Activities in Vancouver, British Columbia during the Winter Olympics

By | May 2, 2010
You know what’s the best? When someone promises you something, and keeps hinting at it, and is continually telling you, “it’s coming,” and then they finally FOLLOW THROUGH!!! That’s the best.
That said, here are more stories from my trip, picking back up in Vancouver, British Columbia, February 18-24, 2010. (For previous posts about exciting things I experienced in Vancouver, see here and here. And if you want to get real crazy, and hear another side of the story, see Tom’s blog entries here and here and here.)
Here’s the crew of us, from left to right, disregarding who’s in “front” and “back”:
Jarves, Ev (that’s me!), Kyle, El, Aars, and Tom. The four of us visitors slept all crammed next to each other on the living room floor. Maybe slightly uncomfortable, but totally worth it, for free lodging, right in Vancouver.
We spent some time walking along the water’s edge, and I couldn’t stop being amazed! I couldn’t believe all the boats! There are at least 12 boats in this picture, and there were other ones I couldn’t fit into the panorama. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the mountains, it was an incredible sight.

And then, of course, you have the boats that are docked…

We did an awful lot of walking around the city. As I mentioned before, there were people everywhere! We saw a lot of patriotic people, decked out in flag capes, wearing Canadian mittens, with face paint on, waving flags, and chanting their country’s name.

Our entire group spent some time at Stanley Park, a huge, beautiful, popular park, with water views and great paved pathways that extend for kilometers. The first thing we did was stand in line to see the German “Saxon House,” not really knowing what to expect. We were hoping to see some exhibits or information about Saxony, or meet some international people, or somehow get a Saxon experience. After an hour of waiting in line, we finally were able to get inside to see what this place was all about. Disappointingly, it turned out to be more of a pub than anything, with expensive brats, sauerkraut, and beer for sale. That’s it. Luckily, our time in line was spent cheerily enough, meeting and talking to the good folks behind us.

We tried, during the course of our stay in Vancouver, to get into some of the other international houses, and most seemed to be the same – just glorified restaurants or pubs with really long lines and expensive food. Not worth our time. The ones with the three hour long lines (or longer!) were the places that had exhibits that may have been worth seeing, but there was so much more of the city that you could see in the hours you might “waste” standing in line, so we skipped that part of the Olympic experience.
One day my friend Marwan – a Vancouver native – showed us around, so we were able to do things that weren’t necessarily “touristy,” as well as get to the “best” places easily, without wondering for hours what we should do and how we should get there (which is one of my pet peeves about going to a new place with a large group of people).
We took the water taxi across to North Vancouver, a fun, cheap way to see more. This is a normal commute for some people, and I imagine they take it for granted, but I enjoyed it a lot.

A Canadian sitting next to us started talking and telling us about what we were seeing across the water, pointing out the different mountain ranges and giving us a little history. And another girl started telling us about her experiences helping out in the Olympics, transporting snow and building jumps in the pouring rain at Whistler. Sounds like quite the chore! She looked really really tired. I imagine it was a long week for her. She was headed home the next day, to coordinate an event back in Eastern Canada at the ski hill she normally works at, so it didn’t sound like she’d be getting much rest anytime soon.

In “North Van,” we climbed the Q, which means we walked up a spiral staircase that went up a couple stories, to the top, where there was a revolving “Q.” From the top, we could look down at the square, where a middle school jazz band was performing. The conductor stepped aside for a song or two and let these two adorable Canadian boys (see inset) lead the musicians. It was fun to watch!

Marwan, Tom, and I wanted a picture together atop the Q, so we asked an old man to take it for us. I gave him my digital camera and told him he just had to “push the button.” But he really struggled. Apparently he was used to film cameras where you have to look in the viewfinder, so he kept trying to hold my camera right up to his face, and naturally he couldn’t find where he was supposed to look. I tried to explain it to him, but he didn’t get it, so finally Tom gave him his camera, which is also digital but has a viewfinder. And we got our picture taken.

Later, we took the (crowded!) sky train to Commercial Drive, a neat stretch of cool stores and restaurants. This is where we ate Ethiopian food. We also popped into a cafe and listened to a band for awhile, admired the murals painted on the sides of buildings, and made an imaginary phone call in an old red phone booth.

Later that evening at Robson Square, we watched a free outdoor performance of Hawaiian dancers. It was fun to watch! And it felt good to sit down for awhile, as we’d been walking around the city all day long.

Later on, we went for a (nother!) walk, along the Seawall, seeing some hilarious laughing statues (frozen in poses of laughing), the laser lights that changed every 12 seconds, and the lights of the city, with music drifting across the water from the French house.

We came across LiveCity Vancouver, and decided to go in, as the lines didn’t seem to be too long. Once inside, we saw the WestHouse, a modern, sustainable house perfect for one person, very compact, but airy. (I’d love a place like that, myself!) Also, we saw Green Vancouver, the Acer house and the Samsung house. These places were not glorified eateries, and we were able to see some really neat things. There are incredible innovations are going on in the technological world, I’ll tell you that!

Then there were the fireworks! Some of the best I’ve ever seen, and they went on every night during the Olympics! There was music, laser lights, sprays of water, and fog machines. And the fireworks seemed coordinated; not the mish mash that I’m used to seeing back home. The colors went together, and the directions of the lights fit together. It was really cool! I absolutely loved it and was very glad I was there. AND THEN, we raced back to Robson Square, where there was another light show, this time with all lasers, and that was amazing, too. And afterwards, everyone burst into a spontaneous rendition of “Oh, Canada!” which I sang with great zeal.

Our last day, we woke late, went out for brunch, then headed to the Maritime Museum, for which we had two free tickets. Jarves, Tom, and I were the only ones left. (Aars and El had things to do, and our friend Kyle had already gone home.) The three of us were very tired, fatigued, unmotivated, slow, and exhausted from going, going, going for so many days. It didn’t help that this was our first day that wasn’t bright and sunny. Instead it was somewhat cool, rainy, and cloudy. We really didn’t feel like doing much.

At the museum, we watched a short historical video, and I almost fell asleep. It was like local history class all over again – a class I never had much energy for. The museum had a lot of cool shipping-related displays, and it kept me interested for awhile, but the tiredness caught up to me frequently, so it was hard to stay alert and focused.

My favorite part was trying on this old scuba diving helmet:

After the museum, we walked. To Granville Island, where we had spent our first day as well. Feeling extremely tired and lazy, we sat under an awning near the Markets, watched the rain fall and the people scurry by, and listened to a street guitarist. It was actually really nice. Relaxing.

When we had gathered enough strength to move again, we walked around a little bit and happened upon a parade of drummers and aliens. So, along with everyone else, we followed them for awhile to watch their crazy antics.

That’s not all we did in Vancouver, but I think that’s enough for one entry, don’t you? And it’s probably time to move on, and talk about the rest of my trip, if I have any hope of catching up to where I am now. (Which is in Alaska, by the way…)

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