I just spent the last nine days in London enjoying the Olympics, and I must say it went about as well as it could have gone. I set myself up in a nice situation by using miles to fly, staying at a buddy’s place, and using my money to acquire a full schedule of tickets. It was a perfect storm of an opportunity for me, so I had to take advantage. I highly recommend doing the Olympics at least once in your life. It should be high on your bucket list if you’re a sports fan. Rio de Janeiro may have the leg up on women, but they’ve got their work cut out for them in 2016 to match the 2012 London experience.
1. Hide the Women and Children
The fear for those living in a major city which hosts the Olympics is that the city is going to be overrun with people. These people assume the public transportation system will be jam-packed, while the roads will be full of cars moving athletes and officials. Reservations at restaurants will be impossible and bars will be overcrowded. I'm here to tell you that's not the case.
It appears a lot of the locals left town for vacation (or holiday as they say over in London) and any tourist wishing to come for non-Olympic activities was scared away. Cabbies and restaurant owners are complaining about the lack of business. It was incredibly easy to get everywhere and only once or twice was the Underground (aka subway system) super-crowded. I've also heard this happened for the last couple Olympics. This was one of the biggest fears for New Yorkers when thecity bid to for the Games. Now you know that argument is a waste of time.
2. It’s Jolly Old England for a Reason
The good thing about London missing those who wanted to leave town is that those that stayed were happy to have the Olympics around. Everyone around was incredibly welcoming of us foreigners who were in town for the Games. Maybe it was more pleasant for me because I could communicate in my own language, but I believe the sentiment was held throughout all countries. The volunteers themselves were truly wonderful, trying to make the best of their Olympic experience as well.
3. Athletics is Where It’s At
The question I’ve been asked the most since my return is which sport did I enjoy the most. Over the course of my eight days I saw athletics, basketball, beach volleyball, soccer, tennis, and wrestling. I’m a track & field junkie during Olympic time, so Athletics was the easy choice for me, but you definitely get your money’s worth. Every night of Athletics includes somewhere between 4-5 gold-medal events. There’s never any down time because there’s always something going on in front of you. In between the races around the track, the field events are continually going. You can view the action from wherever you sit in the stadium. Beach Volleyball had the best venue (a temporary structure of that size in Central London to watch chicks in bikinis play volleyball is touch to match), but Athletics gave you the most action. The noise created from a stadium of 80,000 over a moment like Usain Bolt winning one of his three medals or Mo Farah winning his two was unparalleled.
4. Hope You Had Tickets
The secondary market is usually non-existent in England and the Olympics were no exception. Unless you had a network of people on the ground in England, there was no way you were getting your hands on extra tickets. No one was selling tickets at the events and it was basically impossible to secure anything off the London2012 website. I heard a few stories of police arrests for those who even tried to do anything at the facilities. The shame of it is there were plenty of countries whose Olympic delegations had leftover tickets and a lot of the time they went unused.
5. Was This the Best Olympics Ever?
Our society has become immediate in nature, in both consumption and commentary. Therefore it’s no surprise that many are calling this London 2012 Olympics the best ever. After experiencing them first hand, I’m really not sure how you can make the Olympics any better. There were faults like the ticket situation and pubs closing down at 11:30 p.m. (if you’re unfamiliar with London, regular bar close early and you have to explore to find things open later), but no Olympic Games would ever go off with a slight hitch. The venues were all first rate. The good options were rather diverse. Transportation was easy as mentioned before. The competitions themselves produced many memorable moments. Given the likelihood that there will be no downturn in the economy as other historic Olympic cities have experienced, London may truly have the leg up on everyone.