London Olympics: A Report

Oh my goodness! It was a quick trip, but so worth it. Here’s a little report on our trip to the Olympics in London accompanied by images from my Instagram stream. Note: we didn’t even have tickets to any events. Hah!

We drove in to the city Sunday morning. We looked into taking the train, but decided to drive instead and it was clear roads the whole way. We parked in a little parking garage at Thomas More Square, which is a short walk from The Tower Bridge. The parking lot was almost empty because it was a Sunday morning. Easy!

We walked to the river, emerged between two buildings and the first great view of the city was the Tower Bridge with the Olympic rings in all their glory! We gasped and cheered. What a sight!!!

Next, we walked toward the Tower of London hoping to get a glimpse of the women’s marathon. The turnaround point was right at the Tower. By the time we arrived, the marathon had been going for about an hour.

The kids climbed on our shoulders, and even on barricades so they could get a view of the runners. We could get really close! Between the 2nd and 3rd loop, the kids played on a playground nearby, then joined the crowd when they were ready to watch again.

These 2 were top finishers on their 3rd loop. Gold (in green) and Bronze medals. They were full out running. Not “jogging” even a little bit. Dang, they are super strong!

After the marathoners ran by for the last time, we went to the House of Nations event on the grounds of the Tower of London. The kids were able to hold the real Olympic torch! At least, we were told it was the real thing. Do you think it really is?

And they played giant checkers on the lawn with the Tower of London in the background. Awesome!

Next we stopped for ice cream and picked up tickets for the Thames Clipper — a ferry that would take use down to Westminster Abbey. This awesome, HUGE (as in 8 or 10 stories high) poster was on the river. Made me happy. Everyone looks so young.

We waved at the London Eye and Big Ben after the ferry ride, then walked to Trafalgar square to say hello to the lions.

The whole area was completely car free because of the marathon. Pedestrian heaven! And such an unusual thing to see in busy London.

Next, we picked up Olympic souvenirs on Regent Street (with a quick stop at Hamleys too — how could we resist with 6 kids in tow?), then took 2 black cabs to Hyde Park. We were dropped off at Speakers Corner. On Sundays, Londoners can stand on a milk crate and speak their mind to the crowd. The man we heard was not too happy. He had strong opinions on Americans, Christians and the State of Israel. We just grinned. : )

Hyde park was open to the public with huge screens for viewing events. We watched weight-lifting and tennis and grabbed an early dinner from one of the many booths. It was festive and fun with people picnic-ing and waving flags everywhere you looked.

After that, we started making our way back to the van, but we stopped in Piccadilly Circus to watch another huge screen. We saw Usain Bolt run his semi-final for the 100 meters. The whole intersection fell silent for those 10 seconds and then absolutely exploded with cheers. Sweet June was asleep in my arms and woke up with the hoorays. We loved being part of it!

From there, it was 2 black cabs back to Thomas More Square, where we hopped in the van and made it back to the motel just in time to see the 100 meter final on the  TV. Hooray! Maude said, “I love that the whole world holds still for those 10 seconds.” That’s what it felt like to me too.

Did you watch the final? Track and field is always my favorite part of the Olympics — most likely because I ran track in high school (sprints and long jump).

As I mentioned, we didn’t even have tickets for any events. We tried, but we couldn’t find enough for the whole family, and we weren’t in the mood to split up. But even so, it really was an amazing day! We were able to soak up the Olympic energy, cheer with the crowds, root for Team USA, and enjoy seeing the locals go crazy for Team GB. We’d do it again in a heartbeat.

How about you? Have you been watching the Olympics? Would you ever want to attend, or do you shy away from events involving big crowds?

P.S. — We stayed at a funny little roadside motel in Maidstone, about 45 minutes outside of London, but we heard later that great rooms, right in the center of the city are still available and can be scored on last minute sites like Hotwire. We didn’t even try, assuming they would all be sold out. Oh well!

59 thoughts on “London Olympics: A Report”

  1. We live in Vancouver and LOVED being here for the last winter Olympics.
    We were able to attend a few events, but had just as much fun at the public viewing areas with the live screens and all the extras – street performers, people from different nations walking the streets with their flags, public streets closed down for pedestrians. Our kids had a blast – I’m so excited your family got to experience London!
    Paralympics are also fun to attend – smaller, cheaper – but the athletes work just as hard to see their Olympic dreams come true.

  2. I was in London on the same day as you!! Watching the women’s marathon. So glad you enjoyed your trip to London and as you say, so much going on there before you even think about attending the Olympics. I’m pretty lucky as I live near London and was fortunate to have tickets for athletics Tuesday – the roar of the stadium for Usain Bolt (200m qualifiers) was just amazing. I remember the day still that London “won” the games and have been looking forward to it since, visiting the site in Stratford and watching the building progress. It’s been so incredible I am really going to miss it – sounds crazy I know but I feel very proud!

  3. We live in London and have loved the fantastic energy the Olympics has bought to our hometown! We have thrilled in all the victories, the wonderful coverage, terrific events, and kind and gracious Olympic volunteers!

    We are from the states and loved seeing the women’s volleyball team victory to head to the finals! We also had tickets to the women’s gold medal football match and what a thrill that was! Congrats to the people of London for making the 2012 summer games so wonderful!

  4. I was 18 and worked the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta right after my freshman year of college. It was the most amazing experience and I met so many wonderful people. I was able to attend a few events and the hum of the crowd watching the atheletes was amazing. Everyone was caught up cheering for one of the teams even if it wasn’t their country.

    Fast forward a bit and I found myself cheering on all of the atheletes for the 2012 Olympics. USA was great. I’ve always loved gymnastics (I was a big Mary Lou fan as a young girl). It was the first time I really got to share them with my daughters too. It was so cool to watch them point out which sport they’d want to participate in going forward. My 2 year old watched Gabby on the vault and immediately said she wanted to do what Gabby just did. It was so awesome. I love the Olympics. Glad your entire family got to witness it even if it was just the hum of the city with locals and visitors and outside events on the big screen. It must be amazing to travel a little bit of Europe at a time with all of them. You are creating some of the most amazing family memories ever. Hopefully I can do the same with mine before they are all grown up!

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