Vancouver Olympics – Day 8

Well, this was my first day out in the city that I didn’t take any notes! Usually I do so, but I can blame Mr. A for being far too distracting and engaging and making it totally slip my mind.

Today was a lazy morning. After Grandma and I showered, we went to the SilverCity theatre at Metrotown. We try to catch a movie together each time I come out, and as Mr. A wasn’t due until later that day, this seemed like the perfect opportunity! We decided to see “When In Rome” for lack of a better choice. Overall I laughed a lot, though I had a hard time with Jon Header‘s acting (I can’t STAND his delivery… never could. I only watched Napoleon Dynamite on DVD at my sister’s insistence…) but I was pleasantly surprised at Lee Pace‘s cameo (I adored Pushing Daisies!). I won’t buy it on DVD but I still enjoyed the film overall. I don’t think Grandma was particularly thrilled though. You can read her review on her blog.

As we were leaving the theatre I called Mr. A on his cellphone but he didn’t pick up, so I texted him. I assumed he was driving, as his ferry would have come in shortly before. For those of you who don’t know, BC has recently introduced a ban on all cellphone and small device use in cars by the driver while driving. Sure enough, he pulled over and answered my text, telling me he’d be home shortly after we would be.

He showed up with coffee for Grandma and flowers for me. However, they became Grandma’s flowers for 2 reasons: they would have been impractical to take home and he always forgets I hate carnations. They were pink though, so I suppose he got PART of it right ;)

After getting settled, I had him try on the shirt and the hoodie I got him. The shirt was too big (their men’s sizing is a bit weird) but the hoodie fit perfectly, so we packed up the shirt and headed out to exchange it.

After waiting through the usual line, we got into the store. My friend Jon had instructed me to send him a postcard (he lives in Ireland right now) so I went to look for those and I sent Mr. A to see if any of the other men’s stuff in his size suited him.

Unfortunately Mr. A didn’t find anything he liked, so we decided to get a small pewter spoon for his mom’s collection and I picked up a few other trinkets, including a deck of cards and a luggage tag. The cards are so cute! They’ve got mascots everywhere!!

My grandmother had instructed me to look for the Olympic torch pin I’d seen the other day, but unfortunately they were sold out. The pin area was right next to the Coca-Cola section and he b-lined for the concession area. Little did we know that aside from the aluminum cans they have (in the shape of the traditional coke bottle) they also had classic glass bottled Coke! Mr. A bought one and had it cracked open immediately. He’s a bit of a nutter for Coke, and he couldn’t resist a glass bottle of it for the life of him.

Next we headed farther into town, looking to get a few shots of the Olympic Cauldron. As it was still light out (and I wanted night shots of the cauldron), we headed into a mall down on the waterfront which contained a food court. In that food court was a Ricky‘s Express (which I’d never seen before) and we decided to have a little dinner date while waiting for the sun to set. He ordered a cheddar bacon burger and I had a roast beef dinner.

We ate our dinners and before we left the mall, Mr. A wanted to get a coffee so we headed over to the Timmy‘s in the food court, and then headed out. Twilight was just finishing as we exited the mall, so the lighting was great. I wished that I’d had my tripod with me, but no such luck. It would have prevented all the blurry photos I took due to the extended exposures.

There was quite the crowd in front of the torch, but we wanted to get to the viewing platform. The line was extensive, but we only waited about 30 minutes or so to get through. Here are some shots from the stair way was had to go down in order to get in line.

On the way, there was an okay view of the rings that have been sitting in the bay.

When we got fartheron in the line we figured out why it was moving quickly. At the bottom of the line (once the torch was in view) Olympic staff were ordering people to keep moving, saying there were better views at the top but once you got to the top, they ordered you to keep moving because there were so many people behind! The whole POINT of the viewing area was so that people could get good clear shots of of the cauldron. It seems a little asinine to keep yelling at them when they just want a good photo and then to go.

After exiting the line and the cauldron area, we headed towards the Waterfront Skytrain station. I took a few more pictures on the way.

We passed by Canada Place, which has the sails everyone is seeing from their news broadcasts, and I got a picture of the Vancouver Convention Centre, which is playing host to most of the international broadcasting sets, including those for NBC and CTV.

From Canada Place it’s just a hop skip and a jump into Waterfront station. The last time I visited it, it was filled with people trying to get to Richmond. Maybe it was just the fact that it was night, but this time when I went in, there were no lines; there were still people, just not lined up like before. Not nearly as intense. Mr. A really liked some of the period features in this historical building so I snapped a few shots. The first is of the border that runs along the room, just below the ceiling and the second is of the old elevator dials above the ancient elevators.

We contemplated staying in town for the laser show at Robson Square, but I was pretty tired, and Mr. A was a little tuckered out from his day, so we headed back to my grandparent’s place. It was an early night (we got back around 8:30pm) but we all seemed to go to bed before 10:00pm.


Vancouver Olympics – Day 7

I went out this morning to meet my friend Jesse whom I realized later that I’ve known for 12 years! Our goal was to see a couple of pavilions and catch up. It’s been a long time since we’ve had the chance to visit.

