February 13, 2010. I woke up at some ungodly hour, yet again, and grabbed some delicious hostel breakfast. The awkward Dutch daughter of the owner of the restaurant always seemed confused when serving the meals. It was great. There were TVs so I got to catch a bit of Olympics coverage in the mornings as well, which was nice.
The bus stop was only about 5 minutes away. There were usually lots of people there when I was, and seemingly every time I was at a bus stop downtown heading home to the hostel, there was always someone else also going to the hostel. In a city of millions, I kept running into people staying at the same place, and that was WEIRD! This particular morning, I was alone, so it was picture time. [PS. the Vancouver transit system is phenomenal!]
I headed downtown to the Royal Canadian Mint pavilion. There was a quick entry line for the boring stuff, but I got in line (for a good 90 minutes) to see and hold the medals. First, the Paralympic ones, then BRONZE!
AND GOLD! :D
These beauties are HEAVY... and proudly made in Ottawa ;)
I also got to see the first ever 1 Million dollar coin. Its like a giant gold penny! Apparently the mint has sold 5 of these guys! Crazy!
On my way to the Olympic Bus Network, I had to pass by the Olympic Broadcast Centre.
Naturally, this facilitated a daylight stop at everyone's favourite fence.
And that breathtaking cauldron. Just being there made you feel good. And the stream of people going to see it were endless. What I'm really happy about is the fact that the same torch that was lit by the sun travelled the world, the country, and ended up in our cauldron. In recent years, fancy lighting tricks have often left the cauldron filled with regular fire, not the official flame. Way to do things right, Canada!
I got to ride the Seabus to North Vancouver, and we passed by the massive LED Olympic rings floating on a barge in the harbour. Soon, they would begin to light up every time Canada won a medal.
After an hour in the rain, 3 hours wet on a bus, then another short trip on a different bus, then a short hike and a security check, I was at the Whistler Sliding Centre. At first, I felt a bit uncomfortable. The entrance to the track is right here at turn 16, right where Nodar Kumaritashvili had died the day before. Knowing that you're about to celebrate in the very spot that someone just died is really odd. But there was a moment of silence to commemorate his loss. This was his event and everything.
Three forerunners slid down the track to make sure the timing equipment was working, and the competition was ready to begin!