Frances Bula header image 2

Does Vancouver have enough to do for a city full of Olympics visitors?

February 14th, 2010 · 30 Comments

In the last two days, I’ve heard from two kinds of people: those who are over-the-top thrilled with the experience of the Games so far and those who are trying to be thrilled, but who have spent a lot of time roaming aimlessly in the streets, sometimes lining up for hours to get into venues and sometimes just giving up.

The first group are more likely to be those who have access to all kinds of events, who saw the opening ceremonies in rehearsal or on Friday or who have passes to various events or venues. It’s great to be a reporter. Want to go to an aboriginal feast? Take a free one-day trip to the Yukon? Right this way, my friend.

The second is people who want to participate in the experience of the city transformed, but who don’t have any special access.

As a result, they’re spending hours in line-ups at what seem like too few attractions to accommodate the tens of thousands of people who were flowing through the downtown Saturday and Sunday. You can tell there’s a shortage of activities when a crowd forms to watch the limos on the street waiting to whisk Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Vice-President Joe Biden away and when the line-up outside the Bay is hundreds long, which is what we saw last night.

The line-ups for downtown Live City sites sound equally daunting, as do those for many of the national houses. And one of the relatively easy-to-get-to attractions, the Olympics cauldron, is behind a chain-link fence. Hundreds of people still clustered around it, trying to get pictures over the top. Kind of sad, really.

That could have been compensated for if there were more street animation, but what I’m surprised at is how little there is. When I was covering the city’s decisions to close down blocks of streets for use as pedestrian corridors, I definitely had the impression that those streets would have a lot of activity along them. And the downtown business associations certainly encouraged their members to set things up in the street, provide activities, or add something to make for a lively pedestrian experience.

However, except for some booths on Granville, I didn’t see a huge amount. In fact, walking down Robson from Robson Square to BC Place was kind of weird. Except for a trio of Public Dreams-like characters walking on stilts near Sears, there was nothing — just a lot of pedestrians walking down a dark, empty canyon.

For me, what this really points up is what we’re still missing as a city. My favourite cities that I visit elsewhere are those that provide something to do besides just walk around or line up. They have places for people to sit and watch others passing by, huge plazas with steps or blocks of sidewalks lined with cafe tables and chairs. They typically also have a dense texture of interesting things to look at: shops, galleries, markets, stuff on the street.

Vancouver’s problem is that the streets that have the most of that kind of interesting urban texture are outside the Olympic zones: Commercial, south Granville, Main, West Fourth, Davie and Denman. And none of the Olympic tourists are going there. (For those who haven’t clued in yet, once you get out of the Olympic zones, the city is empty like on Christmas Day.)

Even Gastown, which should be the natural party street, seems relatively quiet east of the German beer tent set up at the foot of Seymour. But throngs of people are walking through all kinds of streets that have nothing on them. I was surprised to see that some cafes and restaurants on some of the most crowded streets didn’t even bother opening today.

I find myself feeling bad for our visitors, like a dinner-party hostess worried things are not going well.  We really do have an interesting city, I want to reassure them. It’s just not really where you are.

However, I admit that I haven’t walked every street or done any strategic thinking about how to enjoy what is there. (Except I think I’ll try to get into Sochi House first thing Monday morning — surely I can get in then?) Maybe it’s not so bad. What do you think?

(P.S. For Michael Geller’s report on the first night on Cypress Mountain, check out his blog post on same here.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Sharon

    Interesting observation Frances.

    18 months ago it became abundantly clear that the downtown core was going to be the big black hole for the Olympics. That is where the city focused it’s attention and its money. The Olympic world did not exist the minute you crossed a bridge with the exception of some street banners and lighting on Cambie. That was not just VANOC talking, that was also City staff.

    Yes, walking distance from hotels pretty much dictate how far visitors might want to venture but at what point is the downtown at capacity and at what point might a tourist like to see the REAL Vancouver. Downtown has turned into an Olympic venue.

