GO CANADA! (on Olympic Thrift)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn honour of the Olympics beginning in Sochi today, I’m doing an Olympic Thrift Post!

I can’t believe that it’s been 4 years since Vancouver hosted the Olympics. My family totally did them the thriftiest, cheapest way possible. We didn’t see one game or event live (you get a way better view on TV anyway) but we took in all the free, fun stuff in Vancouver in those two weeks. I posted the “note” below on my Facebook page on February 28, 2010 –  it gives you an idea of how we experienced the Olympics and what it cost us. Hoping these Olympics will be safe –  Go Canada!

25 Concerts, 11 Days, Oh, Canada!

So, the goal was to see as many free concerts as we could over the course of the Olympics in Vancouver. We checked all the live sites (Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey), made a chart, figured out how we’d travel to and from all the sites, and then went for it. Here’s the analysis:

Dan Mangan and me! eek!

Dan Mangan and me! eek!

Bands seen: Default, Wilco, Soulstream, Vulgaire Machins, Come on in Atlantic House Kitchen Party (2x), Zuco103 sound system, Keshia Chante, Marianna’s Trench, DRUM, Arkells, Dan Mangan, Sam Roberts, Said the Whale, Hey Ocean, Mother Mother, Mud dog, Paper boys, Irish Descendants, You say party we say die, Tokyo Police Club, Wintersleep, Wide Mouth Mason, Alexisonfire (all 15 seconds of them), The Birch Taxis. 25 bands, 11 days.

me on stage at the Atlantic Pavillion - the only show I saw twice, it was that good.

me on stage at the Atlantic Pavillion – the only show I saw twice, it was that good.

The long haul? – Angelika saw all the bands listed, except for Alexisonfire (she was in the Coca Cola pavilion when the debacle happened.) Aaron saw all except Come on in, Mud dog, Paper boys, Irish Descendants. John saw nine of the bands listed – would have seen more if he hadn’t been in rehearsals for the Diary of Anne Frank.

Marianas Trench at Yaletown

Marianas Trench at Yaletown

Best venue: Yaletown, hands down. The Pavillions there were interesting. Fireworks show at the end of the evening was amazing. Sound and screens were great. Surrey was the place to go if you had kids. Richmond was the place to go if you were Dutch.  Although I liked the BC emphasis there and the ice sculpting was pretty cool.

ice sculpting in Richmond

ice sculpting in Richmond

Best food: Romano’s pizza on Granville Street, next to the Vogue theatre. Two amazing slices of awesome pizza and a pop for $3.75. That’s right, people, $3.75 in downtown Vancouver. Just don’t go in the bathrooms. You don’t want to know.

The Olympic Line was the best way to get to Granville Island

The Olympic Line was the best way to get to Granville Island

Different means of travel: West Coast Rail, Sky train, Canada line, Olympic line street car, Mazda protégé 5. Our favourite? West Coast Rail. Being on a train is so freakin’ cool. And the nicest thing about traveling to downtown Vancouver that way was the 20 minute car ride home from Mission after a looooonnnnngggg evening of standing at a concert. They should have trains going all the time, every day. Close second is that fantastic Bombardiere street car. So Europe.

there's that lime green lanyard.

there’s that lime green lanyard.

Coolest freebie: lime green lanier from the Powersmart Pavillion. It has a glowing disc on the bottom of it, very handy when sitting in a dark port-a-pottie. Other freebies we got – pins at most pavilions and wooden spoons at the Atlantic House concert. Okay, maybe that was the coolest freebie – but I actually earned mine by taking part in the concert!

Hardest part of free concerts: standing for hours – not in lines, we didn’t actually stand in lines for concerts all that much. I mean standing for the actual concert. After 3 hours of that, your back is killing you, your toes are numb, and your legs feel like rubber. Do that for a few days in a row and you begin to think that maybe you should have trained for this event…

brave or stupid? you decide.

brave or stupid? you decide.

Craziest thing we saw: zipline.

so beautiful.

so beautiful.

Coolest thing we saw besides the concert: Olympic cauldron.

Thing I got most tired of: the smell of weed. Dude.

my son's band at the time, The Birch Taxis, actually got to play at Chapters on Granville as part of the Olympics. how cool is that?

my son’s band at the time, The Birch Taxis, actually got to play at Chapters on Granville as part of the Olympics. how cool is that?

Coolest way to be included: Aaron’s band got to play at Chapters as part of their way to promote and support local bands. They even got to sell their CDs at the store. Fun, eh?

Unusual thing that happened to us: being interviewed by an American sports station while standing in line to see the cauldron.

the final goal - WE WIN!

the final goal – WE WIN!

Best thing ever: winning hockey gold.

Was it really free? Well, no. Here’s what it cost us:

West Coast Rail: $21 return. Each. ($63)
Sky train/Canada line – $2.50 – one way (adult) $1.75 – one way (student) so total number of trips that a Dawson member did: 15 for a total of $37
Mazda – 3 trips into Vancouver, 6 trips into Surrey, 1 trip into Richmond, 1 trip just to Mission. Don’t know how to do the math on that.
Food: we took snacks with us each trip, but we weren’t allowed to bring food or drinks into the Live Sites. Tallying up all the meals, snacks, $4 teas and hot chocolates (ridiculous, eh?) we consumed over 11 days, I estimate we spent about $250. the most expensive meal was dinner at the Naam on the night of the Birch Taxis concert, but the Chinese food at the Richmond Ozone wasn’t cheap either (but it was really good.) The most unusual thing I ate was Bannock at the First Nations booth in Surrey – it was baked, instead of fried like I’ve had it in the past, and it tasted like Paska. J This also doesn’t count the AWESOME breads I bought at La Baguette on Granville Island – $5 for a peasant loaf feels expensive but each slice is really a meal, and an amazing one at that.
Merch: 3 CDs – $55. One t-shirt – $25.
Free concerts during the Olympics: priceless.


If we had paid to go to see all those bands, I don’t know what it would have cost. A guy like Sam Roberts could cost upwards of $50 a ticket. Aaron paid $25 to see Marianna’s Trench, and I’m sure he paid more like $40 or so to see Tokyo Police Club in the past. Alexisonfire and Billy Talent are currently touring together and tix for that are like $50. Even seeing the Birch Taxis at House of James costs $7! But even if we’d had to pay $10 (each) to see all those bands, it would have cost us $750, we probably never would have done it. But the best part was being part of the Olympic atmosphere, it was like Canada Day, every day, X 100. So really, it was priceless.

What’s your favourite Olympic memory?

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2 Responses to GO CANADA! (on Olympic Thrift)

  1. sankoji says:

    We were living in FL at the time, so sadly only have memories of the Vancouver Olympics on television. Still, that was part of the impetus that got us up here. BC should be quite proud of the job they did in 2010.

    Related to good bargains: the city of Richmond is currently selling their official 2010 Olympic banners for $5 each/$10 per pair. What a great deal! We bought two that are proudly on our walls as memories of the great event that convinced us to move to BC. 🙂 They’re available through Richmond’s Parks and Rec, and you can google it to find the specific site.

    • well, how cool is that, that you moved to BC in part because of the Olympics! wow! Vancouver really did put on a good show, but we gotta tell ya, if the weather had been rainy, like it usually is, it would have been a totally different thing. it rained on opening weekend but for the rest of the event it was sunny and gorgeous – perfect for concerts, gatherings, watching olympic hockey on the big outdoor screens… it really was magical.
      and i had no idea that richmond is selling their banners. i’m totally going to check that out!

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