I love the Olympics – summer, winter, it makes no difference to me, watching those athletes at their most excellent is mesmerizing. I don’t even know the rules of half the sports I tune into… no matter. So when the Olympics were coming to England, I wanted to go.
Did I mention my mom and her husband Bill live in England? They were in position to keep their Olympic ear to the ground and find out about TICKETS! Bill wanted to see the boxing, mom the gymnastics, we all would have loved to attend the opening and I wanted to see an equestrian event ANY equestrian event would do as I love horses. It was to be a lottery. Everyone would mail in their requests and, if we were picked, we would be charged and mailed the tickets.
Mom and Bill said the English news reported that some very important British officials were not receiving tickets. This was going to be tough. We were worried. The papers said 10% chance of getting tickets to the opening. We had a better chance with boxing and equestrian, gymnastics was going to be tough to get into as well. We waited.
Then one day mom called to say….an envelope came. We received 4 tickets to one event only….IT WAS THE EQUESTRIAN DRESSAGE event. I was on cloud 9!
July 2012 finally came and I flew to London. None of my American family – Harry, my daughter Jenn, my sister, my brother had any interest in attending the Olympics. I really didn’t understand it, having such a passion for them. So it would be Mom, Bill and me. Bill’s daughter Kath would also attend. I was to meet mom and Bill at the club when I arrived in London.
The Club was a hotel with a twist – only service men, their families and guests could book a room at the Club. I think this is a great way that the British honor their soldiers. The rates are discounted and this Club is near the Marble Arch and the best shopping street in England. Since Bill had been a serviceman he qualified for membership and had booked 2 rooms for us a year ago.
I arrived early and since I had put myself on British time the week before the trip, I arrived ready to go with no jet lag. I dropped the bags at the club at which time I found out the Olympic Torch parade would be passing by shortly! You could feel the Olympic excitement resonating throughout the city. I was not the only one who had the fever. The parade was just plain fun. Buses appeared with dancers, a man cycling a huge bike, the torchbearer, buses with dancers on top – everyone was cheering. What a way to start my Olympic adventure!
Then came the day of our Olympic event which was in Rochester, a short train ride outside of the city. When we exited the train station we found vans that escorted us to the venue, all we needed to do was show our ticket. The vans came to a halt and as I climbed out I could see The Olympic flags were flying high, and they had horses on them. Yes, we were in the right place.
We found our seats and the event began, many hours of beautiful equestrian joy. The riders were dressed in their formal best. Their horses were groomed to perfection. As they made their way through the ring, they pranced in front of the judges to the music. Even without knowing how they were being ranked, the audience knew when a performance was a cut above the others. They applauded all. The horses danced, rider and horse became one with the best pairings making this dance look effortless. It was an amazing event I will never forget.
There were so many events happening around the city. We spent 5 days in London and, at every turn the city offered Olympic fun. All the stores were decked out with Olympic themes. In Trafalger Square a huge Olympic countdown clock reminded us all we had hours to go before the opening ceremony. Olympic volunteer guides were everywhere to help visitors find their way. A major credit card company had sent us an invite to a venue they were hosting. We stopped by on our way to another destination and found a refuge in which we could rest, snack, and watch the Olympics on TV. On another day, we wandered into a Russian Olympic village set up to generate excitement for the next upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi. Russian food, dancers, singers, musicians, games were there free of charge. It was all great fun and one big party that we were grateful to be a part of it.
As we approached exhaustion, our stay in London came to a close and we boarded a train for our next destination. Would I go to another Olympics? Probably not, this one satisfied the need and there are so many other events I’m itching to tick off my list. I was certainly honored to be in such close proximity to the men and women who had worked so hard to participate in these events. I did not know it at the time but two years later my daughter and I would be standing in front of the Olympic Stadium in Greece….. but that’s a story for another post.