    Business Associations have been talking street activation time and time again. Nobody was offering any help – we were on our own. Sponsors had to be VANOC sanctioned and the resourses had pretty much been sucked dry by Olympic sponsorship agreements. Host the City Happening money was spread out over 3 years and the dollars that were dolled out were so diluted that there really was not enough cash to do anything with it. Animating the street takes dollars and the cupboards were apparently bare. Yaletown has undertaking some activation but it’s hard to know if that is helping or hurting the problem of overcrowding.

    Then there was the problem of getting the City and VANOC to sign off on things they did not control. Potential brand infringement, challenges with traffic and crowd management (anyone tried to hire traffic control officer or rent tents lately) and it basically became more trouble than it was worth with no assurance that people would leave the downtown.

    I hope as the week progresses our visitors will realize there is much more to Vancouver than Robson Street.

    To the residents of Vancouver – enjoy the Olympics but remember to shop your local neighbourhoods and bring your visiting relatives with you.

  • wendy

    I generally agree with what you said. We started out on Commercial today taking our boys to their Sunday activities at Britannia. The street was humming with people. Afterwards, we headed into town to have a look-see. Our main goal was to show the boys the sculptures on Granville – something we thought we wouldn’t have to line up for (they aren’t good with line-ups). But when we got there, we could barely get near the sculptures due to the throngs of people there who had the exact same idea. Afterwards, we walked down Granville towards Waterfront, and there wasn’t a whole lot happening – a couple of buskers but that was about it. And once you start heading North, it really becomes a wasteland of sorts. The line up to get into the Royal Mint pavilion was truly insane. Perhaps this is why these spontaneous events (flash mob dancing and singing of the national anthem) are getting so much attention. There isn’t much else happening otherwise if you are not part of the inner circle.

  • Suzie Smith

    I liken downtown right now to a busy underground shopping mall right now – the kind that you want to get out of so you can breathe again. I work downtown and found myself seriously wondering what all the fuss was about late last week (although the torch relay was very cool). Without a backstage pass, it’s kind of like a boring movie with predictable dialogue (and identical costumes, I might add – does anyone not have a hoodie from the Bay?)

    Luckily, we can breathe in some of the best neighbourhoods in the city, with unique spots and restaurants that you can’t find anywhere downtown. The best and most unique Games experiences won’t be found nightly on Robson – they’ll be found in great shops, restaurants and pubs in Kits, South Granville, South Van and on the Drive.

  • landlord

    @Suzie : they’re not “identical costumes”. They are uniforms. That’s one of the things that makes people uncomfortable about the Olympics.

  • david hadaway

    Samuel Johnson said that when you are tired of London you are tired of life. He might have added that when you are tired of life you come to Vancouver. For visitors with children this has always been a one week city, and with the closure of the Bloedel and Petting Zoo that will go down to five days.

    Thanks to the games I’ve had plenty of free time lately and for the only word that fits most of the non elite venues is “sad”. I’m starting to think that future history books will lump these Olympics with the Ford Edsel and the Hindenburg.

  • Bill Smolick

    The lineup for Live City was HUGE when I went to the Wilco show on Saturday night. Wilco were slated to be on at 9, and I arrived about 6. The lineup went fully around the perimeter of David Lam Park.

    It took only about 20 minutes to get in. It’s taken me longer to get into the Vogue Theatre for a general admission show.

    In fact, if it had taken longer I wouldn’t have had to suffer the indignity of attending a concert by “Default” who I gather are a Nickelback clone of the sort that the world really needs far fewer of.

    I did meet a guy at the Mountain Equipment Co-Op today who said he didn’t get into the show, but I didn’t ask what time he got there.

    It *is* making me reconsider attending some smaller events such as Julie Doiron. I’m a big Wilco fan, so this one I was going to no matter what…these other acts that I normally see at places like the Biltmore I could just wait until they come back to Biltmore, which is better suited for their more intimate performances anyway.

