Saturday, February 13, 2010

Houses of the . . . Holy Cow!

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.

Sochi House
Are we not men? We are Sochi!

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.
Enter the Green Zone

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.)

Eat that, Ikea!

Sochi House will be showing the Russia and Canada hockey games live and apparently throughout the Olys various Russian players will be showing up. Can you say Pavel?

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.

All hail the giant Q!

Located @ North False Creek. Dominated by a giant Q the entire building is light up at night, but it is tiny inside plus they were speaking French to me (OK, Japanese, I have a shot with, but my Franglais is pretty rusty). They give away nice Quebec pins (get 'em while supplies last). They also have light French fare (menu all in Quebecois French 'natch) that looked tasty and a small outdoor stage (why no roof?) out back that'll have Arcade Fire wannabe bands playing there one assumes. Has possibilities but let's just say there will be some close encounters in a space that small.

Saskatchewan House
BC Lions fans, let's get ready to rumble!

Located 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.

There's a hole in your maple leaf, Mr. Molson

Located across from Quebec House. Why would anyone who has half a brain spend $99 on a day pass to watch hockey on large HD screens and be stuck with Molson beer as your choice of brew? Sorry, I'll take any sports bar in town and a Granville Island Lager.
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.

Ontario House's future hangs on strings

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.

Watch out for the poltergeists on the ceiling

Located on Granville @ Pender. What, I can't mint my own coins here? Well, what is the point? Inside it looks very cool. Nice layout with the marble and coin-a-rama wallpaper that sonehow all works. Some decent static display cases of Olympic coins throughout the years, a few interactive things and a kids' room. Minute you walk in there is a daily schedule posted so my advice is pop your head in and see if anything strikes your fancy. To be honest, though, I wouldn't make a special trip there unless they were giving away coins.

Couldn't afford the Mats Sunbeam jersey

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