity, either as a volunteer or in a paid position having to do with buying or merchandise. Don’t worry, there will be lots going on to distract me from the fact that my trip of a lifetime is now over and in the past. I am actually curious to see what future things stem from this Olympic experience. I know there will be something. ;)

Thank you so much for reading. It is a huge compliment to me that people read this and actually like it! I’m very flattered that you enjoy my writing, that you tell me I’m a good writer. Thank you so much for sharing this experience with me and being so supportive. It wouldn’t have been half as much fun if I didn’t know there were all of you cheering me on and coming on this ride with me. Love you all.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Paralympic Torch Relay - Toronto

On Friday, after only being home from Vancouver 2010 for a day, I decided to head to downtown Toronto for the Paralympic Torch Relay.  The Paralympics will begin on March 12 in Vancouver, BC.  The Torch Relay and Celebration was held at Nathan Phillips Square, same location as the Olympic Torch Relay Celebration back in December.

Guests of Honour included Toronto Mayor David Miller and David Onley

This Torch Relay is a bit different from the Olympic Torch Relay.  For one thing is it smaller and shorter in duration of time.  It began on March 3rd in Ottawa and will end in Vancouver on March 12th at the Opening Ceremony.  There is no ancestral home for the Paralymic flame so Vancouver 2010 has created their own ritual for the lighting of the flame. There will be 10 community celebrations up to March 12th. "Ashes from the 10 community Paralympic Torch Relay fires will form the foundation for the final fire to be lit by a Musqueam First Nation fire keeper. The final Paralympic Flame will be lit from this fire and will be used to light the Paralympic Cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games at BC Place". (Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay)

In Toronto there were 40 Torchbearers who carried the flame around Nathan Phillips Square. I met up with Cindy, a Torchbearer from the Olympic Torch Relay, who I met through my blog.  She came down with her son and we all showed our support for the great athletes about to take part in the Paralympics in just over a weeks time. 

Cindy chats with Cynthia Mulligan from City TV

Luckily it was a beautiful, sort of warm day in Toronto so we were able to stay outside for the duration of the celebration. Entertainment was  provided throughout the entire Torch Relay and you could try out Sledge Hockey on the ice rink.  RBC had a booth where you could get your photo taken with the Paralympic Torch. It differs in colour from the Torch we saw during the Olympic Torch Relay. It is blue in colour, with the Torchbearer uniforms matching the colour of the Torch.  The red mittens they wore also had a different design on the front.

Paralympic Torchbearer uniform and Torch

I really wish I could also attend the Paralympics as I think their events would be amazing to watch, especially that Sledge Hockey! That looks so hard.  Ticket prices are very reasonable and there are some left for certain events. You can check out the Vancouver 2010 site to see what is available.
If anyone is going to be attending the Paralympic Games and wants to send me posts on the experience, I will publish them on my blog as guest posts under the senders name.

For all photos from the days events, click here.

Trying out Sledge Hockey at Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, ON.

Making Friends at YVR

On Wednesday when we were at the Vancouver International Airport waiting for our flight back to Toronto, I thought I would check out the Coca Cola Pin Trading Centre. Either I'm a glutton for punishment or my curiosity gets the better of me. I had decided not to try pin trading any further, those traders don't seem to like my wares, but I wanted to check out what these traders had. I do find it interesting to see their collection of pins up for trade. It is cool to see how many different ones are out there.

The last gentleman trader I spoke with was very nice and we chatted for awhile. After a few minutes and I swear this actually happened he said, "You look familiar. Do you write a blog?". Seriously. I was recognized as a blogger at the Vancouver Airport. There are tons of bloggers out there and I was certain he must be mistaking me for someone else, but he knew my blog very well. We chatted some more, he gave me a pin, I gave him Ontario and Gastown pins because that is all I had with me. Where were my Canada Loot Bags you ask? Packed in my checked luggage! Dumb me. I did still have my camera with me and made sure I took a photo. This may never happen to me again and I had to capture the moment. Plus Andrew was a really nice guy. It's too bad I only met him as I was leaving Vancouver. I definitely would have traded pins with him. So he is added to my list of Vancouver Olympic friends. If and when I make it back to Vancouver (maybe this summer?), we will have to have a reunion and break out our pin lanyards for old time’s sake.

Andrew and I at the Vancouver Airport location of the Coca Cola Pin Trading Centre.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Good Bye Vancouver

March 3, 2010

This will be my final blog post from Vancouver, but I hope not the final post on the Vancouver 2010 Olympics themselves. We are leaving for the airport in a few hours. Unfortunately the Olympics are over and it is time for us to return to Toronto. Even though the Olympic events have ended, I really hope the spirit of them has not. Coming into the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, I had no idea what to expect from Canadians. We are known as modest people, quiet in our love for our country and support of our athletes. I really thought I would go to events in Vancouver and there would be a minimum amount of cheering. Was I ever wrong about that. The energy and noise from Canadians at events and in the streets of Vancouver was huge! I think the entire world and Canadians were taken by surprise at the level of enthusiasm we exuded during these games. Countless people had Canada flags draped around them, maple leaf tattoos on their faces, Canada apparel on pretty much everybody and a complete willingness to show and tell others how much we love Canada. Complete strangers in the street were your friends, so many high fives, hugs and “Go Canada” passed around the streets of Vancouver. I have never seen anything like it and may not ever again. I don’t even think I am doing a good job of portraying what it was like. It was so special to be here and be witness to these Olympics Games, the athletes involved and the people who supported them.

To be in an arena and have the noise level drown out an announcer is something I never thought I would see. I have sang O Canada more times the last two weeks than I can even count. I sang O Canada in the streets of Vancouver, on public transit, at Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Robson Square, at Olympic events when Canada won Gold medals and even when we didn’t.

Any where we went, we spoke to the people around us. People were so thrilled when I gave them a Canada Loot Bag. I’m happy I could provide them with another memento of the Olympics in Canada. I will miss the friendliness of people at the Olympics. It is one thing I hope continues on. For a short period of time, we made an effort to talk to those around us when we were in line ups, on transit or at an event.

This entire experience has been a special part of my life. I miss it so much already. I’m not sure that I will ever experience anything like this again. There will be other Olympics but I don’t think they will be like this one, at least not for us Canadians. To have been a part of it is an honour. I hope everyone can experience the level of Canadian pride I saw and felt during Vancouver 2010. Yesterday on the news headlines I saw the IOC had praised the people of Canada and Vancouver for “extraordinary embrace of the Olympics”. I think that describes it brilliantly.

