On any other Saturday mid-morning there would have been time and space for a coffee and a leisurely stroll through the local papers. But these are the Olympics, at the midpoint. The only place anyone seemed to be enjoying a latte was in some lineup.
And what lineups they have here - Olympian in length and in ambition. At 9:45 a.m., the queue outside the Hudson Bay Company's Olympic Superstore stretched four-wide all the way down Seymour St. behind temporary crowd control barriers. It turned left on Dunsmuir and petered out, but it's safe to say it would get longer. The store employee monitoring the end of the line estimated a two-hour wait to get in and buy things. "This is the biggest we've seen so far," he said.
It was even longer over at the Royal Canadian Mint exhibit, where a million-dollar coin and a chance to fondle real Olympic medals was drawing a far, far bigger crowd that snaked up and down Granville St. "Six and a half hours," said the MInt woman, shaking her head. Six and a half hours to cop a feel? That too is Olympian patience.
Granville Island? I've never seen it busier - albeit the wait of 10 minutes for the brand-new Olympic Line streetcar from the SkyTrain station left me thinking I ought to wait for another one, just to keep this Olympian spirit of careful shepherding going.
gives up his hat in an effort to trade for pins on Granville St.
This is Vancouver's Games. We just live in it. And line up in it. And spend in it. VISA, one of the Olympics' main sponsors here - you can't buy anything on plastic without it - issued a release on Friday in which it pegged daily spending in B.C. by international visitors at nearly $10 milllion US on Thursday, with more than 100,000 swipes in a single day.
The biggest international spenders are, not surprisingly, from the United States ($5.7 mil. on Wednesday, for example), followed by China, the UK, Japan and Australia.
That's not including the locals, remember. Think of those lineups, and those dollars, and no wonder these huge corporations lay out so much cash - an estimated $100 million over four years, in the case of VISA and the other heavyweight backers - to get in on one of the world's biggest gravy trains.