Last day of London 2012

We saw more athletes today, but they were competing in the men’s marathon, so they didn’t have time to stop and pose for photos.

So we took pictures at Casa Brasil, the Brazilian hospitality house.

Because Rio de Janeiro is hosting the summer games in 2016, Casa Brasil was, like Sochi House, all about promoting the country and drumming up early support for its hosting gig. However, the contrast between the two venues could not have been more different.

Sochi was in-your-face, with fun, fun, fun games and activities; and shiny, happy people eager to show you around and convince you that Sochi is the greatest place on earth. The folks at Casa Brasil were cool and sophisticated. They were helpful, but they weren’t going to grab your hand and skip around the room with you. (To be fair, nobody in Sochi House did that, but I think if we’d asked, they would have).  The difference between the two houses was like that between an overexcited puppy and a tiger (although not the kind of tiger that would chew your head off. More like a sleek, regal, vegetarian tiger).

Casa Brasil was an art gallery where everything on display was Brazilian. Some of the crafts were stunning.

The art was interesting,

provocative,

and sometimes too abstract to comprehend.

That last piece was made up of tape measures, some unfurled on the floor, some closed and mounted to the wall with screws. The title: “Sex is what men lie with, as dwarfs begging to ascend.” The artist’s name is David Cury.

I wish I’d gotten the names of the other two pieces but I did not. I think the middle one is called “When All Fall Silent” and it’s by Berna Reale, but there was a piece on the floor as well and it, too, could have borne that title.

We visited one more hospitality house, Casa Italia, near Westminster Abbey. Perhaps because the Italians aren’t hosting the Olympics any time soon, they felt no need to go out of their way to be welcoming. And so they weren’t, really.

A bored-looking Procter and Gamble employee showed us a TV ad, a bored-looking volunteer in the Samsung area gave us tee-shirts, a bored-looking Kinder volunteer gave me Tic-Tacs, and a less-bored-looking volunteer steered me to an elevator so I could look at more stuff, but that was it as far as human contact was concerned.

At one point I got lost (I was on my own, Dave and Elizabeth having opted to rest on a bench, and Noah having opted to return to the hotel to avoid the crowds). I found myself in a large room that was devoid of all visitors (I don’t think any visitors knew where the room was — it was really out of the way. I’m still not sure how I wound up there).

There were exhibits promoting Italian tourism, food, and wine, but the volunteeres were so busy pecking away at their cell phones that they didn’t appear to notice I was there. I was tempted to walk off with a bottle of wine to see if that might get someone’s attention, but the general aura of ennui was catching. I decided not to bother.

Casa Italia was a good place to sit down, cool off, and pick up some freebies, but the people in the actual country are a lot friendlier than their compadres in their misnamed hospitality house. Then again, it was the last day of the Olympics. Mabye they were all tired and wanted nothing more than to get back home.

As for us, we have a little more than two weeks before we head home, and only one full day left in London. It will be weird tomorrow, with the Games over, not to have the friendly and ubiquitous London 2012 volunteers posted everywhere, ready to answer our questions and point us in the right direction. Tomorrow, we shall have to rely on maps.

Today’s sign of the day isn’t really a sign. It’s a doctored ad on a bike. Noah spotted it as we were walking to Leicester Square today.

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2 Responses

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    • Thank you! Stay tuned for another entry soon.

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