Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Le Final Blog Post

Musee d'Orsay
As I sit curled up in my bed with a sinking spell courtesy of jet lag, it's crazy to think that just a week ago, I was chunneling my way through the English Channel heading to Paris for the first time ever. Though I'm not traveling anymore, the last few days of my trip were too amazing not to blog about. 

Friday, May 18
Yup, we ate the whole thing
On Friday, which I dubbed "Nude Friday," my family and I took a trip to the Musee d'Orsay. While the museum is smaller and less well known than the massive Louvre Museum, the Orsay houses art by some of the most famous painters: Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, Van Gogh. It featured a great collection of Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist art, which is my favorite style. We viewed a Degas special exhibit that featured nude sketches he worked on early in his career (hence the name Nude Friday). The sketches were amazing, and it's incredible that Degas focused so much on the detail of the body early in his career to help him paint subjects later on, especially ballet dancers. The Orsay museum had to be my favorite of museum of the trip. The building itself, which is an old train station, was beautiful. And, the nicoise salad we had at the cafe and the chocolate eclair that changed my life helped make it a very enjoyable afternoon :)

Carly and I cruisin' down the Seine
After a nap at the hotel, my family headed out for our night excursion: a dinner boat cruise down the Seine and a show at the famous Lido Cabaret club. The dinner boat cruise was perfect, from the delicious french fare to the beautiful sites surrounding us on all sides. Carly and I also took full advantage of waving to people sitting along the banks of the river. When the cruise ended, we took a bus to the Lido cabaret club. The Lido is a famous, traditional Parisian club, similar to the Moulin Rouge. And yes, it also embraces the topless women trend (hence the continuation of Nude Friday into the night). The best part about the show, besides the free glass of champagne, was the stage. They had an ice rink, a full-size fountain, and various other crazy props that they utilized during the performance. While that may not be the main draw of most audience members to the Lido, Carly and I both applauded loudly for the set designers at the end of the production.

Saturday, May 19

Carly and I began the next day rising with the sun. Well, maybe not exactly but it felt like it at 7:30 a.m. We woke up early to walk over to the Eiffel Tower, where we planned to climb the stairs up the structure. When we arrived at the tower at 9:30 when it opened, we were greeted by a fabulously long line weaving its way under the structure. The line went quick, however, and we began our ascent up the 700 stairs to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. It was amazing to watch the perspective of the city change as we rose up the stairs. By the time we reached the second floor, which only took about 20 minutes, we could see the whole organization of the city laid out beneath us. Sacre Coeur shined in the distance on its hill, and  the Seine weaved its way through the city below. Once on the second floor, we took a break before taking the elevator up to the very top. We purchased hot dogs in the cafeteria (yes, located in the Eiffel Tower!), that turned out to be the most delicious hot dogs ever! They were served in baguettes, so that was the obvious reason why. 

Once we took the elevator up to the top, the views became even more immaculate. Montmarte didn't even look like a hill anymore, since we were looking down upon it. The sprawling city was laid out before us. Most importantly, we proceeded to eat our hot dogs at the top of the Eiffel Tower. I'm happy to say I ate a hot dog at the top of the world. After taking in the view, we went back to the second floor and took another elevator back down to the bottom. Though tired and sore from all the stairs, Carly and I headed back to the hotel very glad that we woke up early to conquer Le Eiffel Tower.

The adventures of the final day in Paris didn't stop there. Our family hopped on a last minute excursion to Giverny, France. Giverny is a small town where Monet lived and painted. We were able to tour his studio and his garden. My favorite part of the day trip was seeing THE lily pad pond he painted so often. The flowers and pond looked just as he depicted them in his paintings. We learned that Monet orchestrated the layout of the pond much more than I imagined. He planned to have the Willow trees and the plants serving as vertical lines that were perpendicular to the lily pads. I just thought he stumbled upon a pond and painted it! It was great to get out of the city and see the French countryside as well. Our tour guide drove us down meandering roads that cut through beautiful cliffs. We even saw houses built right into the sides of the hills surrounding the area.

