Vancouver, home of my mother-in-law's family and one of my Top 5 Cities in North America, is in the midst of a big-time ramp-up for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Already one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, especially if you like sea-green, the city center is getting several new landmarks and facelifts on some existing ones. New hotels and, especially, new transportation options should go a long way to making an already-accessible city even easier to get around.
My big question back in 2003, when the city won the Olympic sweepstakes, was the somewhat terrifying Rte 99 (The Sea-to-Sky Highway) up to Whistler, which will host most of the skiing and sliding events. I've driven this road in every sort of weather condition imaginable - clear blue sunny days, torrential rain-and-wind storms, and one particularly tense late night snowstorm - and I could not imagine how that narrow, twisty, up-and-down-at-precipitous-angles, horrible visibility road would handle the enormous traffic generated by the Olympics.
The Canadians are spending $600 million on the road, which should help. But parts of it are literally blasted into the side of the mountain - widening these sections seem like they'd take $600 million alone. Good luck with all that. If you're going to see the Olympic downhill, leave early (like, a couple of days early) and pack a lunch. And maybe dinner too. Look into some of those Lisa Nowak-autograph-model astronaut diapers too.
I'm looking forward to Vancouver's big coming-out party. I'm sure they'll do a fantastic job.