The excitement has been palpably growing for the past week. The crowds are increasing; roads are being closed; maple leaf flags and "Go Canada" signs adorn buildings and offices. Today, Vancouver finally welcomed the Olympics to town.
The torch relay, having traversed the country (from, as they like to say here, sea to sea to sea), arrived in Vancouver a couple of days ago, but this morning it made its way around Stanley Park, right near where we're living. The twin attractions of (Lord) Sebastian Coe and (Governor) Arnold Schwarzenegger enticed me out of bed shortly after 6am, joining a slightly groggy Dave, who arrived back from his night shift at the opening ceremony venue in time to pedal madly around the park, trying to glean information from our companions in the dark as to what was happening where. As it turns out, Lord Coe and I missed one another; easy to do when the runners only cover approximately 300 metres each. Arnie drove past in a 4×4 but in my early morning state, I just wondered why everyone else was cheering and taking photos when the Olympic flame wasn't yet in sight. I was still overcoming my shock of the trucks, sponsored by Coke, doing their best to create a party atmosphere with pumping music and free fizzy pop all round, in the pre-dawn gloaming.
We then cut back across Stanley Park to West Georgia Street, one of the main arteries into the city, to join a much larger throng as dawn turned into daylight. Here are a couple of videos in my attempt to share the magic!
The first torch relay sighting, around the sea wall in Stanley Park.
An hour or so later, rush hour traffic is stopped to let the torch pass.