Sunday, January 31, 2010

Whistle Stop At Whistler










On day 10 of this Olympic adventure, today felt right to bust out of the city and explore the mountains north of Vancouver.
Via motor coach round trip on the Sea To Sky Highway, I spent a few hours this afternoon in Whistler (disclosure: a client).

This was my second trek to Whistler, but the first during ski season (the previous journey to the mountainside resort took place in August 2009).
It was exciting to view Canadian snow en masse, the further north our bus travelled.

The Sea To Sky Highway is itself an adventure, with awe-inspiring overlooks of several island and miles of seawater juxtaposed with pine-covered, steep slopes of Canadian Rockies. Today was foggy, to the peaks were rarely visible -- fortunately in August it was clear and the pinnacles of stone with blue sky were gorgeous.

About half-way to Whistler, there is a (new?) visitor center at Squamish, definitely worth a look-see for the cultural experience and to snap shots of the Olympic red mittens-clad Paul Bunyan statue on the side of the road.

Whistler is positively buzzing with activity. Every restaurant was packed with diners, while the pedestrian walks were teeming with ski and snowboard traffic, media crews filming pre-Games b-roll, shoppers toting their new five-ringed purchases and construction workers were busy installing temporary staging around every corner.

Unlike Vancouver, which to date remains void of "Look of the Games" bunting, Whistler already has hundreds of feet of fencing in and around official Games areas, and the fences now don vivid Olympic decoration that really pops when it's next to mountain powder.

The biggest surprise of the day: Olympic tickets, by the hundreds, remain on sale at affordable prices. A couple dozen folks were in line at Whistler's official Olympic ticket booth, and I snapped up some Vancouver Medal Ceremony tickets while considering Closing Ceremony ticket options (lots of A level tickets remain available for purchase, apparently, in line daily or via Tickets.com).
No trip to Whistler is complete without a trip to the Boutique Olympique, the town's official VANOC store, but every storefront in town sells Olympic merchandise (a few shops even traded pins).

A note for travelers considering Whistler -- and this was news to me: Driving yourself to Whistler is not an option from now to March 1. There are several types of official vehicle passes, official shuttles/tickets and types of proof of accommodation/residency required to get near Whistler. Lots of traffic pattern changes are going into effect as well, so be sure to research options and requirements well in advance.

1 comment:

TinkerBlue said...

I think one or the other or even both of these artists would have to involved in the opening - Sarah McLachlan and Michael Buble.

Spirit of the West - could be a bit of a long shot for the ceremonies but who knows, they are a local group.

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