A quick nap on the ride back into Paris was just the energy boost Carly and I needed to continue our marathon final day in Paris. After our last family French dinner (I already miss the baguettes!), Carly and I headed over to the Louvre around 10 p.m. While the Louvre typically closes in the early afternoon, we were fortunate enough to be in the city during Night at the Museum. The Louvre was open on Saturday night from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. FOR FREE! After a quick wait in line outside the beautiful palace that is the Louvre, Carly and I raced into the museum to find our girl, Mona Lisa. We nudged our way up to the front of the barrier surrounding the painting and stared at the mysterious image. It was impressive, yes, but I was more intrigued by other art in the museum. To me, gazing up at the statue "Winged Victory of Samothrace" might have been cooler. But, I'm happy to say that I saw Lisa, Mona in person. Going to the Louvre at night was one of the most amazing parts of the museum trek too.

We spent about an hour in the Louvre before heading out to the Louvre gardens to cap off the day and our trip in Paris. It was 11:30, and Carly and I wanted to wait until midnight to watch the light show on the Eiffel Tower. Every hour at night, the structure dazzles with lights. I didn't want to leave Paris without viewing it for myself. We played Monopoly Deal (Carly's newest favorite game) in the gardens to pass the time until midnight. Once the clock struck 12, the light show began. The tower was illuminated with twinkling bulbs, and it seemed like the structure could be seen from miles around. It glowed so brightly that I could imagine seeing it from Michigan. I know I can't, but it's nice to know that even though I'm not in Paris, every hour every night the tower is dazzling yet another crowd. Unfortunately, it doesn't photograph very well. But sometimes, the things that can't be captured via film are the best memories one can hold. I'll always remember how the tower shined my last night in Paris. After the light show, Carly and I left the Louvre gardens on a mad hunt for our final French crepe. An hour later, we walked back to our hotel through the dim streets of the city as we snacked on piping hot berry crepes — the perfect final taste of Paris.

One late night of packing, two long flights and a drive home from the airport later, I was back home in Michigan by Sunday night. My trip abroad was amazing, but I'm happy to be back home with my family and friends. It was so great the last week being able to share my adventures with my family, and I'm glad I can come home and continue sharing my stories. My journey was incredible, but what I enjoy the most is sharing my experience with others — telling my stories and allowing everyone to capture the experience as well. Hopefully, this blog allowed me to share my story with you, and let you experience my European journey :)

Au revoir,


On top of le world with Carly in Paris :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

G-bergs in Paris, and they Goin' Gorillas

Bonjour from Paris, France! It’s now the evening of our second day in the city of lights. We arrived by EuroStar train yesterday from London. We had a great ride through the chunnel, and even fit in a game of Monopoly Deal on the train — Carly’s favourite card game. Driving through the narrow streets to our hotel yesterday was like moving through a painting of Paris. I’ve always imagined what the city looked like through paintings, movies, and photos, but actually seeing it before my eyes is incredible. Every street corner is beautiful, and each rue (road) ends with a magnificent building or church. I don’t think I’ve stopped saying “Wow!” since we arrived.

The first day, Carly and I went for a walk from our hotel down to the gardens by the Louvre. Naturally, we purchased a crepe the moment we found a crepe cart. After the important business was done, we walked on a bridge across the Seine and took in our first breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower. The structure was incredible! We joined the masses of people taking pictures on the bridge, including just-married couples. The sun lit up the Seine, and the blue sky made the Eiffel Tower pop on the horizon; it was the perfect afternoon in Paris!

Since it was my parent’s 30th anniversary, we had dinner at a very nice French restaurant. I’m ashamed to say I was still too scared to try escargot, but the poulet (chicken) I had was delicious! The waffle dessert we ordered by mistake was amazing too. And, the fact that there was a cat freely wandering through the restaurant was nice.

