London puts on The Games
So, it’s hard to know where to focus with this London post – the incredible sport or the fabulous time spent with friends.
But I’ll start with the sport…in summary, London did a fabulous job putting on the Olympic Games (ticketing being a noteworthy exception). The logistics were superb with nary a bottleneck to be seen and having thousands of pink fisted volunteers available to help you at every turn was a delight. Even the weather co-operated.
The “Best sport celebrity sighting” award went to the tennis where I saw Murray, Roddick, Djokovic and Sharapova all in one afternoon at Wimbledon (complete with Pimms of course). It was closely followed by spotting Yao Ming wandering around the Natural History Museum. It is hard not to spot a 7’6” man when he’s wandering around!
The “Best atmosphere” award went to the beach volleyball – although I was slightly disappointed to find that the women wore bikinis but the men played in shorts and singlets. Nevertheless, there was pumping music, fun beach entertainment and a Mexican-wave-crazy crowd that made for two great nights out.
The “This is what really expensive tickets gets you” went to the diving. I was in Row 3, just beside the judges for the final of the 10m men’s synchronized diving. This was also the “If I didn’t believe in group energy, I do now” event as the atmosphere in the aquatic centre plummeted as Great Britain flubbed their fourth dive and plunged (yes- pun intended) from first place to fourth.
The “Best Unexpected Sporting Moment” went to the team equestrian jumping. Focused solely on a lovely afternoon out with friends with some Olympic sport in the background, we finally realized that this was a medal event and that Great Britain had a chance at winning. After a winning “jump-off” (yes – such a thing exists) the crowd went crazy in a blaze of union jacks – quite a sight. The equestrian also wins the “I’m cool because I know someone who works here” award– hi Lisa – and the “I finally saw an Australian compete” award. We have a fine equestrian jumper on the team.
The women’s gymnastics holds a fond place in my heart as my first ever official Olympic event but the free events were just as much fun. The start of the men’s cycling road race and the finish of the women’s were fantastic – with the added bonus that you could spend most of your time in the pub watching on tv and then just pop outside for the few seconds that they ride past you!
They even inspired me to do some cycling of my own. Along with my new French school friend, Peter, I walked and cycled what seemed the entirety of central London (and certainly the entirety of Hyde Park – with many unintentional laps thrown in) helped immeasurably by the fact that many major central London streets were closed for the events. It’s quite a thrill to cycle past Harrods and Buckingham Palace and be the only people on the roads!
It wasn’t all sport though… The best “non sport celebrity sighting” came from gate-crashing the official Vancouver reception at Canada House (thanks Maureen!) and finding myself unexpectedly hobnobbing with the Canadian High Commissioner, mayor of Vancouver and CEO of lululemon. Should have dressed a little better for the occasion! The “Biggest disappointment” award went to the lack of Brazilian men at the reception at Brazil House. Luckily the specially ordered caiparinhas helped make up for it.
Happily, lots of old friends were in town for the Games and we had a Vancouver Games family reunion with Anna, Alana, Jamie (and the adorable Ruby), Lisa and Rob H. Maureen and Rob T. rounded out the visitor tally nicely and Al also showed me the streets of London. It was so awesome to see all of you! And Anna put on a great dinner at the lovely canal-side Towbridge Cafe.
A huge thank-you to my three trusty musketeers in London – Amee, Marijana and Anna – for being fantastic friends and providing not only great company but also beds, couches, food, drink, leather jackets, telephones, ticket pick-up services, ticket ordering services, social and cultural event co-ordination, lines of credit and even credit cards upon request. I am forever in your debt!
Click on any photo to launch a slideshow of the images…