Originally the plan was to go to one of two places where busses would terminate that were set up as shuttles specifically for Olympic venues. One of the main places was downtown, where there are more parking garages, and a direct bus from that area to the coliseum where the Ice Dancing was being held. At the last minute mom wanted to check out the area where the event was, sort of to get bearings, then find parking and transportation to the venue. This is actually a big deal for a couple of reasons. First off, there’s traffic to contend with. Traffic is always an issue in any large city, but with thousands upon thousands of visitors flocking into Vancouver daily, there was even more traffic, and precious few parking spots. It’s not like Vancouver built parking garages specifically for the Olympics. The other major concern was my mother, who is not able to talk very far or quickly.
Turns out, the drop off place for cars is where the bus would let us out at anyway, so it was a good idea to scope the area out. I dropped off mom, allowing her time to walk the path from the street to the venue, then go and find some parking. About a block and a half away I saw a sign that advertised event parking for $20. I had figured on paying for parking, so having it that close to the venue at approximately the price I had hoped for, well, that’s all I needed. It didn’t matter to me that it was the parking lot of a hotel.
It was exciting, just being in the city where the Olympics were taking place. I grew up in a time when the Olympics actually meant amateurs competing, and long before the global economy brought everybody closer, and travel just wasn’t always as easy as it is now. The Olympics were an event, something very special. While they still are, they don’t seem to hold the same sway as they did 30 years ago, which is a shame, but they are still a grand spectacle.
Being able to attend the Olympics was something I never thought I would be able to do. I’d watch them growing up, longing wistfully to attend, in the same way that I hoped to win the lottery. It was a party atmosphere as we all gathered by the entrance waiting to be admitted. Two hours before the start of the event the gates opened. We went through search procedures, naturally, and went in to find our seats. Thankfully, because they anticipated a large number of people with transportation needs, the organizers had a number of golf carts shuttling people from the gate to the venue on an “as needed” basis. This helped my mother greatly, as she would most likely not be able to enjoy the event from the pain she would have had from the walk.
Upon entering the venue itself, we made a beeline for the souvenir stand. Our thought was that we wanted to not only see what there was, but also pick up some stuff before it got too crowded and they ran out of stuff. I picked up some stuff for myself as well as my kids, and a couple of things for mom. I spent way more than I had planned on, but it is probably the only time in my life I will attend the Olympics. I hope that when my kids are grown up and successful they are able to attend the Olympics and buy me a keychain.
It took forever to find our seats, due in part to some wrong directions given, but in the end we made it to our seats and watched as the zambonis smoothed the ice. My mother remarked at how shiny it looked. I elbowed her and said “That’s Olympic ice!” We were both rather giddy. I ventured out and picked us up some food, and returned in plenty of time for the event to start.
I won’t go into too much detail about the actual event, the Original Dance round of the Ice Dancing competition. You can look up the results if you wish. The Italians got more points than they should have, the Russians were good, but not THAT good, and one pair was absolutely robbed with the score they got, and the audience went nuts jeering the judges. The team that eventually did win the gold medal, however, deserved every point they had won.
Of note, at least to me, was the fact that the Olympic anthem was not performed. The event just… started. The first four competitor teams took the ice for 5 minutes of warm-up, then left the ice for the first team to skate. Then as they await their score, the second pair takes to the ice and get their “skate legs” back while waiting. This process repeats until all the competitors have skated. Then the announcement that the event is over, and … nothing. I expected a little bit more fanfare to be honest.
Still, afterwards the party atmosphere continued. People for different countries mingled with each other, taking photos with a screen fixed on the Olympic torch. We made our way back to the car and drove home without incident. I was so glad to be able to attend the Olympics, regardless of event. To be able to see one that I enjoy was an added bonus.