Last minute call up to the Vancouver Winter Olympics

Last minute call up to the Vancouver Winter Olympics

The Games are well underway, but there is a load of action still worth catching, on the slopes and off them
Winter Olympics
There's all the sporting action, true, but Vancouver offers a whole lot more as well, including great food, fantastic bars and some wonderful cultural destinations.

This post is part of CNNGo's 52 Weekends series, where each week we look at a new destination.

The Winter Olympics are well underway, and how. After the expected over-the-top glitz of the Opening Ceremony, celebration quickly turned to sorrow over the tragic death of a luge competitor. Then we saw some sporting upsets as well as some last minute rescheduling due to unseasonally warm weather. But it's not too late to get involved in all the excitement by heading to Vancouver for the remaining action. We asked Tourism Vancouver to help us out with planning and ideas.

A warm bed before heading out

If you’re happy to pay a little more for the benefit of a lot less hassle, ticket and hotel packages are still available through CoSport.com. CoSport features a number of great sporting event ticket packages coupled with downtown Vancouver hotel choices. If you want access to a wider range of prices and accommodation types, search www.2010destinationplanner.com, the official accommodation planning website. Unique accommodation options abound. Consider staying on a cruise ship overlooking Vancouver’s 1,000 acre Stanley Park, at a bed-and-breakfast in a unique Vancouver neighborhood like Kitsilano or Yaletown, or renting a private home near one of the Olympic venues.

No tickets yet?

Depending on the event, advance tickets to the Winter Olympics are available to U.S. and many international residents through CoSport.com. If you’re already in Vancouver, you can get sport and ceremony tickets in person, or by phone, through the Vancouver 2010 Main Ticket Centre in downtown Vancouver (Robson Square, between Hornby Street and Howe Street).

What to do, where to do it

Vancouver is constantly rated one of the best cities in the world to live in.

Any which way you turn, you’ll experience a veritable bonanza of parties and cultural activities in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Cultural Olympiad 2010 will present some 600, free and ticketed, arts and cultural events in the region from January 22 to March 21. Country houses and cultural pavilions like Holland Heineken House, Atlantic Canada House, Place de la Francaphonie, and the 2010 Aboriginal Pavilion will be dotted throughout the city offering fun for the whole family.

The GE Ice Plaza at Robson Square will feature low-cost skate rentals, live music and an urban zip line allowing visitors to fly between downtown buildings. Two LiveCity sites, offering live music, big-screen coverage of Olympic events, plus food and drink, will be joined by a pedestrian corridor through the trendy Yaletown neighborhood, a former warehouse district now lined with fashionable boutiques and restaurants.

Culture vultures should visit the Vancouver Art Gallery, which is offering free entry during the Games. Adrenaline seekers should head to Grouse Mountain, just 20-minutes from downtown Vancouver. The mountain, which overlooks Vancouver, is open 24-hours a day during the Games with floodlit skiing and snowboarding, plus their regular dining and activities. Grouse Mountain will also play host to daily broadcasts from NBC’s Today show, so it’s also the place to be if you want to wave to the cameras.

Stock up on calories

The Vancouver bay at sunset.

Vancouver has been named one of the top dining cities in the world and is famous for fresh seafood, sushi and ethnic eats. While you’re here, try some local specialties like whole fresh Dungeness crab at The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant on Granville Island or wild BC salmon at Coast Restaurant.

If you want something more Olympic-themed, start by sampling the three Olympic cocktails at sexy Yew Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel. The cocktails are named Montreal 1976, Calgary 1988 and Vancouver 2010, after past and future Canadian Olympic host cities. At Campagnolo Restaurant (walking distance from BC Place stadium and Canada Hockey Place) you can watch Olympic events on the big-screen TV while chowing down on 'gold,' 'silver' or 'bronze' pizzas. If a Canadian athlete wins a medal while you’re eating, you win your pizza, provided the pizza and medal matches. Over at Tojo’s Restaurant, Vancouver’s most famous sushi restaurant, chef Hidekazu Tojo has created an Olympic Roll featuring the colors of the Olympic Rings; nori seaweed for black, BC wild salmon for red, spinach for green, crab, pineapple and egg for yellow all served on a blue plate.

What not to miss

Canada is aiming to make it to the Olympic gold medal hockey final on February 28, and then go on to win the thing. If all goes to plan, hockey fever will grip Vancouver in the closing weekend of the Games. If you’re not lucky enough to score tickets to the bronze and gold medal Games, the next best thing will be to watch from Molson Canadian Hockey House –- another of the temporary pavilions being set up in the city during the Games. It’s not cheap, but a ticket to the Molson Canadian Hockey House’s VIP lounge will get you access to the open bar, food by Wolfgang Puck catering and nightly live entertainment from the likes of the Barenaked Ladies, Tom Cochrane and Sam Roberts.

For more information, visit: www.tourismvancouver.com

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