I leave for home sad that this is over yet thrilled that I was able to be here and participate. There isn’t anything I would have done differently. To the City of Vancouver and all the people who were a part of my Olympic experience you will always have a very special place in my heart.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day After the Olympics In Vancouver

March 1, 2010

 Well, they are not wasting any time on the streets of Vancouver, already venues and pavillions are being torn down. We walked passed Robson Square today. It was all roped off and the tear down was in progress. Streets are open again which is a good thing for the people in Vancouver. It looks like the mass exodus of people they were expecting was true. I hardly saw any Olympic people out on the street today. In fact I’m pretty sure I was the only one wearing red mittens. We headed over to the Bay Olympic Superstore and for old times’ sake there was a line up to get in, only about a 30 second wait. It was still busy in that store, looking at it you might never know that the Olympics had ended the day before. I had a pin to exchange and headed over to that area. I thought I would try to trade pins once more at the Coca Cola Pin Trading Centre and again was shut down by the collectors, quite rudely in fact! Most Olympic people I have talked to have been so nice, these pin traders not as much. I guess they look at it like a business transaction and if they don’t want anything from you they have no need for you. I think from now on I’ll only trade with friends or others who approach me. It’s not like I am a serious collector or am hunting for particular pins. I was looking up some of my pins and it seems like they are pretty good ones. They were not available to the general public and there were only a certain amount produced and distributed usually to employees. Guess I’ll hold on to these for awhile. I exchanged my pin and we moved on.

From the Bay Superstore, we went to Robson Street. I wanted to do a bit of shopping before I left Vancouver and Robson Street seemed like a good place to start. One store that I really liked and would fly back to Vancouver to go there was a store called Plenty. It was a well merchandised store, had a good assortment of price points and the staff was very attentive which is a nice change. I tried on a bunch on things and only came away with two tops. One sweater I’m still on the fence about. I’m going to look them up and see if they sell online, at the very least I’d like to get a list of the lines they carry and try to locate them in Toronto. Went into a few other stores and looked at shoes. By this point I was exhausted even though it wasn’t very late. I think the pace of the Olympics was catching up with me. Or it could be the cold I got a few days ago. We headed home to have some down time before tomorrow. I also had a few blog posts that I needed to catch up on, particularly my Closing Ceremony post.

I’m meeting up with some Vancouver Olympic friends for coffee in the morning. We can talk about the Olympics and pretend it’s not over!  In the evening I'll have to start packing for our trip home on Wednesday. :(

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 17 - Vancouver 2010 Closing Ceremony

February 28, 2010

Before Closing Ceremony

I knew this day would come at some point but I feel like I was only at the Opening Ceremony a week ago. It went by so fast and now we are getting ready to head out to the Closing Ceremony. The instructions changed and we are now supposed to be in our seats at 3:30 pm and at 1:30 pm they are going to be showing the hockey game so we need to get there much earlier than we thought.  We'll be able to watch the end with tons of others inside BC Place!
From our condo we can see the people making their way into Canada Hockey Place for the Gold Medal Hockey game.  There has been a steady streams of people since about 10am.  There has also been a road hockey game going on for the last hour.  Road closures gives them more opportunity to play.  It has been a lot of fun looking out the window and watching them play.

After Closing Ceremony

Today was a bittersweet day for me. I was thrilled to be going to the Closing Ceremony but sad because this meant the end of my great Olympic adventure.  We arrived at BC Place around 2pm and they already had the Gold medal hockey game on the big screens.  Everyone was looking at that screen.  The mood was pretty jovial until USA tied the game near the end of the 3rd period. When Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal, everyone in BC Place went nuts.  We sang the nation anthem along with everyone else and people were taking photos of images on the big screen.  It was a great ending to an already great Olympics.  At times it felt like the whole game had been scripted to end well for Canada. It was an exciting end to our Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

As for the Closing Ceremony, I thought the beginning was hilarious, genius actually.  When we arrived at the stadium and saw only 3 arms up again on the Olympic Cauldron, we wondered what was going on. I thought they were going for consistency and soon found out I was wrong. I'm sure many people didn't like it, I thought it was clever.  Something did go wrong in the Opening and rather than pretend it didn't, it was made into a parody for our Closing Ceremony.  I was so happy that Catriona Le May Doan finally got her turn to light the cauldron. 

Flagbearers enter the stadium first.

As for the rest of the Closing Ceremony, what can I say other than another great job.  John Furlong made a great speech and was halted by the crowd with their cheers when he mentioned our fabulous hockey team.  As always, fine words about the 2010 volunteers (who were outstanding) got lots of cheers.  The flame was extinguished and I wasn't as emotional as I thought I would be.  I have a feeling if my family hadn't been there with me, I might have been more of a mess.  It is sad to see this great event end, but I have such wonderful memories from it.

Trying on our moose ears during the audience participation rehearsal.

Before the Ceremony began, we had another audience participation rehearsal.  One of our props was to be used during a segment called "Made in Canada". I remember thinking, "I wonder what that is going to be".  After the handover to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics, we found out.  This segment poked fun at some of our Canadian stereotypes yet also showed some of the things Canada is most known for like our Royal Canadian Mounted Police, hockey, moose and beavers.  Personally, I liked it.  It was as Canadian as our Native origins and maple syrup.  If you don't have much of a sense of humour, you probably didn't care for it.  I bet you never thought seeing giant moose and beavers would be so much fun. I hope you got a good sense of how huge they were on TV. 

The athletes enter the stadium together during the Closing Ceremony.

After that, the musical talent performed.  I felt that it was geared towards a much younger audience.  Given all of the musical talent in Canada, I think they could have had a bit more variety.  This part we couldn't see very well. We were seated right behind the large stage and the other stage was at the other end of the stadium, very far away. The good thing is you really only had to be able to hear them. One of my favourite sections were the hip hop dancers when k-os was performing.  That part was also a bit difficult for us to see because they were so far away. I'm looking forward to seeing that part on TV.

As we headed out of BC Place onto the streets of Vancouver, we heard people cheering and car horns blowing. The hockey game had been over for hours and the party was still going on.  We can home, dumped out stuff and went out for a walk. I wanted to see what was going on.  It was pretty wild. There were more people on the streets than I had ever seen during the Olympics, everyone was in a great mood and people were high fiving anyone including police officers, hugging people and even dancing around.  It was great.

On Granville Street celebrating our hockey gold medal win.

