Friday, May 4, 2012

Oh What a Goodge Day

St. Pancra's Station salutes the Olympics

Today we toured our third sports venue in London: the famous Lord's Cricket Ground. It was here that the rules of tennis were developed and the spectacular cricket game between England and Australia takes place every two years. England and Australia play for the "ashes," a small, symbolic momento that the team who loses gives to the winning team. The archery component of the London Olympic Games with also take place on the Lord's grounds.

A cricket game in action at Lord's
Our tour guide, Rodney, was a cute older man who had a lot of information to share about the club. They have courts where members can play "real" tennis, a game with rules that were established hundreds of years ago and only vaguely resembles modern day tennis. Rodney also explained how difficult it is to become a member of Lord's — potential members need to have at least four sponsors when they apply and they must wait many years. Rodney was keen to point out the elite aura of members and their affection for brightly colored blazers and bow ties. 

We were lucky enough to view a local match on the pitch when we were in the stadium. Rodney told us that this game will last 4 days and begins at 11 a.m. and goes until 6:30 p.m. The players get two breaks a day, one 40 minute break for lunch and a 20 minute break for tea time. I definitely think I'd need many seventh inning stretches to get through a single game. 

The Press Box at the Lord's Cricket Grounds
When Rodney was guiding us around the stadium, the best part was when he forgot to stop us when the cricket game was in session. British spectators started yelling at us, "Can you just stay still?!" "Stop moving you've held up the game!" It was then we realized that everyone in the stands were staring at us and even the players on the pitch had stopped their game and were motioning to us to stop moving! It was a hilarious moment as we all stood frozen in our steps on the perimeter of the stands. Supposedly, the "bowler" needs complete silence and stillness behind him when the game is in play. After that moment we were dubbed the "tourists," and though I liked exploring the grounds, I was excited to leave the gates on my own terms, not pushed out by a perturbed mob of cricket fans!

A Team GB Torch in the BOA Offices
The group then took the tube to the Goodge Stop where we headed to the British Olympic Association Offices. The BOA serves as the National Olympic Committee for the UK during these Olympic games. They work closely with Team Great Britain and the 2012 athletes. We heard from Jose Riera, the Senior Press Officer for the UK's Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Jose, a former journalist, now manages the reputation and image of the Olympic games, controls the budget of the games, and helps pass policies to help create a successful Olympics in London.

Jose focused a lot on the legacy of the games, which I found interesting. The DCMS and BOA both want the games to leave a lasting impression on the UK for the better, whether that is through improving the East side of London, inspiring children to engage in athletics, or boosting tourism and business throughout the country. It was great to see how a government arm of the UK and an Olympic organization are working so closely together to execute a summer games they can be proud of for many years to come.

King's Cross Station
After the day ended with the group, Sclark, Christine and I used our free time to explore King's Cross Station and St. Pancra's Station. We took the iconic picture at Platform 9 3/4, and we went to the official Olympic store in St. Pancra's Station. The train stations were beautiful, and it was so cute to see couples and families reuniting after their long journeys across the country and continent.  

A long search for a restaurant for dinner led us to an amazing Italian restaurant in the heart of King's Cross Station called Prezzo. The weather today was freezing (supposedly this is one of the coldest May's London has ever had!) and diving into large bowls of steaming pasta was exactly what we needed after our long day. Of course, we exercised our newfound love of hard cider as well :) 

With the hustle and bustle of King's Cross as our background noise, we had a great meal and planned the sites we hope to visit this weekend on our free days and the Bank Holiday. I can't believe we've only been out and about in London four days — what a whirlwind! I'm looking forward to exploring the city more this weekend. If our adventures tonight are any indicator, enjoying a great dinner with friends and eating the best chocolate cake of my life sets the weekend off to a great start!

Of course this isn't mine Mom!
Heaven on a plate :)

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