We're finally in the home stretch of the countdown to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada
. The games officially get underway on February 12, but there's still opportunity for even the biggest slackers to make the pilgrimage and witness the thrills of luge, figure skating, giant slalom and curling firsthand. Luckily the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) has paired with local tourism boards to create a cadre of online tools that will save last-minute planners both time and money.
Things You'll Need:
- Transportation to Vancouver
- Transportation to Vancouver
- Internet access
Buy event tickets. Your schedule will dictate your accommodation choices and transportation reservations, so first figure out which events you want to attend. Keep in mind that many events are held outside of Vancouver at Whistler and Cypress Mountain. Official event ticket sales began eight months ago, but it's still possible to find tickets to most events in the online fan-to-fan marketplace at www.vancouver2010.com. Venues will also release a limited number of day-of tickets if you're willing to take your chances.
Find a place to stay. Most hotels in central Vancouver and Whistler have been booked for months, but the Vancouver Organizing Committee has paired with local tourism boards to create a web site featuring still-available accommodations (www.2010destinationplanner.com). Find hotels rooms, along with unorthodox lodgings such as private home rentals, bed and breakfasts, hostels and rooms on cruise ships.
Arrange transportation to Whistler and Cypress Mountain, if applicable. Ski, luge, bobsleigh and skeleton events are all held outside of the city. Ticket holders can purchase round-trip seats on the Olympic Bus Network, which stops in several locations in central Vancouver. Reservations are required, and can be made at www.travelsmart2010.ca.
Walk, bike or take public transportation to Olympic events in Metro Vancouver. VANOC is dedicated to making these the most sustainable Olympic Games ever. Ticket holders can enjoy free transportation on Vancouver's clean and efficient TransLink rapid transit system. If the weather is nice, Olympic attendees should also take advantage of Vancouver's walkable streets and well-marked bike paths.
Pack and dress for the weather. There may not be inches of snow on the ground in Metro Vancouver, but average February temperatures hover around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and many Olympic events are held outside without heat or shelter. Layers are crucial to keeping warm, especially if there's wind. Start with a thin inner layer that allows heat to escape, then insulate with outer layers, finishing with a waterproof windbreaker. Remember to bring boots, a hat and gloves.
Anna Roth is the editor of Travels.com and a food and travel writer, whose work has appeared in "Sunset" magazine, "Virtuoso Life" magazine, "Citysearch" and the "Seattle Times." Roth holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and American Studies from the University of Southern California.