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A runner with an appetite for adventure!

Beijing Olympic Stadium May 1, 2014

Filed under: Beijing,China,Olympics — Kelocity @ 9:54 pm
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After touring around the Forbidden City and the 798 district, we boarded our coach and headed to the Beijing Olympic Park! I LOVE visiting Olympic stadiums! I’m fascinated by the world stage these venues have. The stadiums themselves are usually impressive, plus the history that’s made inside of them is so exciting! (Remember our fun Olympic-Themed party to kick off the Vancouver Opening Ceremonies?)

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But we were EXTRA pumped to visit the Beijing stadium because their ceremonies were the biggest and best the world had ever seen. We had a big party to celebrate the games in China back in 2008. I remember seeing the fireworks shoot out from the Bird’s Nest! I couldn’t wait to see it in real life!

But first, a little trivia… Every city has their own Olympic Symbol, do you know where the Beijing one comes from?
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The little man is actually an interpretation of the Chinese character for “Jing” (as in Bei-Jing), which looks like this:

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The park itself is huge, and we only had enough time to visit two of the most iconic structures while we were there.

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This hotel housed a lot of the media and some athlete families. It was designed to look like a dragon. See the head on the left and it’s long body made out of those smaller four towers?
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And here she is! The Bird’s Nest!
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Sadly, the stadium is now in disarray. The inside is falling apart and they don’t really use it for anything. I think they hosted a few concerts and events there after the Olympic Games, but for the most part, I hear it’s pretty desolate inside. We didn’t pay to go into that one. But she’s a beauty from the outside!

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Across the way is the infamous Water Cube. The place where Michael Phelps made history winning EIGHT gold medals in the pool! We were definitely excited to go inside of that one!

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But the inside was…. um… not what we expected. For example this was in the main lobby….

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I wonder what Michael Phelps would think about feeding fish with a baby bottle in the same venue he competed in the Olympics. Hmm.

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If the main lobby had left something to be desired, surely seeing the main pool would make up for it right? We opened the doors to the pool and found this…. !!!???
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Where is the pool???!! Where is the water?! Where are the diving boards? Look closely, and you can see the boards behind the false stage they placed where the pool would be! They had drained all the water and set up an expo hall for the Beijing Auto Show. Whaaatt??

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We had a good laugh and pretended to be in the cheering squad for Michael. Go, Michael, Go! Don’t get hit by a car as you swim across the pool! Seriously though, what the heck?

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Here’s a closeup of the diving boards and the edge of the pool. If you look reallllly close, you can see an inch of water at the bottom. So so sad!

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Some of the original signage is still there though, that was neat to see. 
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Here’s what the pool should have looked like! IMG_0641

 

Regardless, you could still feel the grandeur of the Olympic Village walking in and around it. One of the highlights of our trip, for sure. I just hope they can find a use of those beautiful buildings!
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(Some of my past Olympic Stadium visits: Vancouver | Munich | Barcelona | Athens | Los Angeles | Squaw Valley | Moscow). 

 

After the Olympic visit, we joined a small group from our tour and headed over to a fun bar district on a lake. It reminded me of Downtown Disney.

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We descended on a small pizza place where the food (and the company) were both wonderful. One of our favorite perks of traveling with a company like Contiki is the instant friends you make. We love sitting down to a meal chatting with others about travel, life, culture, politics and more. We had a great group on this tour!
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A bunch of people stayed late into the night to try out the bar scene, but we opted to take the city bus back to our hotel. We were so impressed at how great the public transportation was all over China. Safe, easy and cheap. =)
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We’ve still got one more full day in Beijing before we move on! Can’t believe everything I’ve posted so far happened in just the first two days!

 

National Pride is hereditary! August 10, 2012

Filed under: Baby — Kelocity @ 4:06 am
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Found this picture of Irving when he was little! Pretty appropriate for this year’s Olympic games!
Looks like National Pride runs in our family!
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And because I’m a sucker for comparison photos… it also appears that Adele has inherited Irving’s dimples too!
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Munich: Stadiums and Arenas September 26, 2011

Filed under: Contiki,Europe,Germany,Travel — Kelocity @ 7:00 am
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We woke up in Warsaw and prepared for our all-day drive back to Berlin. This wasn’t part of the tour, but they offered a free shuttle back to Germany if you wanted (they had to get the bus back there anyways). We extended our trip to explore Munich and Salzburg on our own after Contiki was done, so the bus back was perfect.

