Vancouver Journal #5: Meet Vancouver

Wednesday, February 9, 2010 “Just another big city” I thought to myself during the cab ride from the Vancouver international airport to downtown, a gray mist shrouding the nondescript businesses, offices, and the inevitable glowing string of McDonalds and Starbucks.

 The flight from Chicago was uneventful and I found myself in the terminal with Dan Jansen – who will be doing the color commentary for long track speedskating and our producer Fred Gaudelli. Except for his intensity, Fred was not at all what I expected – tall, broad shouldered and built like a linebacker, with “smart” glasses and shoulder length hair.

  “I like your blog” he said with his east coast accent, and I was a bit taken aback considering my last post had featured assumptions about his working style pulled from my limited experience. “You read about yourself then,” I said carefully, to which he replied with a genuine smile, “I like to know what people are saying about me.” Despite his intensity, he has proven to be very friendly and engaging. In a conversation with Dick Ebersol later that evening, he said, “you are working with one of my favorite people in the world – the best in the business” – referring to Fred.

Not everything is at appears and so it is with Vancouver. Rising early the next morning, this little guest on my balcony began to show me how Vancouver is different. Once you get past the high rises and franchises, its charms emerge

 The view from my balcony reminded me that this is a coastal city. Vancouver boasts a very temperate climate (highs in the upper 40’s or low 50’s each day so far) and a very calm sea due to the “wind shadow” of the massive and moutainous islands offshore. Framed by the sea and the beautiful volcanic cone of Mt. Baker to the south, and the “Canadian Alps” just to the north, Vancouver boasts a well planned urban environment with plenty of green-space. 

I didn’t really fall in love with the place until my Monday cycling foray into Stanley Park – just 1 km from my hotel and within walking distance of downtown. Massive trees, bluffs overlooking the sea and a paved 10K bike loop with a separate running trail. I rode until sunset and watched the calm seas absorb the warm winter sun. 

On Wednesday, after a long pre-production meeting with NBC, I found myself sweating and heaving on my bike up several thousand feet of 10% grade on my way up to Cypress mountain – with a view of all of Vancouver and Mt. Baker in the distance.

 I returned through the park and again caught the setting sun over the bay. Now I understand why the Economist and a number of other magazines rated Vancouver the #1 most livable city in the world. The torch is now only two days away… will Vancouver be ready?