With the eyes of the world on London, I thought it was about time that I jumped on the Olympic bandwagon with my own Mrs Lighty Olympic blog. A slight departure from my normal travel warblings, but I couldn’t miss out on the brilliant two weeks our fair capital city has had! Usually, our view of London (as London commuters) is tarred by the day-in-day-out trudge of crowded trains, pushy people, the hustle and bustle. But all of a sudden, the streets of London seemed to be paved with gold – quite literally, if our medal count was anything to go by – as the buzz of the games came to town. If you were lucky enough to experience it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you weren’t, read on for my take on the best Olympic Games the world has ever seen: London 2012!
Our first experience of the games (other than the torch relay, which we were also lucky enough to have witnessed) was the women’s marathon. Not having tickets at this point, we decided to brave the weather and line the route. We’re British, after all, so how much could a little drop of rain hurt? Quite a bit, actually, as we got soaked to the skin! But it didn’t dampen our spirits: we waved our Union Jacks at Team GB, and I even had mine wrapped round me like a rain shield; flag is the new black, after all! We stood in a picturesque spot by St. Paul’s Cathedral and saw the athletes pass us three times (the sun had come out by the third lap too, hurrah!) – and all for free! For the millions of people that missed out on tickets, the many free-to-watch sports were a fantastic alternative!
Lining the route of the Olympic Marathon, millions of people were able to watch for free
Flag is the new black!
One of the things that London has shown us during the games is just how well it does ‘new’. There’s been a plethora of free exhibitions taking place, and coupled with other aspects of the games such as the Wenlock and Mandeville trails (plotted routes which take in the various statues of the London 2012 mascots), you can really make a day of it in London, which is exactly what we decided to do after the marathon. We wandered down to the Tower (which is where Beefeater Wenlock is located!), passed under Tower Bridge and through to St. Katherine’s Dock. Here we took in the Imagination Denmark exhibition, which included a Lego Olympic Park! After a bite to eat in the Dickens Inn, we continued our journey on the DLR from Tower Hill to the newly constructed Emirates Air-Line cable car at Royal Victoria Dock. What a fantastic addition to our city! The views are spectacular across the City and Docklands, and at £3.20pp on an Oyster Card, it doesn’t break the bank either!
On the Wenlock trail!
Tickets at last!
After the fun of the Marathon, and two weeks spent hammering the London 2012 website, we were then lucky enough to get tickets (“for the wrestling”, she adds, in a quieter voice!). Yes, I’ll admit, it wasn’t my first choice of sport, but actually, it turned out to be great fun! Held at the ExCel Centre, we had a scenic walk through the Docklands from the DLR station Silvertown, passing under the cable car again, and to this arena which is usually used for conferencing. It’s absolutely huge, and the organisation was incredible – we collected our tickets in less than five minutes, security was quick and efficient, and there were plenty of Games Makers (or ‘Purple People’ as I had nicknamed them before I knew their official title!) on hand to help with any queries. It was a great day out, I wore my flag with pride (again) despite the fact that there weren’t any Team GB members in the Men’s wrestling, and it’s something that I’m proud to say I was a part of: London 2012 is the making of stories we’ll tell our grandchildren about.
The fantastic Emirates Air-Line Cable Car
The Pride of Britain
I have to say, as many have already said before me, that we were all proud to be British during the games. Despite the lack of tickets, despite the warnings of travel chaos, it couldn’t have been better organised and many of those unlucky enough not to get tickets enjoyed the games on the many big screens around the city. Overall it appears to have been a massive success. The fantastic electric atmosphere and extra buzz created by the Olympics coming to town couldn’t be manufactured, and that is testament to the success of the games. I’m hopeful that, if maintained nicely, the various new venues and the cable car will add an additional layer of architectural legacy to the city, as well as the much publicised sporting legacy. Now that it’s over, all that remains to be said is: you did us proud London, you did us proud!