My bus was super late but I still managed to arrive at the Main St. Skytrain Station before him. Jesse told me later that their train was having a problem with their doors not closing properly, so a lot of manual intervention was required by Skytrain staff.

While I was waiting I visited the Starbucks at the station and treated myself to a Vanilla Bean Frappachino.

Once he arrived, we headed to the Saskatchewan Pavilion, only to be told it wouldn’t open for another hour! This was very surprising as it was already 10:00am and most of the pavilions downtown opened at early as 9:00am. We backtracked a bit and sat down on some park benches and chatted for an hour.

We discovered that someone, or a group of people I suppose, had gone down to the shore and made HUNDREDS of little inuksuit with the rocks there! It was a mamoth undertaking and just awe inspiring at the sheer number of them.

When we got up to head back and saw the line-up to get in, we kicked ourselves for not standing in line earlier.

When we got inside we discovered the venue was very small, though they had a separate building for food and live music. We had a bit of a laugh as they were showcasing lentils. Yes. Lentils. Did you know that Canada is the largest export producer of lentils in the world and Saskatchewan is the most important producing region in Canada?

And canola oil. Did I mention the oil? It seemed a bit silly, and set up a bit like a high school science fair.

I picked up a few postcards based on Saskatchewan art which were available and we stood in line to have our pictures taken on a green screen with scenes of Saskatchewan.

I chose to get a wheat field background and Jesse chose to have mounties.

The irony of this was that when we went out of the dome, there were 2 mounties there standing and doing pictures with people! Ah well…

We poked our head into the food/bar/music building and were sorely tempted to have food. I spotted perogies and immediately wanted some, but it was $8 for just 6 small perogies! We said “screw that” to the price and left the pavilion to go over to Maison du Quebec (aka the Quebec Pavilion… “House of Quebec” if you want literal translation). Before getting there, we had to walk by the Molson Pavilion, which was closed at this point, but I liked the way they made the entrance look almost like a Canadian flag.

Quebec House was a very rectangular, very plain structure with no roof. However, the walls were supremely high and this managed to block out the sun, making it very cold. There wasn’t much here but a stage and a to get food. We also managed to get free scarves! They helped a little with a chill.

Once inside, we found out they were giving away free scarves! We both had to have one, so we traded spots in line to get one (you weren’t permitted to take more than one).

Half way through the line, we discovered that if you wanted to sit, you could take a table and a waiter would bring the food TO you. We managed to snag a table and the waiter took our order. Jesse had a cheese plate and a coffee and I had a tourtiere with salad and a coke. Tourtiere (said “tor-tee-airh”) is a type of meat pie. It was all over priced but we wanted to sit and wait for the performers to come on stage.

Also, their forks were wood! That was pretty cool…

We were quite happy to find out the first performer was a folk singer! Jesse and I both thoroughly enjoy this type of music. The artist’s name was Alexandre Poulin and he kept apologizing for his poor English, but he was a very good singer.

Following his performance was a short demonstration by 7 Doigts de la Main (aka The 7 Fingers) which is a contemporary circus group.

It was interesting, but Jesse and I both though that this particular performance had a bit of a homoerotic feel about it. However, both thinking back to French film we’ve seen, we didn’t find this particularly surprising.

There was supposed to be a free sampling of maple syrup toffee or something like that, but we didn’t see it becoming available, and we’d finished our food, so we decided to head home.

As perogies were still on our brains, we stopped to get dinner supplies (we decided I’d be coming over to visit instead of heading back to my grandparents) and wound up going to the same Save-On-Foods I’d been to the day before. After gathering our cooking things, we popped into the Crystal Mall, which is right across the street, for bubble tea. I got a watermelon slush and Jesse got a taro milk tea with coconut jelly. We then took the bus to his house with our supplies.

When we got there, his wife Demia was out with his cousin (who’s name escapes me, but I’d met her once before) but they returned about 30 minutes after we did. The girls chatted away and watched Family guy as Jesse and I made dinner.

It was a nice evening, and a good way to follow up my super relaxed day the day before. Demia and Jesse drove me back to my grandparents at around 9:30pm. I wanted to get lots of sleep because it would be a busy day tomorrow: I was going to see a movie with Grandma, meet Mr. A and then do some wandering around Vancouver.

Vancouver Olympics – Day 6

Day 6 was a day of rest for me. This day had laundry, computer work and grocery shopping! I know it seems like a slow day, but I always enjoy spending Saturdays with my grandparents. They’re nice relaxing days.

We first went out to Save-On-Foods located on Kingsway at Metrotown. We picked up the regular stuff for the house, but Grandma also let me get some broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken! I love that stuff so much!

Once we got home, Grandma wanted my help to set up a flickr account and to help her with a few things on her blog. Blogspot does NOT make it easy to link pictures within your posts. The only way (other than hosting your pictures on another site – unfortunately flickr does not allow direct linking) I could figure out how to do so was to steal the URL from uploaded photos through your “gadgets” and then embed it with a standard HTML img code. However, I don’t know if blogspot keeps these images archived if you remove the gadget. Hopefully I can figure out a more reliable method. Working with blogspot has only reinforced my love of WordPress!

