Last week I wrote about how I had thrown caution to the wind and applied to be a volunteer performer at the 2010 Winter Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies. (Trust me: you have to capitalize all that stuff or you risk a knock on your door from the Olympic Language Police.) 

Here’s the note I just received by e-mail from “The Ceremonies Cast Team”:

“Thank you for your interest in volunteering for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

“We have received your application for consideration as a Volunteer Performer. [Editorial aside: You catching all these capitals?]

“In April, we will begin the audition scheduling process for auditions starting in May. As we anticipate receiving thousands of applications, this process will take several months. Please be aware that submitting an application does not guarantee an audition.

“All applicants, whether selected to audition or not, will receive information regarding the status of their application via e-mail or phone by the end of June 2009.”

Kind of makes you all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn’t it? Giddy even. So now I guess I just have to wait for the phone to ring–or not. Likely not. But if it does, I’ll let you know what happens next on the Long Road to Olympic Stardom…

So recession kinda sucks huh? Seems every day it gets a little harder to justify an evening out when the sky is apparently falling. The way I see it, we can either cloister ourselves at home with our favourite depressant (in my case, Bombay Sapphire) and wait the downturn out–or, we can get out there and lift a budget-friendly glass to better times.

Win a Zin gift certificate!

Win a Zin gift certificate!

Think you can’t afford an after-work get-together with friends right now? Not true! Check out the great $2 tapas menu on offer between 4 and 7 pm at Zin on Robson from March 16 to April 30.

Executive chef Karen Gin’s menu of toonie treats includes mac & Jack (with a hit of Jack Daniels), chili lime-glazed chicken wings, naan pizza, braised short rib poutine, and my personal all-time lounge-food fave: truffle popcorn. 

Zin is one of my two favourite martini bars in Vancouver (more about the other one later) and I’ve got a $50 gift certificate to Zin to give away in a random draw on March 27. To enter, just leave a comment answering these three important questions: 

  • shaken or stirred?
  • vodka or gin?
  • one olive or two?

Make sure I can get in touch with you, and good luck! (And if just can’t wait to win, make sure you make Happy Hour reservations: call Zin at 604.408.1700.)

PS: Blog about this contest at your own site with a link back here and you’ll get a second chance to win!

It’s spring break in BC’s Lower Mainland and that pretty much guarantees a gloomy weather forecast. (Old joke: how do you know what the weather’s doing in Vancouver? Easy: if you can’t see the mountains it means it’s raining and if you can see the mountains, it means it’s going to rain.)

You can’t let the wet stuff dampen your holiday spirit. Just grab the Gore-Tex and a sturdy brolly (the cheerful, wind-resistant offerings from Vancouver’s Cheeky Umbrellas are well worth the bucks) and make like a local with some of these recommended rainy-day pastimes:

Vancouver loves a Cheeky Umbrella

Vancouver loves a Cheeky Umbrella

  • Visit Hong Kong without a passport on a trip to Richmond’s Aberdeen Centre, where the city’s sizeable Asian population comes to shop, eat and be entertained. 
  • Cloudy skies only heighten the moody atmosphere of the Museum of Anthropology, a celebrated repository of Northwest Coast Aboriginal art at the University of British Columbia
  • Look up when it’s coming down: head for the snow on the nearby North Shore mountains. Look for specially priced ski-and-snowshoe packages here.
  • Steamy and tropical, the domed Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park blooms with birds, butterflies and lush floral vistas. (It’s the best place for foolproof photos, too.) 
  • Indulge your inner culture-vulture at Tickets Tonight with last-minute, half-price tickets to Vancouver’s primo arts events and wait out the monsoon in a matinée.
  • Rain or shine, the Whistler Mountaineer train between North Vancouver and Whistler is the best way to take in the coastal scenery along the Sea-to-Sky corridor. (The season runs May to October.)
  • Drop your umbrella and your shoulders and say spaaaaaaah. My favourite sanctuary is still (and will likely ever be) the Absolute Spa chain, now with a new location at Park Royal in West Vancouver. 
  • When you’ve exhausted the indoor pleasures of Granville Island Public Market, pop your top and walk the False Creek seawall west to Kitsilano Beach or east to Science World.
  • Like hockey but can’t afford tickets to a game? Head downtown to Vancity Theatre for the Hockey Nights in Film series during spring break.

Where do you like to pass a rainy day in the Lower Mainland? Please share your suggestions!

There’s this little shindig in the works ’round Vancouver these days: the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Maybe you’ve already heard? 

Let's get this party started ©VANOC/COVAN

Let's get this party started ©VANOC/COVAN

I am old enough to have lived through–and worked at–this city’s last big party: Expo ’86. And this next event is unspooling pretty much the way that previous one did: initial optimism and collective goodwill, followed by major outrage, minor scandal and moderate pessimism, and capped by a couple of months of triumphant flag-waving and generous back-patting. 

We’re in the middle phase (outrage, scandal, pessimism) now, which makes it a little easier to accept that I didn’t get tickets to any events. (Who wants to go to those darn ol’ medal-round hockey games anyway?) But I know in my heart that the currently empty bandwagon will quickly fill up again…and I won’t be on it. I’ll be stuck at home watching the spectacle of a backyard Olympics on my small-screen TV.

Which is all by way of explaining why I did a really risky and potentially embarrassing thing last night: I applied to be a volunteer performer during the special ceremony events at the 2010 Winter Games.

What can I say? I like to sing. I like to dance. I play the guitar and the piano (enthusiastically if not well). I went to theatre school. I will turn 50 during the Opening Ceremonies. I want to write about the Olympics from the inside out. I want to feel one more time that little shiver of excitement that I felt in 1986 when Princess Diana stepped off her yacht and onto the site of the Canada Pavilion (now Canada Place) and said hello to all the breathless, bilingual, Alfred Sung-suited hosts and hostesses.

It won’t happen of course. But it felt good, when I pushed the “Submit your application” button, to think what it might feel like if it did: my very own personal gold-medal experience… 

Want to fight me for the spotlight at the 2010 Winter Games? Get your application in now!

 

Aboard BC Ferries' Queen of Capilano

Aboard BC Ferries' Queen of Capilano

Surrounded on three sides by ocean and spattered like a Jackson Pollock painting with crystalline lakes and historic rivers, Canada’s magnificent landscape is perhaps best viewed from its myriad waterways. Sure, you could take in the iconic wilderness scenery on a luxury cruise through British Columbia’s Inside Passage. But if you’re pressed for time or money, there are plenty of other ways to experience Canada at “see”-level. 

Highly recommended day-trips:

  • For the prettiest views of the historic harbour in Halifax, NS, make the 12-minute ferry crossing between Nova Scotia’s capital and the city of Dartmouth. 
  • For centuries, visitors have found respite from the urban bustle of Toronto, ON in the lushly wooded Toronto Islands, just a short hop across Lake Ontario from Canada’s largest metropolis. Year-round ferry service departs from the docks at the foot of Bay Street. The return trip offers great photo opps of the city skyline.
  • At the historic junction of Manitoba’s mighty Red and Assiniboine Rivers is Winnipeg’s premier tourist attraction, The Forks. From May to September, the River Spirit water bus plies the scenic and tranquil riverfront. Or rent a canoe or paddleboat and explore at your own pace.

Have I missed any? Let me know!