  • Westender

    We had a great time downtown on Saturday afternoon. Roamed around a number of places, but do admit there were some line-ups we just weren’t going to attempt (live site with the Canada “pavillion” was one). Robson Square had a great energy. Robson Street itself was very active, and the 2000 “flash mobbers” were a slice to witness.
    It’s such a pleasure to end up in conversations with people on the street or while shopping in The Bay. Is our “guard” down because we are participating in a shared experience?
    Later in the evening, we were returning from dinner on South Granville and were surprised to see that Davie Street was dead. Did the customers head to greener pastures?
    I supposed a question for some of the BIA’s is whether it takes outside funding to wash the awnings, pick up garbage, or even encourage something innovative like an Olympics-themed window display competition? But perhaps that’s too much too much to hope for…

  • cqmoi

    You can add a third group of people: those who don’t look at every event, every day, as an opportunity to complain about something.

    If the line-ups were short, wouldn’t you be complaining that there weren’t enough people attracted to the city for the Olympics? Wouldn’t you be saying that it had all been a waste because nobody showed up?

    Please. Life is good if you make it good. If you look for something to complain about at every turn, you will find it.

  • gmgw

    There’s yet another group, Frances: Those of us who would like to see this whole gigantic dog-and-pony show magically transported to somewhere in central Siberia (at least there the weather might be more appropriate). I’ve been walking around downtown with a vague sense of nausea, hoping I won’t be set upon by a gang of jingoistic jocks who are mortally offended that I’m not dressed in red (even were I inclined to accede to such demands, I look lousy in red, anyway). It feels to me like the city– or at least downtown– has been occupied by an invading army determined to party ’til they puke. There are so very very many of them, these Redshirts (and Bluejackets).

    Maybe things will calm down a bit with the arrival of another working week. Or maybe this mass orgy of “patriotic” hedonism will just keep building until we malcontents are rounded up and sent to reeducation camps, where we’ll be forced to watch snowboarding videos until we convert or die. I dunno. But right now the whole of downtown feels like the Granville club strip does at midnight on a summer Saturday night. Helloooo Surrey!!! How soon ya leavin’?

    And now, to illustrate my point about reeducation, an adaptation of the closing paragraph of everyone’s favourite dystopian novel:
    “He gazed up at the enormous Jumbotron. Nearly sixty years it had taken him to learn what kind of sports spawned the competitions on the dark mountain slopes. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two Tazo-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved the Olympics.”
    gmgw

  • Rick

    Agree with you completely Frances, as someone without all-access passes downtown’s energy quickly becomes akin to the start of a high school dance: lots of milling about but not much action. Shame on VANOC for fencing off the torch so we plebs won’t block the all-important camera angles. And while I’d have loved to have gone into one of the pavilions on the flats I didn’t bring enough sunscreen for the 3 h wait under that blistering bright orange ball!

  • Busy but no line-ups for the Code 2 art exhibits at ECIAD on Granville Island yesterday. Some cool stuff to see and hear, such as electronics-infused apparel by Sarah Diamond.

    Particularly liked the video installation (name escapes me) that consists of a camera spinning around an average living room. Makes you dizzy and vaguely uncomfortable at the outset. People walk in, last about 15 seconds and run away. I think if you let it wash over you for a bit longer it would be trance-inducing, but no one (myself included) had the patience with so much other stuff to look at.

    The Franchophonie stage’s presentation of the drumming band that got hoisted way way up in the air on a crane was also very fun and imaginative, esp as you could see it from close-up and way over on the southeast side of the False Creek Seawall across from Granville Island proper.

    Granville Island + (relatively) no cars = pedestrian paradise.

  • love the adaptation GMGW. I’m always amazed that people don’t read that book anymore, esp. as it seems more prophetic every day.