After poking around for a few hours, while simultaneously watching Olympic events on television, we did up the chicken and the asparagus I brought earlier in the week for dinner. It was so delicious!

After dinner, Mr. A got in touch with me and told me he was going to come out on Monday! This was very unexpected as we hadn’t planned it, but he’d been reading my blog and couldn’t resist. He misses being in Vancouver almost as much as I do.

The night ended uneventfully, but that’s a good thing. A great relaxing day in the middle of my Olympic visit.

Vancouver Olympics – Day 5

Today I got up early and was in line for the Olympic Superstore by 8:00 am. It was just as long as, if not longer than, yesterday.

While waiting, I had the opportunity to see these guys on the street. You may or may not know who they are, but they are infamous in the NHL.

I also received a complementary map of the Vancouver downtown area and it’s attractions from someone handing them out walking down the line!

Anyway, back to the Superstore line…

I had express instructions that if they didn’t have the jacket that Mr. A wanted, I was to get a hockey sweater (the ones with the big turtlenecks). If there were no sweaters, I was to get a jersey.

They were sold out of all. They hadn’t received any stock the night before :( I got a black Canada hoodie and a long sleeved t-shirt and I hope Mr A will be satisfied.

My feet were so fatigued, and it was pretty much making me cry standing on them. I bee-lined home. I didn’t want to be out any longer than I had to. It was really nice heading home as there was hardly anyone on the Skytrain going eastbound!

I also saw these really cute Skytrain ads for the Olympics:

In case you’re wondering what skytrain is like, I took a few videos of my rides today, and some pictures of the views.

After I returned home I looked online for the scarf I was trying to find (they’re called the lumberjack design due to their plaid).

They were SO EXPENSIVE online. HBC stopped selling them a while ago online because of the demand in Vancouver, and when people buy them and try to sell them again it’s at least a 200% mark up. They’re $35.00 CAD before taxes in store and on eBay they’re selling for $70 plus $20 shipping, and over $100 on craigslist locally. I found listings for offers over $120! Totally outrageous.

Luckily I found someone who was “taking offers” on her scarf. The highest offer she’d received was $40 (her ad hadn’t been up long) so I agreed to meet her in Richmond and pay her $60. Honestly, if I’d bought it in store it’d be about $42 after taxes, and it was worth the extra $18 if only to not have to stand in line every day at 8:00am with the hopes that they MIGHT get some in stock, because there was no other way I was going to get one!

I headed back out of the house at 4:30 pm. The flowers outside are blooming in the gorgeous weather we’ve been having.

I head to Waterfront Skytrain Station to transfer to the new Canada Line Skytrain route. I haven’t taken it yet so I was quite excited to do so! It was absolutely bonkers in the station. You had to take a line outside, around the block and back into the building before you were able to go downstairs to the ticket area and platform. It took about 30 minutes to do what would normally have taken 3 minutes. At least the view was nice, as part of the area they had us queueing was outside of Canada Place.

The trains were so crammed with people that I wasn’t able to take any pictures of the outside or inside! Hopefully I can take some on another trip. I met her and got my scarf and hopped back onto the train. It was just as busy going the opposite direction.

At one point, about half way back, a European couple got onto the train behind me and started talking in what I recognized as German. I know a little German so I asked (in German) if they were from Germany. They kind of gave a little start, but said “No, Switzerland” (in German) and asked if I knew much German. I replied (again in German) that I knew a little… very little.

The husband then said that it was quite unusual to find someone who spoke German out here. I know this because I had him repeat it in English. I explained that my grandmother was German (not the grandmother I’m staying with, but the other one). I then asked why they’d come all the way out for the games. They explained that they had 2 children in the Olympics as athletes! A son and daughter in the snowboarding half-pipe.

The people around us kinda perked up and said wow, congratulations, etc. One woman bedecked in Canadian gear turned and asked if we should wish them luck. I said immediately “Of course! Why not?”. There’s no point in being snide and not, especially to people from out of country! I said they must be very proud, but they had to exit the train at that point since we had reached the stop for the Olympic Village.

After returning home and looking up the Swiss team, identifying who the siblings were, I found out I’d been speaking to Mr and Mrs Haller, parents of Christian and Ursina Haller. Pretty exciting! Christian finished 17th in his half-pipe competition and Ursina finished 13th in hers.

Later, after transferring back to the Expo line to return home, I was jostled into 2 of the Czech Republic team members. I wondered where they were going, but they did not disembark before I did, so I never had the opportunity to find out.

Though I know these athletes are not Hollywood celebrities, for these 2.5 weeks of games, they are famous in their own right. It’s kind of fun to be brushing elbows with them and their families.

Vancouver Olympics – Day 4

Well last night sure sucked. I had heartburn and couldn’t sleep. So much for tacos. I dozed through the Colbert taping (which I’d been hoping to see) and I didn’t leave the apartment until 11:30 am.

