Sunday, 26 August 2012

My Olympic memories

A 3 hours flight to London Luton... a 1 hour bus trip to Welwyn Garden City through English plains on Thursday the 2nd of August at noon (only old people in the bus)... Terry and Chris welcoming me with a hot soup... a lot of Olympic events to talk about... Bradley Wiggins of Team GB won the Road Cycling Time Trial the previous day... Romania having 1 Gold medal so far won by Alin Moldoveanu at the 10 m Air Rifle Shooting event... BBC Sports was talking mostly about British competitors so I really needed the Internet to find out what others were doing... some shopping at Sainsbury's, not much time to see London on the first day...

Friday the 3rd, first Olympic day... a little misunderstanding with the Olympic Day Travelcard area coverage between Welwyn Garden City and London, thus getting out of the train at Hadley Wood in the middle of nowhere!! (sorry if you are from there, next time invite me to explore it if I am wrong)... ok, now waiting in the train station for 20 minutes to proceed to London... London King's Cross, one of the main train stations, let's go find the underground logo with Nadia Comaneci... London2012 volunteers know nothing about the underground logos renamed with Olympic legends names...  and who is Nadia Comaneci anyway?!... an agent from King's Cross Information point asks me: - Is there a plaque with "Olympic Legend" on it? - No, it's an Olympic Legend name on the plaque, here it should be Nadia Comaneci on it!!... meeting Larisa, a Romanian girl who was also searching for Nadia... going with her to St Pancras International station, where the big Olympic rings are... asking again, no one knows... finally someone tells us the Olympic Legends map was made only on the Internet, there were actually no plaques in the London Underground stations... big disappointment!!... it would have been so cool to make pictures and then travel around the city to find other Olympic legends on the underground logos... this is the map that made me search for Nadia: Olympic_Legends_Map ... next stop Buckingham Palace where I met a lady from the Romanian Olympic Committee... St. James Park, Green Park... ferryboat from Embankment Pier to North Greenwich, with Tower Bridge opening itself to let an old ship go by... a lot of people entering the North Greenwich tube station because a Gymnastics event was just finishing... Of course, I was hurrying because I knew I had to arrive at the Olympic Park 2 hours before the event!... taking the Jubilee line towards Stratford, going out at West Ham because we were advised that Stratford was blocked... 20 minutes walking from West Ham tube station to the Olympic Park, being afraid I was late... no problem, security check was fast, tickets check also and I saw myself on my place in the Olympic Stadium more than 1 hour before the event was starting... ok I'm early now, let's go to buy something to drink... 30 minutes waiting in the queue for a bottle of water and some juice!... it's 7 PM, time for the first Athletics evening event to begin!... our 40-years old Romanian discus thrower Nicoleta Grasu trying to reach the final... the Olympic Stadium filled mostly by British fans, my Romanian flag like a little isle in a big British sea... the stadium announcer asking: - Anyone here to support.. Jessica Ennis?... hard to describe how the 80000 people reacted at that question :)... (later) Jessica Ennis in the 200m Heptathlon event... the announcer asks all to be quiet and wait for the start... the referee shots with his pistol and... bum!! the whole stadium exploded.. well, you don't see that every day, I actually never saw or imagined that feeling on any stadium or sports arena of any type in my whole life! I've recorded the start in a video, but seeing it live is far better than that!... Women's 10000 m Final, with Tirunesh Dibaba making a great race, Men's Shot Put final with Poland's Thoman Majewski at his best, the Women's 100m qualifications with our young girl Andreea Ograzeanu... it's 10 PM, the first event is over, time to return home at Welwyn Garden City in 2 hours... first picture with me at the Olympic Stadium uploaded on Facebook and reaching 48 Likes in one day!! Time to go to sleep and have An Olympic Midsummer Night's Dream...

Saturday the 4th or Super Saturday, as it was later called... meeting Alex, a friend from Romania, at Finsbury Park station.. seeing the Men's 20 km Walking event with the Japanese Suzuki leading most of the race.. Go Suzukiiii!!... watching the rest of the Athletics events at Hyde Park on a big screen.. Gold for Jessica Ennis!! Great finish for her at the last Heptathlon event (800m)!... Heineken and Fosters for me, only Heineken for Alex... need to go to a toilet urgently!.. ok I should better skip this memory :))

Sunday the 5th, the Women's Marathon day... coming late from Welwyn Garden City to London because there was a line signalling problem and I had to wait 30 minutes for the next train... arriving at the Bank, seeing the Romanian refreshing point, then searching for a quiet place to wait for the marathoners... found that place close to St Paul's Cathedral... cheering up for the 2 Romanian marathoners: Hai Lidia!!! Hai Puşa!! Hai România!!... St Paul's Cathedral free to visit... Blackfriars rail station.. big walk around the city on a sunny-rainy day, good that I had the raincoat with me... lunch of sandwiches and peaches on a bench near the Thames... Big Ben, Westminster and one SMS from my mother: "we've got Gold at jumping"... hmm jumping where? Into the water? That's Diving! But wait.. there are no Romanian Diving competitors at all! There must be something else... I cannot find a free wireless point here, but anyway jumping means.. Oh wait, it's the Gymnastics Vault final event!! Yeeey, Sandra Izbasa won the Gold medal!! (In Romanian language, we translate vault with jumping) happy now, let's go to Trafalgar Square!... hey there is Soho, the famous London district! A Puma store was preparing in real Usain Bolt Jamaican style... ok the walk was long enough, now what? South Kensington station, Natural History Museum... more than 2 hours later, at 6 PM the museum closes... I think I have seen the most of it, but maybe I'll return on Monday for the last little part of it.. now better return home to Welwyn GC, I don't want to miss the Men's 100m final, I have to see if I was right by saying that Usain Bolt will win this race... I came just on time and it was worth it!

