The Winter Olympics are a special event held every 4 years in some of the most beautiful winter resorts/towns in the world. For many people, attending an Olympic ceremony is just a dream, but if you’re one of the few who will get to experience the Olympics first hand this year when the Olympic games head to the beautiful Whistler Park area of Vancouver, here are some tips and things to know.
The Winter Olympics this year will be held February 12th-28th 2010 and the Paralympic Games will be held from March 12th-21st 2010.
#1) 2010 will mark the first year in history that the ceremonies will be held in an indoor stadium (great for people who don’t like the cold!). The ceremonies will be at the BC Place Stadium (located at 777 Pacific Blvd on the northern end of False Creek in Vancouver). The BC Place Stadium will hold the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the nightly medal presentations. You will need tickets to the opening and closing ceremonies, which you can purchase here.
#2) Vancouver is possibly one of the most populous cities to ever host the Olympic Games. Therefore, be prepared for people- and lots of them. Extreme crowds will likely be found everywhere, at all the different events, and hotels will be booked very early. I’d highly recommend booking your hotel room now, if you haven’t already. If you want to stay near the sites of most of the games, hotels are going to be pricey, but the convenience factor is great. Since Vancouver is so close to the USA border, another great option would be to stay somewhere on the USA side, where hotels will undoubtedly be cheaper. I would recommend staying Camano Island which is right outside of Seattle. Camano offers very easy access to the train station, which will take you directly into Vancouver in no time.
#3) There will be none to very little public parking at the events. Therefore, public transportation (shuttle buses, trains, etc.) will be pretty much your only way to get around. The good news though is Vancouver offers two bus lines: TransLink and the BC Transit Systems, both of which will provide free bus services to anyone holding an Olympic ticket. I’d recommend taking one of those 2 bus lines anywhere within Vancouver you need to go..but be aware that the bus lines will be very crowded so plan accordingly.
#4) Make sure you have the correct documentation before entering Canada. International visitors will need a passport, and a visa to enter the country. However, if you’re a citizen of France, Mexico, The United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, Australia, or Germany, you are exempt from needing a visa and will only need a passport instead.
#5) When packing, don’t expect below freezing temperatures, or anything close. Vancouver is known to have very mild winters (especially compared to some of the sites where previous Winter Olympic Games have been held) and therefore things like sweatshirts, jackets (but not bulky winter coats), waterproof boots, etc. will be a good idea to bring. It’s also a good idea to dress in layers in the event it is cold in the mornings then warms up in the afternoons, as it often does.
#6) The only two forms of payments allowed at the Olympics are any card with a Visa logo on it, or cash. Because that’s going to be inconvenient for a lot of people, it’s good to know that before you head out to Vancouver. Also, because your bank may charge a large ATM fee for using an ATM in a foreign country if you use one there, I’d make sure to stop at your hometown banks ATM prior to leaving for Vancouver.