It's no secret that Laura and I are lucky enough to live in the greatest city in the world (in our opinion) and from the moment London was announced as the host for the 2012 Olympics, we knew 2012 was going to be an AMAZING year.
The thing with London is even though it is a 'big' city and is generally packed 24 hours a day, it is a city you can find your own space in - and you can really make it your own. We have blogged about our love of Borough Market, Southbank, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Camden Market, the theatres, the restaurants, the free festivals etc etc but NOTHING has created a buzz like the Olympics.
Our Instagram followers will have seen more and more pictures being put up about the changes taking place in London. On our trip around the city to see the Shard opening we drove in and out of Olympic Lanes - decorated but not yet in use at that time - although very much in use now!
Sarah's walk to work is now lined with flags telling the hoards of crowds arriving at Victoria where to go for the Horse Guard's Parade (and the beach volleyball). The corners are filled with tourists trying to read maps and head to Buckingham Palace (it's the main place S gets asked about!).
Every tube station is displaying fushia signs pointing out where to disembark for Olympic events, and most tube stations now have 'tour guides' pointing out where to go. At Earls Court (our first station in the mornings) we have our very own 'Get Ahead of the Games' advisors telling us how to walk or cycle to work! Who are they kidding! Maybe if, you know, it was DRY outside!
A new addition that always makes us smile is Boris Johnson (our Mayor) bellowing over the PA system that we should make sure to check online to 'Get Ahead of the Games' - as we smell the armpits in our faces and get a little too up close and personal with the people around us, we can't help but think - that info may be more useful pre-entering the tube.
And then there is the BRANDING! It started a few months ago but over the last few weeks everything you see, eat, drink, use seems to be getting in on the act :
From a local perspective, the lack of road works is nice to see and the effort to run efficient transport has been noted - less cancellations and more communication! There are more Union Jacks decorating windows and shops than ever before and our parks and streets are gleaming! It's almost as if we are being judged :) The Mall especially has had a face lift this year - thank you Jubilee and Olympics.
Despite not being fortunate enough to get Olympic tickets (although, the fact that if your event gets postponed if it rains, you can't sell your tickets, so you have to come back - coming back from Thailand would be...erm...EXPENSIVE) we are still loving the atmosphere. We hope the summer weather arrives in time!!!
The free Metro paper has become obsessed with reporting every tweet that the athletes put up as they arrive in the city or at the Olympic accommodation.
It's also hard to ignore the once no-go area of Statford is now ordering people to come and visit - with a fast train heading that way and cable cars to transfer you from one side of the river to the other at ONLY £3.60 on an oyster card! Bargain! You can also see the Olympic structures from afar. The only thing we are slightly baffled about is the 'abstract' Arcelor Mittal tower! The view from it is meant to be spectacular but it's not the best looking sculpture we've seen. Laura has just realised it is supposed to be the Olympic flame!!
In all honesty, if the cable car doesn't provide the view you want, there's always 'UP' at the o2 Dome - you could bounce your way over that :)
The other event(s) you can't fail to notice if you live in the UK is the journey of the Olympic torch! 8000 people carrying it 8000 miles and touring the entire UK! It has been tightrope walked, rowed, climbed and ran through the streets of the UK. It's been held by the Queen, Olympic athletes past and present, Lewis Hamilton (of F1 fame), music 'stars' including Will.I.Am (not sure when he became British), old people, school kids, charity workers and two relatives of people Sarah works with (including Martha!). It even visited Sarah's home football club - Madjeski Stadium! Her Dad summed it up when he said 'It is like nothing I've seen in this country!' - literally hundreds of people spill out into streets as it passes, regardless of time or weather. It creates a real sense of pride to say you were there!
It also dominates conversations whereever you go and everyone has something to say on it. Despite the press, from our experience it's been mainly positive! London is always going to be busy in summer, you accept that, so it's nice that they are making an effort to get the city ready.