Thursday, August 16, 2012
Tales from the Olympics ~ The Bad News
Fresh from the Olympics. Well, almost fresh. Let's just say I'm home and my brain is on its way to join me.
What an excellent adventure and experience!
The group I was with stayed at the High Leigh Conference Center in Hoddesdon, next to Broxbourne. We were not directly in the busy part of London, but out a ways, a good 25 minute train ride. Let's all say a big Amen. Returning home each evening was very relaxing as we left the hustle and bustle to go to a peaceful centre surrounded by greenery.
The bad news was our connection to the Underground system was at Stratford. That's also where the Olympic stadium is located. And the Westfield Mall. And the Athlete's Village. And the Olympic Village.
Each of the above mentioned items is enough on its own to draw a crowd. But add them all together - mmmm - a very big crowd. Most of the time. Especially in the Underground and train station.
So, the bad news was:
~ CROWDS streaming through the train and subway system
~ CROWDS on many of the Underground trains (like your face in someone elses' armpit crowds, humidity and temperature rates of sauna strength and over 100 degrees in the crowded cars)
~ CROWDS at the mall, where tourists, athletes, teams, locals, bobbies, volunteers, employees, news people, transportation workers...ALL filled the mall areas. In fact, us regular folks could not get into the mall until after 5:00 PM, unless we had a ticket for an event.
But WAIT. There's more!
The good news was:
~ CROWDS. Despite the crowds, everything flowed very smoothly. Everything. (Even when several of our ladies fell backwards on the escalators with their luggage, taking out an innocent traveler and resulting in being checked out by first aiders - all on Day 1).
~ A multi level food court with plenty of choices and plenty of tables and chairs (amazingly enough)
~ A plethora of shopping choices
~ An M&S grocery market and several drugstores (like Boots), so any needs could be found
~ Olympic cheer and energy throughout the mall and train stations
~ Plenty of PINK signs pointing the way to the Olympic stadium
~ More than I can count transportation workers and volunteers (wearing pink/purple) filling all venues. You could not get lost if you tried. With the slightest look of confusion, several were ready to get you on your way.
~ The mall was crowded with athletes and team members. They made it easy to figure out where they were from by wearing their uniforms, which usually named the home country along the back. Watching and hunting athletes was a great past time.
~ The Underground and railways were also ripe with athletes, visitors, and locals. Our time spent on transportation (probably close to 2 hours a day) were wonderful opportunities to visit and share with others.
One could easily complain about all the challenges and crowds, but they so easily turned into excitement and fun. So why waste the energy?
London did a fabulous job hosting the Olympics.