1. Lines: The Canadian provinces, various countries, and corporate sponsors have set up “houses” in various locations around Vancouver. If there’s one house you particularly want to go to, be prepared for long lines. For example, get to the Royal Canadian Mint at least two hours before it opens if you want to see the Olympic medals. Otherwise, you’ll be standing a couple blocks away. Other really popular locations: the zip line at Robson Square, the Vancouver Art Gallery showing Leonardo Da Vinci drawings, and pretty much any place giving out free food. On the upside, people tend to do the wave to pass the time.
2. Pins: Fancy yourself a pin collector? You can get different ones at each house–for free. But go in and ask the volunteers working at the house about the pins. Some of the houses do not publicize the fact that they give away pins because of the crowds of people.
3. The Official Olympic store at the Bay: During the Olympics, it’s open until midnight on the weekdays and twenty-four hours on the weekend. Every time I passed by that place, there were long lines. If you want official merchandise, be prepared to wait for a couple hours just to get into the store. Or you can get the merchandise at other stores instead (I suggest checking the shops at Granville Island or Robson Street).
4. Transportation: It was a good thing my sister actually lives in Vancouver and knew the bus lines, because at times (especially an hour or two prior to game times), there are long lines just to get into the Skytrain stations. Although the buses are also packed to capacity, there are a lot more of them and taking one will actually get you faster to your destination than the newer Skytrain. I suppose this would apply to any Olympics. Keep in mind the alternatives before you go anywhere.
5. Tickets: If you have a ticket to an Olympic event, you don’t have to pay to get on the Skytrain or any of the buses for the day of the event. Just show your ticket to the driver and get on.
6. Security: You are required to go through security for any Olympic event. Pack as if you are heading to the airport. Don’t bring any food or drinks. There are two types of lines, a regular line where you will get your bags x-rayed and an express line for people who don’t have bags or just small purses. However, note that if you do bring a bag (no matter the size) through the express line, they will manually check it. With a flashlight.
7. Curling: Be prepared to watch four games–at the same time.
8. Food downtown: Yes, be prepared to wait in long lines to get into restaurants and pubs. It’s probably a better idea to get out of the city center to find some grub. Because by the time you’ve advanced a couple feet in the line, you could have just taken a bus uptown and gotten seated at a cozy place frequented by the locals.
9. Some pictures:
10. Mukmuk: Want to get a giant stuffed marmot? Get it at the Vancouver International Airport and save fifty bucks.