Monday, August 6, 2012

The Olympics Recap ~ Week 1

Well, we are on Day10 of the Olympics 2012 in London and what a 10 days it has been! We have been jam packed with events and sightseeing! And we still have another week to go! We were so fortunate to have our niece, Kate Olson, visit us for the Olympics! She is 15, 6 feet tall and a beautiful girl, inside and out! The kids were beyond excited she was coming and I looked forward to showing her London!
Kate Arrives
Nothing like a 7 AM arrival at Heathrow!
 May was game to get up early with me and go get her!

Opening Ceremony
All of our Olympic tickets!
So let's talk the Opening Ceremony...based on the many Facebook status updates I read, the folks in the US of A were not impressed. However, the folks in the UK loved it! The night after the ceremony we went out to the local pub for dinner and the table next to us were all gushing about it. In my opinion, I thought the concept was great and it was very British. The Brits are very proud of their history (as they should be) and their contribution to history, music, literature, politics and past and present pop culture. It was a bit "busy" with all the greenery being taken away (so soon) for the Industrial Revolution to start but I loved how they forged the Olympic rings. I could have done without the NHS bit but I am not a Brit and so I don't know how that all related to the Olympics. We loved Mr. Bean and the Chariots of Fire and we loved the Queen and James Bond! I was a little bummed that the Queen looked so unhappy to be there...albeit it was late (didn't start til 9 PM here and ended at 12:30 AM) so I get it. At least William, Kate and Harry seemed to be enjoying themselves!
 I always love the Parade of Nations...amazing to see the different sizes of countries and number of athletes, their outfits and how excited they are to be there. Pete and I decided we love the Spanish, Italian and Dutch teams-they always look like they are having a blast! We sat with the Ipad and looked up where countries we had never heard of were located, population and Internet presence. What I love is the PRIDE that the Brits have in Team GB - everyone is so excited for them! My favorite part of the OC was the lighting of the the copper kettles and how they all raised up together to create the cauldron. Beckham driving down the Thames in the speedboat with the but eh. All in all, there were some good bits and there were some random bits (the big creepy baby). LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

Cycling and Gymnastics

With Kate acclimated to the time difference, we were ready to start our Olympics extravaganza! Because we had two events so close to each other (gymnastics on a Sunday night at 8pm and then Beach VB the next day), we decided to stay in London for the night so we wouldn't be back and forth on the train. Our friends, the Grimsteads, graciously hosted us girls at their cottage in Richmond for a super slumber party! We arrived early on Sunday afternoon to a great lunch prepared by Dina and then headed to watch the women's road cycling race go through Richmond Park. Sun was shiny and it was lovely. Then came the rain...not just any rain but a torrential downpour! We had our rain jackets and umbrellas but it was soaking and very dangerous to the cyclists! But it was super fun and a great kickoff for our first Olympic event (and it was free).
Making our way to our first event via train! All USA'd up!

May's sweet new Converse!

Cute hostess with the mostess,Dina, and her cute daughter Gabby!

The rain would not stop the SMILES!

It really began to come down!

Gabby and her mate Tyra!

By the time the women cyclists came through Richmond Park it was dumping rain.
 Slick streets and watching on a tight turn...we were hoping for some crashes!

This poor Canadian rider fell and was bloody!
Then her chain came off! Poor gal!

My kind of biking and I dig her shorts

As soon as the bike race was over, the sun came out!
Looking down Richmond Hill to the Thames.

Lots of rock stars live in Richmond...

Waiting for the bike race to begin...before the rain comes!

American PRIDE!

Waiting for the train to the gymnastics venue. May is wearing her Gym East warm ups!
 We headed back to the Grimsteads to regroup and dry off. It was so nice to be able to dump our stuff and not lug it around London! A big thank you to them!

Not knowing how busy the trains and tube would be, we set off 3 hours before gymnastics started. The train was easy and the transfer to the tube was seamless. There were minimum security lines at the O2 Arena so we got in with plenty of time to wander around, eat some dinner and explore the venue.

Taking May to see gymnastics at the OLYMPICS was special. She was walking on air and SO excited to be there. She was hopping around about to levitate off the ground. Meanwhile, I was a weepy mess as this was a BIG bucket list item for me. I love the Olympics and I had tears in my eyes the entire time.So special that we could experience it together!

