I was one of the many that said she wasn't going anywhere near Vancouver when the Olympics came to town -- traffic snarls, high prices, total chaos -- who needs it? Tickets to an event never got a second thought -- I knew (or assumed) I could never afford them anyway. Then, as the Langleys prepared for the arrival of the torch, as local residents started wearing more and more red, as parties and festivities and celebrations took place, I started to get caught up in the mounting excitement. I watched the Opening Ceremonies on TV, and I was bitten. "Let's take the train into town tomorrow," I said to hubby, "and just wander around and take in some of the atmosphere."
Our first revelation came after we decided to take a chance on Sunday traffic and drive across the Port Mann. Hubby's sister lives near Metrotown; we could park at her place and take the Skytrain from there. Now normally on a Sunday the traffic is backed up some distance to get across the bridge -- what's this? No traffic! We got across to Metrotown faster than ever. As we joined strangers on the street walking toward the station, all wearing a little (or a lot of) red, a sense of urgency seemed to develop and the pace quickened -- the party had already started and no one wanted miss a thing!
The train filled rapidly as we sped into town -- young families, groups of teenagers, excited tourists, seniors. Red everywhere. People jostling, crowding, squeezing in -- but no complaints, all happy, smiling, on their way to the party. Where to get off? Science World? -- no, let's go farther into town. Stadium? -- okay, let's see what's here. We disembark with no maps, no clue of what is where and what one should see first. We'll just follow the crowds.
Crowds -- and line-ups!
And follow we did. We stood in line-ups that either moved quickly or came to a complete stop as eyes were riveted to big screens, hearts in mouths, watching Canada's finest do their best. We chatted with strangers. We walked down the middle of streets normally filled with angry traffic, now filled with happy people. We watched and waited as street performers worked their way to the big moment, but never really quite delivered. We listened to music from all parts of the country and the globe. We stood, transfixed again by the big screen in Ontario House with hundreds of proud Canadians stomping, jumping, cheering, ringing bells as Alexandre Bilodeau catapulted his way to a Gold medal. The crowd was delirious with Olympic fever as were we, a fever that was to last another two weeks.
Did I mention the crowds?
Did I mention the crowds?
Two more trips into Vancouver followed. We saw the flame, by day and by night. We watched fireworks and laser light shows. We stood in more lineups. We watched more big screens. We walked and we walked and we walked and we walked. And we were proud.