Monday, July 30, 2012

OLYMPIC DAY: Part I - Water Polo in the Olympic Park

Here's one for the history books: Our first day at the London Olympics. It was brilliant, and even better than expected, which is saying something given that I could barely sleep the night before since I was so excited. We decided to call this "Olympic Day: Part I" because we're going to take full advantage of having the Olympics in our hometown of London, so we're going to see lots of things over the two weeks. Happy Olympics everyone!

Here we are, walking into the park. The aquatic centre is on the left, "The Orbit"-- the red swirly sculpture-- is next, and the Olympic stadium is behind the welcome/bienvenue sign.

While walking into the Olympic Park, we happened upon this security guard WHO WAS WEARING A NIKE HAT. We warned him that the LOCOG police would be tackling him to the ground at any moment and replacing that hat with an Official Sponsor Adidas one. You'll notice he was clever enough to turn his ID badge over when I took his pictures. Kudos, security guard man, kudos.

Water polo was a somewhat random ticket choice for us. I only bought them because (a) they were available in early July (b) it was on the third day of the Olympics and (c) because I thought it would be fun. I was right. It was fantastic to watch. Here's some water polo action, with bonus flags.

This is the Coatian team doing some sort of pre-game awesomeness. I know it looks like synchronized swimming, but they're probably giving each other wedgies under the water. Because that's how they roll in water polo.

During the match, my cousin in North Carolina tweeted me to say how cool it was that we were watching water polo. He said he got into it after seeing it at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. We agreed that it was an underappreciated sport. I mean, really, any sport that has to outlaw wedgies (though they happen all the time anyway), is pretty amazing. Also, I love how I was talking to my cousin in America via Twitter. Here's a gold medal to the wonders of the Interweb.

After the match, we had a wander around the Olympic Park. First of all, it's huge. It would take a good 30 minutes, or longer with crowds, to walk from one end to another. It also has some beautiful gardens. I mean, I know it's England's birthright to show everyone else how ace they are at gardening-- all the rain has to be put to good use, after all-- but they were breathtaking.

But then the clouds started to gather. The storm should have gotten a medal for appearance alone, belive me. We were caught out too. I know we should have known better, but drunk on sunshine in the morning, we left without any wet weather gear. We learned our lesson. Here's the gathering storm, though. It really was that dark.
Most of these people are probably thinking, "Oh shit. I forgot my umbrella." Or maybe that was just us.

We found shelter from the rain in an underpass, and eventually it stopped so we toured the rest of the park. Here's a sampling of the rest of our day:
With Wenlock, the Olympic mascot, in front of the Velodrome, otherwise known as the Pringle.

The temporary basketball arena, with the Athlete's Village behind it. Before you think, "Oh, how convenient for the men's USA Basketball Team," think again. They're staying at some fancy-pants hotel in the middle of London.

Another view of the stadium and the Orbit. And yes, it did start raining again. Thing One is wearing our picnic blanket for protection. Did he share the blanket with Thing Two? This is the Olympics, my friend. It's every man for himself.

Here we are, in front of one of the two of the Olympic Park's McDonald's. Originally, we tried to go there for lunch but thought better of the idea when they said it was going to be a TWO HOUR WAIT. So we ate our snacks and went back later when there was no queue. I though that an Olympic McDonald's would be really cool and different. But guess what? It was just like every other McDonald's we had ever been to, which I suppose is the point and the secret to McDonald's success.

It looked like it was going to rain again, so we bid farewell to the Olympic Park, knowing we'd be back there a week later. It was an epically good day.

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