Monday, February 27, 2006

Following The Sun

No. That title's not supposed to be some lame metaphor. That's essentially what I literally did all day today. After leaving Frankfurt at 12:30pm (UTC +1), I arrived in Vancouver at 2:00pm (UTC -8). The whole way we were following the sun all the way back. By the time the sun sets tonight, I will have been in sunlight 20 hours today.

Speaking of that flight from Frankfurt. What's really cool is that the Lufthansa A340-300 plane I was on had inflight WiFi access. How cool is that? You can pay $25 for the whole flight or $10 for an hour. Since I had spent all that time on the laptop in Frankfurt, I was down to 1 hour of laptop battery. So that made it easy to choose what internet package to use. It was really strange sitting at 36,000 feet, traveling 899 km/h over Greenland chatting on MSN Messenger!

Now I'm safe and sound in Vancouver and my cat, Harley, is really happy to see me. Now comes the laundry and sorting all the crap I brought back. I came back with twice as much stuff as I left with. And I even left things there!

Now I think I'll think about maybe what my next actual vacation will be. I'm thinking London in September.

(A quick thanks again goes out to the Korean Broadcasting Pool at the IBC in Turin. Without your open WiFi Network, this blog may never have happened.)

The Last Days in Turin

The last couple days have been quite busy. Saturday night the relief crew got together for a big dinner at one of the more popular restaurants in Turin. (The name of which escapes me at the moment.)

For €30 a person, you get a full Italian 4 course meal, all the booze you can drink and actual GOOD service. Which believe me, is hard to find in Italy. People don't go to a restaurant for service, they go there for food. Tipping is not that common.

When you sit down at the table, the Antipasti (starters) are already on the table for you. That nights antipasti consisted of various cheeses, sliced meats, bread, sundried tomatoes, grilled vegetables, etc. Then the Primo piatti (first course) comes out. Traditionally, in Italy, a first course is pasta or risotto. They brought out a plate with two pastas and risotto. Then Secondo piatti (second course, duh), lamb, chicken and tripe. I stayed away from the tripe, thanks. Then the desserts...a yummy chocolate mousse-covered pastry, chocolate cake and another chocolate pie thing...again all the names escape me. But it was delicious. not to mention the 20 bottles of wine our table went through.

At one point, the Germans in our relief team started singing Happy Birthday to Michael, another member of the German division of the relief team. The rest of us joined in. Soon enough the whole damn restaurant was singing it! Then everyone started cheering and the staff brought him out some sort of birthday dessert thing.

It was a good night and several members of the group had their fair share of wine and liquor that night.

Sunday was the last day of the Olympics and I could safely say, they didn't need most of us at all that day. So we went to Stadio dell Alpi and watched Juventus play Lecce in Italian Soccer. The stadium was built in 1990 for the World Cup and holds 70,000+ people. Unfortunately only 25,000 were interested in seeing the game.

The atmosphere in the stadium would have been dead if it wasn't for the fan clubs waving their flags, chanting and banging drums at one end of the stadium. Juventus won that game 3-1. But that was expected. Lecce isn't one of the top teams in Italian soccer (or "Calcio" which basically translates to "Kick").

After the game, I went back to the Media Village to pack. My flight was at 6am and in order to get there with any hopes of actually getting on the plane, I had to be there at 3am.

After packing, I headed back to the IBC. I had heard again that getting into the Closing Ceremonies was hit and miss. Some people get in, others don't with our accreditation. So I just watched it in HD at the IBC.

When the ceremonies were over, the IOC threw a big wrap party with the rights holders and TOBO staff right outide our door at the IBC.

There was a lot of food, beer (well actually it was Budweiser, not beer) and wine. After several of those (all three), I headed for the bus to get me back to the Media Village.

We managed to get most of the relief crew together for a final crew shot.

I left just before 1am to meet up with Jerry to catch a cab to the airport. (We expected the first bus at 3am to be jammed and we wanted to get a head start.)

As I write this it's Monday morning and I'm sitting in the airport in Frankfurt again. I'm at gate A56 and this has been my home for the last 5 hours while I wait to board my flight to Vancouver. Thanks to German efficiency, it seems to be boarding on time. So I am off.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

I Can See My House From Here!

I know I promised photos from the Automobile Museum, but they don't allow you to snap them inside. I was only allowed to snap this photo outside. Inside this old "fascist" (as the Italians told me it was called) or Mussolini era builing are old, mostly Italian and new concept cars. This wasn't a great museum, really. It's more like a giant garage. The cars are on display for you to see but there is no interaction and the information on each is scarce. If you're a real car afficionado, this is probably more up your alley and you'd know more about them than I would.

This morning, I met up with Steve for "American Breakfast" and headed straight for the Mole Antonelliana to see the Museum of Cinema. Finally after several tries and then just putting it off we headed on the #72 bus to Downtown and walked about 5 minutes to the Mole.

We got there at about 10am and there was no line up for the ticket office. We asked about the cost and the woman in the booth looked at our accreditation and asked if we were journalists. "Yes, we are!" Steve said and she handed him some forms for us to fill out. I filled mine out as "CTV News , Canada" Steve did the same, and we were in without paying a eurocent.

Once inside, there is a glass elevator. Just like the one in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. There were three other people in line. In thepast the line for this stretched out past the ticket office and out the door to the street. We seized this opportunity of no line and took the elevator to the top first.

Right-Click Here to download a short movie of the elevator ride up. There is a legend that if you are a student in Torino and you take the elevator to the top of the Mole Antonelliana, you will not finish or fail your studies. There is a similar superstition in the city of Bologne with the Torre degli Asinelli.

The elevator actually goes up through the museum taking you to the top of the dome where there is a lookout point. At one level of the museum they have two mini theatres set up with cushiony, recliner chairs showing two different films.

Once at the top, the inside of the dome changes colour and music plays. Then the elevator gets to the platform for the lookout. The doors open, you step outside and this is what you see...

Unfortunately, I couldn't take a 360° photo because the actual building would be in the way. And this is the view through the wire fence that keeps you from falling to a horrible, messy death.

After taking in this view for 15 minutes and taking a lot of photos, it was back down the elevator to explore the museum itself.

The first section of the museum shows you the early development of cinema. From simple shadow shows, with light behind the screen and using paper puppets to make a show, to the first stages of actual Edison perforated film, similar to what we use today.

The next level showed different aspects of film with little displays. Directors, sounds guys, and writers even. I really liked the old desk and typewriter in the screenwriters' display. Above it they had clips from a couple Woody Allen films.

On another part of this floor, they had some interactive displays demonstrating special effects. The most popular one was a chromakey (or green screen) effect that put you into a scene from ET or a racer scene from Star Wars.

Downstairs from this is the theatre level mentioned earlier. On the outer edges of these little theatres they have some fake film sets for you to photograph yourself in.

I have a lot of photos in this museum. They will get posted at a later date.

After the museum experience, we stopped in to have some real Italian espresso. Then I went back to the IBC. Steve braved the stores on Via Po.

Ciao fer now.