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February 21, 2010

Olympic Hockey - Day 3 (Belarus-Germany)

Last night was Day 3 of our Olympic hockey odyssey, and I have to admit right up front that it was the one we were least looking forward to.  Neither team is exactly a powerhouse in the Olympic hockey world, though at least Christian Ehrhoff, a Vancouver Canuck defenseman, is on the German team.  Worst comes to worst, we have somebody to root for!  It didn't help that, to this point, Germany hadn't scored a goal in two games (and more, dating back to 2006 in Turin).  Little did we know that the night would become even less of a game to look forward to, though at least the results were good.  And despite my assurances to a couple of friends that we had pretty much taken pictures of everything we would see on our travels, we did end up getting lots of snaps!

This, then, is our story.  Some of the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Ah, who am I kidding?  We're not interesting enough to have guilty parties!

Believe it or not, neither one of us really likes crowds. Thus, while the previous two games have been fun, they have also been kind of stressful.  Saturday was going to be a day of exploration before sitting down to a nice dinner at a good restaurant and then making our way to the game.  We were watching other Olympic events on TV and just kind of vegging out and decided "you know what?  We really don't want to do the Saturday crowds here, so let's go to a less busy restaurant a little bit later and just go to the game."  It seemed like the best thing to do, allowing us to leave later and thus get a little more rest.

After beginning our sojourn, the first thought that went through my mind was "HA HA!  You are really an idiot!"  You see, we had decided to go to Red Robin, figuring that wouldn't be quite as busy, being on the periphery of all the action.  Au contraire!  And other French stuff.  The line coming out of Red Robin was HUGE and there was no way in Hell we were going to stand in it.  We only stand in line for hockey games (and the occasional Olympic merchandise visit).

So we decided to head down Robson street and then take a detour to find a sane place to get a bite to eat.  Mall food?  Maybe, we'll see.  Did I mention that we don't really like crowds?  Why the hell we went down Robson Street, closed off and packed with revelers, I'm still not sure.  However, it was interesting to see, so that's one good thing.

This is actually an empty street compared to the rest of what we saw!

(note: You can click on all the images to see larger versions of them)


There had been some trouble Friday night, so Vancouver's finest put a few more bodies out to help control the revelers last night.  No open containers of alcohol in public in BC, so they did spend a lot of time Friday (and probably last night too) pouring out beer onto the street and generally protecting the huge party that the Olympics have become.  Thankfully, most of the cops that I saw were very congenial and having fun as well as working.  We saw on TV before we left one cop being interviewed and a couple of partiers came up and put their arm around his shoulders and yelled into the camera about how great the cops are and have been.  The cop had a big grin on his face as the interview continued.

Yes, they were extremely drunk, but the sentiment is appreciated.  I know *I* wouldn't want to be out there trying to control these people.  These people do good work.

We exited the Robson corridor and made our way down Burrard, and then turned down Georgia, thinking we'd just go to the Mall, or maybe the Bay and kill time standing in line for the Olympics Merchandise area. As we were walking down Georgia, I saw one of the many examples of the downtown high-rises being decorated for the Olympics, and I had to get a shot of it.

Yes, I know it's advertising, but I thought the effect on the building was so cool!  And, at the bottom of the picture, you can see the intense number of cars on the street, moving so very slowly to their destination.  Can you believe people are actually trying to drive down here?  Insanity!

As we were walking, I hit on the bright idea of heading down toward where the wife's appointments are, to a place called Steamrollers, home of the steamed burrito.  You can get your burrito in the normal fashion (in a tortilla) or all of the fixings from your burrito in a bowl.  Considering the amount of walking we had to do, we really didn't want to bloat up, so got ours in a bowl.  The restaurant was civilized with no line-up and we were able to sit and eat in peace.  It was really nice, though we now realized we would have a lot of time to kill.  Oh well, more time to take pics!  Despite having decided not to explore this evening, it turns out that's what we ended up doing.

We were sitting in the window and noticed the restaurant across the street with an apparent convoy of Russian official vehicles parked in front of it.  Must have been a big meal!  By the time we left, all but two of the cars had left, but I managed to snag a couple of pics.

