Kids, my city is a giant party.

We went Downtown yesterday afternoon to see what Vancouver’s like during the Olympics. (We live in the city of Vancouver, but about a half-hour from Downtown by bus or about a fifteen-minute drive. I wrote more about my neighbourhood for the Raincoast Books blog series 5 Things Vancouver.)

Most interested in people-watching and experiencing the general vibe, we chose not to wait in line to get into any special sites or pavilions (I’ll do that another time, for sure). So we spent about five hours just walking around. Here’s some of what we saw (click images for the option to view them larger on Flickr, and for more/different descriptions):

Olympics cauldron imageThe cauldron is at the north end of Thurlow St., and it was surrounded by hordes of people. We didn’t even think of trying to get close to the hideous chain-link security fence blocking it off.

CauldronHere it is, closer up. The smaller torches don’t look so much like giant phalluses when they aren’t in the process of rising out of the ground, eh?

Crowd by the CauldronI wasn’t lying about the size of the crowd.

DSC_0070Over at the Vancouver Art Gallery (also home to the British Columbia Pavilion [Sunday was BC Day downtown]), some folks were demonstrating against the use of fur in fashion. I don’t think they were specifically responding to anything regarding the Olympics, but please correct me if I’m wrong. UPDATE: Twitter KelaineD tells me US figure skater Johnny Weir has been criticized for using fox fur in a costume.

Ice Show @ Robson SquareWe walked through Robson Square while the mascots were doing their ice show. It was PACKED. I couldn’t see a thing but managed to hold up my camera and get this shot, which I like for the colours and other people’s cameras.

Crowds at Robson SquareManaging to elbow our way out of there, we saw this crowd looking toward the skating rink, though surely not to see what was going on because they certainly couldn’t.

Gordon CampbellWalking around the Art Gallery, we spied BC Premier Gordon Campbell chatting folks up (he’s the white-haired man in the centre, to the right of to the man in the blue hat).

HairdoI loved this girl’s pair of flags. On the left is the BC provincial flag, on the right is Canada’s. We saw her on our walk from Downtown toward Yaletown and Chinatown.

We left our house too late to catch even the tail end of the Chinese New Year parade, and in going to the see the cauldron and Robson Square first thing, we managed to miss any other festivities in Chinatown.

Sticker on RBC AdStill, we did catch this sticker on an RBC ad on the bus shelter in Chinatown where we waited to catch our ride home. It’s not related at all to the New Year, but it’s a theme to many protests.

That ride was one of the most fun I’ve taken here. The bus was crammed full of people, and some men at the front that I never managed to lay eyes on sang almost the whole ride, first in a language we couldn’t identify and then in French. They had most of the passengers happily singing in a call-and-response Allouette and everything.

I’ll take this moment to send a massive jolt of internet love to Translink, the Vancouver transit authority. They’re dealing with massive crowds right now, and in addition to keeping their buses, trains and boats moving as smoothly as they can, they’re all over Twitter announcing disruptions and delays.

This afternoon we’ll head out to the University of British Columbia to see a women’s hockey game – Canada vs. Switzerland. We’re going to bike, because dudes, we live a fifteen-minute bike ride from an Olympics hockey game!

Got questions or comments about what’s going on around town? Fire away!