This whole Olympics Canadians had been showing a never before seen level of Canadian pride, winning the gold medal kicked that up a notch and was displayed all through the streets of Vancouver and from what I understand all across our country.  Way to go Canada, I knew you had it in you to win gold after gold and to show the world we are as proud as anyone else is of their country.
What an amazing end to a completely amazing Olympic Winter games. Way to go Vancouver, way to go Canada, way to go World!
Uh oh, I think the tears may start soon!

For today's photos, click here.

The family at BC Place before the start of the Vancouver 2010 Closing Ceremony.

Day 16 - I Don't Want Vancouver 2010 Olympics to End

February 27, 2010

It was another early morning as we made our way back to Vancouver Olympic Centre once more for Curling, this time for the Bronze medal match between Sweden and Switzerland. I wasn't sure who to root for since Canada wasn't playing. I decided to go with a majority rules scenario. If we were sitting with lots of Swedes in our section, root for them, and vice versa. Turns out Canadians in the crowd still outnumbered any other nationality and in the end we cheered for any good play by either team.

Despite not having a vested interest in the outcome of the game, it was a great curling match. At one point the skip from the Sweden team had a 4 rock take out. It was so amazing! No matter how much I watch curling, I'm in awe of some of the plays teams at this level can do. On my curling team, I'm happy to be able to throw up a decent guard that is sort of close to where my skip wanted it to be.

This game was much quieter than the ones we saw on Thursday. I guess that shouldn't be surprising. If Canada had been playing this morning the crowd would have been raring to go. In the end, Switzerland won the game and again it had come down to the very last rock that was thrown which seemed to happen a lot in the matches that I saw. You had to feel sorry for Sweden. They played so well.

One of the great things about Vancouver 2010 is that you are likely to start talking to anyone at anytime anywhere you are. On the Skytrain home from the Curling venue, it was crowded so my Mom and I stood most of the way. When the train started to clear out, some young boys took the empty seats. The Mom teaching her boys manners and how to be a gentleman, asked the boys what they would should do. It seems they have been through this before because they both knew they should offer their seats to someone. When the Mom inquired who they would ask, the boys came right over to my Mom and I and asked if we would like to sit down. We both declined and thanked the boys for asking us. I started talking to the Mom because I've never seen anyone teaching their children that. We talked for a bit and I gave her a Canada Loot Bag for the kids. They had visited the Ontario pavilion here so they had heard of Ontario and were so happy to have the pins. Then I thought it would be wise for the boys to each have their own Loot Bag. Turns out this was a good idea because they had already had fights about pins! They were very grateful and pulled the pins out of the bags right away. It has been nice to have my Canada Loot Bags to give out to people and provide them with some memories of Vancouver 2010.

We headed home in a hurry to make sure we saw the start of the Men's Gold Medal game. I was so nervous for Kevin Martin and team! That was a close game as well and eventually Canada won which was a great moment. We all laughed when we heard John Morris say to his teammates, "We did it boys"! That statement pretty much sums it up. It was another great moment for Canada athletes and Canadian history.

In the evening we headed out to Molson Canadian Hockey House. Someone had given me tickets for tonight and on the schedule was the Bronze medal hockey game and Colin James performing afterwards. It was a really fun place to hang out. I can only imagine what it is like in there when Canada is playing a game! I'm sure it is completely nuts! I started talking to two girls who were cheering on Slovakia. From them I learned this would be the best finish in an Olympics for the Slovakia hockey team. Even if they didn't win the bronze medal, that is quite an accomplishment.  I gave them Canada Loot Bags and they took out all the pins and put them on their Molson Canada scarfs they had won.  Looks like Olympic people love pins of any kind!

After the game Colin James came on stage. That was a great performance. In my younger years I was a big fan of Colin James but had never seen him live. I rarely see anyone live anymore and this was a nice treat. The hockey house is a small venue compared to a stadium which also makes it more interesting to watch. I can't believe how close we could get to the stage! My brother doesn't dance at all so we found him a place to sit down and I danced!

The emcee announced that some special guests would be showing up soon. I danced some more while we waiting for these "special guests" to show up. Time passed and we eventually decided to call it a night. As we were about to get our coats, the emcee came on stage and on the screens they were replaying the end of the Men's Curling Gold Medal game. Did this mean the special guests were our Men's Curling team? No way! Indeed it was Canada's Gold Medal champs in Curling, all onstage except for Kevin Martin who was supposed to show up later. The medal ceremony was replayed and everyone in the Hockey House sang O Canada at the top of their lungs. It was amazing. I never thought so many beer drinking hockey fans would be so excited about a Curling medal but they were! I can't believe we almost missed that, I would have been so mad at myself. When that was over we did leave but not before I accosted “Mo's Bro's” over by the drink ticket kiosks. John Morris is a member of Kevin Martin's team and I have read that his nickname is "Johnny Mo". I guess Mo's Bro's were big fans of his. I had seen these guys at the semi final match and thought their T-shirts were hilarious. I'm still not sure if they are related to John Morris, friends of John Morris or groupies of John Morris. If anyone knows their story can you email me and let me know? I will include it in this post if I get an update.

Singing O Canada with the Canada Men's Curling team.

Loved the all white suits on these guys. They high fived everyone walking by them.

The infamous Mo's Bros at Molson Hockey House. All I have to say is why don't guys in Toronto look like this, and why don't more guys who look like this follow curling? 

Click here to see the  photos of the day.

Thanks for reading everyone. I can't believe it is the second last day and this amazing time is almost over!

Canada Medal Results

Jasey Jay Anderson - Gold in Snowboarding Giant Slalom
Men's Speed Skating Team - Gold in Team Pursuit
Men's 4 Bobsled - Bronze in Bobsleigh
Kevin Martin's Team - Gold in Curling

Day 15 - Hockey Gold Medal Game Decided

February 26, 2010

There are two Men’s Hockey Semi Finals today and I have tickets for one of the games. Unfortunately it wasn’t the Canada game, we saw USA vs Finland. You would think that at a semi final level, the teams would be pretty evenly matched. This didn’t seem to be the case in this game. USA came out in the first period and got 6 goals, some within mere minutes of each other. To my amateur eye, it seemed like Finland wasn’t prepared to put up a good fight against the powerhouse USA team. I was hoping for a good game, close score and evenly matched to keep the game interesting. It was kind of boring though. After the first 4 goals, people weren’t even getting up to cheer anymore.

The crowd rallied behind Finland, giving them encouragement and chanting “Go Finland Go” but it didn’t seem to do much good. They were able to score 1 goal in the last period which wasn’t going to do them much good at that point.

