The Olympics are over and Jarred is depressed, can you believe that? Depressed. It’s multiple times a night he says “I don’t know what to watch since the Olympics aren’t on anymore.” Really? Is it just me or did anyone else think these Winter Olympics were B-O-R-I-N-G. Maybe I’m such a hometown girl that I just don’t like it when the USA isn’t winning, but then again I literally fell asleep
during the 3rd period of the USA vs. Canada women’s hockey game. But ya know that was like 11pm and already way past my bedtime so sorry for that. LA 2028 I’m waiting for you and some good time zone games.
Minus my prioritizing sleep over TV viewing, I actually decided to get my butt on a plane and check out South Korea for myself! Why? Well… I ask you, why not?
Has anyone else ever been to the Olympics? I’ve got approximately 1,000 friends on Facebook and I think I’ve only ever seen one person go. *hands up emoji* if you’ve ever been to the Olympics. No one? Okay, I rest my case.
If you haven’t… what do you imagine? Coachella, minus the drugs, plus a bunch of flags, where there are activities and festivals and fair food at every corner and every is super high on life? Maybe it’s just me but I was imagining GREAT! Like fireworks, dogs in tutus doing tricks, and music and dancing from all different cultures. I was expecting the ultimate melting pot of culture and creativity and language.
What I got was much much different. For those 999 of my Facebook friends that haven’t had the chance to go to the Olympics I want to show what it’s really like. No, not what show you on television but the REAL Olympics.
Food and Beverage
Originally I was going to have this category be one but… food (because survival) and beverages (because fun) are so important I’ve decided to grade them individually.
Food (grade D)
At the Olympic village there was a grand total of 3 places to eat. Literally 3. A whopping one million people coming and they have 3 places to eat.
- The first was a “spectator restaurant” which is essentially a South Korean concession stand, with plastic picnic tables for seating. Good news is this was inside a tent so it was a warm option. However, if you’re like me and Korean mystery meat doesn’t sound appetizing to you, this is not a good option.
- The second option was a “western concession stand”. Now I know the world has different ideas of what us westerners like to eat (side note: I always suggest stopping by foreign grocery stores American section for a good laugh. Europe seems to think we’re obsessed with Marshmallow Fluff) but the Olympics missed the mark here, AND there was no variety. This one concession stand had the very same food as the concession stand in the arenas. Note to the world: there is one thing Americans love more then anything else… variety.
- The third was MCDONALDS. GLORIOUS. GLORIOUS. MCDONALDS. Which I ate for every single meal. Now McDonalds is a large sponsor of the Olympics so their presence is to be expected. And they had a burger igloo set up in the Olympic village. But that was it. ONE SINGLE MCDONALDS. I can drive 5min down the road to my gym and pass more McDonalds then that. As you can guess, the Koreans (who by the way are very accepting of lies and waiting) would line up and wait to get to get inside the burger igloo and pay some thousand won for a burger. I HATE LINES and I also HATE WAITING, but I did it. Not many things I’d wait in a line for, but McDonalds is apparently one of them.
Beverages (grade C)
- Huge fail. Again. At said concession stand there was an option for “beer” and that was it. No wine, no liquor, no hot toddy to warm up your freezing cold hands. No tequila shot to toss boss with my fellow USA cheering fans in a bonding moment of camaraderie. The beer was Fitz beer, from a can, that the concession stand employee poured into a plastic cup. This just isn’t going to cut it for me. The only reason this wasn’t a 100% fail is because there was no 2 drink limit per person and the beer was only about $4 USD each. SOOOOO that was fun! C for you beer tent!
Transportation (grade A)
- This is something the Olympics got right. Now, PyeongChang is actually quite far from Seoul airport (where most visitors travel into), however they had it down. My guess is it’s the mass population thing, but all of Asia seems to be great at moving tons of people with ease. With 50 high speed trains a day, they were transporting fans west coast to east coast at great speeds. And the trains don’t stop there, once you arrive at the station there are shuttle buses taking you to all the different stadiums and events. If you haven’t been to the Olympics before… it’s spread out. Well, this one was. And it’s certainly not all walkable. Another notable part is the taxi organization. Main streets have “taxi stops” where taxis line up to pick up travelers, taxis are also Uber cheap (see what I did there?) so it’s a good way to get right to your hotel.