I want to see the Saskatchewan Pavilion at some point, but right now I’m off to stand in the line for the Olympic Superstore to get a jacket for Mr. A. On second thought maybe I’ll wait until later tonight for that. I also wanted to see the Royal Canadian Mint Pavilion.

There were 2 lines at the mint. One was just for the mint coin displays, and the other was for the opportunity to hold the Olympic medals! The lines were huge though. The one with the medals was 3.5 hours long! And the other line was 1 hour long. I decided to stand in the one for the medals. I had no solid plans, so I could afford them time.

As I waited in line, an alarm went off. It sounded like an old-time war bomb warning bell. Looking around, I heard “Canada has earned another medal!” from a loudspeaker somewhere and I spot people in a window above the intersection. Apparently it goes off every time we get a medal! So cute. People started cheering all around me!

One thing I’ve noticed over the past few days is that camera crews are everywhere. And not just English ones! Plenty of European companies have crews here as well. A lady in line in front of me with kids was interviewed by what I’m fairly certain was a Russian crew.

Another line started just beyond ours, for a coin exchange! The Royal Canadian Mint has issued Olympic themed coins for the past year or so, one for each month. You could enter the line and change your regular quarters for a new Olympic quarter. They are doing a different coin every day.

Finally I got to the start of the line outside and received a hand stamp. I was permitted inside, into another line. At the end of THAT line, you received a white glove and instructed into ANOTHER line upstairs for the medals room.

They had a fun projection on the floor that kids were playing in.

After about 4 hours total, I was finally given the opportunity to hold the medals. There were two engineers from the company that produced the medals answering questions, as well as displays showing the creation process. The regular Olympic medals are round and the Paralympic medals are square (with braille on the back denoting the Olympic medal type). The medals, when placed all together, can make designs! The regular Olympic medals make the square design, and the Paralympic medals make the rectangle one. That would be SUCH a fun puzzle to do!

The medals weigh between 550-580grams each (just over 1.2lbs). They’re the heaviest medals to date. The athletes themselves chose the weight in tests with prototypes, saying they liked how “substantial” it felt. It truly is! I can only imagine how good that weight would feel when placed around your neck.

You’d think that the gold medal should have weighed more, but if it were solid gold it would be VERY heavy (too heavy to wear). However, the gold medals are made identically to silver, but they’re gold plated. The medals are sealed with a proprietary polyurethane substance. Once sealed, the medals will never tarnish and finger prints will not affect the metal and the smudges are super easy to wipe off.

This is the first time in Olympic history that a medal company has been permitted to display the medals and their creation process, and it’s also the first time that the public have been allowed to interact with real medals.

I left the medal room and headed to the gold room. The gold room featured a .5 mil 28lb brick of gold you could hold (I elected not to, there was a line), as well as a million dollar coin! There were also lots of other products from the Mint on display.

I used a booth downstairs to send a video postcard to Mr. A and I took a picture.

I went to the gift shop and picked up a gift for my Grandpa. He’s a huge coin collector! He doesn’t have loads of them, but he really enjoys it.

I headed over to the Olympic Superstore, finding the line still way back down the block. These two were on their way to the hockey game!

It took me about 40 minutes to clear the line. Once inside I discovered that they were sold out of the jacket that Mr. A wanted, though they may get more later. Apparently they go through so much merchandise throughout the day that they have to empty 10 semi-trucks to refill it at night! Unfortunately they don’t know what’s coming from head office in the trucks, so they aren’t able to reliably restock everything.

Coke had a cafe set up and a pin trading corner! I may go back here and see some more of the pins…

I picked up a Miga coin purse for myself and an art print of the mascots for my Grandma (she mentioned that she liked the picture of them I had on my blog a few days ago, and it’s that pose of them).

I was bone tired by this time and headed home. Our buses all have little “Go Canada Go” messages on them, rotating with the bus information on their LED display screens. I’ll try to get a picture later to show you.

Vancouver Olympics – Day 3

Day 3 was another beautifully sunny day. I woke around 9:00am but OH MAN was I SORE! My feet and hips were absolutely killing me. It’d been a long time since I walked as much as I did yesterday.

I grabbed a shower and headed out at noon. It was to be a short day out as I was hoping to spend some time with my grandparents. My first goal was to get to the BC Pavilion, as I missed out on it yesterday. We’ll see where I go from there.

I felt a bit like a salmon, throwing myself voluntarily into the masses of people. Going upstream as it were…

As the bus rounded the corner, I realized I’d left my cell phone inside and I tromped back upstairs to get it. I returned to the street to wait for the next bus and hoped that it was not a sign of how the rest of the day was to play out.

Feist‘s “1-2-3-4” started playing on my MP3 player as the bus appeared at the corner as if to say “cheer up and don’t fret”, so I decided not to! What happens, happens.

The driver smiled at me as I got on board and I recognized her as the driver from my trip home last night. I’m always polite to my drivers, greeting them when I board and thank them when I exit, and I wondered if she remembered. I think it always pays to be nice, of only for your own sense of pride and karma.

On my way downtown we went past the park Stephen Colbert was doing his taping of the Colbert Show in. It was quite messy!

I exited the train at the Granville St. Station and made my way to the gallery. On the way there I spotted this really cute table of hats and mittens! Apparently they’re knitted in Nepal and are part of the Fair Trade movement. I also passed by the same totems as yesterday, and some rickshaws. The crowds were intense.

I arrived at the gallery and the line was extensive. Even longer than the day before! It went all the way back down the block to the Olympic countdown clock!

I spent about 40 minutes waiting and chatting on various topics with a Vancouverite in line with me. One bag search later, I was in!

I went straight to the 4th floor and started making my way through the pavilion. The Forest Room was so cool! There were neat light effects, fish projected on the floor that responded to movement and a mist veil you had to walk through to get to the next room. We are a coniferous rain forest after all!

Once through the veil, you’re given an option to go through to the Green Technology room or wait in line for a 3D movie! They showed a little 2D movie of sights around BC. There was a very tall “You must be this high to take this ride” but then on the wall across from it, it said:

The 3D movie was presented by and it took you through BC attractions using sound, vibration, wind and scents! At one time it smelled like wild flowers, and another time like pine. It was so cool!

The Green Technology room was a little meh. There was a cool thing where you could make your own e-postcard though and I did that. There was also a bus simulator, which kinda made me laugh. Whoo… green bus :P

I went into the Multimedia Room and it was so neat! There were touch screens everywhere, displaying work and technology created by BC companies. You interacted with the things on screen, making flowers appear on trees, making snowflakes disperse with your fingers, rifling through movie clips ala Minority Report style movements on the screen and even a huge painting screen! There was also a really cool mural projected on one side of the room, and light poles in the corners. I approved!

I headed back downstairs to gather the information about the art I liked yesterday. They are as follows:

Emily Carr ~ “Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky”

Emily Carr ~ “Above the Gravel Pit”

Emily Carr ~ “The Little Pine”

Emily Carr ~ “Old Time Coast Village”

Brian Jungen ~ “Cetology”

E.J. Hughes ~ “Mount Cheam and the Fraser River”

Beautiful aren’t they? That “Cetology” was MASSIVE. it filled the ceiling of a 40′ x 40′ room!

I left the gallery and headed to the skytrain station again. On the other side of the gallery I discovered that they’d put up huge flower panels! Aren’t they beautiful?

I detoured to the Pacific Center. It’s Georgia St. entrance has been done up like a giant igloo! Outside, a girl was shellacking an ongoing art feature of polar bears on an iceberg.

Stepping in, I saw another sport viewing area set up (it was showing hockey at the time), as they are all over the city. This one was set up by Bell. Looking around I spotted a line, but couldn’t really see what it was for. Poking around a bit more, I peered around and saw an Olympic torch! People were holding it and having their pictures taken with it! It was very exciting. Of course I hopped in line and got pictures after waiting through the line.

I continued my trek back to the Granville St. Station, as I was aching all over, having not recovered from the day before and done a fair bit of foot travel today. I hadn’t eaten yet either, and I was tempted to go to the food court. It’s between the Bay Centre and the Pacific Centre, right underneath the street!

On the way there, I poked around inside the Bay Centre, checking out the Canada merchandise that’s not inside the Olympic Superstore, as well as the International merchandise. I love the designs on the Russian gear. It’s super pretty!

They also had some really good merchandise displays up in the regular store areas. I guess it’d be stupid not to with all those people. This particular set up was next to a TV showing the Olympics and across from a pair of chairs! Good resting place.

The line for the Superstore was ridiculous. I talked to a staff member and it’s pretty much always like this. They have cool stuff in there though, so I’ll have to try coming back later.

I made my way to the food court and consumed some Taco Time, and FINALLY headed home, amongst the crowded transit system.

Vancouver Olympics – Day 2

Today is the first real day out in the Olympic city. I woke up just before 9:00am and lounged in bed, working on my computer until 11:00am. I wasn’t due to meet my friend Miss K at Metrotown at 1:00pm so I had plenty of time ahead of me.

I got dressed in my Olympic hoodie and toque, which I also adorned with a few Olympic and Canadian pins.

I went outside to wait for the bus. It was excruciating: someone was cooking with onions and it smelled delicious!

On the bus, I turned on my MP3 player, turning on my “Olympic Random” playlist and headed toward the Joyce St. Skytrain station. I had no firm plans as to our direction, but Miss K and I like it that way when we go on what we call “photo adventures”. As you can imagine, this means I have a LOT of photos. Believe me when I say that I’ve trimmed out about half of them. Even so, this is going to be a photo heavy post.

I got off the bus and entered the station, going up to the ticket machine to add funds to my ticket (Translink has a VERY smart transit system) to accommodate my continued trip. I went up the escalators after receiving my updated ticket and got on the train. I caught one of the Expo line series trains. There are 3 types of train cars, as each time they add a new line, they add new cars. The Expo line, built for Expo 86, the Millennium line, built for the turn of the century, and the Canada line, which was built to connect the airport to the Expo line.

I was only heading 2 stations down and my trip is quick. As I exited the train I heard an unfamiliar announcement and I took off my headphones. They’ve done new security announcements warning people to keep their bags closed and close to their person to prevent theft. I wonder if they’ll keep them after the Olympics are done.

