All the pictures I've taken during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games can now be found on this website. I recommend to just look at the 'Best of Olympics' album, but if you're really bored or really fond of curling you're welcome to check out 'More Olympics' as well. The 'Moose' album contains the same pictures as posted below, but slightly bigger. Texts and videos are still to come, but first I've got to catch up on some other things (like sleep and work).
I missed the closing ceremony because I was on a bus to a further destination, so I don't know what Jacques Rogge said, but to Vancouver 2010 were the best Olympics ever. The fatal accident of a Georgian luger and some smaller mishaps at the start of the event were unfortunate, but the level of play and the atmosphere in the city were excellent.
The crowd at the curling venue was almost as loud as the hockey fans, and everyone in town seemed to be partying after every Canadian success (and they had a lot to celebrate). I didn't see many Dutch people downtown, because they all hang around in the tacky Holland Heineken House near the speed skating venue in Richmond, but all other nations were out on the streets together. Especially the Russians, Americans, Swiss and Scandinavians were well represented.
Because Canada lost to the US in the preliminaries I was fortunate to see them play the other big favorite Russia in the quarter finals. The Canadians crushed the 'commies' (as they were called by some over-excited fans) 7-3. Earlier I saw the United States just edging out Switzerland, 2-0. The Swiss didn't just have the support of their own fans, but also all the Canadians were cheering for them, because they weren't impressed that the Americans had dared to beat them in their own game. They got their revenge however in the gold medal game, when Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored the deciding overtime goal.
The men's curling team also did what was expected, winning the gold. Norway, who won the prize for most notable pants in the tournament, made a couple of crucial mistakes early in the final and Canada didn't allow them to get back in the game. The Canadian women however missed their chance on eternal glory. They had two chances to clinch the game, but came up short on both occasions. The crowd still gave them a loud cheer though and a silver medal is still something to be proud of.
Besides the typical Canadian sports (ice hockey and curling) I also went to the cross country skiing at Whistler Olympic Park. It was the 4x5 relay for women. The weather added another dimension as it was snowing, raining, overcast and even sunny during the race. So not only the skiers but also the ski technicians were important part of the teams. After an exciting race Norway ran away with the gold and there was a close battle for second place, with Germany just edging out Finland.
After the race I went up to Whistler to check out the other host city. It was like a miniature version of the Olympics, more intimate than Vancouver, but the enthousiasm of the people there was just as big at the least. In my opinion that's what makes the Games a success. It's not just about the quality of the ice and snow, but also about exciting events and great support by the spectactors, both local and international.
This was supposed to be just a quick update with more elaborate stories to follow later, so I better leave it at this for now, or I won't have anything to add anymore.
Just a couple of weeks to go before the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver (and Whistler)! I’ll still be in Netherlands during the first week of the Games, but at least I don’t have to go to work and I can watch everything on (digital) television.
I fly from Amsterdam to Vancouver on February 22nd. The next day I’ll mostly be at the Vancouver Olympic Centre for the final preliminary rounds of the curling tournaments. From 2 pm tot 5 pm it’s up to the men. Of the four games being played at the same time, Scotland versus Norway promises to be the most exciting. From 7 pm tot 10 pm it’s the ladies’ turn, including the reigning champions Sweden against this year’s European champions Germany.
Wednesday is hockey day, as I’ll be attending two quarter finals at Canada Hockey Place. Of course the outcome of the round robin will determine which teams I’ll be seeing, but according to Wikipedia the United States and Canada will play in these matches if qualified (which shouldn’t be a problem).
Originally I hadn’t planned anything for Thursday, but when Cosport made an announcement they had some extra tickets, I decided to add a day trip to Whistler. It wouldn’t be much of a Winter Olympic experience without seeing snow and mountains, would it? So I’m going to take an early bus and watch the 4x5 km relay for women at Whistler Olympic Park. Instead of taking the bus back directly, I’ll probably go down to Whistler Village and do some sightseeing, before heading back later in the day. At night I might go see Wintersleep performing at the Richmond O Zone.