What I failed to realize when coming to Paris was that no one in my family speaks French. I always believed my mom was semi-fluent or maybe proficient in French, but my family quickly discovered that her 7th grade knowledge of French really won’t take us too far in France (sorry mama, we all still love you!). Thankfully, we have a book with common French phrases. With the help of the book, we were able to tell the cab driver “This ride is more fun than Disneyland!” and the waiter at dinner “You are an angel from heaven above” — obviously the necessary phrases we need to thrive in Paris.

Sacre Coeur
Today, our family took a tour of all the most famous and historical sites in Paris. We started at the Sacre Coeur, a beautiful basilica that sits on Montmarte hill in Paris. We had a gorgeous view of the city below, and the architecture of the building was incredible. After touring the church and the market nearby, we drove around some of the famous museums and governmental buildings in the city, including the Arc du Triomphe. We reached the Eiffel Tower during the last bit of sun today. The tower was even prettier close up, and we took some great pictures of it. We ended the day by touring Notre Dame, and we stumbled upon a bread festival in front of the cathedral. They must have known the Goldbergs were in town!

Carly and I fit in some shopping before our family went to a brassiere for dinner tonight. The French fare for dinner was great, but the Nutella crepe and café au lait for dessert was even better. My family and I enjoyed our after-dinner treat at a café sitting outside of the La Madeline church. Looking out at the historic and beautiful building with the most delicious crepe in front of me, I felt like I was in a dream. I can't wait for more Parisian adventures tomorrow :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Farewell to London

Westminster Abbey
Sorry for the delay in post, we've been very busy on our last few days here in London. We began our tourist festivities on Sunday with a tour around the city featuring Bob the driver. He was awesome and told us all about London's history as we weaved through the cobblestone streets of the city. We saw everything, from Parliament, Westminster Abbey to the Tower of London and the site where the great fire in London began. I also showed my family the area in Spitalfields where I stayed during my study abroad program. It was so cool to show them my favorite coffee shop, Tinderbox, and the building where I spent the past few weeks in London!

Tea sandwiches and... SCONES!
Since it was Mum's Day back in the states, after our tour ended we honored my mom with tea at the famous Harrod's department store. I was so excited to eat those amazing scones again! The tea was delicious and I may have gone home with a stomach ache from one too many of the scones baked in heaven, but the English Tea Time experience was worth it. And, I know my mom felt like the Queen she is during the day! 

We ended the day with dinner at an Indian restaurant near our hotel called Quilon. I've had Indian food in Ann Arbor before, but nothing like this. The food was so flavorful and rich. I liked that it wasn't drowned in sauce, but really well seasoned and crafted. I knew London was known for its Indian food, but I had no idea it could taste that good! Taste of India in Ann Arbor definitely has some new competition for me. It was a great day of tasty food and history in London!

On Monday, we had our free day in London. The weather was rainy, but perfect for a day filled with museums! We started the day off with a trip to the Natural History Museum, where we attended a human biology exhibit that was much more graphic than anticipated. But, my sister finally knows how babies are made — down to every, single last detail!

A rainy wait to enter the Abbey
After the Nat museum, we went to Westminster Abbey for a tour. The abbey is filled with royals who have passed away as well as shrines and tombs dedicated to their lives. Many famous individuals, such as Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, are also buried there. I really enjoyed going to the Poet's Corner, where I saw the tombstones of Ben Johnson and John Milton, the writer of Paradise Lost. The English nerd in me was definitely psyched!

A trip to the British museum followed our tour of the Abbey, and then my sister and I broke off from my parents to hit up the famous Top Shop store. We only had a quick time to shop, however, because we met up with my parents to go see Billy Elliot the musical. It was very cool to be in a theater in the famous West End of London. Supposedly, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie even took their flock of children to see the musical a few nights before. The staging and dancing in the musical was amazing, and the 11 year-old boy who played Billy Elliot — who was starring in the role for the first time that night — was incredible. It was a great day of exploring for the Goldbergs in London!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Goldbergs take on London

Carly at Buckingham Palace
Today started off early with packing and leaving Nido Spitalfields for the heart of London. After getting lost on the tube with my suitcase that weighs as much as a large toddler, I made my way into the hotel that I'm staying at with my family. I was able to check in, and I headed up to the room excited for a change of scenery. I had big plans to take a walk in Hyde Park, go for a run, or read at an outside cafe, but all that changed when I saw the bed in our room. A solid hour nap while I waited for my family to arrive was just what I needed.

