BlogHer 2012 is here! The official conference begins in just 1 day, but bloggers have been arriving in New York for several days now, and the parties are already in full swing. It's going to be a hectic three day or four days, filled with people and parties, seminars and swag, friends and fun -- and for the first time since 2008, I won't be there.
I'm sad to be missing it all... but since I'm in London for the 2012 Olympics, I think I'll survive. While bloggers were packing their suitcases and traveling to New York, I was watching Olympic sailing in Weymouth. While they are listening to the closing keynote speeches (or perhaps partying at CheeseburgHer) on August 4th, I'll be watching Team GB compete in the football semi-finals at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. Yes, we've had the good fortune to get tickets to 2 Olympic events... and we were even able to visit the Olympic Park!
I know, it doesn't sound like much: walk around East London and look at a couple of stadiums. We didn't get to see any events being held at Olympic Park. We didn't even get to see the Olympic flame (which is in Olympic Park, but it's inside Olympic Stadium, and since we don't have tickets to an event in Olympic Stadium, we couldn't go inside). But you can't actually go inside the Olympic Park unless you have tickets to an event being held inside Olympic Park, or have tickets to visit the park. Tickets to visit Olympic Park were in as much demand as tickets to any Olympic event, and perhaps more so. They cost only £15 for adults and £10 for kids, so they are super affordable... if you could get them. They sold out on the first day they were made available on the London 2012 tickets website, so I was really depressed..... until McDonald's came to the rescue! I had expressed interest in seeing the World's Largest McDonald's (located inside Olympic Park), so they sent tickets to the park for all 5 of us, and even treated us to lunch at McDonald's!
It turned out that there is more than enough to see and do at Olympic Park to keep you busy for a whole day, even if you aren't attending any Olympic events. No, that's not true: I think you could fill a good 2 days exploring and enjoying Olympic Park. I've already written a post on BlogHer about our day at the Olympic Park, but it was too exciting a day to limit to a single post, so I'm sharing some more photos and recaps of our day:
3Po and Jammy wore their Olympic mascot (Wenlock) shirts that day, and I'm so glad I bought them before we left for the UK, because they weren't available for sale inside the stores. In fact, they were the only ones wearing those shirts, and we received lots of compliments and questions about where we had bought them.
One of the activities I enjoyed most was sitting on a huge, grassy lawn with hundreds of other park visitors to watch live Olympic action on a giant screen. We arrived just in time to see the first Olympic gold medal of the 2012 games awarded to Chinese shooter Yi Siling.
In between covering Olympic events, the BBC would occasionally switch to live shots of the Olympic Park, including shots of the crowd watching the big tv screens. Jammy took the opportunity to make his debut on live tv by running behind the TV presenters and doing a little dance! Yes, that's Jammy, in between the male presenter and the male butterfly.
While we were wandering around the park, we encountered a big group of volunteers and police officers cordoning off an area for a VIP who was set to arrive in a couple of minutes. When we asked one of the volunteers who the VIP was, he said he wasn't allowed to tell anyone, but that we would definitely recognize him, and he was worth waiting for.
He was right; we definitely did recognize the VIP, and that SHE was definitely worth waiting for!
Some of the things we didn't get to do:
* Take the elevator to the top of The Orbit and enjoy the view.
* See the other arenas up close-- the Velodrome, basketball arena, BMX arena, etc...
* Visit the other sponsor pavilions (top on our list were the Panasonic HD theatre and the Coca-Cola Beatbox).
* Try some of the other foods inside the park (curries, Thai noodles, cornish pasties, hummus and falafel, there was so much to choose from!).
* See Will & Kate or Posh & Becks.
Okay, I was kidding about that last one. I've already seen David Beckham, and I really couldn't care if I never saw his wife in my lifetime. Seeing the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge would have been nice, but getting to see their grandmother, live, was already something that most Brits don't get to do. In fact, getting into Olympic Park is something that post Brits, or people, won't get to do, so I am so happy to have had the chance. The Olympic organizers did a really great job making everything run smoothly, so we had a wonderful experience -- just incredible sights and an incredible atmosphere. We enjoyed every bit of our visit!