Take 2 — London Calling
Torches, prisons and banter color the Olympic experience
Friday, July 27 was the opening ceremony, which I am sure many of you saw on TV. You may have also seen/read that Mitt Romney, on his worldwide tour of diplomacy and seriousness, ended up insulting the British over the Olympic Games. That's a fun conversation to have with the locals. Thanks, Mitt!
In any event, having successfully reset our body time clocks with our secret jet lag recipe, our group decided to watch the journey of the torch down the River Thames in person. After breakfast, we cabbed it to the river and estimated where we expected the torch might be, after reviewing live coverage on the BBC online. Walking around a bit, we asked one of the many kind people in pink (official Olympic information guides) where the torch was. "Just missed it," we were told. It was a beautiful day, so there was no reason we shouldn't walk along the River the Queen's Walk as it's called and take in the sites. Every so often we would ask, "Where is the torch?"
"Just missed it" was the all too common response.
So we gave up and decided to tour The Clink the original prison of London. Jason Fun Fact: The nickname for a prison, a "clink," comes from this prison. There was also this factoid about the British keeping prisoners in a pit of London's sewage and then the prisoners' skin used to fall off as a result. But that was more "disgusting" than "interesting." It was a pale second to watching the torch relay, let's just put it that way.
A display at London's Clink Prison Museum shows a prisoner in a pit of sewage. Photo by Jason Bennett
We then moved to grabbing a drink in a pub. If there was an Olympic sport for that, the four of us would have medaled for sure.
After desperately seeking the torch, we moved to desperately seeking tickets for the opening ceremony: A futile effort unless we were willing to spend upwards of $3000 a ticket (we are not). But watching the opening day celebration with Londoners was a must.
So, after dinner and many bottles of wine, we settled into a nice corner pub to watch the opening ceremony. Again, because we are fascinating and charming Americans, we enchanted the entire bar with our witty banter and interesting conversation. Or we just got schnockered and sang "Hey Jude." One of those two things happened.
Today, July 28, we had tickets to two sets of events: judo and men's gymnastics. Say what you will about judo (do you have anything to say about judo, actually?), it was great fun.
Here's the thing about attending the Olympics in person nearly everyone is in a great mood. People are attending from all over the globe to show off some national pride and the host team takes great pride in being, well, good hosts. You can't go wrong. The crowds go crazy, they are supportive and they are fun. The British Londoners specifically have been great fun and very hospitable. Let's (again) not listen to what Mitt Romney says: These events are well organized and great fun.
Brazil won gold in women's judo and Russia won gold in men's. For men's gymnastics, we saw qualifying subdivision 3, which was mostly Germany and Russia performing very well. Not as well as the U.S.! However, these were just qualifiers and the medals have yet to be awarded, but the U.S. men's team is off to a great start! Among my many obsessions and idiosyncrasies, I am now also obsessed with finding tickets to a medal ceremony for men's gymnastics.
Tomorrow, it's off to weightlifting.
As you can see, some people have already gotten into the spirit of weightlifting. Photo by Jason Bennett