We had a great time at the USA vs. Switzerland game yesterday and then walking around downtown Vancouver exploring the Olympic excitement. J’s supplier who hooked us up with tickets and a night in a nice hotel also provided us with a complimentary souvenir program, pin, and a pair of the highly coveted red mittens!
The one disappointing thing was that at the information booths there was no list or map available of all of the international and Canadian pavilions and hospitality houses. Since we don’t read or get the newspapers, we didn’t know there was a listing each day of these things – would visitors? Why wouldn’t it be available on site anywhere? When I asked that question at the info booth the woman told me it was because they “didn’t know where they were all going to be”. I think that’s a lame excuse – one it was figured out it should have been a priority print project. That’s my biggest beef of the day.
Of course, many listings are available online but here is a pretty complete map I highly recommend you check out before planning your Olympic outing; it was put together by Jeff Lee of the Vancouver Sun. It’s extensive and large so it may take time to load. It also has a link on the page to a larger version. It lists the pavilions and houses, venues and tons of things to do and see and visit.
*UPDATE: There is now a FREE iPhone app which maps and lists all Olympic events including the Cultural Olympiad. Available in the App Store. It uses your location and can give you the closest events happening. Pretty cool!*
Of course if you do just end up downtown wandering around like we did, there are lots of things that you will eventually run into but be prepared to wait in line. That’s the other reason it really pays off to research before you go since waiting in line for something doesn’t guarantee that it was worth it!
As well as planning where you’ll go, make sure you plan what you’ll wear & bring.
The sun comes and goes and it can be chilly outside and smoking hot inside the pavilions so dressing in layers is a good idea. Don’t forget gloves and scarf and a hat if you’ll be out pat sundown. Seriously, my ears were cold. And toques are totally Canadian! You will not stick out if you are dressed in gear sporting words or logos from the Olympics, Vancouver, Canada or any participating country. It’s a sea of red and white out there!
Comfortable shoes are a must for all of the walking and standing in line.
An umbrella for that unexpected shower.
You camera of course!
A backpack or bag for carrying your stuff is important. You’ll pick up lots of freebies and swag even if your just collecting it for your kids.
Free maps are available all over the city.
Food and drink cannot be brought into most venues and many places like the LiveCity sites and venues are doing extensive security checks (think airport scanner) and will make you pour out or discard your drinks. Of course, food and drink are available inside many places (usually for a cost) and some offer samples (like cheese in the Italian house).
If you’re taking your kids, a stroller is a good idea (depending on their age) and plenty of warm layers plus maybe a blanket. We haven’t brought the kids to any sites yet but there was definitely no lack of them around! Plenty of the sites are family-oriented and provide lots of hand on things for busy kids.
Have a great time!