What a whirlwind trip!
(If you didn’t read Vol 6 Issue 3 of The Winning EDGE, you may not know we won a 4-day trip for four to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics from Wonder Bread. It was a contest you could enter one person per household per day to instantly win a pair of the Olympic red mittens and be entered into the grand prize draw.)
My original intention was to blog each day, but Weston Bakeries/Wonder Bread kept us busy from the get go. We (myself, my husband Craig and our best friends, Lori & Tom Hoppe) flew out of Toronto at 10:30am ET on Monday February 15th and landed in Vancouver at 12:30pm PT. All the winners and their guests were met by staff and lead us to a bus just for us. While waiting they offered us snacks and drinks. We were all whisked off to the Executive Hotel Vintage Suites. In the lobby more of the team met us, got us checked in to the hotel and gave us all the swag and paperwork we needed for the balance of the trip.
We got a one shoulder backpack containing: the famous Olympic red mittens (the ones I didn’t instantly win!), a Wonder+/Go Canada Go scarf, a logoed watch, a souvenir program, a small Olympic mascot stuffie, a red logoed mid-layer jacket, a white logoed ski jacket and an ID tag.
Weston Bakeries then gave us our itinerary, a VISA gift card pre-loaded with $75 to cover our meals for each of us and tickets to five events! The rules stated a minimum of two. We got tickets to:
Monday February 15
ICE HOCKEY UBC Thunderbird Arena 19:00
Tuesday February 16
ICE HOCKEY Canada Hockey Place 12:00
ICE HOCKEY Canada Hockey Place 21:00
Wednesday February 17
ICE HOCKEY Canada Hockey Place 12:00
SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING Pacific Coliseum 17:00
Since we had spent the day sitting on the plane followed by a bus, we went for a walk into Yaletown to stretch our legs and for a “real” bite to eat as we didn’t want to eat stadium food for dinner. We found The Edge Social Grille and Lounge. The food was great, but what I found odd was, sitting in the bar area, watching the Olympic events live on big flat screen TVs, while we were only minutes away from the actual events.
We then caught the #17 bus on Howe St. to the UBC Thunderbird Arena to see the Sweden vs Slovakia Women’s Hockey game. (Since we had game tickets, the bus ride was free!) We were surprised to discover just how tight security was. Getting in was just like airport security; bag xrays and body scanners and wands. It’s a smaller sized arena, so every seat in the house has a good view. It was fun watching the women play. It reminded us of Junior A hockey with the way the players interacted with each other. We found it interesting that every player’s name on the Slovak team ended in “OVA”. Sweden won 6-2.
When we left the arena it was raining pretty hard and we didn’t have umbrellas. By the time we got back to the bus, we were soaked. The bus was packed and the windows fogged up pretty quickly. We had no idea where we were. The bus drivers are really good and they didn’t let us miss the stop close to our hotel.
The time change had thrown my schedule right off. I awoke at 4:00am PT and couldn’t get back to sleep. I decided to squeeze in a bit of contesting before the day started. An hour later I decided I needed to move and stretch so I thought I would try out one of Vancouver’s most famous yoga studios; YYoga (@yyoga) I went to their Flow Studio on Burrard Street for the 6:30am-7:30am YHot class. I had never done hot yoga before. Both the studio and the class were amazing.
When I got back, we got ready and enjoyed a buffet breakfast before getting on the bus to go to BC Place to see the Men’s Hockey. It was the USA vs Switzerland game. What a difference between watching the men and the women play. The men are better at being where the puck is plus they are far rougher. Lots of smashing into the boards. Since it is the stadium where the Vancouver Canucks play, it is much bigger and listening to the crowds cheering was amazing. It was hard to tell who was cheering for who as most of the stadium was in red and white with a bit of blue thrown in for good measure. USA won 3-1.
We then split up with Lori and Tom for the balance of the evening. We found the third hockey game too late for us as it began at 9:00pm PT (as it felt like midnight to us) so we gave them our tickets so they could go to the game with friends. Craig and I met up with CBC to film a bit of additional footage for a piece on luck that aired on The National (@CBCTheNational) Tuesday night, One Lucky Lady.
