Olympics in Vancouver

The Winter Olympics are here in Vancouver. I will offer some assorted comments.

(1) We got some very bad press at the start, but I haven’t heard much from the grouches since then. Everyone agrees that the death of the Georgian luger on the first day was awful.

(2) The cauldron debacle was rightly criticized. Not the failure of one arm to rise during the opening cermonies, which simply added to the entertainment value. Rather, the disgraceful chain link fence protecting the outside cauldron. On the left, above, you see it with the public crowding up to a chain link fence to view the inspiring symbol. It was quite an appalling mistake, but the public outcry resulted in some improvements. On the right you see a view taken with my zoom pointed straight through the gap in the chain link.

That is the end of the bad news.

Have a look at that skyline.

(3) We just finished the warmest January on record and the weather was gorgeous for a week. (Today there was rain, but this evening beautiful again.) Here is the view last weekend from A’s new (rented) apartment in downtown Vancouver. She just moved there after a year living at home with us and is in the fashionable Yaletown area.

(4) We have no tickets to any events, so my observations are purely “from the street”. Since I’ve never been to the Olympics before, I can’t compare, but we have been downtown twice and have been very impressed with how happy and casual the crowds are. People from the Vancouver area were warned to make arrangements such as working from home, taking vacations, etc., to reduce traffic chaos. The warnings must have been heeded because my commute to work (albeit not to the city centre) is significantly better than usual. Locals are heading into the city centre in droves, but they are mostly taking public transit. There are lines and waits for everything, including transit, but people are taking it in stride.

The most remarkable thing has been the good cheer of the crowds.

(5) Half a block of Granville Street was occupied by young boys playing street hockey. Up and down the street  roamed groups of hockey fans dressed in flags. Normally I don’t like nauseating patriotism, especially from Canadians, but this was fun. At one point some brave Americans draped in the Stars and Stripes passed near some fanatical Canadians who roundly booed them, in anticipation of the  Canada-US game. (We all know the unfortunate results of that game!) A guy in a Russian jacket passed by, and the Canadians cheered him (anticipating another result!)

The many groups of fanatical Canadians were spontaneously singing Oh Canada at every opportunity, posing for anyone who pointed a camera in their direction, lifting little children and grown women up on their shoulders to pose, etc. They were so outlandish in their patriotism that it was entertaining.

Are these guys taking themselves seriously?

(6) Street entertainment was bizarre, with a boa constrictor, two abominable snowmen, batman and Elvis all in attendance.

(7) Would the celebrations be complete without the Coca-Cola truck prowling the streets?

Finally, an evening view looking south down Granville Street.