VANCOUVER - You're walking along in the city's west end, near English Bay, and you suddenly look up and remember, oh, right, there's palm trees in Vancouver.
It's a strange sight, but it's kinda nice to know there are a few places in the great white north where Jimmy Buffett would feel at home. Of course, you know they only planted them so they could rub the rest of Canada's nose in it.
Sometimes, covering Olympic issues has some pretty good plus sides. The hours are insane, but it's nice to be able to come out west and see a lovely city like Vancouver. Sometimes, the media gets the real red carpet treatment, too.
After a day of meetings to hear folks whining about $320 a night hotel rooms in Whistler for the 2010 Games (yeah, it's high, but the rooms all have sofa beds and the Vancouver hotel rooms the media are being offered are topped at $170 for the most part), the Vancouver organizers at this week's World Press Briefing put on a soiree at a local train station. We were greeted (it was kinda embarrassing, actually) by a bunch of kids whacking hockey sticks in a kind-of receiving line as we got off our bus and walked into the station. They had to be thinking, "Who are these idiots," but they all smiled nicely and pretended we were as important as we'd like to think.
Inside, there were athletic performances by trampoliners with skis (don't try that at home, folks), hockey players and others. The food stations were tremendous; famous sushi chef Tojo had a table and so did a series of other restaurants offering up salmon (naturally) and smoked chicken with pumpkin seed sauce. Great B.C. wines on tap, of course.
It was almost as good as being an IOC member.