Wow! I’m not off to a good start on my pledge to blog every day while on the ground. But in my defense, we’ve been having a terrible time with internet connection at the hotel.
But onwards and upwards!
Tina and I arrived into Heathrow early Friday morning, July 20th, along with Eventing Team Manager Fleur Tipton. Unfortunately I didn’t get any sleep on the plane, which meant for a verrrrrry long day on Friday. But thankfully the flight was very smooth and quiet, and I finally was able to watch “The Hunger Games”.
Heathrow was actually pretty quiet when we arrived. We immediately were greeted by a LOCOG volunteer who escorted us to passport control. It was also very quiet there, and the Olympic Family lane was empty – woohoo! So it only took a few minutes to get our passports stamped and become legal. Next stop was the Accreditation Desk where it was……yup, empty! So I was able to breeze through there. Another volunteer then escorted us to baggage claim where we only had to wait a few minutes before our bags arrived, then walked out to the main hall where we were greeted by our driver Anthony who was holding a Canadian flag sign.
After reading all the media stories on the BBC news website, we were all amazed (and relieved) at how quickly & smoothly the entire process, from stepping off the plane to walking to our LOCOG car, was.
Oh, and did I mention that our car was a shiny black
AudiBMW (thanks for the correction Mike!)?
Once we checked into the hotel, the remainder of our first day on the ground was jam-packed. First on deck was meeting with the hotel to confirm all of our Team reservations, making sure that the correct room types were assigned. Have to say, the European hotel system is very confusing indeed for someone who was born & bred in North America! A “double” here means a single double bed, as opposed to 2 double beds. And they don’t offer queen or king beds. So if you want to have 2 people in a room, who aren’t sharing a bed, you need to have either 1 double and 1 twin, or 2 twins. Turns out that one of my reservations for 8 days is a double room……so I’m hopeful that another room type becomes available or Tina and I will be living in even closer quarters for those days!
Our next destination was the Olympic Village, which is a 15 min. ride on the DLR. But first we had to figure out how to get an Oyster card for Tina and Fleur. Actually let me back that up one step…we first had to figure out how to use the Oyster self-serve machine! After a few moments of looking like obvious tourists, a very nice Greenwich town worker took pity on us and helped us with the kiosk.
It was exciting to see the Olympic stadium come into view, and the giant Westfield mall.
The Village itself is absolutely beautiful. There are wonderful lounge areas for the athletes, a HUGE merchandise store, post office, internet cafe, phone services, bank, dining hall etc. And there are really nice landscaped courtyard areas within the apartment buildings, which are beautifully landscaped with quaint little benches.
Of course the highlight is the Canadian residence – what a great decorating job!! Complete with a huge red moose at the entrance. Apparently it’s become a popular tourist spot for many countries who stop by to get their picture taken with the Moose….and try to ride him. Hmmmmm….I wonder if the COC will try to ship him back with our Dressage horses at the end of the Games?
It was great to see the Village, and better yet to get an opportunity to hit the souvenir shop while they still had a great selection.
After getting back to the hotel, it was definitely time to crash after being awake 30+ hours and recharge the batteries for the next day.
….to be continued