An Olympic Experience in Vancouver

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I have been meaning to get to the Olympics for years, well for my whole life really. I am a huge Olympic fan and have watched every Olympics since 1988. Additionally, I am an Olympic historian and have been to every summer Olympic city and most of the winter sites. However, Vancouver 2010 was the first Olympic Games I have ever actually been to. While I don’t have any Olympics to compare it to, I can plainly say they gave the ultimate Olympic experience in Vancouver. The city of Vancouver is amazing, the country of Canada even more so and they have staged an incredible event. It is a better atmosphere than any Superbowl, World Cup, World Series, Final Four, NBA or NHL finals I have ever been to. I seriously did not want to leave.

If you’ve never been to Canada, you are missing out. Canada is the second largest country on Earth and has only 30 million people. Those 30 million are some of the nicest and welcoming people in the world. I always said if I wasn’t American I would want to be Canadian. I have always admired their feeling of national pride and the way they really love their country, their flag and their differences from the US. It is a nice feeling and something that I think many Americans have forgotten over the years.

British Columbia and Vancouver in general is absolutely stunning. I am sure most of you have caught at least a little of the Olympics and some of the amazing scenes and mountains that are around the city in places like Whistler which may be the nicest place on Earth. It is also host to the skiing events in this Olympics. Those are tough tickets and super expensive so I didn’t make it up there this time but when I was there it left a lasting effect.

After spending these three wonderful days at the Olympics and just soaking in the atmosphere and the people of all nations I am hooked and my friend Jeff and I made a pact to head to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Games and I can pretty much guarantee you I will be in London for the 2012 Summer Games.
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I arrived Thursday night and headed straight to the Keg in Yaletown which is the quintessential Canadian bar and steakhouse and is very popular around the country. My buddies Jeff and Cory were there and we spent the night catching up, eating and drinking and just soaking up the atmosphere of the city and the Olympic spirit.
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After a long night, we managed to get tickets to the Germany vs. Finland hockey game for Friday night. It was at the GM Place which is where the Vancouver Canucks play normally. Again the atmosphere was awesome and I adopted the Finnish as my favorite team…aside from the US and Canada of course. They beat Germany 5-0 and my man Teemu Selanne had a goal becoming the highest scoring Olympian hockey player ever.
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As you walk around the city by day and by night there are street parties everywhere with tons of cool things set up for families and even for regular people. For instance, you can get a picture on a zamboni on the street or dance to techno club music. If you really want, you can head to Granville Street for some real Mardi Gras style partying and a ton of beer tents set up all over. They also have tons of little Plympic realted set ups where you can ice skate and play hockey and even zip line across the city. The lines are the big detractor from these but if that’s what you want to do-it did look very fun.
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I preferred to stay in Yaletown most of the time and hang out in some killer bars and restaurants with my friends watching games on big screens and I have to say this. There’s a restaurant/bar called Glowbal and it has some excellent food and a cool vibe. They have this lobster baked potato and I am telling you it’s unreal. It’s a must if you go to Vancouver. The waiter said it was epic and it was just that…epic.

Saturday we tried to get tickets for the short track speed skating semifinals and final that featured Apollo Anton Ohno searching and eventually getting his record breaking medal. The tickets were being scalped for minimum of $600 outside the stadium so we made the executive decision to head to Yaletown and watch on the big screen and save the money. Needless to say we had a pretty big night and for the minute and twenty seconds the race lasted I’d say we made the right decision.

There was one thing that was pretty amazing I thought. We were at Earl’s which is another great bar/restaurant that has some amazing spinach and feta dip. The Canadians were staging a gold medal ceremony for the skeleton racer that won gold. As he was announced the whole bar went nuts with applause and when they sang Oh Canada the entire bar basically stood up and belted out the lyrics-including me-yes I have been to many hockey games and have managed to learn Oh Canada!

My point is the hairs on the back of your neck stood up because of how happy and excited they were for one of their countrymen. And in true Canadian style, the medal winner shared the medal with the whole country. It was one of those times where you almost wanted to become Canadian for a few days and root for them. Obviously except for when we played them in hockey and won 5-3 today!
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I had so much fun this weekend and want to thank my good friend Jeff, his girlfriend and Cory for letting me stay with them in their awesome apartment with amazing views of Stanley Park and the harbor as you can see above. I really appreciate it and for showing me a great time. I can’t wait to head back to Vancouver which has vaulted itself not only to the top of my favorite Canadian cities but is high up in all cities in the world. It is that nice that I could see myself living there. Also, we had amazing weather and just the whole scene and atmosphere of Canada at its very finest. I know it won over the hearts of millions this weekend and over the course of the Olympic Games.
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Here are some things I learned about Canada, Vancouver and the Olympics:

1. They are very expensive and the Olympics are there to make money
2. Tickets are not nearly as easy to come by as you’d think unless you want to take a second mortgage out on your house
3. There are some insane Olympic and National team fans
4. Hockey is beyond religion in Canada
5. Drinking is their second religion
6. Vancouver wins the world’s most livable city every year for a reason-it’s awesome!
7. Canadian people are among the world’s most gracious and welcoming people
8. They did an amazing job with security and making all the craziness manageable
9. I cannot wait until London and Sochi

Comments

  1. Sounds like a lot of fun!

  2. Hello Lee, I felt the same way after the games I went to in Lillehammer 1994. It is an amazing feeling soaking it all in and a great place to meet people from all over the world. Thanks for the story.

  3. They are fun to watch on TV too!

  4. The hockey game looks like fun. I am looking forward to this week and seeing who comes away with the gold.

  5. Sounds wonderful! I will definitely head to London 2012!

  6. I have a friend who is working for the Olympics to help plan for 2012 in London. Perhaps, if you\’re really nice, I could see if she could potentially score you some tickets 🙂

  7. 7 months to Sochi! Also, that Canadian who won the Skeleton event is now the host for the inaugural season of Amazing Race Canada (Summer 2013).

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