So USA moved on to the Gold medal game and later in the day we found out that Canada will be their opponent. I think there are a lot of people who wanted the Gold medal hockey game to be a USA/Canada showdown.

At night we attended our first Victory Medal Ceremony, the last of these Olympic games to be held at BC Place. In Vancouver they awarded medals for the Men’s Aerials and a cross country event. As we were heading into BC Place for the medal ceremony, hockey spectators were heading into Canada Hockey Place for the Canada vs. Russia semi final. There were a lot of people going through security and it is probably the longest I’ve had to wait in a security checkpoint here.

There weren’t any announcements made on the Canada game for awhile. We were lucky that a guy in the row in front of us was regularly checking the score and shouting it out to the people around him. If people didn’t hear it, we passed on the message.

After the medal presentations, Great Big Sea took the stage. It is the first time I have seen them perform and they were awesome as people told me they would be. I moved my brother over to my seat so that i could dance in aisle. We were sitting in almost the last row of our section so there weren’t too many people behind me so I could dance the night away without blocking anyone’s view. I don’t know if it was because we were so high up or because the stadium is like that, but it was really hard to make out what was being said when people were talking on the microphone. I was at BC Place for the Opening Ceremony and didn’t notice a problem. This was set up a bit differently and that may have been why. The concert was over around 8:30 pm and was way to short! If Great Big Sea comes to Toronto again this year I’m going to go even if it means going by myself.

I wanted to see the Olympic Cauldron and the Olympic rings in the water at Coal Harbour at night all lit up so we headed there after the Victory Ceremony was done. I’m glad we went. The Cauldron is impressive during the day and it is even more stunning at night all lit up. It looked like it was glowing. Night was also a good time to go because it wasn’t as crowded. I was able to get some really good pictures. It was harder to get good pictures of the Olympics rings because they are out so far but I think I managed to get a few good ones. My brother and I were recruited to take some photos of groups of people and in return they took some of us. My favourite was a girl who pulled a Quatchi out of her bag to hold in the picture. I could have stayed there all night looking at the Olympic Cauldron and rings. Call me a sap but I took video of the burning Cauldron to watch later on after the flame has been extinguished. I’ll loaded the video onto YouTube and inserted it below. I have a feeling I won’t be the only who wants to see it.

By this time it was known that Canada had beat Russia and were moving on to the Gold medal game against the US. To say people were in a good mood is an understatement. People were shouting out “Go Canada” and “We want Gold” or they were high fiving strangers in the street, on the Skytrain, basically anywhere you went. When we were at the Olympic Cauldron we could hear people yelling in the streets. It is amazing to see the pride of Canadians during these Olympics. I wasn’t sure we were capable of such grand displays of patriotism and now I know we are! I’ve never seen so many Canada flags in my life or sung our national anthem this many times in one week.

The Vancouver 2010 Olympics are winding down. I’m sad that it is coming to a close and happy that I was able to be here to be a part of it. Tomorrow my Mom and I are going to the Men’s Curling Bronze Medal game. Our Canada Curling team goes for gold tomorrow afternoon. I’ll be glued to the TV for that one.

You can find pictures from today by clicking here.

Canada Medal Results

Women's Curling - Silver medal
Charles Hamelin - Gold in Short Track 500 m
Francois Louis-Tremblay - Bronze in Short Track 500 m
Men's Short Track Team - Gold in 5,000 m relay

What a day Canada!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 14 - Hurry Hard to the Curling Semi Finals

February 25, 2010

It was an early morning as we had to get to Vancouver Olympic Centre for the Women's Curling Semi Final at 9am. I have to say out of all the venues that we have been to, this one was the most disappointing. I had taken my eye contacts with me to put in at the Centre when I got there, it was too early to put them in when we left. I didn't think it would be a big deal, find a washroom when we got there, wash my hands and put in my contacts. Guess what, there are no real washrooms here. There is a room with portapotties and on the way out a machine that dispenses hand sanitizer. To say I was grossed out was a understatement. I can't believe they don't have proper washroom facilities, something as basic as soap and water is pretty standard. Washing your hands is good hygeine. It also seems like this is a temporary structure. It was basically curling rinks that had been created under a tent. There is no choice but to grin and bear it, but really as far as making an impression goes, this one does not. If I never had to go there again I would be happy. Unfortunately I do have to go there again.
Despite these initial problems, the Women's Curling team did not disappoint. It was a great game and it came down to the last rock to determine the winner. Cheryl Bernard and her team moved on to the Gold Medal game. I had heard a lot about the level of noise at the curling rink and people making noise during curlers getting ready to throw their rocks. There was a bit of that but for the most part the crowd was respectful and kept quiet during the rock delivery. After that though, there was no stopping the noise. All kinds of cheers from "hurry hard, go Barnard", Canada cheers in response to the Swiss cheers (they were our opponents) and stomping feet on the bleachers.

I spent a good part of the game explaining how it was played and scored to a young man sitting beside my Mom. I didn't really think anyone else was paying attention until the game ended and a woman in front of me thanked me for my details. She said she understood so much more now! Happy I could help. I told her I had only been playing curling for 2 years and I didn't really know a whole lot. It's nice to know what little I can explain was useful to others.

The Canada Men played in the afternoon. Our seats for this game were horrible. The men were playing the sheet right in front of where we were sitting. Trying to see what was going on over everyone's heads was impossible. I had to stand up most of the time to see what was going on. One of the middle sheets of ice was not being used, most of us were wondering why they didn't put them on there. Martin's team gave us a bit of a scare in the beginning, after a few ends they got back on track and there was no stopping them. They moved on to the Gold Medal game very easily. On the sheet of ice that we could see very well, Norway was playing so we got to see those pants up close and in person. After the game, I saw someone wearing a whole suite in that pattern! The Norwegians are leaving a fashion fad behind in Canada. I love it!

In the evening, my brother and I headed over to LiveCity Yaletown with Tomarra. There was a bit of a line up and it moved quickly. We were inside the site within 10 minutes. Johnny Reid was performing. I had never heard of him and I don't consider myself a country music fan but I really enjoyed listening to him and seeing him perform. It is great to expand your musical horizons. I never would have come across this singer if it wasn't for LiveCity Yaletown. We stayed until the end of his show. We watched the fireworks which were fantastic. I especially liked the video they showed with the fireworks display. It consisted of Olympic memories from Vancouver 2010 and it wasn't only Canadians featured. I love how we do things like that. It was a really nice night. I couldn't believe I was outside at night in February listening to a concert outdoors and I wasn't freezing. That is Vancouver for you.

From LiveCity Yaletown, we ventured over to English Bay to see if we could find Vectoral Elevation. Vectoral Elevation is part of the Cultural Olympiad and involves searchlights making designs and patterns over the water. It was really cool to see. It is one of those things that I could have watched for hours. We stayed for awhile, tried to get pictures of it-Tomarra was more successful at this than I was, and then it was time to head home. It was a pretty full day and I was ready to get to bed for some much needed rest.

Happy Birthday Allan! Sorry we had to miss it. We're celebrating when we get home.

The photos for the day are availabe through this link. Enjoy!

Canada Medal Results

Womens Ice Hockey, Gold Medal

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 13 - Short Track Speed Skating Rocks!

February 24, 2010

Sorry folks, yet again I am doing a half post because it is late and I need to go to bed early tonight.  We have to be up early tomorrow to go see the Curling Semi Finals.  Women's is in the morning at 9am and Men's is in the afternoon and I have tickets for both! Team Canada is in both matches so it should be a great day. I believe the winner of each will play for the Gold Medal on the weekend!

Today was amazing! I finally got to see Short Track Speed Skating in person and it was so cool! I want to go see more of this sport! It is exciting on TV but even better in person.  I was there to see our Canadian women win a Silver medal in the 3000 m relay, the second time I've been present when Canada has won a medal. It really is such a great feeling and wonderful to be a part of.  I don't know that I will ever make it to another Olympics but if I do, I know it won't be as special as this one. Seeing Canada win at home with these huge crowds is unbelievable!  I will cherish these moments forever.

And it has been a busy day for Canada.  Miss Clara Hughes won a Bronze medal for the 5000 m in Speed Skating, and I found out a few minutes ago our female bobsledders took Gold and Silver.  What? I love bobsled and I don't think it is usually an event that we medal in.  Canadian women were on fire today!

I owe you a few blog posts and will try to update the details for you soon.  I'm thinking I'll bring my notebook with me tomorrow and write out my posts during the spare minutes in curling.  I don't want to get too far behind because I'm worried I'll forget stuff!  Just so you know, I am now starting to lose my voice. this is actually pretty good. I made it through 3 events with voice intact. I thought I would loose it a lot sooner!  Have a great night. I'll be back soon.

Here are the photos for today.

Canada Medal Results

Clara Hughes - Bronze in Speed Skating 5,000 m
Humphries/Moyse - Gold in Bobsled
Upperton/Brown - Silver in Bobsled
Womens Relay Team - Silver in 3000 Short Track Relay

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 12 - LiveCity Yaletown and Men's Team Canada Hockey

February 23, 2010

Today we headed over to LiveCity Yaletown. I had been to the Downtown one and wasn't that impressed. I was hoping for bigger and better things in Yaletown. The line up was not to bad, we were inside within 20 minutes. As soon as we got in we joined the line up to enter the Coke pavillion. We waited close to 45 minutes to get in here and I have to say I don't think it was worth it. The best parts of the pavillion are on your way in, once inside you can't really get back to that area.  They had a display of past Coke bottles and it was cool to see all the designs and how they had changed over the years.  There was also a display of past Olympic torches. 

Once inside we watched a short movie that showed clips from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay.  And then it was into the pavillion.  Coke teamed up with Aboriginal artists and they each designed a Coke bottle.  Those were really cool to look at. They are being auctioned off during the Olympics.  I believed there were 12 bottles in total and there were 6 on display at this location.
Because it took so long to get into here, we didn't have time to go to any of the other sponsor tents; Panasonic, Samsung or Acer.  We will try to go back but I'm not sure we'll get there.  Our schedule is pretty full for the weekend.

We had tickets for the 4:30pm hockey game, Team Canada against Germany. I was looking forward to this one.  We walked to Canada Hockey Place in the pouring rain. There was a huge crowd of people waiting to get in. The previous game went into overtime so I think they were a bit late getting people in for the 4:30 game.  Eventually we got to our seats, we had row 15 in one of the 300 sections. I thought this sounded good until the volunteer told us to go straight to the top.  Turns out row 15 is the last row! They were still pretty good and we could see everything.  We had a great view of all the red hockey jerseys everyone was wearing. I've never been one to really like hockey jerseys, but after seeing to so many here, it kind of makes me want one!  I gave out a few Canada Loot Bags to some kids that were in my section, including the family sitting beside us.  They were very excited to add more pins to their collections and the stickers are a big hit.
When Team Canada took the ice for their warm up, I couldn't figure out why everyone was booing the goalie.  Later in the game someone explained to me that his nickname is "lou" and that is what everyone was saying.  If you didn't know that, you would swear they were booing him. I was relieved to find out this wasn't the case.

Canada started to scored early on and there were huge cheers from the crowd everytime.  It was complete luck that we got to see them play.  Out of all the games that were on the schedule, I couldn't believe we were fortunate enough to see Team Canada.  The final score was 8-2 for Canada.  Close to the end of the third period, people were chanting "we want Russia".  I'm telling you there are some real characters at these games. I wish I could get good photos of all the costumes, wigs, and face painting that I've seen.  Great to see everyone so into the Olympics and our Canada team.
Tomorrow I'm off to Short Track Speed Skating, an event that Canada usually does well in.  The relay will be really exciting to watch.

Here is a link to the photos for today if you want to check those out.  Hope you are having a great Vancouver 2010.  It is so awesome to be here for this.

Canada Medal Results

Ashleigh McIvor - Gold in Ski Cross

Look At Me Featured in the Roots Canada Blog!

Check out me and my Roots threads featured in the Roots blog, The Buzz at Roots. My contact there has asked me to photograph people wearing Roots apparel at Vancouver 2010 and send the photos back to her in Toronto. I started last night by accosting two very nice girls who were sitting behind me at the Figure Skating Ice Dance finals. I forgot to get their names so if you know them or they are reading this, please send your names to me so I can pass them on.

Roots was kind enough to do a short post on me and my blog and use some of my photos. If I see you out on the street or at an event during Vancouver 2010, I may stop and ask you if I can snap a photo of you and your Roots gear to pass on. This means I must get over being shy very quickly!  If you have already have a photo of you in Roots wear, send it to me and I will pass it along for you.

Day 11 - Spent The Day in Gastown

February 22, 2010 - Day

We had some free time today before we had to head out to the Ice Dance finals at Pacific Coliseum.  I've explored a lot of the Olympic pavillions around me and wasn't sure where to go. I thought about Gastown as it didn't look to far from us on the map. Posing the question to my Twitter friends confirmed that Gastown was indeed within a reasonable walking distance.  I was looking forward to seeing a historic part of the city and doing something non Olympic. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally loving the Olympics but I'm also anxious to see Vancouver, the city.

