An Olympic Day of Superlatives

Despite the early start, our visit to the Olympic Park really was as wonderful as I’d hoped!

Arriving at the Olympic Park

We left at 7am despite my plans to be off by 6.30; I really have no idea why it always takes an extra half an hour with two children! And for the best part of the journey we were on target to get there well before 9am. That is, until we hit the Kidbrooke interchange traffic.  Every day it gets a mention on the travel reports and yet we hadn’t prepared for it.  Half an hour to travel 2 miles with The Bear screaming in the back and Bunny asking to get out every 2 minutes!  I started to think the day I’d been looking forward to was going to be a disaster after all.  Eventually though, we made it to the Greenwich Peninsula and popped into Sainsburys to get some picnic foods and got the girls dressed (we’d left them in their nightclothes for the journey so they could be comfortable and sleep on if they wanted to).  I dropped them off as close to North Greenwich station as I was allowed and then hunted out the parking space I’d booked through ParkAtMyHouse.com.  I couldn’t have parked much closer if I’d tried and it was a lot cheaper than any of the public car parks I’d looked at, so I highly recommend it if you are travelling into London (or any major town or city) by car for more than a few hours.

Once parked, I walked up to the tube station and then our Olympic experience really began.  It’s been said many times, but the Gamesmakers really were the force behind the success of the Games.  All of them were cheerful and incredibly helpful, even to ex-Londoners like ourselves who think we know what we’re doing!  Arriving at the Park felt like arriving at Disney World, neon, dot matrix signs welcomed you into the Park as brass bands marched along and people of every nationality wandered past, buzzing on the atmosphere.

Paralympics 200m

We headed straight for the stadium and stood in a long queue for the buggy park, and then we eventually found our seats – up in the gods, but still an amazing view.  The sun was shining and the track below almost glittered in it’s glare.  A lifesize Wenlock wandered around, shaking hands with the audience at track level while large screens showed close ups of shot-put, javelin and long-jump.  The most exciting events were the races.  Some of the athletes with visual impairments had guides, others had amputations or were in wheelchairs.  But none of this detracted from the excitement of the races or events.  All of the athletes were brilliant at what they did and far surpassed anything I could achieve!

We watched for 2 hours having arrived an hour late and that was plenty for the little ones.  I can imagine the evening events without children would have been incredible with an atmosphere to match!

Before we left “Stadium Island”, we watched a great band called The Top Bananas.  Next we wandered down to canal to find a spot for our picnic lunch.  Unfortunately, as the park is new, there are no mature trees so very little shade, but a lovely meadow area on a slope entertained the girls (and us!) for a while.  A quick cool down milkshake from a key sponsor and then we were off to explore the rest of the park.

WetlandsThere is so much to see, and my one complaint would be that the Park Map was next to useless, but it didn’t really matter as you can just wander about and spot art installations and ramble through meadows and wetlands.  It was great for the kids and felt really special to be in a park that didn’t exist a year ago.

We watched some more sporting action on the big screens and then finished our day with a beer before heading home.  Rather than just get the tube back to North Greenwich, we took a slightly longer route and caught one of the new cable cars across the Thames.  By the time we got there, it was dark so the views of the city lights was A-Mazing!  The perfect way to finish a fantastic day!

O2 Arena at Night from Cable Car

For all the criticism winning the Games got, I really think London (and the UK), pulled together to prove all the naysayers wrong and show the world what a wonderful place it is and how regeneration of a forgotten area can succeed.  I only hope that the heroes of the summer are not forgotten and the mood can continue.  What an incredible summer we had after its soggy start!