London 2012: My First Olympics!

OK, so it’s taken me awhile to do a “London 2012” post.  I blame moving to the opposite end of the east coast. 🙂  But at last, here it is!

Like so many others, I’ve wanted to attend an Olympic Games for as long as I can remember.  Growing up in a swimming family, the summer Olympics have basically always been our own version of the super bowl — and we only get to experience it once every four years.  I remember my parents giving thought to taking us to the summer games in 1996 when they were in Atlanta, but trying to get your hands on tickets (and accommodations) for a family of six isn’t a very easy feat.  So the dream continued… Sydney in 2000, obviously way too far away to consider going.  The 2004 (Athens) and 2008 (Beijing) games were sandwiched between my college years, a time when money certainly didn’t grow on trees. 🙂

As soon as I learned the 2012 Summer Olympics would be in London, I knew I wanted to go.  I knew I’d be at a point where I could save enough money to afford the trip, and I knew the likelihood the games would be in an English-speaking city any time soon (after London) would be slim.

With my brother on board, we planned a split trip to Europe — spend a week in “mainland” Europe,  then head to London for the Olympics.  After a full week of traveling in France, Switzerland, and Italy, my brother and I boarded a Eurostar train bound for London.  A couple hours later, we stepped out of the train to see the huge Olympic rings.  We were definitely in the right place!

Since many of you enjoyed my do’s and don’ts of Europe (food) post, I thought I’d do a similar post for the Olympics.  So without further ado, I give you my “Do’s and Don’ts of the Olympic Games.”  Remember, these are based on my opinions and experiences — I highly recommend attending the Olympics yourself so you can develop your own opinions.  🙂

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Do’s and Don’ts of Spectating the Olympic Games

Do remember to take in the local sights, beyond the arenas and stadiums.  In London, we were lucky in that the events we attended (cycling and beach volleyball) took place in front of some pretty impressive places.  It’s not every day you’re watching the world’s best cyclists ride past Queen Elizabeth’s house. 🙂

Don’t arrive to the games without a supply of your home country’s flags.  Unless the Olympics are being held in your home country, it’s tough to find flags, and they’re very overpriced.  That said, pay what you have to pay to show your patriotism, especially if you’re an American!  I think Americans were the most subtle out of everyone there — we need to up our game.

…Speaking of upping our game 😉  But this was a rarity!!

Do save your tickets after using them.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with mine, but I’ll think of something — I paid too much money and had too much fun not to make a crafty souvenir out them!

Don’t trek out to Olympic Park (especially if Olympic Park is ten miles from the city, and you literally trekked by bicycle out there) without a ticket to Olympic Park.  Unless you want to go shopping in the adjacent shopping mall and/or jealously watch passersby go into the park.  Ugh… Olympic ticketing is another story for another day!

Do take advantage of free entertainment in the area.  There were thousands of people in London who didn’t have tickets to the actual events, but you could still take in the atmosphere (live!!) on huge screens at local parks, free of charge.  My brother and I watched a lot of swimming in Hyde Park with lots of other ticket-less swimming enthusiasts. 🙂

Don’t shy away from taking a million pictures at every single event you attend.  Everyone around you is a tourist, even the locals — this is the Olympics!!  You’d laugh at how many pictures I have of Kessy and Ross playing beach volleyball.  I like to think my excessive photography propelled them to their silver medal. 😉

Don’t be ashamed to dip into fast food establishments for meals.  Hear me out:  (1) if you want to see a lot of Olympics activity, you’re going to be on the go constantly, making fast meals very appealing, (2) you want to save money for attending events, buying souvenirs, etc.,  (3) if like me, you’ve already been traveling for a week and a half, chicken sandwiches and french fries will become the ultimate comfort food, (4) if McDonalds keeps sponsoring the Olympics, you’ll likely get a pretty little glass with your meal purchase, and (5) so many American Olympic athletes celebrate with McDonalds, so really you’re just supporting Team USA. 😉

Do stock up on official Olympic souvenirs.  There’s a good chance you may not make it back to an Olympics, so it’s OK to splurge and spend a few too many dollars (or pounds, or…) on random things like oven gloves. 😉

Don’t forget to take a step back and look at everyone around you — better yet, strike up a conversation with someone from another country.  You’d be surprised how much you have in common, and the passion you share for your respective country’s sports and athletes.  As silly as it sounds, it’s such an amazing experience to be a part of — one that I’ll certainly never forget!

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I hope you enjoyed this version of “do’s and don’ts” 🙂  Oh, and in case you didn’t catch it, I titled this post “my first Olympics” because I definitely intend to attend future Olympics. 🙂  See you in Rio? 😉

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6 thoughts on “London 2012: My First Olympics!”

  1. So jealous! Looks like so much fun, and I love your Do’s and Don’t’s!
    Thanks for sharing the experience! This was actually the first Olympic Games I’ve ever watched (on TV) and I was super excited. I watched pretty much every sport that was on and went to bed at ungodly hours, trying to watch as many events as I could!
    Will definitely have to try to get to an Olympics in the future! It looks too good NOT to do!

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