MATC publications coordinator Dan Reszel visited his daughter in London earlier this year. With the attention to the 2012 Olympic Games, the Source Corner asked Dan to share insight from his visit. The Reszel family is shown at the Countdown Clock in Trafalgar Square.
Our children take us places we would never go.
It’s a late Sunday morning when my wife and I arrive in London. Due to the six-hour time change, my internal “clock” feels-like 3:30 a.m. Our daughter, Clare, is on spring break from her semester of study abroad at King’s College in London.
We have not seen her in three-and-a-half months (we Skype once a week, but still …). As we near the designated meeting place – the Marble Arch underground station at Oxford Street – our anticipation is easily winning out over fatigue from the no-sleep overnight flight from Chicago. It’s my first trip to Europe and only because Clare is spending five months of her college career here. Let the adventure begin.
London, April 2012. About three months before the start of the Olympics. Anticipation for the Olympics is, too, winning out over fatigue. The chief fatigue factor from the locals (some seven million people) stems from “upgrades” that cause frequent closings of major transportation lines of their essential underground (or “tube”). My well-worn guide books say it’s the most expansive and expensive public transport system in the world. Fatigue aside, most in London seem to live by their long-held axiom, Be Calm and Carry On.
With Clare as our guide, we quickly become adept at getting around this incredible, diverse, dense and vivacious metropolis (calling it a mere “city” does not do it justice). Signs of the London Olympics are everywhere and seem almost commonplace; one more big event in a place where “big” and “event” are ordinary.
We linger in Trafalgar Square, London’s grand central meeting point. It features a smart “countdown” clock, marking the days/hours/minutes until the Olympic Games begin. Tourists line up, pose and count the days forward.
We visit Horse Guards near Buckingham Palace. This stable and riding area is used by the personal bodyguards of the Queen, riders in ceremonial parades who are also elite troops, serving in conflicts around the world. Horse Guards is now transformed, holding the odd combination of equestrian and beach volleyball Olympic Games competition.
We experience Olympic Park, a short train ride from central London, where in April construction was at a fever pitch. This is the epicenter of the games, an old industrial site reborn. Olympic Stadium, the 12,000-seat basketball area, the Aquatics Center and other competitive venues seem to be new, bright white-colored blossoms overcoming a once harsh landscape.
We stroll through Hyde Park, the 600-acre green space in a staid London enclave. Here Olympic triathletes will compete in swimming, running and biking. In our three-hours here we experience a tri-weather event: hail, rain and sunshine.
It’s London. We remain calm and carry on.