Olympic Sunday

Sunday dawned sunny, blue skies and warm. While Ty spent the afternoon watching the Russia v Czech Republic (I think) game from the dark confines of The Corner bar, I strapped on the inline skates for another cruise around the seawall. As soon as it gets warm, the siren song of the inline skates captures me and it’s off around the Park I go. This day was more crowded by quite a bit than Thursday so not quite as pleasant a ride but still lovely out. The north side of the Park never sees the direct sunlight in the winter because the sun doesn’t rise high enough; as a result, the bike path is slick and wet and difficult to skate on. On bikes, these conditions don’t matter but on skates they sure do so I always take that part of the wall with caution. On Thursday I’d seen a shirtless man in shorts running along Third Beach; today it was bocce ball players and more joggers in summer attire.

After returning to the ranch with tired legs after a last ditch sprint around Wainborne Park to get home, I met Ty for a coffee at Coo Coo, which was packed; people seem finally to have discovered this little gem of a coffee shop with its best cappuccino in town. Later we watched the disappointing performance of Team Canada in the hockey loss against the US from the comfort of our downstairs lounge, saving ourselves the money, and calories, that a trip to one of the local establishments would have cost. Some of the bars and restaurants here have jacked up their prices quite high – greed lives on – and I think we’ve given them enough business to date.

So far, I’ve seen long and short track skating events, a bit of the women’s aerials, pairs skating, bobsleigh and Canada’s great win in curling over the UK, on the TV. To me, the best moment, by far, has been Jon Montgomery’s gold medal win in the men’s skeleton and his post-race interview with CTV. It’s not every Olympian who can auction off a gigantic pint of beer with billions around the world watching. The guy’s great – good for him!

On another note, I find it incongruous, to say the least, that these Olympics are sponsored by, among others, Coke and Mcdonalds, two of the world’s largest purveyors of diabetes and obesity – talk about a disconnect!

Olympic Fever Hits Downtown Vancouver

The weather has been great the last several days and the sunny cloudless skies, and 15 degree warmth, have brought out the Olympic crowds en masse here in Vancouver. All the trees and bushes are flowering ahead of schedule, including beautiful pink Japanese maples and magnolia trees; these latter had only furry grey buds two days ago.

On my drive home from the Island Thursday it was so beautiful that I just had to slip on the inline skates and go for a cruise around the park. Since most of the action is downtown, the seawall and park are not nearly as crowded as they usually are – great for skating! As I made my way around the seawall, I saw that all the sculptures and statues gracing the park have been adorned with red Olympic mittens, including the giant English Bay inukshuk, the statue of Robbie Burns overlooking the rowing club, the bronze sculpture of track star Harry Jerome, whose mittens are gigantic red boxing gloves emblazoned with the maple leaf, and the mermaid girl at Lumberman’s Arch.

As well, the huge lions on either side of Lions Gate Bridge have big red mittens on their paws, as well as necklaces of world flags. As the days pass, more and more flags adorn the windows and balconies of downtown Vancouver’s condo forest, mostly Canadian but from many other countries as well. Cars, too, are festooned with flags – I saw one the other day with six large flags and a small flag garland flapping in the breeze as it raced by with horn honking.

Friday night I met Ty downtown at Waterfront Station – I was going to walk down, but as I came out of our front door, a pedi-cab was passing by; I flagged it down and rode in style down Seymour in the height of the 4 pm rush hour, with annoyed bus drivers honking at us along the way. Waterfront Station was a packed zoo of people swarming everywhere and, as usual, the German Fan Fest Beer Garden had an enormous lineup. Apparently, they’ve now just about run out of beer and are having to fly in a special additional order from Germany to keep up with the Olympic beer-drinking hordes. Not wanting to wait in line to drink beer, Ty and I headed down further into Gastown to Chill Winston’s, one of our favorite patio stops, where the crowds were less dense, and sampled a few glasses of Grey Monk.

From there, it was a walk down the block to the newly refurbished Blarney Stone for one or two, then a zip through Tinseltown, along the BC Place perimeter fence to Concord Place on the old Expo lands to see the pavilions there and marvel at the proliferation of tiny inukshuk sculptures that continue to expand and populate the waterfront of False Creek. After admiring these, we walked on through the Edgewater Casino plaza, with its stage and vendors booths, along the Seawall opposite the Olympic Athletes Village, and ended up at the Yaletown Brewing Company watching curling and nibbling on a tuna roll. Outside the crowds were thick with people, jugglers, fire twirlers, stilt walkers, and a sea of red and white parapernalia.

Every night at about 10:45 fireworks explode from Live City at David Lam Park, much to the chagrin of our cat and dog, especially the dog, who spends his evenings under the bed shaking, and the crowds party hearty all night long. It’s loud.

Saturday noon saw us lined up for the aquabus at the foot of Hornby and off to Granville Island, where the lineups for ferries, food and drinks conintued to be lonnnnnnnnnng. Once again, we decided to pass on spending 2 hours in line for a drink at the Bridges Pub, now the Swiss House for the duration of the Games. Instead, we caught some interactive art, visited New Leaf Editions, and lined up for half an hour at the Granville Island Bewing Company tasting room for one beer and some alpine events on the tube, after which we made our way back home on foot over the Granville Street Bridge with the rest of the hordes too impatient to wait for motorised transport. The city looks beautiful, the crowds are happy, and the Olympic experience is proving to be a positive one – hoorah!

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