Saturday, February 20, 2010

Best birthday EVAH?

Well, my 18th and 30th were pretty spectacular. But my 33rd was right up there with them.

After working in the morning, I walked over the Cambie Street bridge at lunchtime to meet Mr E Man downtown, taking photos of the athletes' village as I went:

Hooray for the Aussies and their boxing kangaroo flag!

We had lunch and a couple of brewskis while watching the US-Switzerland game and chatting to some hockey fans from Calgary and Montreal:


and we left for the game with two hours to spare, having heard stories of crazy security line-ups. The walk down there was incredible - the atmosphere I mentioned from the weekend seemed to have intensified by a factor of several hundred as the men's hockey tournament got underway, and the streets were seething with red. Everyone was smiling, laughing, singing, and chanting, and the few Norwegian fans we met (most of them wearing Viking helmets) were being embraced and having their photos taken with Canadian fans.

We got through the airport-style security in record time:

and joined the happy crowd of people waiting to be allowed into the stadium. As we got closer, a member of the crowd announced local girl Maelle Ricker's gold medal in the snowboard cross, and crowd just went crazy as the news was relayed by a series of big strapping men with very loud voices!

As we finally made it up the stairs to our gate, we stopped to look back down at the crowd behind us. It was a simply amazing sight:

The atmosphere inside... well, words fail me. It was spine tingling, it was unlike anything else I've ever experienced. Here's some video, because my verbal descriptions just won't cut it.

After a tense and scoreless first period, we ended up winning 8-0!


You should have heard the cheer when local favourite Roberto Luongo's name was announced... he didn't have much to do, but we all shouted "LUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!" every time he touched the puck anyway.

Happy birthday to me!

We headed out of the stadium and into the streets. Thousands of fans were celebrating, high fiving each other, random passersby, the cops, you name it! The singing and chanting were even louder than on the way in. 

We obviously needed to celebrate, but where to go?! The bars and pavilions we passed were all full to bursting, and the queue for LiveCity Yaletown was beyond ridiculous (as it turns out, not getting in on this particular night was a good thing. Such a shame that a few idiots ruined it for everyone). So we jumped on an Aquabus and headed for Granville Island.

The Atlantic Canada pavilion?


Swiss house?

Full. But we did get to see the Olympic light show:

and also the reception the awesome Swiss fans gave to Olivia Nobs, who'd won a bronze in the snowboard cross earlier that day, as she arrived at the docks by boat:

Giving up on the crazy line-ups at all the Granville Island venues, we hopped onto the free tram that's running from the Island to the athletes' village for the duration of the games, then walked to Science World, which has been taken over by the Russians as they showcase their preparations for Sochi 2014.

Sochi house?

Closed. Our best guess: either it was reserved for the Russian team to watch the Russia-Latvia hockey game on TV inside, or all the staff were actually at the game!

Quebec house?


The Sasketchewan Pavilion?


Yay! We finally got in somewhere!

Before the band started, we were hoping to catch some live event updates on the big screen, but instead we got to learn a lot about lentils, potash, and quartz. Did you know that Saskatchewan produces more potash than anywhere else in the world? And that lentils are high in fibre and protein?! Well, you do now - never say that I don't teach you anything!

Several people we met at the bar were discussing the lentil infatuation, but when the band started, everyone started dancing instead, and forming impromptu human pyramids:

If you do this in Saskatchewan, the person on top can see all the way to Winnipeg! 

No, seriously, it was a really fun party, and a great end to the day. I was also HUGELY impressed by the portaloos out back. Having been to many a music festival, campsite, and sporting event, I know what I'm talking about here, and these were the best I've ever seen. Not only did they have a proper flush toilet inside (with a fancy foot-operated pump), they also had lights, heating, running water, soap, and carpets! Very impressed.


  1. Very, very cool birthday! I am soooo jealous that you were at that game, and you had great seats too! Just watching it on TV you could feel the energy in the stadium, so I can't imagine how fantastic it was in person.

    LOL On the Saskatchewan pavilion being easy to get into. Sounded like they knew how to put on a great party though.

    GO CANADA!!!

  2. Yay, fabulous birthday! Sounds like the perfect way to celebrate. How nice of the IOC to organize the Olympics around you.

  3. Happy birthday, Cath! Sounds wonderful =)

  4. Alyssa, it really was great. Mermaid is going to the Canada-US game today, and I bet the atmosphere ramps up even more for that!

    Having been to the very disappointing Casa Italia yesterday, we've learned that the pavilions with no line-ups are easy to get into for a reason :) The Saskatchewan evening party really was fun, but our friends who went during the daytime yesterday were decidedly underwhelmed (although they did pick up a free book of lentil recipes. 100% true story).

    Mermaid, yes, I can't complain, really! And it was nice of the lovely smiley Jerome Iginla to score a hattrick for me, too!

    Thanks, Bean-Mom!

  5. Wow, that sounds like the best birthday evah! So glad you will have such fond memories of this one!

    (And carpet at the loo*? I am not so sure about that...)

    *Are you trying to make me British ;)

  6. Hee hee! My plan is working...

    the carpet wasn't in the actual loo area, just in the sink area (yes, they were big enough to have distinct areas).


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