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.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Olympic Park

For our first day in the Olympic Park we left much earlier than we needed to for our evening tickets, as we wanted to look around the park and spend some time with the crowds watching the big screen.  Our Kentish Town location was ideal as we could get on a train straight to Stratford, and once there, we were quickly through security and into the Park.

After taking the obligatory photos of each other under the Olympic Park signs, and having a Gamesmaker take a photo of us with the stadium in the background, we got onto the important stuff, like taking pictures of the Aquatics Centre and The Orbit too.  We had seen pictures of the Orbit, and weren't convinced by it, and I can't say we were really any more enamoured of it in reality.

People have tried to compare it to the Eiffel Tower, which apparently many Parisiens disliked initially, so maybe one day I'll love it, but to me it just looks like a rather messy giant helter skelter.  The London Eye has become an icon, is in a good location and gives a great view; the Shard is too young to be an icon but also has a viewing platform, and is near London Bridge with the market, dungeon and other sites; do people really want another viewing tower out in Stratford?

First photos taken, our next task was a practical one - fill our bottles from the water taps.  There was a queue, but it wasn't too bad, and it meant we could multi task by taking it in turns to nip off to the loo while the other waited.

And for those of you who have been reading the blog for a while, and want to know where this would rank on our convenience scale, then on overall experience of the two days I would have to judge them as a 4.25 out of 5.  They lost half a point because they lacked any decorative touches or character, and dropped a quarter point because one time there was no paper, but in fact I was pretty impressed that at a venue of this size, with so many visitors, they managed to achieve a high standard of cleanliness and hardly any waiting time.

With our drinking water filled, we amused ourselves with the size of the queue for the MacDonalds, and headed off for the Megastore.  It was certainly a large shop, and very busy.  I wandered around the Tshirts for a while before deciding not to bother, as I would probably never wear it again after these few days, and set off to look for the two things that I'd figured I would buy.

They didn't have a silver charm that I liked, so that will have to be left for an online purchase if I get around to it, but they did have the box of Christmas decorations.

If you read my blog about souvenirs then you'll know that this is often my fallback keepsake, and I have for some while fancied having a London bus or taxi bauble.  Well the Team GB box set had a bus, a taxi, and a Big Ben, as well as a round union jack bauble and one like the lion's head symbol.  A bit tacky maybe, but you can get away with it at Christmas.

The queue to pay was fairly long, but they had cleverly hidden part of it behind a partition, so strangely it didn't seem so bad, and they did have plenty of tills, all of which were open, so it actually didn't take too long, and we were soon out and on our way to Park Live.

We had to wait a short while to get into the Park Live area, and it was fairly crowded, but we found a space off to one side and settled in to watch the live action from the various venues.

We had not been there long when we heard a small cheer rumbling it's way towards us.  We soon spotted the reason for it, Louis Smith was making his way through the crowds.

A while later, a similar, but much louder cheer went around, hailing the arrival of Sir Chris Hoy on his way to the Park Live stage for an interview.  The poor guy  must have expended more energy waving to everyone as he passed than he did on his bike to win his gold medals.  But he seemed genuinely happy to see everyone, and indeed in his interview he was full of praise for the support of the crowds - which obviously got him another big cheer!

We were somewhat amused by the couple of people that we saw walking around with hollowed out watermelon hats on their heads.  Not quite sure whether it helped to keep them cool or something, but it was an interesting look.

Dressage medal ceremony
We spent a very hot afternoon watching the women's open water swim, the dressage competition and some boxing amongst other things.  We may only have been watching a big TV, but the atmosphere was great and everyone still cheered and waved their flags when a Team GB person came on, especially when we won another gold medal.

Expecting a queue on the way in to the stadium itself, we set off in plenty of time for our evening session, refilling our water bottles on the way.  In fact we queued for all of about twenty seconds, so we had plenty of time to take in the stadium before the events started.

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