On Tuesday afternoon Aviya and I set off for London to be guests of British Airways at the London Olympics 2012 Women’s Hockey. We had an amazing time.
There’s just so much about the Olympic area in Stratford that was eye catching, interesting, or otherwise engaging. London as a city was about as quiet as I’ve ever seen it in the middle of the day, and the tube to Stratford was occupied but not crowded. Upon our arrival at Stratford we were met with a steady stream of people being shepherded through the train station with strict up lanes and down lanes, and volunteer stewards every few feet, guiding and directing and getting the crowd moving along quickly and efficiently.
Aviya and I went to the ticket pickup point and collected our hospitality passes and tickets for the game and met up with the rest of the bloggers for the British Airways #HomeAdvantage campaign. Tickets collected, we returned to the throng and found our way through airport-like security (where I had to surrender an almost new can of Unforgettable from South Africa to the bin! *sob*) before seating ourselves in a lovely sunny spot in the BA hospitality suite.
Despite the fact that there were way too many empty seats, considering how many people can’t get tickets, the atmosphere was really fantastic. There were enough spectators from each country to make the crowd really feel each missed goal and truly celebrate each small win, till eventually there was victory or loss.
During the gap between the two games I needed to go to the loo, and was absolutely shocked. For the first time ever at an event of this scale, I didn’t have to as much as queue for the facilities! There were enough and they were clean. That was a definite bonus. I mean, you don’t want your Olympic story to be that you went, but spent half the event queueing for the toilets!
The whole place looks amazing – from the ‘soft’ playground style flooring in some parts to the elaborate and intriguing art work structures, to gorgeous night time lighting to the incredible flow and – I’ll use the word again – efficiency of controlling the movement of people.
The most unexpected part of the whole event, however, was how friendly all the official volunteers were. Initially I wasn’t sure where to go and a lady came up to me asking if she could help (clearly, I was holding up the flow!), didn’t know the answer to my question, and went to find someone who did, and came back with an answer! On our way out they were smiling, laughing, chatting to spectators, all the while moving us swiftly along to the underground, and back out towards the rest of London in super fast time. Seriously, I’ve been to music concerts with less people that have taken longer to get home!
I’m so incredibly pleased that we managed to get to see an event, and I’m hopeful of another opportunity before the end of the Olympics/Paralympics, because – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – it really is a once in a lifetime, spectacular thing.
P.S. I’m under no obligation to say or share this, but I really want to. British Airways have a fantastic range of adverts out at the moment, in support of Team GB. I was drinking a bottle of water when I saw the first “Don’t Fly” advert and I nearly spat it out in surprise. I think it’s fantastic support from a large corporation.
They also have some brilliant aps out on their Facebook page – one that tracks the tweets sent with the hasthag #HomeAdvantage and creates an audio wave. I have no idea how they did that, but I spent ages last night listening to it.
They also have another really clever advert with a plane travelling down your street – you put in your post code and it draws bits and pieces from your neighbourhood into the ad (probably using Streetview on Google Maps or something) and a total time killer, but I’ve popped in every post code we’ve lived in in the UK. I found it stupidly exciting. It’s brilliant!
But of course, following that flight to South Africa, I’m a huge BA fan anyway.
P.P.S USA beat Argentina, and Australia beat Germany.