Pubbin with Cah!
It was so great to see my parents and Carly, and it's surreal that they are in London. When I saw them, I realized how much I missed them all! It's been fun to show them around the city and share my London knowledge. I showed my Dad what the coins mean, and I even successfully guided my family on the tube to the London Eye and back to our hotel! I was even shocked we didn't end up getting lost. My family went to a local pub for dinner so they could experience their first taste of traditional English food. The pub, called the Phoenix, was so adorable and the best ambiance in a restaurant I've seen to date. I'm thinking of importing it to Ann Arbor. 

Gilly Hicks advert
Afterwards, we took the tube to Waterloo and walked to the London Eye. Before reaching the ferris wheel, however, we were distracted by a double decker bus full of shirtless lifeguards throwing women's underwear to the crowd below. It was an advertising ploy from a new clothing company in London, and it was hilarious to watch little children so excited to catch what was being thrown and then drop the underwear to the streets the moment they realized they weren't candy. Of course, Janet thoroughly enjoyed the shirtless men on the bus. 

We boarded the London Eye and experienced incredible views of the city. It was fun to point out the places I visited and toured to my family. I finally feel like I'm starting to know this city, though I know that will never fully be possible — even alleys have street names here! Tomorrow, we are looking forward to what my Mom calls "Queen for a Day Day" in honor of mother's day. Since we are staying near Buckingham Palace, it should be easy to honor my mom as the Queen Mum :)

Goldberg Girls!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Thursday, Friday and Beyond

Flowers in Hyde Park
Sorry for the temporary hiatus, it's been a whirlwind of a past couple days! We took the train an hour away to Loughborough on Thursday to visit the university where Team Great Britain and Team Japan will have their preparation camps for before the games. Team Great Britain originally signed a deal to prep at a military base but after that fell through, they came to Loughborough University with a request to use their facilities after Team Japan was already promised the space. Now, Japan and Team GB will be sharing the facility before the games. It was really cool to see where the two teams will be training right before they enter the biggest athletic stage in the world. Also, some employees at the University told us about the organizational challenges — from security to distributing the athlete's kit (freebies!) Adidas sportswear. It's definitely a large undertaking, but the banners and signs supporting Team GB around campus show the University's embracing the relationship with the Olympics. Loughborough also specializes in Sports Research, and they even have a Gatorade testing facility.

After riding the train back to the city, Sclark, Christine, and I made our way back to Harrod's to repeat the fabulous dinner we had earlier this week. Of course, we all purchased the chocolate hazelnut scones that have changed our lives. I'm going to have to get the recipe so I can make them in the states! Following dinner, we toured London at night. It was beautiful to see Big Ben aglow and the Thames glistening in the moonlight. We crossed the Thames and walked past the London Eye, and the Westminster area was alive with people enjoying the first warm night in over a week. 

Big Ben and Parliament at night
While London is beautiful by day, there's something magical about the city at night. The monuments, churches, and even cobblestone streets gain even more charm, and the entire city seems to take a deep breath, and relax. Everyone in their business attire flocks to the pubs to wind down for the day and spend time with friends. We walked back across Millenium Bridge and gazed at St. Paul's lit up on the skyline, and then headed back to our flats exhausted from the long day. I'm glad we could gain a new perspective of London on one of our final nights with the program.

Today, the group met for the last time in the lobby and headed out to the tube station to go visit our final speakers at the British Olympic Association offices. First, we heard from Darryl Siebel, the director of communications for the BOA. Darryl is one of the nicest people we've met on this journey, and he was so dedicated to giving us an amazing experience in his offices. He explained to us how as a comm director, he truly enjoys connecting the media and Team GB athletes. It allows the hard work and victory of Team GB to be recognized, which Darryl said is the most rewarding part of his job. It was great to see his passion for the games, and how he believes the media can be used as a tool to help his athletes succeed rather than hinder his team.

