Sunday, January 27, 2013

2012 Catchup: London 2012 - Day 1 Part 1



The last American breakfast before flying out from LAX to London by way of Toronto...

I took thousands of pics during the one week I was in London for the 2012 Olympics.  I've finally managed to get a little time to filter out the pics that will tell a narrative that I will tell my grandkids someday.  Because this was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, my picture limit is 30 pics for each day...


My way to London started in LAX on the morning of Saturday, August 4.  I purposely wanted to visit London during the 2nd week of the Games as I was hoping NBC would have good television coverage of the opening ceremonies (yeah, right...get the blu-ray produced by the BBC that's region free and includes director commentary).  My flight out of LAX was a little delayed, but once in the air, it seems like smooth sailing.  So smooth, that I treated myself to one of them pricey sandwiches designed my master chef Marcus Samuelsson for American Airlines (later I would see Food Network being a side theme for this trip)...


Unfortunately, the smooth sailing would be short-lived when I arrived in Toronto to make a connecting flight to London on a British Airways flight...



It turned out I had to run across the terminal to make my flight.  Being the last person to board the plane minutes before leaving the gate, someone else took the window seat that I picked when I got my plane tickets.  At least the food service was better...



And tea time (or I guess breakfast as it was served Sunday morning on arrival) was also neat.


Now I had plans to meet my cousin who was in London for school later in the morning before heading to Olympic Park, but before heading out, I had to get through customs, where I learned quickly that the whole of the city was expecting Games visitors...



After taking a shower in one of the stalls available for rent (where the water was very hot), I headed out for Paddington Station to meet my cousin.  Waiting for the Heathrow Express, I started seeing more signs of the Olympic spirit...




When I met up with my cousin at Paddington, I should've learned my lesson in Japan and had my umbrella handy, but that wasn't the case.  I still had a ways to go to get to the hotel.  It was worth it to take a little longer by taking a double decker bus to see the city (that and check-in time wasn't for a couple more hours)...


While the hotel I stayed at wasn't the best place I've stayed at, it did have the advantage of being really close to Olympic Park.  It was also neat that the rain had stopped by the time my room was ready so I could drop off my stuff.  After that, it was still hours before my first Olympic event, mens (field) hockey.  Before I continue on, I should mention that I purposely picked events that didn't get as much media attention in the U.S. and took place in different venues around and outside of London so I could get a more full Olympic experience.

It seemed worthwhile to head straight to Olympic Park since I only had two days there for the week.  Once I made it to Stratford station, I had to get a pic to prove that I was there...


Now much of my wardrobe for the week consisted primarily of vintage Olympic shirts or Team USA shirts that I picked up at Target before leaving the states.  So for my first day, the shirt was to represent the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo...

It was a good idea that I came early when I found it was still a walk through crowds to get to the security checkpoint manned by Britain's finest military personnel...


Of course, you can't prove you're inside Olympic Park until you get a pic of Olympic Stadium and some signage indicating location and date...


And you don't realize you're in London until you see how easy it is to get beer here...Somehow, we don't let our drink vendors use backpacks to carry their inventory at sporting events...seems like it would be easier...


Okay, 18 more pics for day 1 that includes lunch at the world's largest McDonald's (at the time, it's since been recycled), a hockey double-header, Usain Bolt's record-breaking 100m, finding Wally (not Waldo), and taking the long way out of Olympic Park...

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