the skinny on the 2018 Winter Olympics

South Korea the second time around was a massively fun time. And part of the applause it gets comes from the incredible time I had at the 2018 Winter Olympics, a bucket list item I've had for ages that finally got ticked off the old list. I get so wound up in my own privilege that I forget how much I've accomplished and how much cool shit I've experienced. I made sure I took in every second at the games and threw myself into the atmosphere and athleticism with the same wild enthusiasm and "say yes" attitude.  



The Olympic games were divided into two categories and competed at two different venues: the Ice Venue at Gangeung and the Snow Venue at Pyeongchang. Curling, hockey, speed skating...they were all at the Ice Venue {obviously}, so that's where we spent our time. 

We booked KTX train tickets to get to Gangneung. The booking site for the KTX is simple and straightforward, but I was told that the trains booked super fast. Thank god for Kirst pulling through as team planning MVP! The train took us to Gangneung station and from there we easily caught a cab to our accommodation to drop our bags. The train was clean, quick, and the station was easy to navigate. 

There was also the option of a bus and free shuttles from the bus station to the ice venue, but since we had our train tickets, I don't have much of an informed opinion about the buses or shuttles. 



Boy, oh, boy...the games. The atmosphere at Olympic events is unmatched. The USA versus Slovakia Men's Hockey game was phenomenal {partly because the USA won}. Sporting event ticket prices vary {i.e. hockey games are more expensive than curling matches, better seating costs more, etc.}. We played it safe and booked our games online ahead of time, but there were tickets being given away by Olympians at the Olympic houses as well to people who flew the farthest or had team merchandise, you get the picture. Some events sold out quickly, while others still had open seats the night of. We spent some money on tickets, but they were worth every penny. 



Certain competing nations have representative hospitality houses. Inside these houses, you can enjoy traditional cuisine, mingle with locals, and take in the country's culture. Some houses are only open to Olympic athletes and their families, others cost heavily {$300 per day to hang out in the U.S.A.'s house and you need an invite from an American Olympian...}. Some were free to the public and offered food, while others stood as retail stores for their country's athletic merchandise. During our time at the 2018 Winter Olympics, we looked through the list of available houses and discussed the costs and community of each. Ultimately, with Kirstie taking the lead on research, we settled on the houses for Canada and the Netherlands. Both had very different atmospheres and offerings. 

Canada's house offered free poutine from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. provided by Air Canada and a bar that served up cold Molson Canadian Lagers, hot coffee, and spirits. Olympians frequented the house with their families {which you already knew if you watched my Insta-stories}. There were coat and bag check provided for guests as well as a retail section where you could grab Team Canada merchandise. My favourite bit was the outdoor seating area, complete with firepits and flannel blankets. The Canada house was also highly affordable at only CAD $25 per day. It was the right place for social brews and Canadian friendliness. Also, so many top-notch beards.

Holland's house, or "The Heineken House" as it's also referred to thanks to its sponsor, featured a fantastic DJ and a live band towards the end of the night. For €12 per night, you could dance until the wee hours of the morning. Free lockers were provided, which I appreciated since I brought my camera gear straight from the men's hockey games. Holland house also had a reservation-only restaurant, but I can't say much about it since we were full by the time we arrived for dancing. 



If you aren't into sporting events and atmosphere...I don't really know why you'd pay the money or spend the time coming to the Olympics. Sure, it's a bucket list item for a lot of people, but the athletics are the whole shebang. However, we did find that there was plenty to see and do in between games and events. In Gangeung, there were art installations around town and on the beach. The Olympic houses provided entertainment for hours, there were concerts near the arena at the "Korean live stage" as well as concessions stands, cultural exhibits. and shopping. 



I felt like we were more than prepared for our Olympic experience. Todd brought late night snacks, Kirstie took care of the bookings {she's in Korea after all and Chinese internet boo-hiss}, and I provided sarcasm and hot takes. There were some things that we found out post-arrival that could have been problematic had we not been a group of seasoned travellers. 

Visa is the official sponsor of the Olympics, so only cash or Visa credit cards were accepted on site. Had none of us pulled out cash or I not had my Venture travel card, we could have been beer-less at the hockey game. 

Vegetarian options are few and far between. I thought it being a global event and all, there would be all kinds of variety as far as food was concerned. Truth is, not only was it hard to find vegetarian food, but the refreshments on offer were pretty basic. Standard hotdogs, popcorn, soda, beer type of concessions. 


My time at the 2018 Winter games was something I'll remember forever. I want to relive it all over and over again. 

You can watch highlights from the fun we had here. Don't forget to "like" Kirstie's video and subscribe to my YouTube Channel.