  • Peter

    The burst of Canadian flags everywhere and the shouts of Go Canada Go in the streets downtown – it all seems so ‘unCanadian’ …

  • Jake

    Earlier in the afternoon Sunday there were enough street performers on Robson Street to bring to mind a sunny afternoon on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas, but that didn’t seem to be the case where there were other major congregations of pedestrian traffic like Yaletown and the Coal Harbour waterfront.

  • Bored Silly

    You know there aren’t enough activities when:

    -we form a crowd to watch some half assed break dancer named Slappy Chappy.

    Come ON!!!!!!

  • Bill Smolick

    Oh, GMGW. Why you gotta’ be a hater?

  • Dan Cooper

    I think what you have written here, Frances, is very true. The only thing I would disagree with is: “For those who haven’t clued in yet, once you get out of the Olympic zones, the city is empty like on Christmas Day.” Yesterday, my son and I walked from our home near Cambie to Main for breakfast at Bert’s, and then downtown to various “houses.” Cambie and Main were both very active, with lots of people out walking, shopping, and eating – pretty much like any weekend day, in fact. Sochi House had a wicked line and we didn’t wait, but Saskatchewan was reasonable and Ontario you could walk right into for the singing and dancing (Caribana when we were there) if you didn’t want to wait in line for a movie. Crowds, generally, were very reasonable there, and even as far as the Four Host First Nations pavilion (where the line did not move at all, unfortunately, during the ten minutes we rested by the fountain) and the pretty good BC Hydro pavilion. Northern House was well worth the very reasonable wait. After that, though, we hit the pedestrian streets, and as you say they seemed to be, “a lot of pedestrians walking down a dark, empty canyon.” It took just a few minutes before we decided to get back on the bus and home.

  • Booge

    The outlying neighbourhoods are very quite. not a sign of the olympics. the commute to burnaby this morning was the best since the sixties. I want the scary olympics to stay another 4 yrs

  • Lewis N. Villegas

    My memory of Expo is of the line-ups, although the mimes that would come around and dust us off as we waited made it a lot more enjoyable. And, my other memory of Expo was going there every night, before the July-August crunch, and enjoying the place almost all to ourselves.

    So, herd mentality comes with its own penalties. I saw line ups at the Arts Club in Granville Island today and wondered why the poor folks weren’t just out enjoying the sunshine and chewing on some Market-got grub.

    “When I was covering the city’s decisions to close down blocks of streets for use as pedestrian corridors, I definitely had the impression that those streets would have a lot of activity along them.”

    When I downloaded the pdf showing the pedestrianized street system, the first thought that came to mind was whether or not the design was taking into account urban design principles of how far people will walk, and how large a footprint can be sustained under conditions of intense urban activity.

    ” …walking down Robson from Robson Square to BC Place was kind of weird. Except for a trio of Public Dreams-like characters walking on stilts near Sears, there was nothing — just a lot of pedestrians walking down a dark, empty canyon.”

    And it was a long walk. The distance you describe is 800 meters or a 10-minute walk (if you’re not going up the hill). That’s twice as far as the walk from Sunami Sushi on Robson, to the Bread Garden around the corner on Bute. Those urban goal posts more or less bracket the extent of trekking on Robsonstrasse that I would do during a full day visit, say, on Boxing Day.

    The fact that there is very little action on Robson from Granville Mall (do we still call it that now?) to the Stadium, and that the slope of the street in many places exceeds what friends of mine consider “appropriate to support street bustle”, just compounds the issue of urban scale. I too miss the urbanism of…

    “dense texture of interesting things to look at: shops, galleries, markets, stuff on the street.”

    A good chunk of it consisting of residential doors opening right onto the street, that unless the doors are open and we can spy in, one tends to forget about. Texture is also a result of the grain of development, and the “super block” scale of the tower-and-podium has failed that test.

    All the places you mention in our city (Commercial, south Granville, Main, West Fourth, Davie and Denman—but, not Gastown) are the urban spines of neighbourhoods or “quartiers” with a local, resident population living an easy walking distance away. They provide the bustle, and when we visit we add more vitality and cash into the mix.

