Thursday, February 11, 2010

Their Houses In The Middle Of Our Streets

OK, folks, if you enjoy free and cheaply made swag and tourism brochures, you should hit these "Houses" around town. If not, my advice is only drop by when (a) that nation's top athletes are competing as it could fill up with looney tunes fans cheering them on in front of the TV screens or (b) when that nation's top athletes win medals as they are supposedly heading to their nation's houses to party down.

So I do the legwork to save you doing the legwork and here's today's rundown:

Mi casa es su casa

Located in the Roundhouse in Yaletown. Had the most free swag (lanyard, notepad, magnet, postcard and cotton grocery bag) on Day 1 of my Winter Olympic House Hunt 2010 Tour (T-shirts coming soon!) plus free cheese samples ("Woo hoo, a chunk of cheese is mine. really? Got any wine to go with that--No? OK, I'll pass"). Other than that a total snoozefest. Very bright inside but has a few stools to sit on to watch the few screens of action. Sadly, no Serie A soccer although I did come across an Inter fan.
They did have a contest with an Italian cultural quiz ("Who is Snooki's new guido juicehead boyfriend?" was not one of the questions) to win a pizza or a trip to Italy. I forgot which.

The icicle works

Located on Beatty @ Robson next to the Player's Chophouse. OK, this is classic. I went there yesterday as I blew by the guy at the front he asked me if I was from Bell. Stupidly, I said I wasn't and he said today was "invitation only." He said come back tomorrow and that there would be big lineups.

Tomorrow becomes today and there was all of three people ahead of me in line. You get wanded as you know the terror threat on Bell is at level orange right now. I told the guy to strip search any Tarrana Make Belief fans, but Bell being an eastern company the remark did not register with Mr. Ontario. Go inside and it's literally smaller than maybe a two-bedroom apartment. You're given a set of Bell earphones (which you can keep), and you can use them inside to plug in and listen to the sound on TVs or fool around with zzzzzz-inducing corporate ads. There are a bunch of what looks like Xmas tinsel hanging from the roof and some of which are for said earphones to listen to those TVs.

Apparently they have Olympic ticket giveaways each day so go in and fill in an entry and leave. It's a lousy place to watch any sports on TV and unless you want to see the ubiquitous Bell phone sales pitch at the end, just skip it.

BC Hydro Power Smart Village

How powerful and smart are you?

Located on Dunsmuir @ Seymour. Well, the employees are friendly and they do get jokes. One lonely Hydro worker was stuck standing at a kids' colouring zone with no kids in sight. Felt sorry for her and asked if big kids were allowed to colour. She smiled and laughed so one beer for me although it was not my A1 material (too early in the day).
If you got your Hydro bill there is some sort of pass that came with it. Collect all four stamps at the various displays in and outside the place and you could win Olympic tickets.
They also have renamed the cafe inside the Kilowatt Cafe. Never eaten there nor plan to so, you're on your own on that one.

Bratwurst? No Brat-best!

Located in the parking lot between Waterfront Station and Steamworks in Gastown. Free before 5 pm. Get a bizarre paper wristband that snaps on as you go in that allows you in/out privileges. This seems like a good idea during busy times as you could zip downtown all the way to Waterfront, hop out and get the wristband, cruise around to your event and head back to the German Fan-Fest at the end of the day.
After 5 pm, there's a cover charge.
Pretty basic Oktoberfest beer hall look to it--sausage and beer. No free samples sadly.
I'd say head here when the weather is good as it is just a big tent over the asphalt parking lot and not exactly warm and toasty despite the bratwurst on the barbecue.

Live, Invest, Inukshuk

Located on Hastings @ Seymour. It's hard to make a land full of empty space interesting and it shows. If you're into taxidermy or seeing a narwhal tusk, this is the place for you. If not, it's like visiting a museum of tundra without getting to experience the cold or awe of the Northern Lights.

Pin traders
Got a Sarajevo 1984?

Just on the street in the rain by the Media Centre were four pin traders. Totally silent, very unfriendly vibe, not talkative at all. What is up with these guys? Seriously, dudes, where's your spiel? And why are you trading out in the rain anyway in an area where there's almost no foot traffic? My guess is they are more into snagging media pins off media guys. To each his own.

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