We saw a preliminary team round with Teams Romania and Japan and a few independent gymnasts thrown in. So it was not the Fab 5 of the US team but it was still high level gymnastics. We were in the 3rd row, right in front of the bars, so we had great seats! We saw some great gymnasts and several of the Japan and Romanian girls made it into the All-Around competition taking place later in the week.

And the best bit is when we got back to the Grimsteads, Dina was up and ready for a glass of vino! Again, thank you to the Grimsteads for the sleepover...the breakfast bar of fresh granola and berries and chocolate croissants was awesome!
Getting closer to gymnastics and the excitement is building!

Made it into the O2 Arena!

May was so excited! Just beaming!

I have tears of joy in my eyes. So excited to be here with May and watch the OLYMPICS!

We loved all the pink!

Great seats-3rd row and right in front of the bars!

Team Japan

This brought back memories of Kerri Strugg.
 We think she pulled a hammie!

Team Romania

Beach Volleyball

The next morning was a perfect day to do some great, GIRLY, shopping before we hooked up with Pete and Henry for Beach Volleyball. We hit Sloane Street, Kings Road and slowly made our way to the Holy Mecca known as Harrods! Kate was really wanting to go to Top Shop so we spent some time there as well!

We were running out of time so we reluctantly tubed our way to meet Pete and Henry at Horse Guard Parade. Many more people and longer security lines awaited us! We made our way in, got some lunch and hung with the masses! The vibe of beach volleyball is PARTY TIME! Everyone drinking beer, gettin' rowdy and having a blast. Inside the venue there is a DJ spinning tunes and an announcer firing people up with the wave, "ole" and singing! Not to mention the cheerleaders they had wearing 60's style bathing suits doing the congo! The DJ played music between every single point and the dancing girls/guys came out during timeouts. The lines at the beer stall were huge and beer was expensive!

The sun was shining, we had great seats and an amazing view of the London Eye. We saw two matches: Brazil vs Germany (W), China vs Germany (M), Greece vs. Russia (W) and Great Britain vs. Brazil (M). The entire event ran so efficiently and they had matches start 20 minutes after one finished. Some great athletes to watch...reminded me of our Theta 6 Man Beach Volleyball my senior year at UOP...not! But we sure knew how to have fun!
The Royal Guard's band playing outside of the  beach volleyball venue

Go Team USA

Excellent venue! Our seats were so low (which meant we were close to the action)
 that we didn't get the best view of the London Eye.

Brazil vs. Germany

Prince Albert who couldn't speak to save his life...awkward!

Brazilian women after their win!

Tall and super skinny Russian!

The Greek women were in great shape and beat the Russians!

Lots of Team GB pride

Crazy Brazilians!

Cup stacking entire separate event at Beach Volleyball. This went on for an hour and
everyone was cheering for them and slamming their beers to add to the cup tower!

Like father, like son...photobomb!

Watching the action!

Crazy beach cheerleaders dressed in 60's bathing suits!

Post match and had to get a pic with these drunk Brits in their Union Jack onsies!


Pete took Henry and Kate to a day at the Olympic Park to watch some swimming! Kate is a great swimmer and so it was so fun to take her to see her favs, Phelps and Lochte. Since I didn't go I will spare you the play by play...I do know they had a great day.

Some quick commentary on Ryan Lochte...he had a lot of pressure put on him to be the "next" Michael Phelps. I am sure it is hard for any athlete who is the "face" of their sport or country (Jessica Ennis of GB comes to mind here). He performed well at the 2012 Games with 5 medals won but the $25,000 USA grill he put in? Come on man. I find it hard to believe he paid that much for a stupid grill.

This is what he had to say about the London 2012 Olympics: "My last Olympics (in Beijing), I had a girlfriend -- big mistake. Now I'm single, so London should be really good. I'm excited."
This was followed up by his mother's comments on the Today Show when asked if he has a girlfriend...“He goes out on one-night stands. He's not able to give fully to a relationship because he’s always on the go.”

To read some more hilarious commentary on Ryan Lochte, here is a link to one of my favorite blogs:
**WARNING**: she is crass and swears a lot so don't read if you don't like that sort of thing!

Welcome to the Olympic Park

Go Team USA!

What Kate had been waiting see her boyfriend, Ryan Lochte, swim!