    We have argued passionately, and at considerable length, right here on your blog that the tide is not going to turn in the DTES (including Chinatown and Gastown) unless we learn from these neighbourhood spines, rather than bring on the tower-and-podium that the Historic Area Height Review seems hell bent on imposing. Pity.

    The place that I can report about, having stopped there today in full, glorious sunsine, is Granville Island. HORROR! The three-hour-free-parking experiment is over!! Dead and burried! Sturdy looking blue, solar-powered parking meters are up. Not made out of cedar logs, they clash with the “Streetworks” in appearance and spirit—yet, they look like they’re here to stay. Red and black “No Parking” signs now line many of my favourite parking areas, the colour scheme oddly reminiscent of the dark side of Rome—fascist Italy.

    We left without stopping. There were plenty of pay-parking spaces not being used, and there will be much to think about as this experiment goes forward into the summer season.

    The “Olympic Line” however, is doing a fine job. There is a steady stream of pedestrians on a forced march from the Tram stop into the Island. 0.25 km long, to the corner of Kids Only, for example, the march is doable, and there is more then one route to get you there and back.

  • gmgw

    Somebody said in one of the posts above that Oly-related activities peter out once you cross one of the bridges out of downtown. Not so. Granville Island and environs is an effing zoo right now. There are extraordinary numbers of people arriving most days, thanks largely to the so-called Olympic Line. Unfortunately those crowds are composed largely of looky-loos who aren’t buying anything. I spoke with a long-time day trader in the Market today who on Friday had his worst single day of sales in 17 years. There are other day traders who have been experiencing no sales at all on some days. Some of the permanent merchants aren’t doing much better. CMHC’s sudden imposition of an Island-wide $3/hour parking charge, coupled with perceived difficulties of access, are killing business on the Island. And rents in the Market, even for day traders, are decidedly not cheap. The survival of some of the more marginal businesses may be placed in jeopardy as a result (especially given that CMHC is reportedly considering making the parking charges permanent).

    There are other problems as well. I spent some time last night with a friend who lives near the entrance to the Island. Her balcony looks east down False Creek. The level of sound (or noise, depending on your POV) blasting off the Place de la Francophonie main stage, located just east of Arts Umbrella, was unbelievable. Last night while Angelique Kidjo was on, my friend’s windows were literally rattling from the overamped bass. It’s almost impossible for her to carry on a conversation, much less read a book, watch TV, or listen to music (except on headphones). And this is happening for several hours each evening, all day on weekends, and there are frequent extended sound checks and rehearsals all afternoon on most days.

    People who live near GI have become inured over the years to occasional large public events and crowds of people and cars. But this goes beyond anything previously experienced. To add insult to injury, no attempt was made prior to the event by the organizers, or by CMHC, to reach out to the neighbouring community and/or apologize for or fully explain what was about to happen. Even something like “We’re really sorry, but it’s going to be noisy as hell in your front yard for a few weeks. Um, here’s some tickets for some free beer and poutine…” would have been at least thoughtful. But nooo… CMHC has always had trouble acknowledging the existence of the nearby neighbourhood, anyway.

    Some pre-event contact might also have enabled the organizers to mitigate some of the sound problems. I have some history of involvement with the organization of large outdoor music events. As it is the stage and speakers at the Plaza have been angled in such a way that the level of sound bleed into the residences nearby is intense. And the high volume levels simply aren’t necessary. The audience area is small. I went down to check out the latter part of Kidjo’s set and there were no more than a couple of hundred people in the audience. The sound system they’re using is equivalent in volume to what the Folk Music Festival main stage uses to reach 10,000, in a far bigger outdoor area. And the Folk Festival has for many years been the cause of noise complaints from residents in the Locarno Beach neighbourhood, close to half a mile from the main stage. But the FF is a two-and-a-half-day event. The Plaza runs for two and a half *weeks*. (Incidentally, I inadvertently discovered the other night that the Plaza’s main stage is clearly audible at 3rd and Burrard(!!). That’s completely crazy.)

