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 Vancouver.ca. 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. :(