February 11, 2010. After working until late the night before, then barely sleeping due to packing challenges and general excitement, Darryl and I were off to the airport at 5am or something. We got there by 6, grabbed some Tim Hortons, hung out, then I headed through security, which was successful. I went through 6 security scans in 5 days. Woo!
I was a little nervous about takeoff because I`d only ever flown once before, and that was within the province (just to Thunder Bay) in 2002. So It had been a while!
But then I saw this big awesome country, and things like this (I assume) Saskatchewan town. Wonderful!
I was seated beside some lame old couple who were doing work on a laptop. Much like I`m doing right now, since Blogger was being stupid on my PC. I strongly dislike laptops. I used my time taking pictures of the landscape. I love geography!
The weather was great, except for all of BC which was just grey outside the windows, which was slightly scarier. Sadly, I didn't get my expected view of the beautiful city. I saw grey, then I saw the runway. Later, I saw this very large Canadian flag on a building! But the first thing I did in Vancouver was rush to one of the ten Olympic stores in the airport and drop a ton of money on even more souvenirs. Awesome.
After checking into the hostel (which was nice), I headed to Robson Square, which was starting to become the jam-packed zone of awesomeness that it would be throughout the Olympics.
Wandering around downtown, I saw the largest-ever Canadian flag, on the Hotel Georgia.
I also found The Bay, which contained the gigantic Olympic Superstore. I only had to spend about 15 minutes in line before getting in, which was pretty good. Some people waited hours.
Their window displays were sexy!
Granville Street was closed off in order to accomodate many art displays, and to allow for throngs of people to cram downtown.
My favourite thing on the street was a lantern forest (this is only part of it) which comprised 2010 lanterns made by children. Who doesn`t love specific numbers of things made by children!?
Later, I was back to Robson Square, since quite frankly its the best place to be in order to find your location and get to somewhere else. The skating rink was pretty. Oddly, I NEVER saw anyone skating on it all weekend. Very weird.
On the other side of the square, I finally found the countdown clock. (At this point, I was still adhering to my strict itinerary, before it turned out that I over estimated how long things would take, and I actually had MORE TIME than I expected!). I got there about 20 minutes early, so me and a group of people just hung out waiting in the rain. Which bothered no one. At any point. Like it didn`t even exist.
It gave me 20 minutes to fiddle with my camera settings, and try to get the best lighting. Sadly, everyone kept moving around, umbrellas kept getting in the way, so my picture of the big moment was just a zoom of the clock itself:
Still, it was incredibly exciting for about 100 soaked people to glimpse that very second when the Olympics were just one day away. After the cheering died down, I turned to the guy beside me, who I hadn't said a word to, and said "Well that was fun" and he replied "no kidding... have a fantastic Olympics" and then we parted ways. That`s how it was. Everyone talked to everyone. Sometimes a few words, sometimes a question, sometimes a long chat. It was the most interesting thing I've ever experienced... Strangers being nice to each other, and interacting in a way I've never seen before. The people made it awesome.
After the clock hit 1 Day, I headed toward David Lam Park, expecting to get in and experience a torch relay celebration similar to the massive one on Parliament Hill back in December. But when I got there, the park was already at capacity, and Pacific Boulevard was jammed with people. Easily 100,000 were there. Again, the atmosphere was amazing. It was the 105th night, and the final celebration along the torch relay.
After finding a good spot on slightly higher ground, I watched the torch enter the city of Vancouver! They did a nice slow entrance, and eventually it went into the fenced-off park. So we crammed up against the fence, and actually watched the celebration through the fabric that was wrapped on the fence. And it was still awesome. There are few times in my life I`ll ever be happy to watch something through a fabric-wrapped fence.
After the celebration ended and the crowds dispursed, I walked up the Granville St Bridge to get a good view of the downtown buildings.
I was also there for the view of Vectorial Elevation over English Bay.
And it was only about to get better.