    It’s unfortunate that things have turned out this way, as I think that the Place de la Francophonie’s music series is one of the more interesting cultural events taking place during the Olympics, and I will be attending several of the concerts myself (notably Edith Butler and Robert Charlebois). But its location and the level of amplification on the main stage are completely inappropriate.

    I don’t know who holds ultimate responsibility for conceiving and producing the Plaza de la Froncophonie. I do know that at the earliest opportunity the residents of the neighbourhood will be lobbying everyone necessary to ensure that such an event is never allowed to happen on Granville Island again.
    gmgw

  • grumbelschmoll

    Too much control. Too many barricades and fences corralling pedestrians. It was funny at the caldrons behind chainlink fencing, the crowd straining their necks to see, raising their cameras high in the air to get a shot of what could have been the biggest attraction of the games. Actually, it was two crowds trying to get their pics, separated by fencing and a wide road patrolled eagerly by too many police just to be sure that the very occasional vehicle does not have to dodge a pedestrian.

    How come the city’s fun zones are hidden from view? Is it so that people cannot make a reasoned decision if it is worth the line up to enter?

    If there had been plenty of busking, food vending, ambush marketing and street theatre in the streets, that could have been alright. Unfortunately, there is way too much controlling happening.

    Who would have thought that the provincial fun zone at Robson Square would win, if only for its openness?

    Maybe it’s all to dramatise that the $900 Million spent on security were a good and necessary expenditure.

  • Mike

    Olympics or not, I’ve always found Vancouver to be lacking … *something*, but I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on it.

    I’ve lived in several other large Canadian cities (yes, that includes Toronto 😉 and I’ve never had a problem finding something to do in each of them. But after three years in Vancouver I feel like there’s nothing interesting to see or do here… actually, I felt that way after the first year.

    Vancouver is frequently called “the most livable city” – but I’m afraid I just don’t see it. I find the city itself to be drab and uninspired. Yes, there’s an ocean and mountains, but that isn’t the city. Commercial drive and Kits are fun, for the first 20 visits or so. After that? Not so much.

    The one thing that’s kept me from moving away has been the people – I’ve met some truly wonderful folk in this town that mostly makeup for its (perceived perhaps) inadequacies. Visitors aren’t going to develop those kind of relationships in a couple days – so I’m not surprised that they’re getting bored.

  • In Paris, people either line-up for Hours to see a Picasso exhibit at Orsay or kill time watching the crowd of a cafe.

    None says there is not enough to do in the city…

    …ok…ok…line up to see some “olympic” medals is not the same game than lineup see a Picasso “pink period”…but well we do with what we have isn’it?

  • Story

    Frances, the emptiness you observe downtown can be traced to the City giving complete control of the cultural and entertainment agenda for the games to Vanoc, an outfit staffed with bureaucrats who think culture and entertainment best originates in a boardroom.

    This and concurrent oppressive IOC brand-washing requirements has left no room for locals, including non-approved businesses, to contribute creative and/or spontaneous events of any genuine kind for our public spaces, places or familiar private venues.

    I should say former public spaces, as they are now essentially Vanoc spaces for the duration of the games.

    In short, the City has sold out its cultural soul to Vanoc’s corporate-think.

    On the other hand, Vancouver’s most vibrant cultural souls wouldn’t put on a show for the games and its associated visitors since they (and I thought Shane K. was part of that group) are opposed to them due to their outrageous demands for public money and oppressive compliance to its agenda.

    This then leaves visitors and many of its own to be entertained by vacuous mirages that corporate types pass off as “culture” and “social” events.

    And there’s no better trio to represent that than Ben Mulroney, Tamara Taggart and Fred Ewanuick, who have been pushed to the fore by the games’ TV rights holder, CTVGlobe Media, as the public personalities for these games.