It turns out that Lori and Tom were not able to hook-up with their friends. While exploring the city they ended up in Lululemon (@lululemon). They discovered Liz (@lizcgse) and Tiffany (@tiffanycgse) were part of Lululemon’s Cool Global Sporting Event. They were to blog about the Olympics as part of their participation in the program. Tom and Lori gave the girls their extra tickets and had a ball at the game. (Read Liz’s blog post about their experience.)
Afterwards we went for a long walk checking out all the events in the city. It is also a lot of fun people watching. I made sure we popped into Lululemon as they had teamed up to YYoga to give the Gift of Yoga during the Olympics. I thought it was one free class at YYoga per person. It turns out it was an all-you-can-yoga event from February 12-28. Had I realized that, I would have gotten my pass on Monday so Tuesday morning’s yoga class would have been free. We decided we were going to attend the evening Candlelight Yoga class and since you should not do yoga on a full stomach we went for and early dinner at a great west coast institution called Earls. We arrived just after the Canada vs Norway Men’s hockey game started. The bar was packed! So we took a table in the dining room. We knew Canada was winning because every time Canada scored, the cheers, woots and hollers were deafening. Canada won 8-0.
There was also a pretty funky couple sitting next to us at Earls. He really stood out as he had huge glasses and tattoos everywhere. I noticed his wedding ring and thought it was a bit of an oxymoron as I couldn’t picture him taking out the garbage, doing dishes, folding laundry or taking care of the kids. Wednesday night while watching the late night evening news we discovered it was Dallas Green from the band Alexisonfire. Dallas was in the news as there was a problem at the free Alexisonfire concert earlier on Wednesday night.
We then continued our walk around they city. When we got back to the hotel room to get our yoga clothes, for a moment I thought we should just stay in as I was really tired. However, I hate missing anything fun and free so off we went to yoga. How many times have we ignored our instinct, inner voice or gut feelings only to discover later we were right? As the class progressed I found I had no strength to hold the poses, I didn’t have good balance and the icing on the cake was, during Savasana I drifted off and started to lightly snore!!
Since I figure I can always sleep either on the plane or at home, on Wednesday I got up early and went to the Yaletown Studio on Homer Street for the 7:00-8:00am YHot yoga class. (If you ever have a chance to take a class with Sandra Stephanson, go.) Still hockey’d out, Craig and I gave our last pair of hockey tickets to Lori and Tom. This time they were able to hook up with her brother Gary. As both Craig and I have family in and around British Columbia, we never have the luxury of spending this amount time in Vancouver proper, we took the time to visit Granville Island. It was so warm we saw people in t-shirts and shorts, cyclists, roller bladders, people walking their dogs, etc. along with spotting dozens of plants ready to bloom, in February!! Now I know why everyone wants to move to B.C.!
We met Lori and Gary at the Men’s and Women’s Short Track event at 5:00pm. We really liked it as it was the first event that made it feel we were at the Olympics. We got to watch the 500m Men’s, 5000m Men’s Relay and the 500m Women’s Final. We saw Marianne St-Gelais win silver for Canada. How exciting!!
After the races we went to Gastown for dinner, ate at the Water St. Cafe and went shopping for Official Olympic souvenirs. Since it was our last chance, we walked the three blocks to see the exterior Olympic torch. WOW! What a way to end the trip.
At this point my legs were so sore from walking for three days and taking three yoga classes we took a cab back to the hotel to pack up.
Now calling our win a 4-day trip is a bit of a misnomer since the 4th day is spent travelling. We were up at 5:00am to catch our 9:00am flight home. The plane had to be de-iced as it had just come from Sydney Australia, so it left late. We landed at 4:45pm only to have Air Canada lose the container with our luggage. An hour later they found it. Travelling is no vacation!
Overall, the trip of a lifetime!
Remember to always support the sponsors or there won’t be contests and sweepstakes like this for us to enter.