My brother and I walked out to Gastown and the first thing we came across is the steam clock atWater Street.  I'm one of those annoying people who read those plaques that are on things.  The plaque on this clock explained the origin of Gastown, how the clock works and the dedication of the clock to the citizens of Vancouver.  I'm also one of those people who had to have their picture taken with these kinds of things and so I did that as were many others.  After the clock, I decided to try to find the folks who run the Gastown Blog (@gastownblog).  A co-worker had sent me their way in the hopes that they would have something to contribute to my Canada Loot Bag.  They offered up some of their Gastown pins and buttons and I left them a few Canada Loot Bags as souvenirs. One guy asked me who I was giving the Loot Bags to and I said "everyone". (People are loving them in case you were wondering.) It was really nice to have something from Vancouver to add to the bags.

The main reason for going to Gastown was to check out the shopping.  After picking up my Gastown pins, and getting a latte from Smart Mouth, I was off to peruse the streets for cool clothing to take home as souvenirs.  The first store I went it to was Obakki at 44 Water Street. The clothing was beautiful! I would have loved to be able to buy something but it was really out of my affordable price range.  I spoke to the person working in the store and the items are made in Canada, sold in the flagship store and wholesale, and I just found out sold online too! Maybe I can buy something from them at a later date.

From there I headed to the store next door, ishara. Again a lot of things out of my price range but very beautiful and some brands I have never heard of before which I loved. It is great to discover new brands!  The woman I spoke to in the store was the owner and told me they had recently located to Gastown from a mall location.  She noticed I was wearing pins and gave me some Visa mascot Olympic pins! Wasn't that nice? In return I gave her a Canada Loot Bag. I think that is a pretty fair exchange.  I did find a sweater that was on sale and in my size so I tried it on and bought it! My first non Olympic purchase in Vancouver! I hope that I will be back in Vancouver sometime soon so I can visit Gastown and the stores there again.  With all my new friends here maybe I can fly in for a weekend just to do some shopping! How is that for leaving an Olympic legacy?
If you get a chance I would highly recommend getting to Gastown for a visit. I was focused on shopping but there were also some great looking restaurants and pubs around as well. Another good reason for me to come back, sample some new food!

Soon after leaving ishara, it was time to head back to our condo for some lunch before heading out to Figure Skating Ice Dancing finals.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 11 - Canada Gold in Ice Dancing!

February 22, 2010 - Night

CANADA ROCKS! My first Olympic event was tonight and I got to see Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir win an Olympic Gold Medal in Ice Dancing for Canada.  It was stunning, amazing, nerve wracking, and a moment I will never forget! It was so special to see this. Never in a million years did I think I would be seeing Canada win a Gold Medal when I bought the tickets for this event 9 months ago. If I'm as proud as I am of this couple, I can only imagine how their coaches, families and friends must feel.  What an honour to witness this tonight.  Congratulations to all involved in this Gold Medal. 

We tried to arrive as early as possible since we did not know how long it would take to get to the venue and through security. My Mom and I chatted with some nice ladies from Los Angeles, CA while we waited in line. One woman inquired about the Olympic pins I was wearing so I pulled out Canada Loot Bags to give to them. They loved them! One even went so far as to request a bag with a pin of Ontario's provincial flower.  I have to say it is pretty and would appeal to a lot of people.  They were rooting for an all North American podium that night. I would have liked that too.

Not only was this my first Olympic event, it was also my first Figure Skating event. The skaters are put into groups and each group comes out onto the ice for a 5 minute warm up before their group begins competing.  When Scott and Tessa took the ice it was pandemonium! They were real cool cats and focused on their warm up.  Even from way up high where I was sitting they looked relaxed and ready to go.  Scott and Tessa were in the last group of the night, 5 couples total in their group, and our Canadians skated third.  I was so nervous! My heart started beating faster and I felt like it was hard to breathe.  The American couple who skated before them did very well and Scott and Tessa had their work cut out for them.  No need to worry though as they threw down the skate of a lifetime and easily took first place. After two more pairs, it was final the Canadian team of Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue had the gold.  The whole arena went completely nuts. You know its loud when the crowd is drowning out the voice of the announcer, I couldn't even hear them say that Canada had won gold.

This was one event where they do the medal presentation at the venue so not only did we see them do a gold medal performance, we were able to watch them get their medals.  I can't even begin to describe what it was like.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be seeing a gold medal presentation to Canada at my first Olympic event.  Scott was totally pumped up, shaking his arms in the air and letting out some hoots and hollers.  The smiles on their faces were a mile wide.  We sang O Canada as loud as we could, the skaters posed for photos and then the pairs did a lap around the ice.  When Scott and Tessa were leaving the ice area, Scott jumped up into the stands where his family was.  They caught him and held onto him for the best hug I've ever seen.  We saw the family afterwards when we were leaving the venue and they were just ecstatic, as they should be.  Gold medals or any medals at all are usually the culmination of years and years of hard work and support. It was so great to see the family enjoying this moment.  I would think there is something extra special about since it all happened on home territory.  What a way to start the week!

The second Canadian Ice Dance team Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier finished in 14th place for their first Olympic competition.

To view the photos for today you can click here.

I love this photo! That is Canada in top spot!

Our amazing Canadians on top of the podium. What a great night for all of us!

Happy my Mom was there to see this with me.

Canada Medal Results

Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir - GOLD in Ice Dancing *I'm so happy about this :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 10 - Exploring Vancouver

February 21, 2010

Another beautiful day in Vancouver. I decided that maybe we should wait until after the weekend to attempt to go to LiveCity Yaletown. I’m hoping the line ups won’t be so bad during the week. Instead I took my Mom and brother down to the Olympic Cauldron on the waterfront. Personally I think it is a very impressive structure. I saw it last weekend when I was in Vancouver for the Opening Ceremony. Today I noticed that you are able to get much closer to it than last week and there were huge crowds down there taking it in. The line up for the viewing platform was about an hour. Given some of the line ups I’ve seen around Vancouver, that isn’t too bad. We skipped that part today but at some point I would like to get up on there and see it. Perhaps at night and then I can see the Olympic rings lit up as well.

