July 27, 2012
Scott Reed and his son Jeff have traveled from Lilburn to London to attend the 2012 Olympics. Scott Reed is attending his fifth Olympic Games this summer and will blog about his experiences for the Daily Post. His 19-year-old son Jeff, a Killian Hill Christian graduate and Reinhardt College student, will provide photos for the blog. The two will blog throughout the Olympics.
Friday, July 27
My son, Jeff, and I have been excited for some time about attending the London Olympics together. What better place for a father/son trip that the Olympic games? The Olympics are the scale of several Super Bowls a day, for 17 days in a row and with a college football Saturday atmosphere each day.
Those of us from the USA are a little more blasé about our country’s sports team than are those from most other countries. Many other countries look at the Olympics as the one place that they can make their reputation on the world stage.
We left for London with no solid plans for what we will see or do. The Olympics are breathtakingly expensive — the top category seat for the Opening Ceremonies is the equivalent of $3,000 face value. Everything else is expensive also, so add that to the general high cost of traveling to London, and the expense of a trip like this can really add up.
I categorize Olympic attendees into three categories: Those that are so wealthy that they can see and do whatever they want regardless of cost; those that are in some way associated with the Olympics, such as the guest of a sponsor, that are having someone else foot the bill for them; and everyone else. I certainly don’t fit into either of the first two categories, so our plan is to come with limited plans and expectations, and to be flexible and try to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
I’m sure we will find tickets here and there and see some good events, I just don’t yet know where. For me, the unknown and spontaneity are part of the fun. It’s not for everybody, and doesn’t work for those who like to know ahead of time exactly what they will be doing, but we are looking forward to seeing what’s ahead.
I tried not to read too much ahead of time about predicted problems at London, but couldn’t help doing so. I read all about the record rainfalls, the horrible traffic, the old and decaying subway system (Tube), and the crowds. But the trip over and our first day here were fine. The flight on British Air was not full, so both Jeff and I had empty seats next to us and plenty of room to spread out. Heathrow Airport was easy to navigate and we got through immigration and customs easily.
We rode the underground several times, and even though at times it was crowded it was never uncomfortable; and the longest we ever waited for a train was 60 seconds. And the weather was perfect — in the high 80s with low humidity. If we could have figured out how to avoid jet lag, it would have been perfect.
We are renting a flat 2 Tube stops from the Olympic Park. It is two bedrooms in a quiet neighborhood with a garden in the back and all the comforts of home. Jeff and I are sharing one bedroom, and our friend from Atlanta, Barry Sanders, is using the other. It only costs $100 per night, so even the high cost of lodging in London can be avoided if you try hard enough.
We spent most of the first day getting acclimated. Hyde Park was eye opening — locals are so sun starved that much of the green space was taken up with people laying out on towels or picnicking. While we were there, the torch relay came nearby so we saw large crowds and also the mounted royal soldiers. So we were never too far from the pomp and ceremony of Great Britain.
To our surprise, there is a mall directly adjacent to the entrance to the Olympic Park. It is big and modern, with several floors and lots of nice places to eat. It seems to be the best place to meet athletes, as they have started hanging out there in the free time they have before the competition starts. We were walking in the mall and all of a sudden the entire Australian team appeared out of nowhere, having just left a private party. We spoke with several of them, and I made my first pin trade with one of their athletes. Hopefully there will be many more of those to come.
Tonight is the Opening Ceremonies. We don’t have much hope of getting tickets at a reasonable price, but we are still looking forward to soaking in the atmosphere of the opening day. We will check back in on Saturday. Hopefully between now and then we will get some sleep.