I made my way through BC’s largest mall and as I did, I noticed a few Olympic viewing stations along the way!

I eventually made it to the far end of the mall where entry into the office level is possible, and waited for Miss K’s shift to end. She works for a major cell phone provider who’s offices are located there. Unfortunately the only way to access the office level is by elevator and where this isn’t normally a problem, one of the elevators was out of order. This was causing major backups of people and the people who get on are not observing the direction of the car.

What this means is that though the car indicates it’s going up, they press a button on the lower level and it takes priority to the up command, making everyone in the car go in a direction they never intended. This meant that I had to go down 3 levels once I’d entered the car before it returned me to where I started and then finally delivered me up to the office level.

I sat on the floor, as there are no benches, and I was struck by how different this level of the mall is in comparison to all the others. Chatter and noise still drifted up from the other levels, as this level was not enclosed, but the design was calm, centered and focused. It was also carpeted, which of course a normal mall is not, and the other levels sport tile. I wondered how many offices are there as I noticed a mix of dress style from casual to business formal. As I waited, my leg fell asleep. Boo. I hate pins and needles.

I shifted my position and noticed a technician arriving to address the frozen elevator car. He was talking on his cell phone and from what I could gleen from his conversation, his day had not been a very good one.

A security officer came around the corner and headed over to me. He ensured that I was not some ruffian, and I let him know that I was waiting for a friend to get off shift. Miss K arrived a few minutes later and we took the fire stairwell to the outside exit. We chatted as we headed towards the skytrain station and took a westbound train into downtown.

We started our day’s discoveries with Japadog. If you’ve ever heard of Japanese pizza, you’ll get the gist of it, but if you haven’t, it’s basically crazy flavour combinations on your hot dog. For instance, I had the “Terimayo” dog, which is a beef hot dog (smokie style) with fried white onions, teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo and shredded nori (edible seaweed). I absolutely hate (and my body revolts physically against) nori, so I elected to have them keep that particular topping off. It was extremely tasty! I plan to go back to have an “Ume” dog, which is a pork bratwurst with red and white fried onion topped with plum sauce.

Miss K got the same as I did, except with a veggie dog (and she likes nori, so she kept that too), and she also got a drink called “Ramune Drink” by a company called Shirakiku. Apparently this drink has been around for quite a while in Japan, and it’s quite popular to collect the marble inside.

As we were eating we saw one of the Olympic shuttle buses for athletes and officials pass us by. Neat huh? I love all the branding…

After finishing our dogs, we stopped at a corner store and I purchased a Coke and Aero bar.

Next we headed toward the Art Gallery and Robson Square.
There is quite a history with the Robson Square outdoor ice rink and I’m quite surprised that they managed to refit it in time for the Olympics, but refit it they did!

We passed by CTV on the way as well as their little centre on Burrard. People were lined around the block to get some free pin they were about to hand out but we decided not to bother. It was insane.

We arrived in time to hear the announcement that there would be a mascots on ice performance (in between performances it’s used as a public skate venue). Also in this area was the zipline by Ziptrek Ecotours which has been installed for the duration of the Olympics. It’s a free attraction for those brave enough not only to embrace the heights, but also the long queue. For us Canadians this isn’t a problem (being part of the British heritage it’s in our blood) but I imagine there were quite a number of impatient people in line.

Miss K needed to run off to find a restroom so I sat and took some pictures of the zipline and skating performance once it’d started.

When Miss K returned, we went to queue for the Art Gallery, not only for its DaVinci exhibit, but it’s also the location of the British Columbia pavilion. The line was long but it moved pretty quickly.

When we entered, we were presented with a lanyard and paper BC flag!

We started with the first floor, where the DaVinci exhibit was showing, and this floor also featured other human anatomy art. We progressed to the second floor (native BC art and artists) and third floor (British Columbian artists) but by the time we headed to the 4th floor (the BC pavilion) they had stopped entry to prepare for close! We were so disappointed. I’m going to try to go back tomorrow and get in, but I would have liked to go with Miss K.

As photography is not allowed in the gallery, this is one of the only pictures I got. It’s Miss K in a room where you could play with magnetic poetry. I was also permitted to take a picture of their great domed ceiling!

Some of the art we saw was amazing! There were two Emily Carr paintings we really liked, and one of Mount Cheam by an artist I don’t know, and a dinosaur-like skeleton constructed solely of white deck chairs! When I go back tomorrow I’ll get the names and link them.

Miss K and I were starting to get tired so we decided to head over to Chinatown as our last stop. Miss K is half Chinese and wanted to see if there was anything cool going on down there for Chinese New Year, even though we were technically a day late. We took the Knight St. bus from the Pacific Centre. There was a lot of neat displays on the way!

We got off the bus at Tinseltown mall and decided to poke around in the Asian dollar store. I LOVE Asian dollar stores. You can find the coolest stuff! They are fabulous sources of bento-making products, super cute stationary and other useless and adorable things. I wanted to get a lot of things, but I didn’t have the money to do so, so I had to be particular. I ended up buying a package of 2 blank puzzles, which I hope to turn into art, and a little note block with fishes on it.