From there we headed to Canada’s Northern House which so far is the best pavilion I’ve seen yet. It is exactly what I thought a pavilion should be. Exhibits showing the culture and lifestyle of our Northern territories, there were some beautiful works of art and clothing items that I assume were handmade. There is an area where you can record a video against a backdrop of different Northern attractions like dog sledding or a beautiful waterfall. All 3 of us jumped into the video and sent it to my Dad whose email address I hopefully remembered. The line up for this pavilion was measured in minutes, not hours. I highly recommend making the trip down there to see it. All those other pavilions could learn a lesson from this one. So enjoyable to see.

As we came out of Canada’s Northern House, I heard this little voice asking me if I wanted to trade pins. When I looked down, I saw the most adorable little girl with a whole lanyard full of Olympic pins. I wasn’t feeling very well at the time, I think I had gone too long without eating so I was anxious to get home and get some food. I felt so bad telling this girl that I couldn’t trade pins with her but I had to otherwise I might have been passed out on the sidewalk, that is how light headed I felt. I told her I could give her something and she wouldn’t even have to trade me anything for it. I gave her one of the Canada Loot Bags I always have with me and also gave one to her Mom and who I assume was her Grandmother. She seemed quite happy with that and even was mildly excited about the Toronto pin. I asked them to visit my blog and write a comment about their Vancouver Olympic experience. We’ll see if they do!

Walking down Robson Street before the Canada/USA game started was absolutely nuts! Honestly I have never seen anything like it. Tons of people with flags draped around them, wearing them cape style. Painted faces, wigs and costumes seemed to be the norm today. In front of one store a DJ was blaring music and some people were dancing, maybe even break dancing. Ten youngsters from Sweden were decked out in Sweden flags, yellow tights, wigs and whatever else they could find. They actually got the Canadian crowd to give up a few cheers for Sweden. As we made our way back to the condo, who do we see when we are crossing the street but Rick Hansen! My Mom started screaming, “Hey do you know who this is?” and I said yes of course I do, and then she proceeded to grab his hand and say “Nice to meet you”. Unfortunately we were crossing the street otherwise I would have stopped and taken his picture. I hope my Mom didn’t scare him, she was just excited. It’s not like seeing Canadian legends while you are crossing the street is an everyday occurrence. Going to have to add him to my famous celebrity citings. He is in good company with Dean and Dan Caten (Dsquared), Brian Williams from CTV, and Jenn Heil.

Obviously we watched the Canada/USA hockey game and were disappointed like everyone else. Then I heard Canada’s Kristina Groves won a silver medal in her 1500 m race and it was a happy day again. And then I saw Canada figure skaters Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skate their original program and they were stunning, amazing, unbelievable! And I will get to see them skate tomorrow night which is super cool!

Our night finished off at Robson Square and their “Ignite the Dream” light and pyrotechnic show. I would have loved to take video for you but my battery was dying. Maybe I’ll get to it again one night this week and get video for you then. Robson Street had tons of people on it as usual and despite our hockey loss everyone was still in a good mood and ready to party. Dancing in the street to drum beats, street performers and tons and tons of Canada flags. There didn’t seem to be any problems in the crowd as far as I could tell.

After the Ignite the Dream show was over we went to check out a group performing at one of the stages set up around Robson Square. I believe it was a group called SoJourners. They were fantastic. People were up and dancing in no time. We stayed for a few songs and then made our way back home. The days in Vancouver are long and busy and tend to go by very quickly which doesn’t surprise me, but does disappoint me. I want them to last for so long!

Tomorrow will be another exciting day as I finally get to see my first Olympic event. And with our Canadians currently sitting in first after compulsory and original dances, it is going to be a great competition.

For all of today's photos and a few from previous days, click here. I warn you, there are many!

Canada Medal Results

Kristina Groves – Silver in 1500 m speed skating

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 9 - Meeting Friends, Old and New

February 20, 2010

Obviously I’m still on Toronto time because I woke up at 4:30 am Vancouver time which is 7:30 in Toronto. After lying in bed for a few more hours it was time to get up and start the day. I am so happy to be back in Vancouver, I swear even walking the streets here is such a treat. Never in my life have I seen so many Canada flags, Canada apparel and tattoos of Canada flags and maple leafs on people's faces. It feels like I’m in another world here sometimes.
It was a stunning day in Vancouver. It was sunshine and blue sky, it felt like a Spring day in Toronto, like April or May. Really didn’t feel like February and winter. My brother and I walked my Mom up to the grocery store and then she headed back to the condo to cook which she insisted on doing, I tried to get her to come out with us. After we left my Mom, I took Mark up to Robson Square and we walked around for a bit. The crowds were insane, even more so on this particular day. I guess with it being the weekend, a lot of people came into the city to spend a few days in the Olympic fever. We caught a few glimpses of the Vancouver Mascots ice show at the rink at Robson Square. The little kids were going crazy for Sumi, Miga and Quatchi, chanting their names over and over. Every parent had a kid on their shoulders, so even though the crowd was about 3 or 4 deep we couldn’t see very much. It looked like a cute show. I’d like to see what other times it is playing and take my mom to see it. She would love it, and I wouldn’t mind getting to see it properly either.

We were supposed to meet one of my Twitter friends who is here from England covering the Olympics for a blog. She was going to give us a tour of the International Media Centre at UBC. Unfortunately she was running late and I couldn’t wait around because my good friend Jen from university was coming to meet me in the afternoon.

Jen, Mark and I headed to Yaletown to visit Tomarra at the Pink Million booth, a charity to help raise money for Breast Cancer. We walked around Yaletown, visited the Yahoo Fancouver site and had a photo taken, walked down to the Seawall, to the back of the LiveCity Yaletown site. As we walked up the street we saw a line up that was blocks and blocks long. It was people waiting to get into the LiveCity site. Honestly with the amount of people it had to be at least a 3 hour wait if not more. Like I said earlier there seemed to be an extraordinary amount of people in the city today so line ups would have seemed much longer than usual. I actually felt sorry for people in line. I’m hoping to check out that site on Monday morning, maybe some people will have gone home and it won’t be too bad, fingers crossed.

If you find yourself in Yaletown, go visit yahoo Fancouver and  have some fun. They even give out hot chocolate.

Mark headed back to the condo, Jen and I headed for dinner to a Greek place on Robson that she raved about. We were told there was about an hour wait but were seated within 15 minutes. That happened to us at Moxie’s the first night as well. Even weirder, it wasn’t even full at the Greek restaurant.  Food was mediocre which was disappointing. The restaurant did break out in cheers while watching the medal ceremony for our newest Gold Medallist Jon Montgomery.

