Tomorrow the Olympics begin, so naturally I decided today would be the day to buy Chinese dumplings. I know that sounds crazy, but I’ve been meaning to go to the Chinatown supermarket for a while now, and I figured I’d combine it with some last minute tourism. I was feeling a little guilty because I missed the Olympic torch this morning. I know it’s a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” but it was at 6:45. In the morning. There are three things in life I really don’t like — waking up early, standing in crowds, and heat. Seeing the torch would at least involve the first two with a hint of the third, so I decided not to go. But I felt like I needed to get into the Olympic spirit somehow. I love our neighborhood, but it’s so quiet and secluded, sometimes I just have to go see Big Ben to remind myself that I live in London.
These signs were everywhere:
I was trying to be artistic here but the sun was a little too bright. I never thought I’d say that about London weather.
I started walking towards Trafalgar’s Square. There were a butt-ton of people hanging out outside of 10 Downing Street, where the prime minister lives.
The massive amounts of swarming tourists everywhere wasn’t that surprising, as that’s rather common in London. What was surprising was this:
No cars! Only buses and taxis are allowed to drive around central London now. It felt a little eery.
This was a checkpoint. If you weren’t a bus or taxi you had to turn left, you couldn’t go straight. I think cyclists were allowed, but I’m not sure.
Remember when I saw all the signs for Horse Guards Parade a couple weeks ago? Like a typical American, I thought it involved guards on horses parading around and throwing candy to crowds of kids (the candy bit was wishful thinking.) Well, there are no clowns or elephants in Piccadilly Circus, and Horse Guards Parade is not a processional, but rather a large parade ground. I’ve had my photo taken with the horses that stand outside several times and had no idea what the building was for. Well now it will be the site of beach volleyball. Hooray, I saw an Olympic venue!
I finally made it to Trafalgar’s Square to see the official Olympics countdown. I love this pensive dude in purple.
There were little signs in the fountain telling you not to swim or drink from it. I definitely saw a toddler wading in it.
This German clock was going off and tourists were loving it.
I was surprised Chinatown was so well decorated.
Love the alternating British and Chinese flags.
Wait, what is that at the top of the gate?
It’s the queen! Who cares if the Jubilee was almost two months ago, it was probably hard to get that up there and would be disrespectful to take it down. Right?
More Chinatown festiveness.
And now some final photos of all the flags of the participating countries displayed around Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street:
On the bus ride home I saw the South Korean archery team walking down the street near Lord’s cricket grounds, where they’re holding the archery events. Everyone on the bus pointed them out and got excited. I don’t know anything about archery, yet alone South Korean archery, but it was still exciting to see some real live athletes.
I may have missed the Olympic torch, but I saw Korean archers, an Olympic venue, and a London without cars. I also got my Chinese dumplings, hoisin sauce and edamame. Not a bad day.