Accommodations (grade B)
- Listen, showing up anywhere the day of a big event, with no cash (thank goodness for the VISA sponsorship), and no where to stay is scary. The joys of non-rev travel. We arrive around 7pm and went straight to a information desk in which a gentleman called a few hotels, negotiated a price for us and sent us on our marry way with a hotel reservation. PRAISE BABY JESUS we’re not sleeping on the streets (which is scary y’all, when it’s the Olympics and all you constantly hear about all the hotels/tickets selling out way in advance). Our hotel had a twin bed and a queen bed which lends itself towards Asian cultures where they don’t over crowd their families. It also has a private bathroom which was a bit janky with a leaky tub, but you know what, NBD.
Cleanliness (grade C)
- Meh meh meh on this one. PyeongChang is actually a very poor area of South Korea and that was painfully obvious. Buildings were run down, streets were dirty, and, with the exception of the Olympic arena and venues, it was a bit gross. Also, someone needs to tell South Korea what’s up with a trash can and dumpster because they literally just PILE trash bags on the side of the road for all to see. And when the individual trashcans become too full, they PILE trash on the ground next to it. Double gross.
- Another problem is that the Olypmics seemed to put out many small business owners in the ski towns. Since the mountain was closed for renovations, they were unable to pay their bills and support their businesses so they just left and abandoned those buildings. WITH a big protest sign of course. You obviously won’t see this anywhere on NBC so you can read more about that here.
- Minus that, everything else was great. Olympic stadiums had staff cleaning the stands in between events. And all the Olympic venues were definitely up to par… always always hover in the bathrooms, but they were clean enough to wash your hands in. If you’ve ever traveled to Asia before you’ll know this is sometimes not the case. Hand sanitizer. Always.
Friendliness (grade A)
- There was a flash mob, they pulled me in, we did a conga line. Enough said.
- But seriously on the friendliness, the Olympics had people dressed in a certain recognizable jacket that could answer questions and help out. They were nice and constantly waiving at visitors. Disney might be the happiest place on earth, but the Olympics are a close second (minus me the hour after the USA men’s ice hockey team lost to Russia).
Venues (grade B)
- Building Olympic venues are the reason it takes countries sooo long to prepare. For the this winter games there were 3 main sections: PyeongChang, Jinbu, and Gangneung (try saying that three times fast). Thank goodness transportation was good because these venues are slightly spread out, but if you think about it it makes sense. Ski/snowboarding needs a mountain, but anything ice skating needs flat land and controlled temperatures. All the new Olympics venues were great, they were clean, easy to navigate, state of the art, and seating/viewing was awesome for everything we attended.
- Downside here was, for example, the hockey stadium which google tells me seats 10,000 only had 2 concession stands. They were LONG the entire game, even with people buying 20 beers at a time for the entire row. It just wasn’t enough to accommodate the mass crowds and amount of people.
- In the Olympic village there was a large “super store” selling Olympic gear, and each arena also had a small stand; however, this was not nearly enough. The line to get into the super store took over an hour and a half at certain times (Koreans and their lines, man). It would have benefited visitors at the Olympics to have more stores set up to make buying souvenirs much easier. Is it just me or should Soohorang be attached to a cotton candy pole and have vendors walking around selling them literally EVERYWHERE #JustTakeMyMoney
- Despite that, the Olympic village was a ton of fun. Sponsors had large displays such as a Samsung VR experience, giant Coca Cola vending machines giving out free soda, and a North Face igloo experience…. so B for you venue.
Tickets (grade B)
- My biggest fear of just showing up at the Olympics was not being able to get tickets and being stuck outside in the cold. We actually did okay. Here is how it works: most the venues offer different ticket levels. For the ice hockey games there were 3 levels, skiing had a standing area plus 2 seating options, and curling had just one level. Of course since we showed up the day of tickets were limited and there ended up only being the most expensive options available. Oh well, that’s the price you pay I guess. Here is what we paid:
- Mens ice hockey qualifier round, USA vs Russia. $80 upper level seats
- Mens ice hockey qualifier round, Canada vs Czech. $150 glass seats
- Mens slope style skiing, quarter finals $180 best seats in the house
- Moral of the story is majority of the people attending the Olympics a
re family members and friends of the athletes, seriously, you’d be surprised how many moms and dads of athletes we were talking to. They all plan ahead. And then there are the scalpers who ALWAYS have tickets for the events, or their buddy down the road does. If you’ve got some extra cash you can get tickets to the events, no problem.
After coming back home I am sure glad that I don’t live in South Korea, because my patience for lines an
d the general public is just not what it should be. However, the Olympics are definitely something that I encourage absolutely everyone to experience once in their life. There is literally nothing like cheering on the best athletes from your country while you compete against the entire world. It’s something I will never forget that’s for sure.