For me the evening ended at the False Creek Yacht Club where fellow blogger, 2010VanFan, had a get together for all of her blogger friends and loyal readers. The club looks out over the Granville bridge and marina and has really beautiful views. Usually only open to members, it is open to the public during the duration of the Olympics and I encourage you to stop by if you are in the area. I would like to say that I’ll be back there but honestly I don’t think I will have time.

Tomorrow I think I’ll take my Mom and brother down to see the Olympic Cauldron and maybe try to get into another pavilion. Monday is our first event, Ice Dancing Finals, so I will need to spend some time watching the Original Dance tomorrow night to get some info on the competition.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 8 - I'm Back In Vancouver

February 19, 2010

It seems so odd that this day has finally arrived. Back in August of 2009, it seemed like a date that would never arrive. Even after my spur of the moment trip last weekend to come to Vancouver for the Opening Ceremony, I was aware that Vancouver 2010 had started but I'm not sure that it was really sinking in. As amazing as that trip was, Opening Ceremony was unbelievably amazing, this trip is going to be just as good, if not better. We have 9 events that we are going to over the next week and I will get to cheer for Canada as I see them compete in their events. I have posted my Olympic schedule so you can see if we will be at any of the same events.

Yesterday was a very long day. From getting up and to the Toronto airport to the flight, again West Jet TV's were not working, can you get your act together West Jet? Olympic fans are missing out on over 4 hours of action. Arriving in Vancouver and trying to get to our condo was a bit hairy, driving through downtown is not fun, especially coming into the area where we are right at the foot of BC Place and GM Place (Canada Hockey Place for the duration of the Olympics). Again some very friendly Vancouver people stopped to help us find our way. I'm telling you if you need help finding directions and there are no blue jacket volunteers around, stand on the street with a map and within 10 seconds a friendly Vancouverite will be at your side asking what you are looking for. This has happened to me twice now and I am very grateful for their assistance.

We eventually found the condo when Paula from Mode Suites came looking for us. We have beautiful views of Russia/Sochi House, the Olympic Village, the mountains and we can see those sail things too from where we are.

After watching Mellisa Hollingsworth do her final skeleton race, we headed out for dinner to Moxie's across the street. By this time we were starving, not having had a decent meal since breakfast which was on Toronto time. Then it was up to the grocery store for some basics to last us through breakfast and lunch for the next day. For my Mom and brother it was the first time they were really walking through the streets of Vancouver. My Mom thought it was hilarious. People were screaming and cheering, high fiving others in the street. I think she got a kick out of it. Mark as always was pretty subdued about it.

It was back to the condo and none of us lasted long beyond 9pm, that is midnight for us Toronto people. Hopefully we'll adjust to the time soon. I was up this morning at 4:30 am BC time and that is not something I want to continue doing!

Saturday and Sunday will be spent exploring more of the wonderful free events of Vancouver 2010, and meeting up with friends old and new. I'm back now so I'll try to keep my posts up to date. I can't even tell you how great it is to be back!

I would like to say that I don't think Mellisa Hollingsworth has anything to feel bad about. I saw an interview she did where she was crying and said she feels like she let down Canada. I realize maybe 5th place isn't where she wanted to finish but that is nothing to be ashamed about. She is representing our country fabulously, even if she didn't win a medal. Representing your country is about more than winning a medal, it is about grace, dignity and good sportsmanship. Melissa is all of that and more so chin up kiddo, no one in Canada thinks any less of you.

My Mom is American

Have I ever told you that my Mom is American? Born and raised in Detroit, MI, she moved to Canada when she married my Dad. She hasn’t lived in the United States since then but she is still very much an American even though she loves living in Canada. Sometimes I forget she is American until some Detroit team comes on TV or we start planning our annual shopping trip to Michigan. Even though she doesn’t have dual citizenship, we all treat her like she does. Her love of Canada is evident and she has always loved living in Canada. When it became known that she would be accompanying me to the Olympics, it raised the question of who would she cheer for? Like I said she is still very much devoted to her home country of USA yet also very loyal to Canada.
I jokingly asked her who she would cheer for if something came down to a USA vs. Canada final. She very diplomatically replied she would be cheering for Canada. I have told her several times that is ok for her to cheer for USA, many people will cheering for many countries other than Canada. I even asked her if she wanted to bring her USA flag. I have no problem sitting beside my mom and having her scream and clap for USA and me doing the same for Canada.

She has solved the problem by building a combination of USA and Canada paraphernalia into her wardrobe. She has her beaded USA flag purse, a USA bandana which she has Canada and American pins on and conveniently enough the red and white she will be wearing for Canada is also 2 out of the 3 USA colours. I am also on a mission to collect some USA pins for her to add to her outfit. I’ve already given her the USA Welcome to Vancouver pin, the USA Flag Walk button and the Canada/USA flag together. I saw a pin trader with a USA pin and the Olympic rings. Maybe I’ll run into one of those again so I can make a trade. In any event if my mom wants to stand up and cheer for USA, I’ll be right beside her. I did stand up and cheer for them at the Opening Ceremony, but tomorrow when Canada plays USA in Men’s Hockey, I will be cheering for Canada all the way. For any other event I have no problem cheering for both. And Mom can cheer her heart out for USA if that is what she wants to do.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Thank You's

As I get ready to head out to Vancouver for my second trip, I want to list a bunch of people I need to thank. It is early, the Olympics are far from over but I would like to do it now before I start getting caught up in all the Olympic hoopla again.  This trip would not have been possible or gone as smoothly as it has without the help and patience of those listed below.  There are also several who have helped make this the most memorable experience and I am deeply grateful to them.  My thanks goes out to:

Inside Vancouver
Vancouver City Hall
West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce
Hello BC
Tourism Vancouver
Craig Smeaton
Michael Allison
Office of Michael Ignatieff
Office of Laurel Broten
Toronto City Hall
Mode Suites
Molson Canada
Erin Stanford
Cindy-Torch Bearer from Oshawa, ON
My Family
Kate, Robert, Julie, Andrea-for the Kindness of Strangers

And a very special thank you to my hostess this past weekend, Tomarra. Without her extending her home to me so graciously, I never would have been able to make my Opening weekend trip and I would not have been able to see the Opening Ceremony.  I have amazing memories from that trip because of her kindness and generosity.  I can never thank you enough but I can try!

To all the people I have met so far, you are just as much a part of this expereince as any Opening Ceremony or Olympic event.  You are the people I will be in touch with long after the Olympics are over.  May Vancouver 2010 friendships last for a very, very, long time, dare I say a lifetime?
To all the people I am going to meet next week, I look forward to it. 
See you in Vancouver again really soon.

I will continue to add to this list as necessary.