Monday, August 20, 2012

London 2012 Stadium and Stars

We were dying to get into that gorgeous Olympic Stadium, but were unable to get any tickets for that venue.  Bummer!  But our handball tickets got us into the park.  So, we hopped on the Tube and headed to Stratford. 

The park is massive!  The area was once an industrial area in need of a revamping.  It's been transformed to a modern park with several sporting venues.  After the paralympics, the park will be reopened as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. 

You'll notice the soldiers in the photo above.  The company hired to provide security for the games was unable to provide the numbers needed.  Fail.  So the military was brought in to take up the slack.  We walked a mile, went through security and then walked another mile to view the stadium.  

The Orbit will now be a London Tourist attraction.  You take an elevator up and the stairs down.  Tickets were extra and sold out so we didn't go up.  (Nothing to do with my fear of heights.  Really.)

The stadium had all of the amenities that you need... clean bathrooms, bars, food booths, shops and the biggest McDonald's in the world.  There were even several pharmacies, in case you forgot your Ibuprofen.  

There were plenty of volunteers to guide you to where you needed to go.  

There was even a fun game of Twister going using this colorful rubber walkway.  

That is the Olympic Village where all of the athletes lived.  Most of the balconies were draped with flags. 

The BBC Media Center was built on transport trailers.   Pretty clever, don't you think?

There were thousands of people there but it never felt too crowded because it's such a great, open space.  That's the velodrome in the background.  

Hours of fun with a huge mirror wall.  Can you spot me and TE?

There was a live viewing area with a large screen.  You could just get tickets to the park and still get that Olympic atmosphere while watching all of the action.  

The Park is even prettier all lit up at night.  There were large groups from various countries celebrating as they left the park that night.  

It took two frickin' hours to get from the stadium to our front door.  And 1.5 of that was walking!  .25 on a crowded, smelly Tube and .25 on a bus.  I might have had a small loss of humor along the way.  Just a little epic one though.   TE has forgiven me.   

During the two weeks of the games were also lucky enough to have access to the VISA VIP Club.  It was at the Institute of Directors close to Trafalgar Square.  They served food and drinks.  They also had daily Meet and Greets with various Olympic Stars.  We  heard from Dan O'Brien, who won a gold medal in the 1996 Decathlon. 

We also met Gold Medal gymnasts, Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner!  She was my idol when I was a little girl first watching gymnastics at the Olympics.   I remember playing Nadia's Theme over and over again on the piano. 

I got to ask them about their favorite Olympic memory.  Nadia told about being a 14 year old Romanian girl suddenly transported to the Olympic Village.  She said she couldn't believe what she was seeing.  

Bart gave a moving answer about standing in the food line as a young man in the Olympic Village for the first time.  He realized he was standing between the fastest man on earth and the highest jumper on earth.  He talked about how much inspiration that gave him.  He stated that the Olympics are a celebration of excellence and that's why we all have those Olympic moments that inspire and move us.  They both were terrific and open.  It was a dream come true to meet them.  I might have shed a tear.  We were able to get our picture taken with them, but I look a hot mess.   

Then one day this guy strolled by me!

It's Iron Chef Morimoto!  He was prepping for a dinner experience they did each evening.  Unfortunately, the sessions were all booked up.  But, I did have just enough wine in me to go up and ask for his photograph.  I have another photo with him... but, again, hot mess.  

Strolling about Tower Bridge one evening.  We ran into this guy trying to drum up twitter followers.  

It's Ryan Bailey.  He was on the American Track and Field sprinting team.  He did pretty good at the games.  He's fast!  And adorable!  He was eating up the attention with a cute combination of humility and excitement. Be sure to go and follow him on Twitter!

And I've said it before and I'll say it again.  The true stars of the games were these guys...

The thousands of volunteers who devoted their time and efforts to welcome the world to London.  My hats off to every one of them. 

I loved this banner!  Goosebumps, gasps, pounding hearts, tears of joy, records smashed, strangers hugged and a Whole World Brought Together!  That is EXACTLY how the Olympics felt.  Everything we expected and more. 

I have just one more Olympic post to share.  Thanks for reading along.



  1. Brilliant! Fantastic pictures!:o)

  2. Wow! You got to meet Nadia and Bart :D See! This is one of the motives I am proud to be a Romanian :D

  3. I was one of those volunteers, I worked the athletes village :)


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