The design is the Russian Olympic logo, or at least the logo that all of the Russians here are wearing.  The figure on the window is their mascot, I think.


After doing this, we tried to decide what else to do.  We were only a few blocks from Canada Place, so it became obvious that this would be our next destination.  The Olympic Cauldron is somewhere over there, but there was no way we were going to stand in line for it, so we just explored the area that we could get to.

Here it is!  Canada Place.  A huge screen up above that you can see what's happening for at least two or three blocks.

This is the Welcome Centre outside of Canada Place.

Looking out into the harbor where the cruise ships usually are, this the Olympic Rings display that's out there.  It's quite beautiful, and I'm glad this picture turned out.

After standing around there for a short while and taking some pics, we decided to move on.  But not before I got a bit of a skyline picture that also shows just how crowded it was down here.

We headed off down the street, finally entering the area of downtown Vancouver called "Gastown," a rather unique-looking heritage district of Vancouver.  We decided to do a little shopping if it was convenient, especially looking for this hat that the wife had seen somebody wearing at Thursday's game.  He said he had bought it in Gastown, so off we went!  We still had plenty of time to kill.

Gastown is known for a lot of things, but one of the most famous things is the Steam Clock, which trumpets "Oh, Canada" at noon.

Once again, you can also see that some people are driving through this mess.  Certifiable!

Another shot showing the busy street, as well as giving an idea of the historical feel to it.  I love the posts & chains along the sidewalk.  You might not be able to tell, but I think that's a cobblestone street, too.

We got our shopping done, and it was time to head to the game!  Heavily encumbered with purchases, we set forth.  This time, we were going through a different gate than the last two times, and it at first seemed like it would be a bit easier to get in.  Security was fine, no real line-ups at all.  We were very happy about that!  Still, we got there before they opened the gates to let us through, so we were milling around in back.  There was an Official Olympic Volunteer sitting in a lifeguard chair in the sea of humanity, megaphone in hand, thanking us for being so patient and trying to get rival German and Belarus cheers going.  It was kind of funny.

They finally opened the gates and we had to go across this kind of rickety metal overpass to get across the street.  Up one set of stairs, across (the wife was hanging on for dear life, as she hates those things) and then back down.  Then up even  more stairs!  Then up some more.  The calls of "MOOOOOOOO!!" were echoing (ok, that might have just been in our heads, but it definitely gave us that feel!). We get to the gate for the lower level, but we're on the upper level.  So even more stairs!  We finally get there, get our tickets scanned, and get inside.  Relief!

Or so we thought.

We were smack-dab in the middle of a section this time, a place we really hate to be (but you don't get to choose your seats when you buy them).  So much in the centre, in fact, that we technically were in two different sections because we were right where they joined.  Section 303 Seat 12 and Section 302 Seat 114.  We made our way to the seats, but even that had problems.  First, I hate climbing over people, and being in the centre we had to climb over a lot of them.  Secondly, these idiot German fans (not that all German fans are idiots, but these ones were) got up for us but LEFT THEIR SHIT ON THE FLOOR!  Thankfully, the wife and I are good acrobats.  And there wasn't any beer on the floor, like there was Thursday night.  We made it over the obstacle course in one piece (except for our tempers) and got to our seats.  The only good thing about these seats?  We wouldn't have to get up for anybody, since everybody would be going the opposite direction to get out.

This was our view!

We could even see the TSN hockey panel!

We're sitting there enjoying the warm-up when the true assholes arrived.  They were all locals, but a couple were rooting for Belarus and a few for Germany.  They were all obnoxious.  And they were all extremely drunk already.  The wife got a bit of beer spilled on her.  Profuse apologies, so no harm done.  Then it happened again a little later.  Then a third time, with the woman sitting next to the wife getting the full brunt of most of a cup.  What a waste of beer!

