Today (Sunday, August 12) is the Closing Ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympic Games. By all reports, the event will not disappoint. I have decided not to use my ticket to Victoria Park to view it with 50,000 others on a huge outdoor screen (which I did and had a grand time for the Opening Ceremony) but rather stay in my flat, feet up, glass of wine in hand, watching the spectacular event on the telly and hearing the crowds roar through my open window.
The energy level of London is still at fever pitch, the crowds are still pushing and trampling on and off the trains and buses, in and out of stores, everywhere. The queues are long, everywhere. It is a Disney-like atmosphere, in the Park and on the streets, everywhere.
On Friday night, after my last shift, I was invited to join a small group of friends whom I have met though the Ellie's Elite Games Maker Facebook Page. It was Ellie and Simon Smith and others in this incredible group of Games Makers, who were instrumental in making my London 2012 Adventure come true. We had dinner on the sixth floor of the Tate Modern with its brilliant and breathtaking view of South London at sunset.
Yesterday, I played sightseer. Now off shift and out of my GM uniform, I wrapped my American Flag scarf around my neck and took to those crowded tubes and buses and oh, yes... my feet. What a beating they have taken and it is so tempting to just sit back and give them a rest but with only a few days left here, that didn't seem to be a feasible or reasonable (although maybe the smarter!) option.
I walked the Thames, up one side and down the other. This is definitely a city for walkers. The thing is, you really can just keep walking and not realize how far you have gone!
The Mall at Buckingham Palace was closed for the speed walking finals. Seeing the Queen wasn't home for spot of tea, I was able to catch a peek at this event. My friend and CT Massage Therapist colleague, Maryanne Daniel, herself a champion walker, instructor and international judge would have been in her glory.
Covent Gardens, near Piccadilly, was beautiful and was wall to wall people in a shopping frenzy. There are high-end stores intertwined with craft boutiques, food vendors, restaurants and pubs. If you were looking for something, probably anything, you most likely could find it here. That is, if you have the patience to fight the crowds and stand in the queues. I didn't! Sorry family and friends, no gifts from London for you!
The London I saw was spotless, even the trains that transported the millions of visitors. There were food vendors, comedy acts, street performers and pubs with pints and Pimms. A city where they speak English but where I sometimes didn't understand a word of what they said! Where there seems to be an acronym for everything from Olympic jargon to travel to daily life.
The Londoners I met were jovial, polite and charming. Very gracious hosts to their 2.7 million plus new best friends. I have to wonder what it will be like here in a month's time, when the Games are over and everyone has gone home. The Olympic Park will close for about 18 months for an overhaul. Designed to be recyclable and reusable, parts will be sold to Rio for the 2016 Games, other parts will be revamped and reconstructed for the public's use. There is even a permanent Olympic Museum that will be located on site. A museum that if rumor has it right, will include a display honoring the 70,000 plus Games Makers that helped make the London 2012 Games such a success. Wouldn't that be something, a poppy and purple memorial!
In just two more days my London 2012 Adventure will lead me home to Colchester and Niantic but I don't expect it to end with my trip back across the pond. I hope that what I have experienced and learned, the friendships I have made, the sights that I have seen will stay with me for my lifetime.