We headed up to the food court and Miss K ordered us bubble tea while I took the opportunity to go to the washroom. When I returned, a delicious fresh honeydew melon slush was waiting for me! I don’t like bubble tea myself, but most of the bubble tea places also make fresh fruit slushes. Normally I get watermelon or kiwi, but I was feeling the honeydew today. I love them because it’s like biting into a fresh and invigoratingly cold piece of fruit. Miss K had a watermelon one with pearls.

While we sat and drank and rested our feet, we checked out the photos we’d been taking all day, and we checked our phones for texts. Mr A had been messaging me all day and I took the opportunity to text him back a bit. We really miss each other. Sappy, I know.

Finally, we popped into an art store on the same floor. It had amazing artists in it. There were a LOT of things I wanted, especially this LARGE format painting as well as a handful of other things.

We left the mall and started walking down Pender St. popping into a few Chinese gift shops along the way. These stores are always fun and full of neat Asian items and touristy knick-knacks. We spotted a narrow alley with lanterns hanging in it, and as we were taking pictures of said alley, the gentlemen behind us told us to go in; we did, although we were somewhat unsure of what to expect. We got past the area that had ceiling and it opened up into this amazing display. White umbrellas were strung across the heavens, some with a red light illuminating them, and others dark.

We found out that it was a presentation of “GO! GALLERY: A temporary gallery for permanent change.” I’ve copied the following from the back of their business card:

GO! GALLERY is a collaborative production comprised of light-based installations, video projections, performances, and community events which occur in the Yue-Shan building in Chinatown Feb 12 – 28. For details, visit GO! GALLERY is part of “Bright Light” a city-commissioned public art program that will occur during the Olympics and includes 23 temporary art installations along Carrall St.

They have walking tours going on as well, which I want to look into before I go back to the island.

After leaving the beautiful setting, we set back along Pender toward Main St. Miss K stopped in at a Chinese bakery and purchased a number of things including lotus-seed mini mooncakes. She gave one to me and it wasn’t half bad. It’s no cupcake, but for a new and interesting substance, it was worth the nibble.

We headed down Main St. eating our pastries and passed by a Russian themed gift store. They had ALL SORTS of crazy nesting dolls in the window, including one of the last 5 presidents of the USA and one with Harry Potter characters!

We also went past the Pacific Central Station. This station has great significance for me as I spent a good 8 hours in it when I was 16 and ran away from home. I was waiting for a bus to Michigan. Long story. Don’t want to tell it. Anyway! It’s a BEAUTIFUL old building. Before it was the Greyhound station, it was the main train station for Vancouver after Via Rail moved the station from Waterfront Station, though it still handles the occasional train.

Finally, we made it onto the Main St. Skytrain Station platform and headed east, back to our respective stations. Miss K exited the train at the Commercial St. Station and myself at the 29th Ave. Station. I was tired and sore and eager to go to bed (even thought I’m NOT ASLEEP YET! Stupid blog – that was 4 hours ago!). I took the 26 bus back to where I’d left 8 hours earlier.

Vancouver Olympics – Day 1

Last night was a LATE night for me. I was up until 1:00am making sure that everything was where it should be in preparation for my morning this morning. I am not unaccustomed to making the trek across the water to Vancouver, but I normally don’t have the world traveling with me. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I was aiming to catch the 11:00am ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen, BC (aka, Victoria to Vancouver). I left my house at 9:45am to ensure that I made the sailing. The trip is about a 30 minute drive, but I didn’t know what the lines were going to be like.

The ferry terminal was extremely busy, even for walk-on traffic. The waiting bay was full and the sailing at 80% full with another 40 minutes until the ferry was due to leave. I don’t know if the sailing sold out, but I wouldn’t have been surprised. The only time I’d seen it busy like that was from the Vancouver side, when spring break was over for the university students and everyone was heading back to the University of Victoria.

Looking around I could see that I’d be taking an S-class ship, also known as the “Spirit” ships due to their naming schemes. In this case, it was the Spirit of Vancouver Island.

Everyone was murmuring about the Olympics; thoughts on the day’s events, complaints about spectator limitations in venues if you don’t have an event ticket and social commentary about VANOC and the IOC decisions from the last 7 years that has affected local business.

Even before the ferry finished docking for unloading, people crowd toward the loading doors. It’s a crush of people and languages.

Something that always drive me crazy is when individual people shove and jockey for place, cutting off old ladies and generally thinking themselves more important than everyone else. Why does this happen? You’re all going to get on with enough time to find seating.

While waiting for the doors to allow us on, I was surprised at the number of people coming off. There were nearly the same number of people exiting the ferry as were waiting to board.

Once we are allowed to board, I knew where to head. I am accustomed to taking these vessels to and from Vancouver as I take the trip frequently. Normally I bee-line for the 5th floor (main floor, the first 4 levels are reserved for cars and engines) seating area near the exit doors for easy access when we arrive on the other side. This time, however, I went upstairs to the 6th floor to the family seating. This area has access to the outdoor viewing decks and it allows me to go outside for easy photos.