    Truly, is it really any wonder the downtown echos like an “empty canyon”?

    And therein lies the divide.

  • jimmy olson

    “Olympics or not, I’ve always found Vancouver to be lacking … *something*, but I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on it.”

    Others are noticing this as well. I met an Italian tourist the other night who said more less the same thing. He finds the city a bit of a downer. He finds the crowds are not as varied as he finds in Italy. few families and friends walking around… without the boisterous fake joviality of our crowds. The drunkenness and the tendency to over drink….

  • Lewis N. Villegas

    “…. (Commercial, south Granville, Main, West Fourth, Davie and Denman—but, not Gastown) are the urban spines of neighbourhoods or “quartiers” with a local, resident population living an easy walking distance away. They provide the bustle, and when we visit we add more vitality and cash into the mix.

    We have argued passionately, and at considerable length, right here on your blog that the tide is not going to turn in the DTES (including Chinatown and Gastown) unless we learn from these neighbourhood spines, rather than bring on the tower-and-podium that the Historic Area Height Review seems hell bent on imposing…”

    CORRECTION:

    … rather than bring on incompatible building types, historically out of line with local character, that the Historic Area Height Review seems hell bent on imposing.

    I am told FSR 5.0 will not result in towers.

  • Kayla

    Why must people complain. Be proud. Be happy. Show your spirit, whatever that may look like. If you choose to be a negative nancy and complain and say ugly things, you shouldn’t brag about being Canadian then. If you are Canadian and you have nothign but negative things to say, shame on you. I was born and raised in vancouver and it is a once ina lifetime opportunity. I’ve never been prouder. Go Canada Go is right. Sing your sad story to someone else.

  • Kayla.

    I was born here and raised here as well, but you’ve clearly drunk the kool-aid.

    The only “opportunity” for those of us with $100 free in our bank accounts and a lack of press credentials is to walk around debating which line to get into for the privilege of poor service and a mandatory 18% gratuity.

    Or maybe to get jostled by rude drunks yelling in Russian. Or to read promotional junk about our own province. Or get up an hour earlier than usual to commute to work, avoiding the tourist mob on the train. Or to work on getting that idiot Believe theme song out of one’s head.

    The athletic competition I can respect. Pity it’s been hamstrung by location.

    Vancouver is busier and better lit than usual. Still, except for the thumping of the fireworks show each night, the occasional “wooo!” from a partier, or the helicopter buzz, you’d never know the Olympics were here if you were standing in Kits or the West End.

    Thankfully no one is partying in my neighbourhood.

  • Kayla

    Gabe, You sound so bitter. There are ALWAYS things to complain about. I choose not to focus on them. They seem so insignificant at the end of the day.
    Noise, annoying drunks people….of course that is happening. However, I am an optimistic and glas-half-full kind of person.
    I am having the time of my life this week. Reconnecting with old friends, listening ton wonderful live music, wearing my Canadian flag with pride…going to Olympic Medal events and cheering on my country and visiting country houses (like The Heineken House and The Irish House) and meeting cool people. Lines and gratuity are your complaints? It isn’t feasible for everyone to get in everywhere. Lines are a part of life. And I tip 20% for everything, no matter what, Oympics or no Olympics.
    I guess I am just a fortunate person who appreciates that around me. I have traveled the world — and looking at the Tourists around me, enjoying themselves immensely,
    all I can do is smile.
    You should try it.

  • Paul Clapham

    Sochi House? When you get inside, the main floor is a display promoting (naturally) Sochi and its plans for the Olympics. That’s not too bad, pretty good actually. Upstairs there are displays promoting the Russian railways and the Russian national oil company and some other companies. I didn’t care about them.

    Food is for employees only, you can’t buy any of that. The gift shop is full of overpriced clothing with “Russia” on it, you’ve probably seen that around town.

    I stood in line for an hour and a half to get in but it really wasn’t worth that much of my time.