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London Olympics 2012! July 31, 2012

Posted by sesolomon in Travel Log.
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One of the portions of the trip that I had been looking forward to the most was going to the Olympics.  I had bought Beach Volleyball and Gymnastics tickets during the spring semester with my good friend Jordan.  Our first Olympic adventure consisted of us traveling up to London a day early to pick up our tickets.  After waiting in line for two hours, we finally made it to the pick-up stand.  I received my tickets and went outside to wait for Jordan.  An hour later, he came outside and told me they were having an issue finding his tickets and we could wait in the waiting room while they figured it all out.  We proceeded into the waiting room where there were many other patrons experiencing similar problems to ours.  As we waited, a lady came up and told Jordan that his Beach Volleyball ticket had been lost but in order to make up for the loss, the ticket company had issued him two prime seats for the gymnastics.  Unfortunately, she claimed that nothing could be done about the volleyball tickets because every single seat had been taken.  Jordan politely asked to see a manager who came over about 20 minutes later.  Just as he began explaining his predicament to the manager, the first lady came back with a big smile on her face and an envelope in her hands.  Believe it or not, she had found Jordan’s ticket.  So by the end of our 6 hour journey at the ticket station, we ended up walking out with both of our beach volleyball tickets and TWO VIP gymnastics tickets!

Olympic Ticket Holders!!

The next day our adventures began with a 6:30am train ride to Paddington Station and a brief walk to Horse Guards Parade, the Beach Volleyball venue.  When we arrived, we encountered a huge gathering of people clustered around the square.  Unbeknownst to us, this was the line to get in.  After walking through the square and receiving several mean looks, we realized it was the line and turned around attempting to find the beginning.  We “joined the queue” as they say here in England but it ended up being a line of people who, like us, didn’t have a clue where we were supposed to be and accidentally ended up cutting the entire line.  Instead of waiting three hours, we got inside the venue within 10 minutes.  (One advantage of being a dumb tourist)  In the next ten minutes, we walked to the stadium, took some pictures, saw one of the Russian volleyball players walk in, and found our seats.  It just so happened that Savannah Andersen, her mom, and Allison Smedberg were seated just a few rows ahead of us. Savannah’s mom was very kind and offered me her seat and as I settled down in the front row I looked out onto the pristine sand of the Olympic Beach Volleyball court.

Olympic Beach Volleyball Court at Horse Guards Parade

We got to see two women’s matches and two men’s matches.  The strength, precision, and agility of these Olympic athletes completely blew my mind.  During the women’s matches we got to see China vs. Russia and Czech Republic vs. Germany.  For the men, we saw Latvia vs. Poland and Germany vs. Russia.  My favorite athlete was Latvian Aleksandrs Samoilovs nicknamed “The Lion King” for his mane of hair.  He was extremely excitable and would yell and stir up the crowd with his antics.  Not to mention, he was an amazingly powerful volleyball player.  After the Latvians won, Savannah and Allison waved and cheered at him so that he came over to our section, gave us high fives, and signed our tickets for us, complete with hearts!  Talk about a once in a lifetime experience.  The German team came over as well after their victory and talked to us and signed our tickets too!

Touching the Lion King’s hand!!

Signed ticket! Notice the two little hearts from the Lion King 🙂

After volleyball, Jordan and I headed to the Olympic Village.  Once inside, we realized that the Olympic Village was just a huge shopping mall solely for Olympic ticket holders.  We stocked up on London 2012 Olympic gear and witnessed, first hand, the craziness that occurs when millions of people from around the world show up in one place.  There was literally a crowd of about 10,000 people waiting to enter the metro station after one of the events let out.  I was just thankful I had found myself a mall in which to kill time while we waited.

I wouldn’t want to be in that line…

Our next event was Artistic Gymnastics.  We took the metro to North Greenwich Arena and entered a huge white dome.  Inside it was like a mini city complete with restaurants, shops, and even a movie theatre.  We shopped around a little bit more and then went to go find our VIP seats.  After sitting down, we looked around and it hit me that I was about to see some of the best gymnasts in the entire world.  We were seated next to the vault but as we were seeing men’s gymnastics the other 5 events included parallel bars, high bar, floor, pommel horse, and rings.  The five teams we saw were Spain, Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and Romania.  The Olympic athletes again blew my mind with their physical prowess and made me feel guilty for only working out once this entire summer.  We were seated about 20 feet away from the vault which had a really cool camera set up next to it that slid along a track while the gymnast ran down the length of the runway. (Took a picture of this, please see below, total Tech student move).  After gymnastics we took the metro/train home and I quickly fell asleep after a tiring but absolutely amazing day!

North Greenwich Arena – Gymnastics Venue

Inside the Arena!

The Vault Camera!!

The Crucifix on the Rings

Flare on the Pommel Horse

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