But first. Breakfast! We had a great breakfast spread at the Marriott that had way more options than our previous hotels. They even had a few American-style items (pancakes and omlettes) that was a nice change from the usual rolls with jam and cheese we’d had prior.
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Then it was right on the bus to hit the road as early as possible. Special thanks to our tour guide on our trip, Meitek. He was from Poland and was entirely entertaining.
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Only half of our original group opted to take the bus back to Berlin, so everyone had an entire bus row to themselves. SCORE! I lounged out and read The Hunger Games. (Don’t spoil the end for me though, I’m still reading the rest of the series!) A few hours later, we stopped for lunch at a rest area. I was surprised to actually see a decent looking salad there. It was really good!
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See! I really did tried to sneak in some healthy stuff when I could… although I did balance it out with this.
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But tried to burn them off quickly by jumping up and down numerous times to get a good bus shot.
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We love Contiki, what can we say? I am so sad this is the last bus day.
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We got into Berlin around dinnertime and headed straight for the train station. We booked an overnight train to Munich from there.
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Soon enough, our train arrived. Right on schedule. I love the European rail system.
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We booked this train months ago through Distant Lands in LA (a store that we highly recommend, by the way). We would be sleeping in a 6-bunk couchette and we were praying we wouldn’t have to share the room with wierdos or scary people.
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We each had the top two bunks and it was crazy hoisting all of our stuff up there with barely any headroom. We were laughing so hard.
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Turns out the other four beds were filled with some elderly Germans who thought it was just the funniest thing. They were laughing and talking in German to tell us to turn the light on, turn the light off, lock the door, unlock the door. I had no idea what they were saying but they were very impressed that we brought our own travel sheets. Either that or they were making fun of me for doing so. Don’t laugh. I have no regrets! (Although sleeping in your jeans really stinks. But I still slept through the night, hooray!
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When we woke up, we were just pulling into Munich. We packed our things and found our way to our hotel nearby and checked our bags. Then, map in hand, we found our way to our first stop of the day. The BMW Welt.
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Here they have one of the BMW factories and also an extensive collection of their finest cars. I sat down and let Irving do his man thing (aka look at cars).
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His favorite was this car commissioned by Steinway pianos.
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Next we made our way in the rain around the corner to the Munich Olympic Park.
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Munich was the home of the 1972 Summer Olympic games. The design was extremely modern for the times (and still looks impressive now).
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In order to get the most out of the park, we opted to do an audio tour of the grounds (well worth it too).
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The aquatic arena was exciting because this was the place that Mark Spitz won all of his medals. He was the guy that Michael Phelps was aiming to beat in Beijing.
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If you look close, you can see his name below in a few places:
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Also in the park is the big television tower that was renamed the Olympic Tower. We didn’t go inside, but we’re told it had impressive views from the top.
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When the park was built, they had long term plans in mind for making it accessible to the public. It’s really pretty now and they use it for all kids of events.
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These Olympic games were really unique because it was the first time that Germany was hosting them since WWII. The games had been in Berlin in 1936 when the Nazis were in power, and Munich was ready to show the world that this was a different Germany now.
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However the games quickly turned tragic when the Israeli Olympic team was taken hostage and then killed by a radical Palestinian group. It was a very sad event and was a great loss to the world.
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This was the apartment that the Israeli team was staying in when the kidnappers broke in.  I always think of the Olympic games as a reason for the world to come together, this tragedy is so unfortunate and I was glad we got the opportunity to pay tribute to those athletes.
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After our audio tour, we had lunch inside the commissary. Schnitzel for Irving (of course, right?!)…
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And some pasta for me.
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And then we jumped on the metro to head to our next sight: Allianz Arena. But first, a little fun in the train station!
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There was a mirror on the ceiling that we used to take some pictures!
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Someone nearby thought we looked funny and offered to take a picture of us looking at the ceiling. LOL
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Then we arrived at the stadium, just in time for the last English tour of the day.
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This is where two of Germany’s biggest soccer teams play: FC Bayern Munich and TSV Munich. It was also the site of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. As you can imagine, Irving was in heaven.
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The tour was great and we got to learn a bit about the stadium and the teams.
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After our tour, we headed back into Munich for another (!!) tour of the city. Stay tuned!

 

Skiing, Day 2! March 7, 2010

Filed under: Canada — Kelocity @ 4:28 pm
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We picked the right day to be back on the mountain! The Canada/USA Hockey game was on and EVERYONE was watching it…which meant we had the whole slope to ourselves! Literally, there was no one on the mountain but us. haha

Even this coffee shop shut down for the game!

The weather was perfect for skiing. Check out Whistler Village down below!

From one of the lifts, we could see the sliding center!



And then we stumbled upon the actual run the olympians used during some of the downhill and slalom events.

From up on the mountain, we knew Canada had won the hockey game because we could hear the village cheering from all the way up the top!!!! That’s how loud it was! We stopped skiing to listen to it, it was surreal.

Some of the runs took a couple of hours to do, and I knew I’d never make it down to the bottom in one piece after skiing all day. So I took the chairlift down! HAHA Irving raced me on skies and actually beat me!

Going down the lift!

HAHA…. I know, it’s cheating! But I have a race in a month and I didnt want to kill my legs!

The next day, we saw this sign posted on the slopes. HAHAHA (Click to enlarge)!

 

Medals Ceremony!