That was egregious, but manageable.  The rest wasn't, though.  They started shouting non-stop.  I'm not talking just regular cheering when a good play happened, or anything like that.  I'm talking non-stop.  "BELARUS!  BELARUS!  BELARUS!" "OH, I AM SO DRUNK RIGHT NOW!" (this was in right at the beginning of the 1st period).  They just would not shut up, and it was seemingly being shouted right in our ears.  Some of the things they were saying were horrible.

At these games, Hosts are supposed to be keeping an eye on their sections in addition to helping people find their seats.  Our Host was nowhere to be found.  If she had just come out of her hidey-hole and looked up periodically, she would have seen all this.  But she didn't.

We put up with it through one period, though the wife did ask the extremely loud guy to please turn it down a couple of notches.  She got attitude from him, but he did quiet down some.

It was an exciting first period, with Germany finally scoring a goal!  It was 1-1 after one period of play, and the buffoons headed down to the concourse.  They had mentioned possibly moving to this section of seats that was almost totally empty, and we sincerely hoped that they did.

No such luck.  They came back just before the intermission was over and were, if possible, even more obnoxious and drunk.  After conferring with the wife for a minute, we decided to get up and try and find different seats at the first commercial break.  When that happened, we grabbed our bags and headed off.  The really obnoxious guy made some comment about having made people leave.  The wife shot something back at him that I didn't quite catch (I was busy trying to make my way over 100 people who wouldn't get up, or so it seemed).

We went down the stairs and lo and behold!  There was our Host, just standing in the stairway.  That's really an effective way to police your section!  By this time, we were past notifying the Host though, and made our way to Guest Services.  After a vigorous complaint about both the drunkards and the Host not being in evidence, the woman said "I can get you different seats.  These are the only ones we have left.  But you can't keep your souvenir tickets."  Like we wanted to!  First, we already have two games worth of "souvenir tickets" and secondly, we just wanted to enjoy the game!

After leaving them with a warning that the section should probably be watched, because who knew what these guys would do (some of the things they were saying were pretty vile), we made our way to our new seats.  It was our usual section during the Canucks games, but down in the handicapped area where there are spaces for wheelchairs and nice, comfortable fold-up seats (and I mean "comfortable" in the relative sense compared to "seats that are so restrictive that you can't move in them and can barely fit into them").  This level is right above the Lower Bowl area, so everything looked so big!

We had missed a Belarus goal while we were busy doing this, so it was 2-1 Belarus when we finally sat down.  We were just marveling at how good our seats were, as well as checking out some of the things around us.

Including this cool TV camera!  I was going to ask the operator if I could take a picture of him operating it, but I chickened out.

It was 2-1 Belarus after two periods, and we were killing time during the intermission.

I took this video for a couple of reasons. First, to show how excessively cute some of the stuff here was, namely this "Where's Quatchi" little game, with the most annoying music known to man accompanying it.  Secondly, to give you an example of how, for some reason, everything the announcer says is in French first, then English (as I noted in my Russia-Latvia game write-up).

The third period was really exciting, though!  The first 10 minutes were a bit "eh", but with less than 10 minutes to go, Belarus scored to make it 3-1.  Since Germany hasn't been able to score at all during these Olympic games (numerous chances after that first goal, but couldn't bury them), I figured the game was pretty much over.  But then Germany scored two quick goals and it was now 3-3!  Three goals in total in 2-3 minutes.  Not too shabby.

With about 4 minutes left, Belarus scored again, and then with just under two minutes left, one more time.  Final score: Belarus 5, Germany 3.  It was a hard-fought game and definitely entertaining for the most part.  This was the game we weren't really looking forward to because we didn't have much interest in the teams, but it turned out to be a pretty good one.

As always, the teams shook hands after the game.

However, after the game, the Germans skated dejectedly off the ice, leaving only the Belarus team to wave and thank the fans.  I thought that was rather poor of the German team, personally.

We waited a little bit for the crowd to lessen, and I marveled once again at the fact that there were so many fans from these two countries in attendance here.  Yes, some were Vancouverites, but many people made the trip from Germany or Belarus to Vancouver, just to support their country's team.  The crowd was probably more raucous than even the crowds for the two Russian games we went to, and that's even after removing the drunken idiots behind us.  It was so cool to see the enthusiasm being displayed.