It's Monday! Duuude, the days go by so quickly!! It's Google time with Alex, free lunch included! If you heard them saying the meals are healthy and yummy and you think they are exaggerating, then trust me: they're healthy, yummy and varied!... South Kensington and Natural History Museum again.. the last little part was actually bigger than the first one, so I took another 3 hours to visit it and was invited to leave the museum at 6 PM again... anyway, very huge and impressive... natural curiosity makes you wonder when the hours did pass so quickly when you visit it... it's time for an Italian evening with a long-time-no-see old friend Chiara with Italian pizza and wine in an Italian restaurant.. started after I climbed the 193 steps of Covent Garden (instead of taking the lift!) and finished with a short rain at Charing Cross...

Tuesday the 7th, 6 AM.. oh no, I am really waking up at this hour! Ok let's pack something, let's have some breakfast... the next thing I remember is that I was at 8 AM at London King's Cross and there were a lot of people there! I think I may have slept a little in the train to London... It would have been lovely to get a good seat and sleep in the Metropolitan tube towards West Ham, but unfortunately they stopped us at Moorgate, because of a line issue.. ok let's wait for another train, I hope it won't be crowded at the Olympic Park.. everything went smoothly afterwards.. unfortunately, the weather wasn't the best.. a lot of clouds and only 16 degrees Celsius... better place on the Olympic Stadium, category A this time... a lot of interesting events, but one remains in the memory of all the 80000: the Men's 200m qualifications, featuring Usain 'The Lightning' Bolt, Yohan 'The Beast' Blake, Christophe Lemaitre, Churandy Martina, Warren Weir... Bolt giving his hat to a child in front of my eyes :)) yes, I was lucky to receive a place in the sector where the competitors took the 200m start!... the rest of the day was good to visit the Olympic venues and take pictures of them to remember these wonderful Olympic Games... next: Victoria Park Live Site with the Gymnastics Balance Beam and Floor finals on a big screen.. angry with the Bronze medal taken from Catalina Ponor after the American appeal... Fish&Chips and Heineken... Floor final with Catalina Ponor taking Silver and Sandra Izbasa falling at the end of the exercise and finishing 8th (she's the best anyway - love you Sandra)... visiting ExCeL where Romania won Silver medals at Judo, Fencing and Weightlifting and a Bronze at Weightlifting and finally going far away with the DLR and then 20 minutes by feet to see the place where Alin Moldoveanu won an unexpected Gold medal at Shooting: the Royal Artillery Barracks! Time to return to Welwyn Garden City, but let's try the London Overground... it was the third London experience for me and I never tried this tube line.. no big deal anyway..

Wednesday the 8th... last day at the Olympics, last day at London... sunny and warm day (around 25 degrees!!)... morning session, a lot of events, good place in the stadium... Trey Hardee and Ashton Eaton from USA at Decathlon... Renaud Lavillenie from France at Pole Vault... at some point I had to look at 4 events simultaneously: Long Jump for Men's Decathlon, Women's Hammer Throw, Men's Pole Vault and Women's 800m qualifications.. I couldn't stop clapping hands because there was always someone doing a good performance  :))... gift shopping in London... train back to Welwyn GC... thanks Terry for taking me to the train station... again at Luton airport, waiting for the morning flight... making the hours fly with Nikola, a very nice Czech girl...

...and back home on Thursday morning!

If I had to choose one memory from all of the above, it would be the Olympic atmosphere, the enthusiasm of 80000 people cheering up for their favourites... watch this video in a quiet room and you may sense the stadium effect I'm talking about. Anyway, nothing compares to being there and feeling it by yourself...


  1. Really really cool you were there!!! I wanted to go too to the opening ceremony, because in 2010 they were saying that David Gilmour of Pink Floyd and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin will be performing at the Opening Ceremony, but a few month after this rumor, Gilmour said it was not true, and Page wanted to come because he closed in Beijing, but they didn't invite him :)). Whatever, I wanted to go only for the show and of course for London. I'll be there this September anyhow for 3 concerts :). 24 days left to the day I leave :)

    I enjoyed hearing about your amazing experience and fun. I am also looking forward to visiting the National History Museum, because I didn't have time the last time I was there. I really understand why you said that your best memory is the atmosphere and the cheering crowd. I've also seen huge concert crowds, up to 65.000 people, singing along with the artists. The feeling of being one of them was priceless.

    We should meet and share some more impressions :)
    All the best,

    1. Hi Ovidiu,

      I'm glad you liked my article. I'm sorry you couldn't come to the opening ceremony, but good for you that you're going to the concerts next month :)
      The Natural History Museum is like our "Grigore Antipa", but 5 times bigger and better :))
      Give me notice when you want to go drink a beer!

  2. Dude, your passion for the Olympic Games will never seize to amaze me. Congratulations for realizing one of your life's dreams and for sharing it with us.

    So what's the next dream on the list?

    1. Thanks man... the next big dream is to actually participate at the Olympic Games :) but that's a very long shot...

  3. How nice to be present there, to watch and to live the olympic atmosphere! I´ve never been to the Olympic Games and I don´t beleve I´ll be there in the next 100 years. The first I remember is Mexico 68 and our olympic champions: Lia Manoliu, Viorica Viscopoleanu, Ionel Dramba and...I can´t remember his name, but it was another one more (two:Covaliov and Pataichin - as usual, Google nows everything!).
    It will be very interesting to tell us who is Chiara and how was the meeting with her!