Filed under: Canada — Kelocity @ 3:45 pm
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We weren’t able to get reasonable tickets to any of the events, but we did score free tickets to the Final Whistler Medals Ceremony in Whistler village. We waited in line for a few hours, and it was totally worth it.

When we got in, they had free coffee and hot chocolate!

Before the ceremony started, we had some entertainment and Jake and Janie got on the jumbo screen!
 
And then we had some trivia: HAHA

Janie won a cowbell!!!

It’s a beauty huh?

Then the ceremony started! The set was gorgeous!


We were obviously rooting for America!

We were right next to the Athlete’s families. Those cutouts of that guy’s head was totally creepy. haha
 
A few of the winners:

Go Italy!

But the highlight of the night was seeing the American Bobsleigh Team take the gold! 



Then they raised the  American Flag  and played our anthem! It was amazing to be there to witness that! 

After the ceremony, there was a concert by Usher!



We stayed for a few songs, and then headed to the Whistler Cauldron!

 
Whoo Hooo Mounty Police!

 

Skiing Whistler!

Filed under: Canada — Kelocity @ 3:24 pm
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I haven’t skiied in a couple of years, but after years of lessons in Aspen, I thought I’d be ready to conquer Whistler… We rented some nice skies and headed up the lifts.

We just kept going up and up and up! We literally were above the clouds at the top! And it was snowy and hard to see!

 
Some fun highlights throughout the day:
-Skiing a Glacier!!! (It was fresh powder among cliffs of rock, truly beautiful). 
-Falling off the T-Bar at the Glacier. HAHAHA Irving was laughing at me!
-Crying at the top because I didn’t think I could make it down. HAHAHA I think my boots were initially too tight, and the powder was deep. And with the Whiteout conditions, it was really hard to see.  
 
But ultimately, it was an amazing day. I started sticking to solely green trails, because the blues really should have been blacks anywhere else. 


A quick rest stop at the top of the mountain:

A few years ago, they put in a “Peak to Peak” gondola connecting Blackcomb to Whistler mountain at the top. It was amazing. The whole thing is a mile long, and there are only 4 support poles holding it up!




How cool is this picture? (Click to enlarge, it’s worth it!) We in the clouds!

On the other side, we saw the famous Inukshuk Statue! (Did you see it on TV during the Olympics?!)


 
On the way back on the Peak to Peak, we got the “Glass Bottom Gondola!” But it was too foggy out to really see much, but  still pretty cool.
 

I wish I got a picture, but one of the trails we took was a “5k”! It was 3.1 miles long! And it was just a gentle decline, almost flat actually. But it took FOREVER! At least it was beautiful!

By the end, I was just exhausted. Since we were staying in a “Ski In/Ski Out” hotel, I waited on the mountain and Irving skied down and returned my skies for me. What a guy. HA! I sat in the snow and waited while he hiked back up. HAHA

 

Whistler Village!!

Filed under: Canada — Kelocity @ 2:27 pm
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We LOVE Whistler!




Here’s a replica of the torch!

The village was hopping with all the nations. I particularly loved the Swiss House… that thing was made out of chocolate!

How funny is this! That’s Janie and Irving!

I fell in love with these Ice Wine Truffles!
The sliding center was kind of hidden in between the Whistler and Blackcomb mountain valley, but we hiked up a trail to try to see some of it.



We weren’t able to see any of the track, but we did see the Bobsleighs all crated up ready to get shipped to their home countries. I thought this was so neat!

This was one of the bobsleighs!! We were so close to it!

We were really sad to see this Memorial for Nodar Kumaritashvil (The luge slider who died during a training run before the Olympics).

One day, we walked about 5 miles from Whistler Village to Creekside Village. It was a gorgeous walk around some frozen lakes to get there.

So much better than taking the bus there.

It was cold though. Good thing we had our mittens!
  
Creekside is where most of the alpine events take place.

 


Whooo Hoo!! Athletes Village!


At Creekside, we took the chairlift up to the finish line of the Downhill Ski events. So cool!!!


It was so weird to get off the chairlift without skies on. haha

These were the grandstands for the crowds watching the skiiers finish!

This is the finish line where all the skiers came in!


 
We thought this was funny. The sign says "Snow Tools".

And then we rode the chairlift back down! (Those are Irving’s gloves and shoes. haha)

Our hotel was the home to "Camp Norway". The Norway support team was there. We thought that was pretty cool. 

We made sure to show our American Spirit in our room…. so our room went from this:

To this! PERFECT!

We TOTALLY lucked out. Our hotel was slopeside on Blackcomb Mountain. This is the view from our room… you can see the chair lifts! (Click to enlarge!)
 

We literally had to walk DOWN the ski slopes to get to the village. The road wasn’t really an option. haha It was awesome!


The village is great during the day, but really comes to life at night! They had these awesome "Fire and Ice" shows at night where snowboarders and skiers jump through a ring of fire. So fun!



Check out that moon coming up over the mountain! Those lights on the mountain are snow cats grooming the trails!

Good night!

 

 
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