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 www.asirarch.net. 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. www.bright-light.ca.
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.