I am an anglophile. I love music, movies, TV shows and books coming out of the UK. The last time I was in London was five years ago and I fell in love with the city. It was spring break my senior year of college. While my friends were planning trips to Cancun or other places in the sun, nothing looked better to me than rainy London.
It was a pretty awesome trip, minus a little bit of trouble getting home thanks to a fire near the Chunnel tracks that required an extra couple days abroad and traveling from Paris by train, ferry, bus and another train. Who wouldn’t enjoy a little bit of adventure with their spring break?
After a year of planning, I spent the last week in London for the 2012 Olympics. It was absolutely amazing, although a bit tiring. I’m still trying to recover. 🙂
I got to see qualifying and preliminary rounds for singles tennis, artistic gymnastics (aka regular gymnastics) and men’s volleyball. The only USA performance I got to see live was Serena Williams, who ended up winning the gold medal this weekend. There was a huge upside to seeing Serena:
Oh ya, Michelle Obama made an appearance. She sat in the players’ family box and gabbed with Venus Williams (sitting behind her) and Dominique Dawes sitting next to her. Remember Dominique Dawes? She was part of the Magnificent 7 who won the gold medal for gymnastics at the 1996 Atlanta games. You should have seen all the people clamoring to get photos of FLOTUS too. The secret service kept them all back though.
Also got to watch Roger Federer’s first match, which was pretty rough for him. I was thinking there was a chance he’d be knocked out in the first round. He ended up ok, silver medal overall.
I spent a lot of time glued to my room’s TV and the TVs in the hotel’s common areas to watch Michael Phelps in the pool and the US gymnastics teams perform. I was reading all my friends’ posts on Facebook and Twitter about NBC’s coverage of the Olympics and I have to say, the BBC’s coverage really wasn’t much better live. It felt like they jumped all over the place and there was a lot of dead air. During the women’s gymnastic finals, I had to call out on Twitter for the standings because they weren’t showing who was where.
Although Ian Thorpe being poolside was a huge plus. There was also a lot of focus on the home team, which is understandable.
So for artistic gymnastics, don’t get it mixed up with rhythmic gymnastics which is the ribbon/ball type, we got to see the teams of Brazil, Italy and Australia and a bunch of mixed groups. Mixed groups were girls who were competing for event finals and the all-around. Their teams didn’t qualify.
While it was awesome watching this, it was super hard to focus on the different apparatuses. Besides the fact that the entire arena was this hot pink color, the floor exercise pulled so much focus. But these girls are totally superhuman. I have no idea how they are able to flip and fly and stay on that beam.
I was a volleyball player from 4th grade to junior year of high school. I also managed the men’s volleyball teams in high school. So volleyball is my sport. We saw Serbia vs. Germany and Australia vs. Bulgaria. The Serbia/Germany match was long. Serbia had Germany two games to none and then Germany won the last three games of the match. Then Bulgaria took down the Aussies in three sets.
The Aussie fans were doing the Oy Oy Oy chant and the Bulgarians had their own chant. I have no idea what they were saying. I’m sort of jealous that the stands seemed stacked with these teams’ fans. I have no idea how they knew their teams would play. Cause I would have loved to see the USA vs. Brazil game.
Ok, let’s get to what is huge news: The seat issue. Ya, it was truly disheartening to see huge amounts of seats empty in events we had really wanted to see, namely swimming and gymnastics. But it was worse to hear from all the Brits we were talking to who said they had tried to get tickets to the games and they were shut out. I had been under the impression that UK and Europe had gotten the best tickets. But that turned out not to be true. I’m glad they were opening up the seats to fans later in the week though.
While the seats were sorta sad, what was worse was Olympic Park. The torch is hidden in the stadium where it first was lit, aka the stadium where track & field was being held. So fans who come to London can’t see it. I can’t remember a time when the torch was hidden from public view.
Also, unless you have a ticket to a venue which is enclosed in Olympic Park, you can’t get in. We got a few different stories from people working at the games about this. The trip to Olympic Park is not a short one, at least from where we were in the city. And we were told you could pay to get into the park, cause there are a few shops there and there’s that big sculpture. Ya no. Also, we were told you could get in with your ticket from one of the other Olympic venues on the day of that event. Ya, nope. So we were shut out of that area. We could only take photos from the shopping mall which is right next door.
Oh, and the travel. People had been talking about how crowded the underground could possibly be. Traveling by the tube was fine. The trains ran quickly and efficiently. I think my only complaint is that, after a day out in the sun or at an event, it’s not going to be a pleasant-smelling ride. I think driving around the city was a bit worse. Just because of that Olympic lane that’s only for official vehicles. I felt sorry for drivers and those who didn’t plan at least an hour’s drive to get to places.
So that was my time in London. Few complaints and lots of fun. Oh, and check out the cute little mascot above. They had different ones all around the city dressed up in different ways, sort of like the decorated cows Chicago did a while ago. I think the Beefeater one was the cutest.
I’ll be doing a craft that’s Olympic related later this week, so be on the lookout for that.