I’ve got a quiet day next with just the women’s curling final from 3 pm to 6 pm. That gives me ample time to explore Vancouver some more. I’ll be back at the Vancouver Olympic Centre the following day for the men’s curling final. Following that I intend to go down to Richmond, to check out the speed skating venue (which is build on the site of the RV Park I once stayed at), the infamous Holland Heineken House and concerts by The Dudes and The Stills at the O Zone. Although it’s my final night in Vancouver I probably won’t make it too late, as my bus leaves at 7 am the next morning. I’ll spend another week in Canada (a little more east) before I fly back to Amsterdam on March 5th.
If you want to try to spot me on TV during the Olympics, here’s where I’ll be sitting: Feb 23 1400-1700 Curling men’s preliminaries: section 203, row 10, seat 19 Feb 23 1900-2200 Curling women’s preliminaries: section 202, row 16, seat 29 Feb 24 1200-1430 Ice hockey men’s quarter final: section 325, row 15, seat 9 Feb 24 1630-1900 Ice hockey men’s quarter final: section 324, row 12. seat 9 Feb 25 1100-1215 Cross country skiing 4x5km relay women: section 203, row 5, seat 28 Feb 26 1500-1800 Curling women’s final: section 202, row 11, seat 37 Feb 27 1500-1800 Curling men’s final: section 209, row 2, seat 33 See vancouver2010.com for maps of the venues. (or just look for the only guy in orange amongst all the Canadians)
Although I’ve been to Paris on multiple occasions, this is the first photo shoot of Moose in the French capital. A city famous for fashion and other cultural activities, like haute cuisine, classical music and great cinema. All of these were featured in our trip, but probably not quite like the French had foreseen it. Unless you count the Adidas-shop as a boutique, a Pizza Bruno at Pizza Pino as an exquisite meal, Rammstein as a class act and Zombieland as a great movie. Which I do!
But Paris didn’t help much either. Each time we tried to do something really ‘cultural’, we were conned. For instance, when we went to Montparnasse to get a nice panoramic view of the beautiful city of Paris, all we got to see was the inside of a cloud. Although the morning sun was beginning to get covered by some clouds, we could still see the top of the building from street level, so we thought we’d be just in time to enjoy the sights. But as soon as the elevator reached the top (in 38 seconds), we knew we were in trouble. Only if you looked straight down you could see something. We ordered some jus d’orange and apple pie and waited for the fog to blow over, but after an hour it seemed unlikely this would ever happen (at least not that day). In the mean time we participated in the treasure hunt by taking quizzes at different computer boots, only to discover that the final one was out of order.
The ten euros we lost by going up the tower, we made up at the Louvre, which turned out to be free. Nobody seemed to know why. We explored one of the wings, including the Egyptian section (as if I hadn’t seen enough hieroglyphs for one year) and the paintings of Dutch masters. After a quick glimpse at some of the belongings of Napoleon we decided to cross the central hall over to the section were the famous Mona Lisa is displayed. This turned out to be a costly mistake, because suddenly the admission to the museum wasn’t free anymore and we couldn’t get back in, without standing in line for very long and paying. Dutch as we are, we opted to go do something else.
When our feet were starting to get tired from shopping, mostly at Fnacs and the ‘absolutely gigantic’ Virgin Megastore, we wanted to go see a movie to get some rest. We’d seen a poster advertising Zombieland, which seemed to be a good choice. However, we couldn’t quite remember where we had seen it. We traced back our steps to the Place de la Bastille, where we had dinner at Chez Paul the night before and the Place de la République, where the metro didn’t want to go any further so we took a short walk around, but where unable to find the movie theatre (there were others, but they only showed art house movies or French dubbed versions). After consulting our guide book of Paris, we went to the big cinema at the Champs Elysées. It turned out to be so big, that it had four different entrances and we had to be at the last one, near the Arc de Triomphe.
Zombieland was worth it however. A typical zombie movie, but very funny. It’s actually a sweet teenage love story, but set in a gruesome world, where zombies have taken over just about anything and only a few people manage to survive, sometimes in pretty ingenious ways. The main character, a geeky boy, has made a list of useful tips, like Beware of Toilets and always Double Tap (in other words make sure the zombie is really exterminated). But of course the story is of minor importance to the bloody and violent, but witty ways the zombies get slaughtered.
