We visited the winter Olympics in Korea over the last two weeks. Very special: My whole family came over from The Netherlands, and we met at the Incheon airport. The Olympics are in Pyeongchang, a remote town on the East side of the country. With the new high-speed train we arrived within two hours (while streaming the opening of the Olympics on my laptop via Wi-Fi), where we met my in-laws in PyeongChang. Another special moment; the last time we were all together like this was at our wedding eight years ago. Residing at a beautiful location on a twenty minute drive from PyeongChang. We stayed at a presbytery. You read that right. With the overbooked hotels, we found this place via-via and were the only visitors in this serene place. The priest was very nice and also enjoyed watching the Olympics. The place provided a tranquil place in the mountain, a nice base to retreat after the busy Olympics. PyeongChang is one of the least polluted areas in the country, and we enjoyed clear blue skies for almost the entire trip. Besides that, it had just snowed so we could also have some fun with the kids. Although it was sunny, it was very windy time to time. The Dutch TV did a joke where they put all complaining journalists clips after each other: “It’s so cold in PyeongChang!” it was time to time about -10 Celsius and hard winds made it feel really cold. What do you expect, it’s a winter Olympics! However, with the kids we had to reduce outside exposure. Our visit to the Olympic stadium was cut short as it just wasn’t fun outside. For the events our family visited a stadium almost daily. Mostly speed skating, but we also checked ice hockey, skiing and figure skating. Most of the events were in Gangneung, it was convenient that we could borrow the priests van and drive back and forth. The schedule was hectic. Matches would take up to 11pm and the next morning another event was waiting for us.The Olympics Speed skating is far from PyeongChang at Gangneung, a city at the sea side. This Olympic park hosted the speed skating, ice hockey, figure skating and curling. Furthermore there were some pavilions like the Team Korea pavilion, and the Tokyo Olympics display.
We spend a lot of our time inside the ‘Gangneung Oval’, the speed skating track. It was clear the organization had to get used to hosting the speed skating. In the beginning of the week, they had volunteers request the audience not to make too much noise. (hah!) An error that was quickly corrected, soon the Koreans visitors were the noisiest of them all. During break times, they organized activities like Kpop bands and kiss-cams, a different time filling then we are used to in The Netherlands, nice to experience .The Dutch teams did very well, especially in the first weeks. It was fun seeing them win. Of course we also visited the Holland Heineken House – where the athletes are cheered by (mostly) the Dutch visitors, and were interviewed by Dutch TV a couple of times, which was funny.