Canuck fever in Vancouver

The city's got it bad, and you can savor the fever out on the streets and in the hotel lobbies.

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Canuck fever in downtown Vancouver

The city's got it bad, and you can savor the fever out on the streets and in the hotel lobbies.

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!


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