The movie was a nice warm-up for the main event, the reason why we went to Paris in the first place: Rammstein. This German metal band, renowned for the use of pyrotechnics to accompany the loud music, played in Paris-Bercy (a venue I’d always wanted to go to ever since seeing Formula 1 and other race car drivers battling there on go-karts in the nineties). It’s a nice venue. The exterior has the shape of a pyramid, with the top cut off, and the walls are partly covered with astroturf. Inside it’s big and wide, but not as depressing as most stadiums (like the Amsterdam Arena or Gelredome). The sound quality is alright as well. The only thing Bercy lacks, is a cloakroom. It gets a bit warm, wearing a jacket, while struggling to stay afoot amongst dozens of pogo’ing fans, while big flames are being thrust into the hall.
The show was as spectacular as you can expect from Rammstein. Lots of explosions, firework and other extravagancies and over-acting by mainly the singer and the keyboard player. The latter also took a tour through the audience on a rubber boat and walked on a treadmill for over half of the show. Meanwhile the band played solidly through their set that consisted of a lot of songs from their new album Liebe Ist Für Alle Da and ‘classics’ like Du Hasst, Sonne, Ich Will and Benzin. For the final song of the night, Engel, the singer wore an impressive contraption, huge angel wings that could open up and that had flame-throwers on the extremities.
Shattered but satisfied we returned to our hotel. The next morning we enjoyed our last croissant breakfast and after some final shopping we returned to Gare du Nord to take the Thalys back home.
After relatives had told good stories about Egypt, it was time to go check it out myself. I hadn't been on a proper summer holiday in about ten years, so it was nice to be able to just lie in the sun on the beach for a day or ten. We stayed at the Maritim Jolie Ville Resort & Casino in Sharm el Sheik. A fine hotel, but next time I'll probably chose one with a shorter name, because you have to fill in a dozen cards to get into the country. We also had to stand in front of heat cameras to make sure we weren't infected by the Mexican flu (or some other kind of illness). We didn't suntan all the time however. At night we also did some other activities. Like going out for supper (and not just to the KFC either), playing pool, enjoying the streetlife from a cosy cafe and karting.
Indeed, Sharm el Sheikh has a kart track. And not a crappy one either, but a world class facility, where also official FIA races are held. We had to wait awhile before we could drive, because first a private group of Russian ladies had a race. This was entertaining to watch however, because they crashed out of the track left and right. I was starting to get a little worried, but once I got in the kart myself it was obvious that the karts and the track weren't the problem of all the spins and collisions.
Before we got in the kart, we had a briefing sessions, we were helped in our overalls and helmets (including taking care of our glasses) and we got our photograph taken. Not just once, but like true paparazzi we were followed around all the time. The pictures would be burned on a cd which we could buy afterwards. It was ridiciously expensive, but a nice souvenir. The track wasn't very difficult, but had some challenging corners. Especially the first one after start/finish, which could be taken full-throttle. And with all the speed gained braking for the next bend was interesting as well. Once I missed a braking point (a palm tree alongside the track), but I just managed to avoid the barrier. It was also fun to drive over the kerbstones, although there wasn't really any need to do so. In the end I was way faster than the Russians and also beat my fellow competitor, but more importantly I had enjoyed it immensely. It was a nice conclusion to a great holiday.
If you're going to Egypt, you might as well go see the Pyramids. However, this meant we had to take a seven hour bus ride from Sharm el Sheikh to Cairo. The bus drove at night (we left at 1 am), so we would have all day in the city. We started at the citadel with a visit to the Muhamed Ali mosque, where our fuhrer, I mean guide, explained everything about the Islam. According to him we knew nothing about this religion, because the media gave a distorted view. We couldn't disagree more, but didn't feel like going into a discussion, especially since our German was as bad as his English.
When he was done with his rant, we had about five seconds to look at the mosque itself and the view over the city and then we continued our journey to the old market. Because there had been attacks on tourists there earlies this year we were escorted by a bodyguard, equiped with a Kalashnikov, so that made us feel really safe... We had to follow a certain route and most of the shops weren't even open yet, so it was a little disappointing. Not that I reaaly felt like shopping and haggling over low prices of cheap stuff anyways.
