I'm really excited to start using puns in my post titles. You've been warned.
Anyway. Today was a treat of a day for us. Glorious adventure, good weather and great friends. Days like this really make trips feel special.
Our good friend, and super skip of the women's Swiss curling Team, Silvana Tirinzoni arranged access for us to visit inside the Olympic Village. It did not disappoint.
The village is where all the athletes stay (mostly) while competing at the games. This one is located just a few minutes drive from the costal cluster in what looks to be a vibrant if new area of town. Athletes can only grant access to two friends or family a day so it's a privilege we do not take lightly that it is a thing we got to do.
Guest check-in and processing is the first step upon arrival. We traded in our passports for temporary one-day-only credentials (I've rarely felt so fancy, maybe not even at a Star Wars premier) and then met up with our hosts before entering. Marlene (lead for Tirinzoni, and also our good friend) also had relatives visiting today so we grouped up with them for our foray into Xanadu.
Front and center after entry is a flock of flags flying the colors and standards of all competing nations. It's a bit reminiscent of a UN flag cluster though not quite as grand.
Silvana and Marlene took us on a grand tour of the complex, starting with the main tent. It has spaces for an official store, hair and nail salon, convenience store and a magical vending machine where athletes can waive a special and key at the front and get free Cokes or Sprites or water or like 3 other beverages. It's a fun novelty in a land where all food and drinks are free.
The main tent also houses an official sponsor store, which for these games again was Samsung.
The girls were eager to try the VR and hopped in. We could follow along on a monitor over their heads. Watching them laugh and get shaken about on the gimbaled couch was fun. Marissa took a turn after the first run. I declined to ride since those rides make me vomit almost instantly.
Next up were the housing units. Each country has its own block of rooms and maybe even a whole building from what I can tell. We headed for the Swiss house but one building caught my eye on the way.
Each floor has a few apartments/condos that will be converted for non Olympians to purchase after the games conclude. The Swiss house was decked out in the appropriate red color (which I just think of now as a Swiss Red). The rooms are also furnished with team furniture.
They even have an inspiration board and pictures of all the athletes who are competing in the hall.
Everything is new and nice though not quite finished. Fake flooring, wall coverings and blocked out kitchen appliances are all you get for the games. But this makes sense and will be way less costly to finish and upkeep once the athletes are gone.
We left the dorms and saw the gym and recreation center. The whole campus had a distinctly college campus feel which was a once familiar, at least to us.
The rec room included billiards, table tennis PS4 and XBox consoles. And a lounge area sponsored by Coca-Cola (complete with 3 vending machine all with free drinks).
We ended our time with lunch at the huge cafeteria. I have only this one picture of it but it's meant hold a lot of hungry athletes from all over the world mixing in a melting pot of sweet international stew. It's also a free buffet 24 hours a day. Oh, and it also contains a McDonalds (which is free) because, why not.
Getting to visit with our friends as they live one of their dreams was an amazing experience. Getting to spend time with them in the heart of where they stay was so special. Allowing us to interrupt their schedule was extremely gracious.
Memories like today are very rare in life and very unique. I'll never be an Olympian but today we got a 2% taste of what some of it is like. And it is glorious. I've used glorious twice in this post now I know but it's an accurate word for today.
A very great big thank you to Silvana for getting us access and to both her Marlene for spending time visiting and giving us lowly mortals a tour of elite level life. They put up with us crazy Americans who travel all over the world to watch curling and just won't leave them alone. I can't say it enough: these are ladies of the best. It's a honor to know them and call them our friends. I hope one day we can return the favor in some small part.
On the epilogue...
Marissa was persuaded to play some small challenge game where the goal was to use chopsticks to place figurines on the lip of a coffe mug while wearing a mitten on your hand.
There were eight uniquely fitted figures, a one minute time limit and challenge record of 25 seconds to finish. This is how that went:
3. She got 3.