Thursday, February 11, 2010

After fighting rush hour traffic, we made it to the Calgary Airport in good time for our 6.15 pm departure. Seemed to me that everyone at the airport was going to Vancouver. Lots of Canada shirts and jerseys to be seen. All was well organized and no delays getting to the departure gate. Unfortunately, the pilot’s chair was loose so that had to be fixed before departure! Only a 20 minute delay and we were on our way.

Arrived at the Vancouver airport around 7.00 pm and again, all went well. Very organized and really cool to see the Olympic décor all over the place. Subtle and tasteful. You could definitely tell that something special was going on. Lots of Olympic volunteers on hand with really colourful jackets. Big SUV’s parked outside with Olympic logos for members of the Olympic family. I figured that must surely include me but I was wrong!

Picked up our rental car in seconds and were on our way to downtown Vancouver. The plan was to get there in time to see Michael Buble run with the torch at 8.00 pm but the loose pilot’s chair put some pressure on that. Nevertheless, we were determined to give it a try. Made it downtown in very good time. Traffic actually seemed quite light. Finding parking was a bit of a challenge but we eventually found a spot – I think it was legal! By this time, we had 5 minutes to get to the relay, which was about 10 blocks away. The four of us ran as fast as we could but we arrived a couple of minutes too late. We were in time to see the torch on the big screen as celebrations took place at a local park near False Creek. The place was heaving with people for blocks and blocks. The atmosphere was outstanding and at one point, the crowd broke into a spontaneous rendering of O Canada! Seems to me this place is ready to rock!

Fireworks lit up the night sky and we decided to leave at that point to pick up some tickets at the will call office in Robson Square about 10 minutes away. This is where things went south. The Square has been turned into a celebration base for BC and Canada complete with a skating rink a la Rockefeller Center in New York. The place was teeming with people. It is probably the Vancouver equivalent of Olympic Plaza and you really notice the world has come to play.

Finding the will call office was no easy task. Given that thousands of people have to collect their tickets upon arriving in Vancouver, I was surprised how poor the signage was. Come to think of it, there were no signs. Turns out the ticket will call office is located below street level in a bookstore that has been taken over for this purpose. The ticket windows close at 9.00 pm. We joined the line at 8.25 pm only to be told that we would have no chance of collecting our tickets as we would not get to the front of the line in time. At 9.00 pm, they shut the ticket windows and if you are next in line, too bad – come back tomorrow. We waited in line until the close just in case they decided to serve the few people left waiting to collect their tickets. Nope, at 9.00 pm, they locked up and we were told to come back another day. No easy task given that accessing downtown Vancouver in the day is a real challenge. Oh well, I’ll try again tomorrow before we head off to the opening ceremonies.

Leaving downtown to get to our place outside Horseshoe Bay was easy. Again, very little traffic. Lots of really cool light displays all over the place. It really is festive! We are all looking forward to the opening ceremonies tomorrow and Devon and Logan are really excited that there is an audience participation rehearsal about an hour or so before the real thing starts. They are so excited that they will part of something watched by millions all over the world. Anyway, it’s off to bed for a big day tomorrow. Did I mention it was raining?

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