There was strategy in my seat choice too. I didn’t choose a seat closest to the doors, but rather closest to the public electrical outlets. There are precious few available to passengers and it allows me to charge my laptop during the trip. There is no wireless available on board, but I am always prepared for the inevitable boredom. I’d loaded the audio book for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince to my computer.

I was one of the first in the room, but shortly after I’d arrived, the seats start filling. Two girls who were clearly into anime (sporting a bag themed with Kyo from Fruits Basket and a few Naruto pins) sat behind me and when I struck up a conversation, they told me about the anime series they were currently watching (and intend to watch during the 1 hour 35 minute trip). I intend to look some of them up later.

There were televisions in the seating areas and whereas I heard it clearly when I’d entered the room, it was pretty much inaudible as the room filled with conversations and children playing.

I plugged in my laptop and settled in for the dulcet tones of Mr. Jim Dale, crooning to me about Harry and his adventures.

The sailing was calm and the weather was beautiful with a mix of sun and cloud. At one point I’d had to get up and take off my hoodie due to the warmth of the sunlight. There was a clear view of Mount Baker and more of the mountains viewable from the Georgia Strait. They appeared to have received a fresh dusting of snow. I can only hope we get more of it here.

Later, though the room chatter remained high, I’d noticed people cheering. While I’d been listening to my book, someone had turned up the volume and the Men’s downhill event was being broadcast. The majority of the people in the centre of the room appeared to be watching. I’d glanced over in time to see one of the Canadian skiers crash, much to the room’s dismay.

About 15 minutes from shore, the ship’s alarm klaxons sounded. Everyone froze. I quickly put my notebook away and awaited to hear what we should do. Shortly after the alarm was disabled, an announcement came over the intercom, telling us to disregard the alarm as it was a safety alarm for one of the handicapped bathrooms. That poor person! They must have been so embarrassed.

I made my way downstairs, hoping to avoid some of the rush to the doors I knew was soon to come. Unfortunately, quite the lineup was already forming. I waited, in line, near the rear of the room and when no one moved during the “please return to your cars” announcement, I knew I’d be waiting longer than normal.

Mrs. M and her friends Miss C and Ms. N were waiting for me and waving when I arrived. They had come to deliver me to my Grandparent’s place.

We arrived at the apartment complex, and discovered they weren’t home. I attempted to call them, but with no answer on their house line or cell, we decided to go to Starbucks until they came home. We went to the local one, and I sprung for their drinks. Mrs. M mentioned she needed produce and luckily there was a Kin’s Farm Market in the same complex as the Starbucks we were in. We decided to pop in there after. Nearing the time we were wrapping up our chatting, I called my Grandmother‘s cellphone again and this time she picked up. We’d let her know we were coming to the apartment after we stopped to get groceries for my sister.

While we were getting groceries, I picked up some snap peas, cucumbers, apple-pears, strawberries, grapes, asparagus and brussel sprouts. I love fresh fruit and veggies!

We got to Grandma and Grandpa’s and things started to settle down. I delivered some video games to my sister (she wanted to borrow some) and gave her a soundtrack she wanted. The girls all visited for a bit and then headed back out. Grandma, Grandpa and I have just been relaxing, watching the Olympics on TV and just having enjoyable conversation. Tomorrow I plan on going into town with my friend Miss K and taking lots of photos!

Olympics 2010

Vancouver. My surrogate home city. I. Am. So. EXCITED!

I’m traveling to stay with my grandma and grandpa for about a week. During this time I’ll be taking in a number of the free venues. As such, my next few posts will deviate from the standard format, and rather will chronicle my trip.

I have a handful of merchendice items, including the famous red mittens, a grey “CANADA” hoodie, a woolen Canada toque and an umbrella.

Did any of you watch the opening show yesterday? It was great! Mr. A and I are going to be getting the commemorative DVDs available through pre-order from CTV of the Olympics, because he wants them. I wish I’d known about stuff like that before. I’d have totally gotten the 2008 games in China. Their opening and closing ceremonies were absolutely amazing. Ours weren’t QUITE as good, but they were still quite good :)

My favourite part I think was the whale bit (if prompted with which program to use to watch this video, use Quick Time). It was a 2D projection on the stadium floor, using hidden spouts to make water spray, making it 3D as well. KD Lang’s performance at the end of Hallelujah was amazing as well. I have to admit I cringed when we had the torch malfunction >_< For more great moments, visit Mahalo which has great clips from the NBC broadcast.

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, you have made the grade!

Strawberry Cookies

That’s right. Strawberry cookies. Not cookies that taste like strawberries, but rather ones that look like them.

Last week I was making sugar cookies with my friend Tally, and I started using a strawberry shaped cookie cutter my mother gave to me years ago. Honestly I hadn’t used it before, as I wasn’t thrilled with the stem pieces, but I found that if I cut off the tiny little point of a stem, they could be really cute!

I iced these myself and I hope to make plenty more. Tally has a blog about her craft exploits and I recommend you visit it!

Strawberry Sugar Cookies, you have made the grade!

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