While this year's Olympic Games are currently taking place in Rio De Janeiro, let's take a look at the last Olympics I attended, in London 4 years ago. Because the Olympics were hosted in the city where I had been living for about 10 years, I simply had to go. And because of my extensive stay in the UK, and the fact that even though I am a Bruce Springsteen fan, my general musical tastes are more British rather than American oriented, I was able to appreciate them more, especially the ceremonies for which there was a certain level of criticism in the Greek media who were wondering "how would the British conpete with [ancient] Greek civilization" (Their words, not mine). I particurarly enjoyed the closing ceremony which was a true celebration of British music.
So it was that on an August night, less than a month after seeing Bruce Springsteen at the Hard Rock Calling festival I was back in London, and back at Earl's Court in the same hostel.
All the rumours we had been hearing were proven false. Heathrow Airport was empty, I cruised through passport control, London Underground was also empty, and I did not have to suffer any security checks. Those very nice people of the organising commitee had also thrown in a travelcard so I could travel around the city for free on the day of the event I was attending
Access to the Olympic Park was extremely easy. The only security check needed was an airport-style one to enter the park. And that was all!
My destination was the Aquatics Centre for the Synchronised Swimming event. The reason I chose this sport, was because it was one of the few I wanted to, but could not attend at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games (and yes, I do need to write a post about those games, but I first need to gather all the photos, most of which are not digital so they need to be scanned, plus the footage from my friend's video camera). Anyway, I was extremely lucky to be allocated a ticket at the event I had chosen while some Londoners could not get any tickets at all!
And here is my very own seat as stated on my ticket.
As was the case with Athens in 2004, London also had its own Zeppelin flying above the city.
Of course there was the obligatory shop to buy souvenirs from. And it was huge. With a huge queue to get in!
Traditional British food (ie fish and chips) was on offer...
...as was traditional British alcohol (ie beer)!
And since the Underground was running later in the night than usual a midnight stroll through Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus was a must.
Back then there was still an HMV record shop where I checked in...
...in order to buy the official albums of the games...
...and found out there was going be an extra one later, which I would have to order from Amazon!
The next day, in Earl's Court, near the hostel, there was another games venue...
...as there was in Greenwich...
...where there was also a new cable car.
Just before my return trip a found another souvenir shop at Heathrow.
So what do I like the Olympic Games so much and why do I try to be there myself? It's not just about watching some sports (which are usually sports not easy to watch through the rest of the year which is mostly filled with football and basketball here in Greece). It is also about all the people from all corners of the world that gather at the host city and the general excitement that is in the air. Those who took time to be out and about in Athens during the 2004 games will know what I mean!