London 2012

Today’s highlights: leaving the car at the Hertz return lot at Heathrow Airport and checking out Olympic London. Just about everywhere we went we saw volunteers dressed in their purple London 2012 shirts, handing out maps and dispensing advice and being generally helpful.

We spent about an hour at BT Live, the expansive outdoor venue at Hyde Park where you can watch events, live, on ginormous television screens. There are also concerts pretty much nonstop. And places to test your skills at badminton, ping pong, and soccer. Also tons of food kiosks selling everything from vegan meals to ostrich burgers (okay, I don’t know if they were ostrich burgers — I didn’t actually get that close to the place. But they were selling some kind of edible ostrich).

Samsung, Cadbury, the Sun newspapers, and BT were among the major vendors promoting their products. The lineup at the Cadbury World of Fun was two hours long. I asked one of the Cadbury people what you could do inside and she said, “play games and try to win chocolate.” I decided it made more sense to buy chocolate than to wait two hours to see if I could win some. Plus, if I had the same luck at Cadbury that I did at the badminton booth, it would have been two hours wasted.

It was really hot today, not exactly chocolate-buying weather. Cadbury is selling “gold” medals  — chocolate wrapped in gold foil, strung on a red, white, and blue ribbon. We saw people wandering around wearing them. Mostly young guys, hoping, no doubt, that the fake medals would work as chick magnets. I couldn’t help wonder, how many women would be attracted to a guy with melted chocolate on his shirt, and an empty piece of gold foil draped around his neck? (Then again, there were a lot of vendors selling liquor. Get a few pints of beer in you and anything will look good.)

BT Live was pretty crowded, especially around the Cadbury and Samsung venues. At Samsung you could look at their products and have your picture taken and embossed on a button or on some weird fake-tablet thingie. We looked at the products and skipped the photo opp. It was too hot and crowded, and we wanted to get out of there.

We had a lovely walk through Hyde Park and Kensington Park — longer than we’d planned because there were so many detours at Kensington Park. A lot of it was blocked off near the Serpentine, which is where the marathon swim was this morning. But after BT Live we welcomed the peace and quiet and lack of people.

Dave and the kids were curious about Sochi House, the venue that the Russian Olympic Organizing committee set up to promote the Winter games in 2014. I’d gone to Sochi House in Vancouver and it was interesting. I didn’t feel any burning desire to go back, but we’re a democratic family, so I went along with the majority.

I must say, those Sochi folks been hard at work over the past two years. This Sochi House was about five times bigger and more interactive than the Vancouver version. We saw a movie about the games and the region that made me want to hop on a plane and go right there. Later we saw a 4D movie (yep, them Russians are still ahead of us, techno-wise) about the games and the region that made me want to hop on a plane and go right there again. In between we participated in all kinds of activities, including test-your-Russian-language-skills (I got three out of four right and won one of those ubiquitous Olympic trading pins), test-your-hockey-goaltending skills (Elizabeth and Dave will never be goalies) (Noah didn’t try), and see-what-it’s-like-to-ride-in-a-bobsleigh-by-sitting-in-a-computer-simulator. (That was a great one, by the way: you get all the whooshing excitement of the sport, but none of the attendant stomach upset. It made me realize I’d be willing to go to DisneyLand if all the rides were simulators.)

Dave in the simulator

The Sochi gal, the torch (which I could touch, but not hold), and moi

Dave in the simulator (this is what he would look like if his success went to his head, or if he were captured by aliens)

Tomorrow we’ll see if we can visit either the Olympic Village or Holland Heineken House, Casa Brasil, Belgium House, Austria House, Czech House — all the houses open to the public.

Stay tuned!

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One Response

  1. Wow! What a day! It was like a travelog of London.

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