Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Looking Through the London Eye

After one of the best nights of sleep in my entire life, the day began bright and early at 9 a.m. (for me at least!) when the group met downstairs to board a bus to tour the city. Our tour guide, Bryan, showed everything — from the Olympic Park to the most famous sites in London.

When we approached the Olympic park, Bryan told us that London chose the Eastern side of the city to hold the park and many olympic venues as an attempt to revitalize the previously poor area. As our bus rolled up to the Olympic park, the first site that caught my eye was the sculpture and tower built for the Olympic park. 

This will definitely be a games highlight!
It's difficult to describe, as the tower is an abstract piece of art itself. In my opinion, it looks like a roller coaster decided to attack a power tower and met an observatory deck on the way. It is very striking, and will definitely serve as an iconic image of the London 2012 games.

Bryan also described the story behind the Olympic stadium. London strived for sustainability with the games, and they didn't want to build a facility that wouldn't be utilized after this summer. The stadium upper deck is able to be removed to reduce the seating to fit a smaller crowd that London could fill with their sporting events. Also, the basketball arena can be completely dismantled and moved to a new location after the games. Bryan said Rio de Janeiro, the site of the next summer olympics, is considering buying the arena and reconstructing it in their town to use at the games. 
The Olympic Stadium

One of my favourite (in the London style!) things to do when talking to locals is ask their perception of the games. For Bryan, he said he was upset at first and then he warmed up to the idea of the games when he saw how the city was thinking long term in their construction plans. Many other locals believe the Olympic games will help revitalize the Eastern side of the city. Bryan expressed some distaste in the IOC. While all attendees of the games are encouraged to use public transportation, he explained how IOC members are demanding private cars to take them to and from the venues, decreasing the sustainability of the event.

Throughout the city, it's easy to see that London is trying to incorporate citizens into the spirit of the games. Signs boasting the London 2012 logo read, "Be proud. You're part of it." Also, at the Olympic park, creative works by locals artists, poets, and children were crafted with the London 2012 Games as their muse.

Art by local children
While the Olympic park still appeared to have a lot of work needed to finish the games, which are 87 days away, it was so interesting to have a firsthand look at the venues where the games will take place. I've watched the Olympics for as long as I can remember, and knowing I stood where thousands of athletes and spectators will be featured for the eyes of the world this summer was a pretty cool feeling.

Trafalgar Square
After we toured the Olympic park, we traveled on the bus all around the city: past Big Ben, the Tower Bridge, the London Tower, the Eye of London, Millenium Bridge, and St. Paul's Cathedral. After we departed from Bryan, we set off on a scavenger hunt throughout the city. The hunt took us to Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, the British Museum, and to many important places in London and Westminster. We ended the day with dinner at Nando's and a walk around the Spitalfields area, including Brick Lane. It was an exhausting day to say the least, with almost 5 hours of walking time. But, I go to bed tonight exhausted in the most amazing way, knowing my feet took me to some of the most historic and interesting sites this city has to offer.

Big Ben and London's Parliament

1 comment:

  1. All I have ever known about the UK has been from Harry Potter, so this blog is pretty cool. Especially since you are there before the Olympics!