The trip home was slow but uneventful.  We slowly moved as one big mass toward the gates, and then made our way up Dunsmuir Street.  We decided to avoid the crowds on Granville and Robson this time out, and that's probably a good thing.  There were so many drunken revelers on the streets we *were* on that Robson must have just been a mad house.  People were screaming, waving Canadian flags, faces painted in red & white.  Or the colours of other countries too, as there were plenty of those.  Vancouver is truly becoming a party town during the Olympics, and it's good to see. 

I saw a news report yesterday saying that the German national tent and display, where you can see a bunch of cool German stuff as well as get some great German beer, had to fly in an additional 300 kegs because they were running out.  And, they're going to have to fly in more because even that isn't enough.  There's nothing wrong with being drunk and having a great time, as long as you're not obnoxious about it.  That's something the assholes sitting behind us didn't seem to fathom.

On our way home, we passed by the Zip Line that's stretching across two downtown city blocks, and I had to take a picture of one of the towers.  It's all lit up, so you can't really see it too well, but I tried.  You can see better pictures, including what it actually looks like to ride it, at the Miss 604 blog.  This includes some great video!

Basically, you're high in the air, with only a chair on a wire supporting you from falling probably 30-40 feet (it could be higher, I have no idea), zipping from one tower to the other at relatively high speeds.  With my fear of heights, there's no way you'll get me on this thing.  Of course, even if there was, there's no way I'm waiting in line for 6 HOURS for the 2-minute or less ride across the streets of downtown Vancouver.  The good thing is, it's free.  So you can do it if you want.

We finally made it home, just after midnight.  Being a Saturday, it was so nice not to have to worry about getting up for work the next day.

Wow, I figured this would be my shortest write-up, considering the lack of picture-taking subjects and the relative uninterest in the game, but this turned into my longest yet.  Hope you enjoyed seeing a little bit of Vancouver.

Tonight, we do it again, only this is the game we've been waiting for.  Sweden-Finland, in a fight for first place in their Group.  Getting to see the Sedin twins in action again will be wonderful.


  1. I;m surprised you want to do this again tonight. It was funny to read but I,m sure it really wasn't. You should have plenty to tell us when you get home. Just being in the crowd had to be awesome. You're pictures were great. I really loved the ones from Gastown. I thought that was a neat place. I'm sure you will get lots of comments on this article.

  2. We've already got the tickets, so we gotta go. :)

    Besides, this is Sweden-Finland. It's almost as much of a must-see as Canada-US (the one that's right before our game). Tuesday's game is out at UBC, so it should be a lot less hectic.

    Glad you liked the pics. Hope you like the ones on the Day 2 post as well.

    I probably won't get that many comments on the article. Not many people haev the patience to get through it!

    But thank you. :)

  3. The tool said "I've offended people, see them leave" and I replied with "there's a line between cheering and being obnoxious and you've crossed it". He started screaming about cheap seats and that's where I ignored him and concentrated on climbing over people.
    - the wife

  4. I'm tempted to write my comment in French first and then in English, but I'd pretty much be limited to saying something like, "I would like to buy this baguette," so nothing doing.

    SO sorry about the drunk idiots. I'm glad you got to change seats!

  5. Thank the wife for that. I probably wouldn't have done it myself, and that's *not* because I wouldn't have wanted to.

    And wasn't the music in that video annoying? They really want to give everybody the sugar sickies, don't they?

  6. This figure oт the car window is indeed a mascot of a Russian olympic team, has been so for the last few Olympics... Actually comes from one of our old cartoons, very popular. It is called Cheburashka (I know I know, sounds funny :D)

  7. Thanks, Lena! We kind of figured that out, but it's nice to have it confirmed. Of course, the funny thing is that there was a guy in the crowd who was banging on a drum with that mascot on it. It seemed kind of weird to be hitting this cartoon little girl with a mallet. :)

  8. errrr.... actually that's a boy :P
    But still it is weird to see that little cutie be hit

  9. Is it? Oops!

    *turns red*

    Ummmmm....look, a bear! *runs away as you look to where I was pointing*


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