Olympic experience in London a perfect end to European adventure
Recent FGCU graduate concludes her summer-long backpacking trip
Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 20, 2012 17:08
August 20, 2012
The Olympics were amazing! We had such an amazing time, and London was a great host. It’s so weird being back in the States after being away for two and a half months. I wish I was still over there.
Picking up where my last post ended, Dublin was a great city to end our Ireland experience. That city is so alive and young, it made touring the city so much fun. We got to see Temple Bar, Trinity College, Phoenix Park, some churches and, of course, the Guinness Factory.
If anyone is going to Dublin I recommend going on the Guinness tour, especially if you have always wanted to learn how to “pour your own perfect pint of Guinness” as we did.
The UK was a great end to our trip. We flew into London to see the Opening Ceremony before we headed off to Scotland for a week. However, Opening Ceremony wasn’t really that great for us. I had read that Hyde Park would be having a free public showing of the Opening Ceremony, and we figured there could be no better way to see the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games then with a bunch of host nation Londoners and fellow Olympic enthusiasts.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. As we found out after arriving at Hyde Park, the showing was not free but cost 65 pounds (over $100 US). That was too much for us, so we tried to find a pub on our way to the Tube station and were shocked when we couldn’t find one.
By then, we had already missed the first hour of the Opening Ceremony, so we just decided to go back to our Couchsurfing host’s house to watch the rest. Not the best beginning to our Olympic experience, but it did get better.
However, before we discovered that, we went to discover Scotland. Scotland is a unique and beautiful country. Our first stop was Edinburgh. That was a very interesting city for me because although it is a big city, it never felt overly crowded or congested like most other big cities I have visited. Edinburgh was really cool and very easy to move around in, but what I had really wanted to see in Scotland was Loch Ness.
After a few days in Edinburgh we did just that and I got to go dip my feet in the infamous Loch Ness. It was strange being there on such a beautiful, sunny day because whenever I had pictured Loch Ness it had always been foggy and spooky. But that couldn’t have been further from how it was. Its cool, clear water perfectly reflected the clear blue sky overheard and the tree covered mountains surrounding it. Unfortunately, I did not see Nessie.
We ended up heading back to London a little earlier then we had originally planned because both of us were so keyed in to what was happening with the Olympics back in London we figured it made no sense for us to not be there.
London is a huge, sprawling city. I had never realized just how big it was until I had to try and move around it. Even using their amazing Tube (subway) system, it still took a while to get anywhere. However, that is my only complaint because London was amazing. Everywhere we looked there were decorations for the Olympics on light poles or store windows and people were everywhere. It was great.
Our first event was fencing on August 5, and I was really surprised at how much fun I had at that event. I had thought it would be kind of boring, but that was definitely not an adjective I could use to describe my experience. It was a blast. We had both dressed up with face paint and pompoms to cheer on Team USA, and cheer we did. We ended up sitting next to some fellow Americans, and I think the six of us were the biggest group of Americans in the stadium. We all cheered our throats raw. It was great and so much fun to watch the athletes compete.
We had basketball the next day, but unfortunately we had tickets for the session right before the US team, so we didn’t get to see them. Instead we got to see Australia v. Russia and Tunisia v. Lithuania. Those were really interesting games, especially the latter because the Lithuania fans were outrageous. They would shout and boo and make this high pitched whistle any time the Tunisians got the ball to try and distract them. Despite that, it was still a really close game with Lithuania only pulling it out in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Both were great games and it was really cool to see how big basketball was in countries outside the US.
The next day was the event I had most been looking forward to, women’s beach volleyball semifinals. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the May-Walsh match, but we still got to root for USA at the Ross-Kessy match. Both of us had really been looking forward to finally going to Horse Guard Parade Stadium because on TV it always looked like everyone was having a lot of fun. We weren’t proven wrong. Even though it rained the entire time we were there, we still had an awesome time. Every chance the announcers got they were trying to rile up the audience and telling us to cheer on our teams. It was awesome, and Ross-Kessy winning their game only made it better.
The next day we didn’t have an Olympic event, but we did do something just as cool for me; Harry Potter Studio Tour tickets. I am a huge fan of HP and the chance to see the real sets and props used in the films was too much for me to pass up. It was amazing and even my sister, who is not a big HP fan, still found it really cool to see where and how all the movies were made. For any fan of HP, this is a must see if you ever go to London.
The next two days we spent exploring London. We walked across Tower Bridge, listened to Big Ben chime, walked around the Parliament Building and Buckingham Palace, went to Globe Theater and saw the London Eye. We were even able to find a nice pub to stop and have lunch at. London is awesome, and all the major must-sees are within easy walking distance of one another.