First Taste Of The Olympics

Trip Start Aug 01, 2012
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Trip End Aug 15, 2012


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Olympic Stadium is set in Olympic Park in Stratford. It seemed like a good idea to go and see the stadium, I had no intention of actually going into the stadium, all I wanted to do was to see the stadium and sample the atmosphere around it.

One of the changes in London was to the transport system. My area had always been limited in terms of London Transport because the Underground never reached us. Not that it was difficult to get into London; it's just that we had to take the train into London Bridge and then take the
Underground from there, so anywhere not in the centre of London used to be a nightmare to get to. Now, however, we have the Overground, which is perfect to get to East London. So a hop, skip and a jump later I was in Stratford readying myself for the Olympic Park.

Before continuing there is an observation I feel I need to make. I’ve been living in Spain for a long time (some 20-plus years) and I’ve become accustomed to certain behaviour, even though I may not like it. One such thing is asking somebody in charge, e.g. a train station attendant, for information; this simple request to someone whose job it is to deal with the public usually gets an answer accompanied by a scowl, a look of contempt or the look that says that they are doing you a favour to even to deign to respond instead of actually just doing what they are paid to do. God forbid, you try to interrupt a conversation they are having in order to ask something – you could be waiting for at least 10 minutes until they finish their conversation. In contrast, despite the stress of holding the Games and dealing with an uncountable number of tourists who are lost, when I asked various people for information, I found that I was met with smiles and an eagerness to help, often with far more information than I’d asked for though necessary nonetheless. I’ve always remembered London as a grim place, but the feel-good factor seems to have well and truly kicked in and at the moment London is a happy, happy place.

Back to Olympic Park. I was readying myself for my first glimpse of the stadium on leaving Stratford station, but what I hadn’t counted on was that you had to pay to enter the park. What
also surprised me was that tickets for the park were only available online. Furthermore, all the tickets were sold out for the rest of the Olympics. Hold on, just to get my head around this; you have to pay to go into the park (this is extra to actually going to watch an event) and see the stadium from the outside? Added to that there are no tickets left??? If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that this was organised by Trotter Independent Traders (aka TITs), the 'company’ of Del Boy Trotter!

Well, if I couldn’t go in, at least I would take a look from outside the Park. Therein arose another problem. As unlikely as it seems, the stadium seems to be hidden away from view and it’s impossible to get a vantage point to see the stadium in its entirety outside of the park. The best place I could find was in the shopping centre next door, which had a ‘viewing platform’ of one end of the stadium. This ‘platform’ was disappointing as you could see very little. In fact the whole trip was disappointing. There were swarms of people in Stratford, but without access to the park, I was reduced to wandering around a shopping centre, albeit with Olympic athletes or squad members, in search of the elusive Olympic Stadium.

I have become excited about the Olympics but I have to admit that I can’t help but feel that after my experience of this day, it’s a huge money-making exercise.
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Comments

Rodney Trotter on

Those Army chaps at the gate made me think of the film Of Children and Men. Your not realising you'd have to pay to even see the stadium made me chortle and the smiley London transport people !! C'mon plonker, they've had special training and manners seminars - it's the Olympics. It was probaly the same at Bcna 1992 but that were 20 years ago, like, and now with VAT at 21%, NO ONE is happy anymore. :)

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