Feb 11th, 2010 Olympics, Cultural Olympiad

I know this blog is about dyslexia and hyperlexia but I thought it would be fun to add some diversity and share my wonderful time at the 2010.  This report is my day two, Feb 11th, at the  Olympics.

A weary voyager is checking in. We were on a 12 hour marathon today.  It was wonderful, fun, entertaining and informative.  And, now I am just wondering what it was we did, there was so much. 

To set the stage, it was cloudy, at times pouring with rain. Neither mattered, we just soldiered on.  My friend Marie had done a lot of reconnoitering so our time was well spent. 

To start the day was a visit to London Drugs to get me a backpack and thank goodness we did for throughout the day we picked up SO MUCH STUFF, maps, tour guides, a book.  A hint to those of you still coming.  Forget purses.  Bring a wallet belt for around the waist and a backpack.  You have much more freedom, especially if it’s raining.  Gives a free arm for the umbrella.

 Our first Cultural Olympiad stop was the Vancouver Art Gallery and a show with original and copies of Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings of the body, detailed drawings, more detailed than most books that exist today.  It seems that he and a doctor in the early 1500’s collaborated and the result is some of the most beautiful and factual explanations of how the movement system of how the body works.  It’s a sobering show – sobering to think that five hundred or so years ago so much information on the body became available. And, as we were viewing almost simultaneously we said to one another – how brilliant of the Gallery staff to present this show – what are the Olympics but about the body, a healthy body. Leonardo wrote thoughts in the margins by the drawings: most of them encouraging anyone viewing these works, to think about themselves, the way they lived and the importance of treating the body with love and care. And, all of this happened a half a millennium ago!  The setting of the show is done with simplicity. There is aesthetic space to breathe, to take in the achievements. 

We headed back out into the rain to take in the “wrap” of the Vancouver Art Gallery – the old court house.  In this rainy day, the colorful huge flowers covering the immense space added life and lightness.  And, then we noticed that many of the high rise office buildings have huge hangings welcoming the visitors and athletes. It was very exciting to see and feel.   As we waited for the bus, in the pouring rain, to take us to Granville Island we watched with awe a free ride: Zip ride: two very tall towers, like two hundred feet have been constructed in either end of Robson Square. A cable is strung between – about one very long city block apart.  You can climb one tower, don a suit, hooked to the cable and “fly” along the rope to the other side.  One guy was very brave and kept turning himself upside down on his journey.   Amazing.   I think I will pass on that one.  I understand the Premier of the Province, a gentleman well into his sixties took the ride when it debuted.  Brave man!

We began to realize that we were very lucky to be viewing/sightseeing today.  Tomorrow the crowds will burst on the scene. We were able to get with ease into everything we wanted.  We spent quite amount of time at Code 2:  The digital show at Emily Carr. (Code 1)  I have not been very interested in digital art and its many ramifications but today I became intrigued. Artists are using technology and coming up with very satisfying results.  We loved the “costume” show.  Beautifully constructed “costumes” with digital elements make them alive – one dress whispered, another had lights that twinkled, subtly when you walked by and on an on. We also sat in a theater – miniature  – two rows, donned headsets listening as we watched. There were two purposes for the headsets. To tell the tale of the film we were watching and to disturb, interrupt – it was quite disconcerting at first – a voice was whispering in our ear – want popcorn or did you leave the stove on at home.  And then we could hear someone chewing on popcorn.  I hate popcorn, so I got really annoyed for an instant and then of course realized it was only on the headset.  All the while we were watching a very odd film.  Marie became very annoyed with the audio and took off the headset.  I had no idea she had done that until the end.  It was a disconcerting but interesting experience. 

In the middle of all of this we had lunch at the Granville Island Market:  I inhaled protein.  I was starved and then we headed back out into the rain and more digital art.  We discovered a train running from Granville Island to the Olympic Village that has been built on old railroad tracks.  It seems that 100,000 people have taken this train since Jan 1!!!!.  They use it as a commuter getting across the City.  We just marveled and then  returned to the Market to relax at the Granville Island Tea Company. I had the best cup of tea in years.  A special brew – kind of Lapsang Suchong but softer.   We had great fun sitting at the counter and chattering with the visitors that passed by asking them where they were from. Everyone seems to wander in groups wearing skiing jackets to identify them. Our challenge was guessing where they were from.  The Swedish jackets look not unlike the VANOC jackets – only have yellow. We were very forward, stopping them and asking.  Some guys sat down next to us and they were chattering away in what sounded like German – they were Swiss – musicians – here to perform for the President of Switzerland who was about to arrive at the “Swiss Pavilion” – located in Bridges, a large restaurant on Granville Island.  And, so it went.

Then it was time to head to the other side of the Creek to LiveCity Yaletown – Sue’s project.  We took the tub: an adorable boat which gave us a trip down False Creek by the new Arthur Erickson building:  Another legacy that is so distinctive. Disembarking we were right at the Live site – stood in line – for an hour – to get in. The security was major – like the airport. Nobody seemed to care about waiting.  Royal Bank and Coke, two sponsors, were busy giving out freebees and everyone, even in the pouring rain, were in good humor. Once in, we had a good time.  We saw three pavilions – Aker from Italy with many interesting technologies which we tried.  Yes, we did! Samsong – left me rather uninterested and then on to the: Laneway House, an efficient and most attractively designed house using green technology. It’s a product of two designers in North Vancouver.  Haig, if you and Mary do decide to build – I suggest you look at this company!!!! 

Then it was time to find a place for the show that began at 6:30 pm. We discovered that tonight the feature was the arrival of the Olympic Flame.  The rain stopped, thankfully, umbrellas went down which meant we could see the stage.  (Yes, there were large screens so you could see but I like also to see people, in their real selves, not blown up.) And, I had great fun watching the “moving lights” that are computer programmed and hang above the stage in full view.   As we waited for the Flame there were entertainers and at one point Marie whispered:  Ann, did you leave the stove on?  The two of us howled with laughter. And, then came the moment for the arrival of the flame through these thousands of people and up onto the stage.  It went right by me – two feet away.  I got some great photos on my phone camera.  To cap the event was a fireworks show.  Sue had a triumph tonight.  It all worked beautifully and thousands of us had a wonderful time.

Marie and I looked at ourselves and said, let’s find a place to sit – we had now been standing for nearly five hours.   Several blocks away we came across a Starbucks.  That chai latte never tasted so good.

And, now to bed.   I am so glad I am here.  It’s very special.

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