Our last speaker of the program was Dave Gordon, head of major events for BBC Sport. BBC will be taking on an ambitious role in broadcasting the 2012 games to the UK. The public network plans to have every event for every sport available to their audiences to watch, whether through TV, Web or other digital platforms. This is an incredible undertaking for the network. BBC has a strategy to reach out to the public and place their media team in important locations throughout the games. It's amazing how the coverage of the Olympic games will be so different this year due to technological advances. During the Sydney games, would the BBC have tweeted, blogged, live streamed, and shown via television the Olympic events? Digital platforms and social media are a new challenge for media groups, but I'm excited to see how the BBC's coverage of the games pans out. Darryl's confidence in the BBC and the passion Dave has for covering the games is reassuring they will succeed.

Love is all you need :)
After our final meeting, a group of us headed over to Abbey Road to recreate the iconic Beatles album cover. Following a bit of packing and my quick run to the Tower of London, we all met up for a final group dinner in Covent Garden. During dinner, we presented Bruce and Tom, our professors and leaders, with gifts we signed to thank them for taking us on this journey. The gifts, however, don't even begin to thank them enough. I've had the most amazing 12 days, and it wouldn't have been possible without Bruce and Tom. They arranged for us to meet so many amazing people, and they allowed us to gain a new, in-depth perpective of the Olympics. 

I walk away from this program with a well-rounded view of the games and the challenges and joys they bring to London and those involved. The individuals we met with and their teams have worked so hard for so many years to craft and perfect the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. While the Olympic games will only last 17 days, they are over nine years in the making. Each speaker we met with was so passionate about their work and the Olympics — which I believe is the most important skill needed when organizing the games. Their drive and determination to deliver the best games possible has led to a solid foundation for an amazing games. Like athletes, these individuals have been training to perform for 17 days this summer; to show the world what the past decade of their life has been dedicated to and why.  The games couldn't exist without these individuals, and I can't wait to see their hard work come to life when the games begin.

Now, what's next for me? As the majority of our group packs up and plans to head back to the States tomorrow, I'm excitedly awaiting the arrival of my parents and sister in London. We will be in the city for the next four days, and then onward to Paris for the final four days of my journey. I can't wait to show them everything I've seen and lived these past 12 days. Of course, I'll be sure to keep you updated as my adventures continue :)

p.s. a special shout out to Katy Williams, who intro'd our Skype conversation with "London Calling" playing in the background

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Pieces of the Puzzle

The Queen leaving Buckingham Palace

Today, our day began at the British Olympic Association offices. Our group heard from Joanna Manning Cooper, who serves at the Head of Public Relations and Media for the London 2012 Organizing Committee (LOCOG), the division responsible for putting on the games. Joanna is in charge of all the communication regarding the 2012 Olympic games, which includes all the UK and international press. Joanna explained to us that hosting the Olympic games is the equivalent of staging 26 World Championships in 17 days and 20 Paralympic World Championships. There will be 25,000 accredited media correspondents attending the games, and Joanna is responsible for those journalists attending events plus the media coverage from all journalists regarding the London 2012 games.

Her job isn't easy to say the least, but Joanna laid out her simple communications strategy for our group. I never realized the importance in creating a comm strategy until Joanna showed us her plan. With such a large and complex event, she stressed that having a simple plan for how the games are presented to the media is critical. Without a plan, there is no way to ensure that the same message about the games is being broadcasted to all types of media. Mixed messages and conflicting viewpoints could easily be spread throughout the media, creating turmoil surrounding LOCOG's work if there wasn't a comm strategy. I really enjoyed learning about Joanna's organizational plan for handling the media before, during, and after the games. Needless to say, it showed that my communication studies work at U of M will definitely come in handy if I choose to work in the comm field. 

