The streets were eerily quiet on Saturday morning in Vancouver, BC, in stark contrast to the revelry the night before. Call it a hockey hangover, or as the Vancouver Sun shouted in its bold headline: ONE MORE FOR THE CUP.
At Friday’s game, the Vancouver Canucks beat the Boston Bruins 1-0 on the Canucks’ home ice. It was Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, and after the previous two big whoopings by the Beantowners back in Boston, the beloved boys in blue roared back to lead the series 3-2. If they win Monday night’s Game 6 in Boston, they’ll bring home the Stanley Cup, a first for Vancouver..
I was in the City of Glass to attend a conference of 500+ travel bloggers. Being a self-proclaimed Closet Canuck, I was admittedly a bit giddy that Game 5 was going on while I was in town. No, I didn’t have tickets for the Rogers Arena faceoff, but I’d be able to watch it surrounded by Canuck-crazed fans instead of home alone on the couch with CBC sports announcers Ron MacLean and Don Cherry.
I had two choices of where to watch Friday’s game: (a) one of three outdoor public viewing areas with large screen TVs or (b) the lobby lounge of The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Would I rather stand for hours being jostled by thousands of complete strangers or sit in a comfortable chair with beverage in hand among people who could easily become friends? It was a slapshot decision: Hotel Vancouver, hands down.
As I walked down Burrard Street an hour before the 5 o’clock puck drop, a helicopter hovered overhead. The sidewalks were fan-jammed and the four-block route to the hotel was awash in blue, from Ryan Kesler #17 jerseys to flags flapping from vehicles as they inched along the street. I obviously wasn’t dressed for the occasion, garbed in olive green capris and a beige cashmere poncho. At least my Ray-Bans were in compliance: one person pointed at my azure shades and said, “Nice Canuck glasses!”
Although the iconic Hotel Vancouver doesn’t seem like a hockey sort of place, it’s been around longer than the NHL. The original hotel was constructed by CP Railway in 1888, a brick building at the corner of Georgia and Granville. The current hotel was built one block away in 1916, a year before the NHL was formed. Long gone are the Panorama Roof Ballroom, Spanish Grill, and Timber Club. Today, 900 West Lounge is the heart of the hotel, a space I call “the living room” of Vancouver.
It seemed like a comfortable spot to watch a three-hour game, plus I knew a number of the staff by first name. Outside of a small group of men and women attending a black-tie fundraiser at the hotel, the crowd was dressed casually, many in Canucks’ gear. A middle-aged woman, eating nachos and quaffing a beer, sported an autographed Trevor Linden #16 jersey, though he’s now retired from the team. I settled into a chair with a good view of the TV, ordered an adult beverage, and for the next three hours cheered on my adopted home team. Go Canucks Go!