Thursday, February 11, 2010

Olympic torch relay #1 Feb 11, 2010

Well after 105 days and 45,000 kms or about 27,000 miles the Olympic torch relay reached the downtown core this evening.

It was awesome watching the Torch relay tonight as it came over the Burrard Bridge to a huge awaiting crowd - the crowd was so thick that the other torch bearers had to get out of the escort vehicle and get escorted through the wildly cheering crowd to there transfer point - when the torch finally arrived at few minutes later and right on time the assembly masses followed it down to the the Live event site at David Lam Park in Yaletown for the lighting of the cauldron - Michael Buble brought it into the venue - and you should have seen the crowd - I say at least 20, 000 perhaps more - I will let the police give the official estimates - it stretched for more than three blocks along Pacific and then there were another 6 - 10, 000 inside the venue. Everyone was happy - some were shedding tears as we all sang O Canada to welcome the torch and then it was fireworks - the water show and the lights - most people seemed to be realization that the dream that started almost seven years will officially get under way at 9PM PST tomorrow.

The torch bearers were more than happy to pose with the torch for anyone wanting to take some photos.

A few images for you and Yes I am proud to be a Canadian.

Any way I guess you could say I was/am stoked.

Enjoying a beer to celebrate the occasion.


Part 2 tomorrow perhaps.

Olympic Games opening ceremonies dress rehearsal thoughts Feb 10, 2010

Last night I attend the final dress rehearsal for the Games that start tomorrow night.

While I won't go into great details because we were all asked to be good Canadians and withhold making too much info public I will say it was an AWESOME DISPLAY OF CANADIANNA at its finest.

From start to finish - about three hours of oohs and awes as we saw parts of Canadian history, culture, sport etc paraded before us - all the performers who are scheduled to appear were on hand - only a few Olympic officials weren't there - they use stand ins for them and for the athletes parade of nations.

I was particularly pleased with the First Nations opening scenes - very good.

There will also be audience participation as well - there are scenes where candles will light up the stadium - there was also snow falling from the rafters - it was only paper but it looks real on TV.

It only took about fifteen minutes to get through security but most of those attending were volunteers and guests and we had been well prepped on what to expect and what not to bring.

It took longer to get out because there is really only one exit from the security zone and everyone was trying to get out as fast as possible.


Tonight the torch relay is in my neighbourhood - coming over the Burrard Bridge and into David Lam Park - will go down if it not raining too much otherwise I will try and catch it tomorrow on its way along Davie Street.



The Olympic scene at Robson Square and Art Gallery Feb 10, 2010

Before I headed down to BC Place Stadium and the final dress rehearsal for the upcoming opening ceremonies I was walking around downtown and to the site of the old Art Gallery and Robson Square or GE Plaza as it is known currently and it was a bee hive of activity.

The Province of BC - as the host Province - is using this area as its pavilion or representative House as they are supposed to called during the Games.

There will also be free admission to the Art Gallery during the Games.

They have done a good job of transforming the area into a great public display for the Games - below are some images from the Blackberry with a brief note of explanation.

This one doesn't need a lot of explanation - it tells you how much time before the Games start.

Omega is a sponsor and have set up a display in the front of the Art Gallery

More of their display outlining some great moments in Olympic history.

Sign explaining the murals now hanging from the Art Gallery.

One of the murals.

This I believe will be a First Nations display - not opened to the Public yet.

One of the two towers for the Zip-lining across Robson Square.

The BC Pavilion is using the Art Gallery and have added an "extra floor"

You can get your photo taken on the a podium set up for visitors and locales alike.

This display is actually across the street at one of the entrance to the Pacific Center mall.

Then it was onto to the dress rehearsal of the Opening ceremonies.

Will post some info on that later.



Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Presenting Slovakia House Feb 9, 2010

Located at the site of the Vancouver International film center in the 1200 Block Seymour St is the Representative house of the Slovak Republic. It is not opened to the public or at least it has no free events - this is mostly serving as an economic development and trade office - there are events for the public but they are charging to attend.

Here's a link to their web site:

I spent some time this morning talking to a cousin who learned Slovak as a youth in the hope that she might to be to mentor me with a few words but she informed me that Grandma spoke in what is referred to as OLD Slovak which is apparently different from what is use nowadays so that lead frizzled out - guess I am just joining to have to bear down and learn some on-line - might also pick up a English - Slovak dictionary if such as thing exists - time to check Chapters and see what they have.

The Torch relay is to the south of us today - it briefly crossed the border at the Peace Arch before heading to New Westminister and ending the night in Richmond - tomorrow it is in Burnaby - about a blockfrom my cousins so they will view it there and then onto the North Shore before coming into Vancouver on Thursday.

More later



A little about the country that I am assigned to - Slovakia

National Flag

Learn more about the flag and symbol here:

Above is the national symbol and flag of Slovakia - I will be assisting there chef de mission at the Paralympic Games from March 12 - 21 as a National Paralympic Committee assistant.

While I didn't apply to be with this great central European nation I am more than happy to have this assignment.

Normally to get a country like this you need to be able to speak the language but I don't but first some history.

