For months — years, maybe — the prevailing belief of many in the non-Canadian Northwest has been that a trip to the Winter Olympics would be a fool's errand fraught with hassle and costing a king's, er, prime minister's ransom.
But we left Seattle at 9 am this sunny Thursday, parked at a garage a block from Robson Street three hours later and bought a pair of tix for that night's awards event, which we attended before getting back to Seattle by 11 pm.
Cost: $67 Canadian ($22 each for the tickets and $23 for parking), plus the obligatory three Gs: gas, grub and glub.
We did not see actual competition. The final ducats to women's curling slid out of the ticket office just minutes before we made it through the 20-minute queue. We weren't about to slap down nearly a grand for a pair of hockey tickets, which were still available.
Here again, it was a glorious spring day somehow consigned to the February calendar. We walked the length and breadth of venerable downtown Vancouver, dined well and for little in Chinatown, and marveled at the mirth and cultural diversity that seem to have enveloped the proud town.
We'd been aware that the "wait" at the border could be an excrutiating five minutes. Not true; it was more like three minutes each way. Those planning to go up for the day also are advised to ignore the recommendation at the tourist office on the Canadian side of the border. Agents (citing horror stories about traffic gridlock and prohibitive swarms of pedestrians in downtown Vancouver) recommend parking several miles south of town at a specific garage and climbing aboard the sky shuttle. It isn't really necessary. Just cross either the Granville or Cambie Bridge and put the car in a commercial garage in town.
The awards ceremony at BC Place was in turns comical and emotional. The featured province for cultural appreciation that night was Prince Edward Island. Those of us who actually have visited the diminutive, inexplicable political entity have observed that PEI is kind of like Rhode Island without Providence, Newport or restaurants (it deserves to be a province just as much as Vashon Island should be its own state . . . and maybe it should). In any case, the half-hour musical celebration of P.E.I. seemed excessive by about 29 minutes.
Then came the awards. First to receive were Shaun White and the other halfpipe medalists. The ceremony continued to cut back on screen intermittently to the awards event going on simultaneously at Whistler. Thousands in attendance at both venues seemed genuinely thrilled by the memorable spectacle.
Alas, there was just one down side to our otherwise successful trip: We got home too late to view most of the day's competitive highlights on TV.