Day 1 of the Olympics was a bit more promising on the house hunting front. Please check the links on times these houses stay open and what's happening day to day. I highly recommend you check this area out either prior to or after hockey games. At night the Maison du Quebec (or Quebec House to the unilingually challenged) and Sochi House look pretty cool.
Located @ Science World. So far the only "house" worth lining up for. The minute you step inside, the place comes alive. They had the ubiquitous Russians in traditional costumes, but this was no cultural snoozefest. They were singing and dragging shy Canadians out of the crowd to become props in their show. One old dude had his coat taken off him and was draped in some Dr. Zhivago Siberian weather gear while being serenaded. "Cabbages rolls and coffee! Mm, mm, good!"
The first floor had some 3CP1 type Uposcrabblenyk game giveaways hosted by the actual Russian version of Rick Moranis ("Enough talk, let's get to game"). All around are beautiful large panoramic color shots of Sochi, a full scale model of the city and the Olympic layout and extremely cute and super friendly Olympic info hostesses (we're talking Anna Kournikova meets Maria Sharapova) who are only too willing (get your mind out of the bedroom!) to give you the spiel on Sochi 2014. The next Winter Olympic city looks fantastic. It's right on the Black Sea. All the Olympic venues are centralized around a gigantic circular city center or just 30 minutes away on the mountains past their new international airport. Looking at the map of the Krasnodar Krai region where Sochi is, it a little too close for comfort to Abkhazia. Those of you not up on your geopolitics and the Russia vs. Georgia (we're not talking the US state here, Hank Aaron) tug of war on the region, go here.
The second floor had some cool displays of Soviet/Russian hockey sweaters et al. Their choices were odd as there were Alexander Ovechkin, Sergei Makarov (a Lames jersey!) and Sergei Fedorov sweaters but where were the Valery Kharlamov and Pavel Bure ones?
There's a Russian bank-sponsored cafe that offers free drinks (non-alcoholic) and tasty bite-sized tarts, brownies and cakes that is a great chillout zone. There's also a Ninetendo Wii in there if you burn off those calories from the sweets with Wii Fit.
There is also a beat-the-Tretiak video game setup so try your best Paul Henderson move (courtesy Dated '70s References R Us).
The biggest area was a live stage that had some funky "What's New Pussycat?" '60s inspired swivel chairs to sit in while the screens beamed the 1972 Canada-USSR Summit Series. (They were showing the famous 7-3 Game 1 win in which Canada realized that maybe they were not going to win eight straight.)
The IMAX theatre is also being used and has various films showing. When I was there they were showing a typcial IMAX "you're flying over the city" tour of Sochi. Throughout they'll be showing classic Russian films (Battleship Potemkin, come on down!) which I hope means we get to see Night Watch and Day Watch on the big IMAX screen as a counterpoint for the West inflicting sensitive vampires on the world.
Back on the first floor, as you leave, there's a Sochi 2014 store filled to the brim with Olympic goods and, if you're looking, for the 2010 Russian team's pretty stylish (although I could do without the flowery flourishes) backpacks, jackets, etc., get them here. Tad expensive, though, but just take a crowbar to your wallet, if you really want this stuff.
Saskatchewan HouseLocated next to Quebec House. Wheat. Fields of wheat. Great Gordie Howe, no tall grain silo I can parachute down from top to bottom! So much for the Saskatchewan dream. Two parts to this house. One is a bubble with a bunch of nothing in it trying to get you to invest/visit the province by pamphleting you to death. Sort of symbolizes the province when you think about it--flat and empty except for grain and Ryan Getzlaf. The other part is a huge hall with a live stage and bison burgers plus Molson beer. Oh, joy, I can enjoy drinking Molson swill with those very same Roughrider fans who puke all over BC Place every CFL football season.
BC Lions fans, let's get ready to rumble!
BC Lions fans, let's get ready to rumble!
Here's a tip: You want to meet Team Canada players? I bet they'll show up here, so just wait outside the doors to snag pics and autographs post-Canada hockey games.
Located in front of Molson Hockey House. There was a lineup. I'm from BC. Do I need to explain how much the Tarrana Make Beliefs annoy those of us outside Ontario? I couldn't be bothered. Outside it looked cool with videos running against the '60s love bead curtains. Another time, I'll give you the full report, if I have the desire to see Boretario in alll its puffed up glory.