The reason that I am happy is that Slovakia and a small town in the north central part of the country called Liesek is the hometown of my paternal grandparents. The town boasts a population of around 3,000 and is located in the foothills of the lower Tarta mountains - it is also only a small distance from the Polish border - while I don't know allot about the family tree I know that the grandparents left there - it would have been part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire at the time and headed for the US and Pennsylvania where over 60% of all Slovaks who came to America reside and where there are string of cousins on my Grandmother's side - other family members have never been able to find any serious leads to more on my Grandfather's side.

So while I don't speak the language - Dad insisted when we were young that we are Canadians and should learn to speak English and later French - nowadays young people are encouraged to learn their ancestors native tongue - I view this as a great opportunity to learn about the workings of my homeland.

I have been thinking about a European vacation in a couple of years when I turn 65 and this will be a great chance to learn more.

As for not speaking the language and the volunteering - this is how it was explained to me during the training - the larger delegations either have or are given interpreters so we don't need to worry about language - most of the European countries participants speak a little to a lot of English or else some of the other volunteers in our delegation can speak the language.

The Slovaks do have a pavilion at the Games so I am going to wander over there and see if I can pick up some further information - also found a free web site where I can learn some key words and phrases.

To find our more about Slovakia visit this web site:

If you want to learn a lit bit more about the Slovakia Paralympic team - here is a link - FYI - most of the site is in Slovak and I don't have a translation service available but it appears that they will have about 16 - 20 athletes in the Whistler events:

More later


Monday, February 8, 2010

Olympic mascots on ice Feb 8, 2010

Today as I was walking by the GE Plaza at Robson Square I came upon a little skating show staring the three Olympics mascots - Sumi, Quatchi and Miga - they joined some other skaters on about a 15 minute performance - it was designed to entertain the kids in attendance and visitors as well.

The image are from my Blackberry so the quality isn't the greatest.

Miga is the official mascot for the Paralympic Games so I will see lots of her during my volunteer stint.

Once again the downtown was busy and the new temporary home of the Irish - a tent was packed with parties and the band had the corner of Seymour and Nelson rocking.

Sumi started the show

Then joined by Quatchi

Quatchi playing goal - he made a spectacular glove save

Sumi and Quatchi wooing the crowd.

Miga takes to the ice.

Miga being Miga

Welcoming the crowd near the end of the performance.

Quatchi close at hand.

Sumi shakes hands with some of the kids that were in attendance

The three amigos at the end of the performance.



Olympic Journey - Feb 8, 2010

4 DAYS TO GO !!!

The city is alive with people starting to enjoy the Olympic spirit - the above photos taken on the Blackberry show some of the ways the City is trying to ensure that the visitors are welcomed and can find there way around the downtown core.

Over at the official Olympic store located in the downtown Bay building - it was a mad boxing day scene almost the entire weekend - they had 22 payment stations going full bore the entire time and there were long line-ups at all of them.

They have now sold over 2 million of the red mittens and the last large shipment has arrived and they are selling fast - suspect they will bring in stock from other stores across the country if the demand keeps up.

When the Bay won the contract away from the "Roots" chain there was a lot of skeptics who didn't think the Bay could deliver on its promises and financial commitment - at last report VANOC expects to exceed both there revenue and profit targets from the merchandising.

The Bay has also opened a new international mall up on the five floor where a number of other countries are selling their official merchandise - while not busy there was a steady stream of customers looking over the goods - there is a very large display of Russian goods for sale.

I looked for some Slovakian goods - all they had were a hat and a hockey jersey - both well priced for me not to buy - gonna check some of the other discount stores to see if they have anything - think it would be nice an proper to wear the colors of the country that I will be assisting.

Last night while watching the Super Bowl I got the next email that I was expecting for my volunteer assignment - it was details of when, where and how to get my accreditation and uniform and it confirmed what I was told at training - just needed to go to the web site and pick a time - unfortunately I was hoping for a morning time but could only get an afternoon one - there is however some short term free parking across the street from the venue for us to use if necessary but I will probably bus out since the ride back will be free - once we have our documents all transit in the region is free to use.

Over dinner after the Game a good friends partner who is also an Olympic volunteer and I compared some training thoughts etc. Her job will be more of a meet, greet and seat volunteer at the Pacific Coliseum - home of figure skating and short track speed skating.

Next up for me on the journey - the dress rehearsal for the opening ceremonies on Wednesday - then watching the Olympic torch relay as it goes through the West End and down Davie street early Friday morning and then watching the opening ceremonies - I won't be near BC Place stadium - between 50, 000 and 100,000 are expected in the area for the ceremony as well as about 1500 militant demonstrators who are counter marching along the route and while I hope that all will be peaceful I wouldn't bet on it considering some of the comments the organizers have been saying publicly on TV and posting on their web sites.

If the weather is dry I might head down to the Live event site at David Lam Park in Yaletown and watch the proceedings from there - it is also the site of the nightly fireworks and water spectacular - I can see some of the site from the condo and they have been practising the last few nights. It looks like it will be quite the show.

Well that's all for today.