Having not got any gymnastics tickets in the ballot, we were quite pleased to be able to buy some online just a few weeks ago. They were late afternoon / early evening sessions at the North Greenwich Arena, so we could do these in day trips from where we are staying in Kent.
Apparently we can't call the arena the O2 because they aren't sponsoring the Olympics, so it became the North Greenwich Arena instead. Mind you, even twelve years on, I still think of it as the Millennium Dome, so it generally takes me three goes to get the name right!
We had bought tickets for the ladies' all round team final on Tuesday 31 July and the mens' individual all round final on Wednesday 1 August. The tickets were all the same price and for the second day we knew that our tickets at the bottom of the upper section be a good view because we had been to an event here before.
However the first day's were for a bar stool in the fourth row of a hospitality suite, so we weren't quite sure what to expect. We were a bit concerned that the bar stools might be extra seats added at the back, and that it might be one of those places where the focus is on the hospitality rather than the event, so the actual view isn't really all that great.
Having heard all the warnings about congestion in the centre of London, we decided to avoid it and take advantage of the free shuttle bus from Charlton station to the arena. The train journey was painless, we were guided by one of the many station staff helpers straight onto one of the lovely new Olympic buses. These buses have apparently caused quite a stir amongst bus spotters, and there were a few out today, noting down numbers.
With such an easy journey, we were at the venue long before the appointed time. We passed through the security checks quickly and were soon killing a bit of time looking at the merchandise, succumbing to a T-shirt and a 2012 pin badge.
With well over an hour still to go, we figured we'd make our way to our seats and perhaps eat the sandwiches that we'd brought with us. When we arrived, we were very impressed.
We were in one of the lower level suites, which was just above the press section, near to the asymmetric bars. Our bar stools were at a little raised table behind the three rows of proper seats, but had a great view out over the arena. It was just high enough to get a good overall view of all of the pieces of equipment, but still very close.
We had known that there would be food and drink for the fully paid paid up hospitality guests, but we hadn't expected that we would be allowed to have it too. So when we were told we could have it, we forgot about our sandwiches, and instead helped ourselves to the buffet, washed down by multiple glasses of bubbly that were regularly brought round. We even got a free programme. And all the while we could keep up with other events on the plasma TV. Perfect.
So we were already having a great time before the gymnastics even started. They kicked off with a bit of a warm up, with some introduction of the events and a few displays, but whilst Ok, they were obviously time fillers until everyone got to their seats. Thankfully in the main the seats did fill up. There were a few empty ones around, and a whole bank given over to soldiers, but mostly it was full.
It was interesting to see that the judges were just as pleased to be a part of the Olympics as everyone else. When they came in during the preparation stage to get all of their things ready before their formal entrance later, we spotted them excitedly taking photos of each other.
It was great that Team GB had qualified for both finals, even though they weren't expected to have any chance of a medal, because it meant we got the full atmosphere of cheering on Team GB athletes. And one thing we noticed with competitors was that they always show respect to their counterparts by applauding them as they are introduced. Few others do, especially in the ladies team final.
The USA fans were out in force as their ladies were expected to take gold, but we reckon we still made more noise than they did, even though they were actually winning. Our girls put in a great effort and did really well, but as I suspect you already know, they weren't quite good enough to be up in the medals.
Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.
Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.