The Queen Mum herself!

And now, for the most regal part of the day! After hearing from Joanna, our group ran to the tube stop and through the gates of Buckingham Palace to try and catch a glimpse of the Queen of England as she made her way from the palace to Parliament to make a speech and open Parliament. We ran through the streets, and made it just in time as the horse guard and royal band played their opening notes for the procession. Two carriages slowly rolled out of the palace gates, with one containing the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, and another containing her crown. We raced to the main mall and were able to catch a glimpse of her and her husband! She looked adorable, and it was difficult for me to grasp the power she has. Besides the fact that she rules over an entire country, can disband a government at any moment, and is wealthy beyond belief, she seemed just like a normal grandmother on a day out :)

The Telegraph
After the excitement of seeing the Queen, our group headed off to a company visit I have been anticipating all week: Telegraph Media Group. Telegraph Media Group is responsible for various publications including The Daily Telegraph, which is a national newspaper that is widely distributed throughout the UK. It was so exciting to see the newsroom where the well-known paper operates and is published everyday. We spoke with Jacquelin Magnay, the Olympic Editor for the Telegraph Media Group. Jacquelin described to us how the paper is taking an analytical viewpoint when writing about the games, and has enlisted a variety of former Olympic athletes to help them tell the story of the games and examine the event. It was interesting that Telegraph openly exhibits their support of the games, with Olympic-themed decorations hanging throughout their offices. 

Olympic decorations at Telegraph
Though I was first concerned about the ethical nature of this, I think that Telegraph can openly support the games and serve as a critical and honest observer.  Telegraph has found a great balance in showing their excitement for the games and rousing the excitement of their readers while also utilizing a critical eye in every story they write. Telegraph may look forward to the games, but that doesn't stop them from writing about shortcomings in ticket sales, transportation methods, and other issues with the Olympics. I really enjoyed learning about their balance between Olympic spirit and journalistic analysis. It showed me that as a journalist, I can still have passion and support for the topics I write about while also bringing the truth to readers.

After lunch at Telegraph, we raced over to Chancery Lane to meet with members of the Octagon, a sport marketing company that helps corporations deliver their Olympic sponsorship campaigns effectively. Octagon also represents various athletes, including Michael Phelps. Octagon presented to us various case studies about their work with corporations, and it was interesting to see the different approaches they've taken to reach audiences and help businesses maximize their sponsorships, such as a zip line at the Vancouver games that promoted British Columbia Tourism. The meeting again showed me the various ways an Olympic sponsorship can be properly executed if a plan is developed. An Olympic sponsor can easily stick the Olympic logo on their products and hope for the best, but utilizing a creative strategy and plan can help a corporation use the Olympic sponsorship in ways they never imagined. A proper plan can turn an Olympic sponsorship into a positive investment that helps improve not only a corporation, but the Olympic Games and consumer experience. All it takes is a plan and proper execution, skills that Octagon seems to have mastered throughout their longstanding partnership with the Olympics.

This blog post may seem all business (besides me chilling with the Queen), but today was an amazing day of seeing many perspectives of the Olympic games. It was interesting to compare LOCOG's media strategy with The Telegraph's content regarding the games and Octagon's marketing campaigns. Jacquelin explained the analytical lens Telegraph uses when writing about the Games, which is the very angle that Joanna and LOCOG work so hard to make sure is positive. Octagon then talked about how they try to promote the Olympic sponsorship corporations through the media, and how LOCOG works to protect the many Olympic sponsors from ambush marketing. We got to view all the parts of the Olympic machine today, and I come away from the meetings in awe of the amount of work going into these games. Each division has worked hard since as early as 2003 on each facet of these Olympic Games. I know the world will see the fruits of their labor in 79 days when the spotlight turns to London as the games begin.

The Queen makes her way through the streets

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A View from the Top

After a series of cloudy and overcast days here in London, I woke up this morning to the sun shining through my window and cheery London glowing below! We had to be ready at 7:45 a.m. to head out to Deloitte, one of the sponsors of the Olympic Games.