We had lunch on a boat on the Nile. It was a buffet with a wide array of terrible food. Already half of our group (which consisted of only five people) was feeling sick and soon the others lost their appetite as well. The rest of the afternoon we spent at the Egyptian Museum. Here our guide really wanted to prove that he was a scholared archeologists and gave us a grand tour. We were lucky to escape into the Tutanchamon room for a while, where guides weren't allowed. After some free time at the museum, we went to the hotel to get some rest. We stayed at the Movenpick Resort near Giza and from the Roof Café we had a nice view of the great pyrimads (and a very busy street). The dinner buffet at the hotel was as bad as the lunch however. Cairo is a great city, just don't eat there.
Breakfast was alright though, although not as good as at our 'own' hotel in Sharm el Sheikh. The bus was fifteen minutes late, apparantly the bus driver and guide got lost on a new 'digital' roundabout, and they made up lost time by removing a visit to the new market from the program. Again, I'm not the shopping kind of person, but they could have at least consulted us. There were still a lot of other things to do though. We started at the Great Pyramids, where we wandered around and got sucked in by some sham who wanted to take our picture for free and then lured us onto his camels and started begging for money. Oh well, at least the pictures were nice. Then we went into one of the smaller pyramids, which was very hot and empty. We didn't go in any of the big ones, because we had to pay extra and our guide assured us we went to a much nicer one later today for free.
And indeed in the afternoon we went to the pyramid of Titi, which from the outside looked like a big pile of rubble, but on the inside was nicely preserved. I bumped my head on the way out, but despite having to walk in the blistering sun I survived. We also went into some other kind of tomb, where the guide started to explain the meaning of every single kind of hieroglyphic. So besided history, geography, German, politics and religion we also learned a 'new' language. And it was supposed to be a holiday trip. Between the visits to the different pyramids (and Sphinx), we went to Memphis (obviously not the city where Elvis is from) and looked at some statues and other remnants from ancient times. We had lunch alongside one of the dirty canals that transport water from the Nile to the other regions of Cairo. It was a bit bitter than the day before, but most of us were still feeling rotten so weren't very hungry. After being stuck in traffic for a while, we then got on the road back to Sharm el Sheikh were we arrived around 10 pm.
In the middle of the Sinai desert lies Moses Mountain, the second highest mountain of Egypt and supposedly the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. Historically and geographically it's very unlikely that this is indeed true, but is has more a symbolic meaning. At the base of the mountain is the very old St. Catherine's Monastry, which is still in use. It's build on the place where Moses saw the burning bush and talked to God (or something like that, I was never very good in religion and history and the German-speaking guide didn't help much either).
Anyways, we arrived at the monastry around 2 am, so we could climb the mountain at night, when it wasn't as hot and see the 'magical' sunrise from the top. Although I certainly didn't expect it to be an easy stroll, I was still a bit surprised by how tough it was on the first stretch. But once we got going in a solid pace and I saw more and more people struggling, while I was feeling quite alright, my spirit was lifted. We kept the right pace to experience the sunrise from the summit. The last bit was the most difficult, with 750 'steps' made out of rocks. This was also the trickiest part going down, but we took our time and because the sun had come up in the meanwhile it was much easier to see what was coming. After the steps it was a relatively easy downhill, but because of the heat and fatigue it was still challenging.
Finally we arrived back at the monastry, where we could enjoy our breakfast boxes we got from the hotel and had to wait for the official tour around the facility. For an atheist like me, there wasn't all that much to see. Just a little chapel, a lush bush and some other artifacts. So went to the cafetaria and had a fruit juice until we could get on the bus to go back to our hotel.
Read the introduction. Links Portfolio LinkedIn Hyves Facebook Last FM Idiomag My Movies (IMDb) Moose Top 97 Tracks (Jan 2008) Albums (Dec 2008) Movies (Jan 2009) In Dutch: Moose werkte vroeger bij McDonald's. Daar voelde hij zich echter niet meer thuis en daarom is hij voor zichzelf begonnen. Van zijn grote passie, schrijven, heeft hij zijn beroep gemaakt, al verdient hij er geen cent mee. In zijn vrije tijd houdt Moose zich vooral bezig met muziek, films, sport en reizen. Moose heeft een nogal eclectische smaak. Daarom schrijft hij ook over het beste van alles. Maar natuurlijk ook over minder goede dingen, wat dat is vaak wel zo leuk.
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