I originally wrote blogs about my experience at the London Olympics dressage for Barnmice and I’m posting them here as wonderful memories as we approach Rio 2016.
July 31, 2012
We arrived in London this morning and braced ourselves for long lines at Customs and Immigration, long lines waiting for the Heathrow Express train into London and after that congestion at Paddington Station. But we were amazed at how smoothly everything went. We breezed through Immigration where there were officers at every desk. The one who stamped out passports was in great spirits and humming a little tune!
As soon as we came out of Customs I saw the Olympic rings silhouetted against the huge window. We had arrived! An Olympic volunteer made sure we knew where to get the Heathrow Express. The train whisked us to Central London and Paddington Station. My husband David and I visit London twice a year to see our son who lives there. We were amazed at how quick and efficient everything seemed to be working. Far better than it normally would be!
We got into a taxi and sped off down Park Lane (usually a complete block of traffic) and past the BT (British Telecom) Hyde Park where five large screens were showing various Olympic events.
On arrival in our hotel room we turned on the TV and it was already tuned to one of the BBC red spot digital channels. It seems there are dozens of red spot channels carrying all of the Olympic events live. What was on ours? The Eventing cross country phase and as Zara Phillips came into the stadium to start her round the crowd of 20,00 roared their encouragement. That is a lot of atmosphere. What will the dressage horses do with that I wondered? Once we had unpacked we set off to pick up our tickets at Co-Sport.
The process for getting Olympic tickets is not as easy as just calling up Ticketmaster. About eighteen months ago I registered with Co-Sport the agency that handles ticket sales for Canada and the USA. Only residents of the UK and EU can purchase tickets directly from London 2012. Once I had registered I then had to wait for a few months until tickets went on sale online at Co-Sport at an appointed hour. The website was completely blocked with traffic but after a tense wait I was able to get through and placed my ticket requests. Then I waited a further two months to hear what tickets I had been able to get. I found out that I had got tickets for the two days of the Grand Prix and for the Freestyle but not for the Grand Prix Special. This was so disappointing as the GP Special would be the final part of the competition for the Team Medal. Still….. I had some tickets!
We picked up out tickets once I had shown my passport as identification. They were purple with the outline of a horse and rider. We also were given pink travel cards that allowed us free travel on London Transport on the days of the events.
Tickets in hand we set off down the Edgeware Rd and into a Middle Eastern café to celebrate with coffee and cakes. The selection of cakes and pastries was mouth-watering. I chose a huge éclair with real, yes real, cream. That’s England for you. None of the fake white frothy stuff. Here cream is cream!
The Olympics are everywhere: The Games lanes on the major roads, the pink lettering for the Tube (subway) stations that are serving the Olympic venues, Tube posters advising travellers to leave plenty of extra time to get to their destinations. One poster featured a horse!
On Regent Street the flags of all the competing nations fly over the street.
Tomorrow we can get over any jet lag and Thursday the dressage begins. I am just about as excited as I can be and still behave like an adult!