At Deloitte, we met with Craig James, one of the project managers of Deloitte's relations with the Olympic games and a Deloitte consultant. He spoke to us about Deloitte's relationship with the games and the framework of their campaign. Deloitte's sponsorship is the most interesting I've seen yet. Instead of solely paying for the rights to use the Olympic intellectual property and associate themselves with the games visually, Deloitte uses their consulting services to work closely with LOCOG, the British Olympic Association, and other Olympic and Paralympic organizations to help organize and execute the games. They truly want to make a difference as an Olympic sponsor, and their company has done that through many of their services, such as procuring all the equipment needed for the games, organizing travel routes for employees in the city to avoid congestion, and helping to build some of the temporary venues in the Olympic park. Employees at Deloitte, including Craig, have even worked with LOCOG on special projects for full years. Deloitte associates themselves with the London 2012 Games not just through money, but through playing a part in executing the event. They started by helping London prepare it's bid for the games, and it's great to see the large impact they have as sponsors as the games approach.

This smart sponsorship strategy and Deloitte's dedication to truly make a difference with the games is also utilized in their campaign strategy. Deloitte's ads describe the work the company's done to help prepare the city for their games, and they place them in small markets to target their high-profile clientele. While I've often become dissatisfied with sponsors and the monetary goal they have, Deloitte really shows me the value of a sponsor for the Olympic games. They truly serves as a "partner" to the Olympic games as they work hand-in-hand with Olympic organizations to develop and organize every facet of the Olympics. The success of the games will illustrate Deloitte's success as a consulting firm, which can earn the company more clients. Deloitte can illustrate their quality work via the Olympics, and their sponsorship can help their business and help them make a difference with the 2012 London Games. I promise, Deloitte didn't pay me to say all this — check their website out for yourself and you'll understand the smart nature of their sponsorship!

St. Paul's Cathedral
Our meeting with Deloitte ended at 12 p.m. and the rest of the day was ours to explore the city yet again! I traveled to St. Paul's Cathedral with my friends and we got to tour the amazing structure. Built by Christopher Wren in 1675, the architecture is incredible. The cathedral is often referred to as "the Nation's cathedral" and it served as an important landmark during the Blitz of World War II. The cathedral was a prime target, and was twice bombed and damaged. It was guarded by a series of people throughout the war. After England won the war, the cathedral served as a site of celebration for the people of London.

Our group had the chance to climb the stairs up through the domes of the cathedral. The first flight contains 275 stairs and takes you to the Whispering Gallery. In this domed room, you can whisper against the wall on one side of the room and someone on the other side can hear it. We then climbed up to the Stone Gallery, which was outside, and we took in the 360 degree breathtaking views of London. We then kept climbing and after reaching the 528th step of our trek, we were at the very tip of the dome. An unobstructed view allowed us to see the city from an incredible vantage point. The winding streets, the Thames river, Tower Bridge, Millenium Bridge, the London Eye — all of it was laid out before us as we gazed down 85 metres up from the ground. It was an incredible view, and an experience I will always remember.

Kensington Palace

Tired from the long walk up and down the dome, we then took the tube to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park to soak up the sun and visit the Kensington Palace, the palace where Prince William, Kate Middleton, and Prince Harry reside. We got a bit lost in the park and took a long trek through it to reach the palace, but the gorgeous weather made it a great adventure. Once we reached Kensington Palace, we strolled around the beautiful grounds. We even took a snooze in the front yard, and I did cartwheels! Thanks Queen Mum for lending us your front yard for the afternoon :)

We came back to our Liverpool area afterwards for a group dinner at Nando's, a delicious restaurant that specializes in chicken. It was a great sunny day in the city, and tomorrow we have a busy day with 3 different visits to Olympic organizations and media companies. Looking out my window from my flat as I write this blog post, I can see the St. Paul's dome glowing in the distance. It reminds me that like today, a new adventure will be coming tomorrow.
The Queen Mum's Garden :)
View with the Tower Bridge!