Phelps and Lochte

BBC news coverage was really good!

BBC News set...on top of three shipping containers!

Windsor Castle ... watching the Changing of the Guard!

We conquered the Tower! Climbed to the very top!

Windsor all gussied up for the Olympics!

In front of Windsor Castle and the start of the Long Walk!

Always time for a swim!

We rented a boat in Henley and putted down the Thames!

The girls shopping through Chelsea and down Sloane Street

Of course we had to hit Harrods!

Captain Henry

Off with your the Tower of London

Home of the Crown Jewels...Tower of London is down 50% in attendance
 due to the Olympics so it was empty just for us!

Yeoman just hanging...

The Yeoman live at the Tower and have served in the British Army for over 25 years and are
between the ages of 40-55 years old.

Climbing one of the many towers...

The iconic Tower Bridge

These little guys were everywhere! Kate was obsessed!

Looking east towards the Olympic Park on the Tower Bridge

Afternoon Tea at the Sky Lounge at the Double Tree Tower Hill

20GBP for afternoon tea and a GREAT view! Totally recommend!
Would be a great place for drinks too as they have a great deck!
Henry eats it ALL clenching the Kid vs. Food title!
Good thing we are walking a lot!

View from the deck of the Sky Lounge

We were on a mission to find the USA House! They had a retail shop open to the public with Ralph Lauren and Nike Olympic goods. They do not publicize it is open to the public but we asked around. It is used for corporate sponsors and the athletes. They have a Budweiser Bar and apparently it is THE party to go too!
We at least hit up the store and good our SWAG ON!

Watching women's all around gymnastics in 3D at the USA House

Ridin' the tube

Pete went with us to work from the Soho office while we double decker bussed it!

Cool British guy!

Buses galore


My favorite statue in the entire city!

Buckingham Palace roundabout

Where's the Queen?

Looking east from the Westminster Bridge

The Eye

Big Ben, Parliament...although Big Ben is being renamed Queen Elizabeth Tower in honor of her Diamond Jubilee

Cool view of the beach volleyball venue!

Joining in with the Hare Krishna parade

Rollin' along Tower Bridge...again. It never gets old

Cool reflection of the Olympic rings in the Thames
After our great day riding the double decker tourist bus we ended up back in Piccadilly Square. We were able to hook up with our friends the Hughes for a great Italian dinner. It was fun to see old friends (Pete and I met each other at a party at their house) and hear about their great European adventure and their Olympic experiences! Heather and I were able to sneak away after dinner for a little one on one was awesome!

Ok, I have a new sport that I am obsessed with. Yes, obsessed. Racewalking is the craziest sport I have ever seen. Pete and I watched it on TV yesterday and were mesmerized. These skinny men are crazy fit and sweating buckets. There are two races...a 12K race and a 50K race. Only the men do the 50k race...too much for a woman? One foot must be on the ground at all times and their leg must straighten all the way which produces that silly waddle they do. Sometimes they "look" like they are running There were referees scattered all along the course and as the racers got close to the end they were disqualifying people right and left. If you get three warnings from three different officials, you are out! They don't mess around!

But the thing that caught our eye the most was the lack of "support" in their race shorts. Add on that they are sweating like crazy and continuously dousing themselves with water, their bits/junk were severely outlined and jostling about! And once we noticed that, we could not stop watching...down there. Pete ended up leaving the room... he just couldn't take it anymore! I of course was hooked and could not tear myself away! The biggest offender was the Irish racewalker, Robert Heffernan (pictured above in the green). His junk was glaringly obvious. I mean could they at least wear compression shorts? A jock strap?

We are thinking of going to watch the women racewalk next Saturday or do we dare go watch the men's 50k? I don't know if Pete could handle that and I certainly don't want to expose my children to such filth! Stay tuned! Oh and I apologize if I have offended any racewalking enthusiasts with my snark!


Let’s just say they all get bag balm from Santa in their stockings.

For those interested in the sub-culture that is race-walking, rumor has it they hang out at a pub called the ‘Cock and Balls’ which features a rooster and pair of cricket balls in the signage.
Definitely not worthy of being an Olympic sport, unless they are carrying an egg on a spoon.

Oh and I promised video-here are a couple to watch.  The second one is How to Racewalk. I recommend watching the first 2 minutes - WATCH AT YOUR OWN RISK: