Region: Europe >> Great Britain
Travel time: 2012, July 27th to July 28th
I picked a very good time to move to London as I was able to get very close to the Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony in Stratford. The pictures of the big firework and the Newton Faulkner concert in Hyde Park convinced me to write a little bit about the last 3 Olympic days in my new hometown.
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The big opening ceremony took place on Friday, July 27th and I originally planned to go to the Hyde Park to watch it on a big screen as they also had some concerts scheduled. However, I eventually found out that they would charge 60£ to get in and so I dropped the plan again. Luckily, I found an alternative as a bunch of German people met up for a BBQ in the German Deli Warehouse, about 500m away from the stadium! Before I arrived at the location, I used the opportunity to check out the close-by Victoria Park, which included a big stage, Ferris wheel and you could even do bungee jumping🙂
The German Deli Warehouse is located on the other side of the river next to the stadium and proofed to be the perfect place for the fireworks in the evening! It offers all kinds of German specialties, Sauerkraut or Nutella for example, but as of now I’m just here for 3 weeks and don’t miss German food yet… The guys prepared a great BBQ, salads and pastries and we just had to bring our own drinks.
After a couple of hours of talking and drinking, I decided to take my camera and walk around the building towards the river for some daylight pictures of the stadium. Turns out that I was amazingly lucky and picked the exact right time to have my camera ready in my hand, as 9 Jets showed up in the sky in a perfect Arrow shape. The whole appearance was very loud and very short, but I was still able to get some pictures.
The opening ceremony finally started and we watched it on a big TV at the warehouse. I really enjoyed the show, especially the part of Mr.Bean which was just hilarious and also the James Bond / Queen Elizabeth II Part. It was great to see the parachuting action live outside the stadium! Just the endless introduction of all the nations was very boring and why the hell did the German team come out with blue and pink dresses? Very strange…
We got out to the river to see the big fireworks around 23:30 and it started right on time at midnight, however the really impressive final didn’t start until 00:36 and it got really cold out there waiting for it. A Chinese guy was even waiting for it for 4 hours, just to realize that his tripod setup was not the best when the biggest part of the firework went off to the left of the station. I got all the action captured of course!🙂
More and more police men showed up after the fireworks as it seemed as they were about to finish their shift. They have been present from time to time during our BBQ as well, but never in a huge group like that. It certainly made us feel very safe!🙂 Only a few people were left at the time, since they choose to catch the last tube over seeing the firework live, and the rest of us finally went to the train station together.
Naturally, I missed the last tube back to my work colleagues place in South Ruislip at the western end of the Central Line and had to take 4 different night buses. (BTW: I will move to Brick Lane in 2 weeks!) Unfortunately, one of them was too late and I missed a connection bus and also had to walk home from Northholt Library to South Ruislip, where I eventually arrived at 5 AM in the morning.
Saturday featured my personal highlight of all the upcoming free concerts in the big Parks: Newton Faulkner. Since his gig would start at 18:00, I used the time to explore Hyde Park. Even the weather was very good most of the time and it turns out that Hyde Park is by far my favorite Park in the city. I was walking around for a couple of hours and noticed the same as I did in Regent’s & Victoria Park – there is no one playing guitar in the park!! Don’t really know why, but I’ll change it once I move to Brick Lane🙂
The Olympic area is located in the eastern part of the park and you could buy guaranteed access tickets for 3,50 Pounds. In the end, I was glad that I did not pay them as the park still had plenty of capacity left when I arrived there pretty late. It looked very strange to see around 50 Entry Lanes and all of them were empty… Still the area is huge and there were a lot of people inside anyway, it was just not worth getting a ticket!
The gig started with a small delay around 18:30 and the weather could not have been any better for British standards. I discovered Newton about 8 Months ago and like his style a lot. He is basically playing catchy acoustic tunes and uses his guitar to generate bass & snare sounds as well, which makes it very versatile. Sadly, he only played for 45 minutes and left some of my favorite songs out, but he did a great job overall and I was surprised of how well he played live.
I sat down to watch a bit of Olympic Table Tennis, as I played the sport myself in the past. Most of the Olympic stuff doesn’t really interest me and the German team makes it very hard to get excited about it (so far they got 0 medals after 3 days). However, I will still try to see something live during the games, let’s see if I can find some cheap tickets…
I visited a big Couchsurfing Picnic on Sunday with over 150 signed-up couchsurfers. This time however, the weather would not play along as it rained while I was sitting in the tube. I got some sandwiches and cookies from the supermarket and when I came back, the sun was showing up again, reminding me of the shifting weather conditions in the UK.
Only around 50 people were present at the time I got to the picnic and they played a very strange game which I didn’t fully understood. However, I used the time to play some football and Frisbee with a bunch of kids and their dad. It rained from time to time, but it still was fun and I also didn’t want to play the game where they had to accuse each other of being a murderer and then explain why you’re not the murderer… well as you can see, I didn’t really get it🙂
After the meeting, I planned to go see the Olympic Park as I thought it would have been free to walk inside the area – just not inside any venues. Well as you can image, it was not free and I was not able to get in so I drove back from Stratford and had a nice beer in the sun instead🙂
In the evening, I met up with a German friend who was visiting the city and some of her friends from London. We went to a place called “The Breakfast Club” – very close to my future home at Brick Lane. It is an awesome place, not only because they have a fridge which leads you to a bar in the cellar😉 I will definitely go back there!