Up To Eleven

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012 06:49 pm
tourmaline: (London 2012)
[personal profile] tourmaline
I was at the rehearsal for the Olympics opening ceremony last night. Despite problems with the transport, it was an amazing evening.

If you saw my last post you'll have noted I was rather anxious about going. I've never done anything remotely like this before, and it must be ten years since I was last in London - pre-Oystercard era, so lots was new. I'd booked into a hotel in Bloomsbury overnight, at the time of booking there was a bus strike scheduled so I wanted somewhere within walking distance of Euston. This was one of those hotels converted from two old townhouses, so the stairs are steeper than you think they're going to be, but the hotel was spotless and had excellent air-conditioning and free Wi-fi. A small room, but bright and light.

It seems I set out for Stratford in good time, as the London Overground (basically like the Underground but not under ground, trains designed for standing passengers) which I'd just arrived at the venue on had problems not long after 5pm and was out of action for several hours. The only uncomfortable part of the queueing up to get into the venue was when we were in sections waiting to be waved through towards security, as we were out in the blazing sun. But once past this it was all smooth sailing, busy but not stupidly busy, and the GamesMakers, security people, police, ambassadors etc were all very enthusiastic and efficient. I hung around for a while by the food court area, had some sushi, and bought a T-shirt (bringing my Olympics T-shirts total to 11) and a gold Wenlock for my niece before going in to the stadium. I'm glad I did, because my seat was in direct sunlight, but by the time I got to my seat the sun was setting behind the stadium. Nevertheless, I arrived to find I had a very good seat, the kind I probably wouldn't be able to afford if I'd had to pay for a ticket to the real ceremony - I was eight rows back from trackside, and assuming I was along the home straight I would've been between midway along and the finish line.

The stadium was set with the pastoral scene that had been talked about in the news, and large video screens around the top of the stadium were displaying the hashtag for the evening - #savethesurprise - so I'm not going to tell any more about the show, other than it was absolutely stunning. Really, don't think you can miss this one, Danny Boyle and the performers have done us proud.

Some pictures of the stadium environs:

Making our way to the stadium (the chap in purple with London 2012 and the Olympic rings on his back is a GamesMaker, the role I applied for)

First views of the stadium and entrance

Up closer

The ArcelorMittal Orbit viewing tower (suggestions for other names on a postcard) with One Canada Square in the background

Getting closer to the stadium

I have lots of photos from the ceremony, I plan to share them after Friday.

I think it took about an hour to get back to my hotel, maybe a little less - which was good considering the Central line (my intended route) was out of action, by that stage I was down to rationing my water consumption and I had a thumping hunger headache, having had only a pack of sushi at the stadium. But by returning the way I came it meant I could stop at Burger King at Euston for a chicken burger with a pretentious name and a large Diet Coke, which I must've eaten in record time before taking a cool shower and going to bed. Not that I could sleep a great deal, despite having Stephen Fry reading Moab Is My Washpot to lull me to sleep.

I caught the train back home this morning, and was in work this afternoon where I resolutely refused to give away any details despite questioning coming from all directions.

Wait till Friday. Watch. I promise it'll be amazing.