Saturday, 28 July 2012

The London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony - we were there!

Last night, the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony took place at the Olympic Park in London, and we were lucky enough to actually be there! I posted last week about how, despite not receiving any tickets in the first round and only a few to less popular events in the second round, thanks to my husband's determination and persistance over the last few weeks we have been lucky enough to build up an excellent selection of tickets. He was even able to secure a ticket to the Opening Ceremony just a couple of days ago for his sister to join us. We are also extremely fortunate in my parents, who have effectively put their lives on hold for the next couple of weeks to act as our babysitters!

We booked our parking at Ebbsfleet International for £8 and then caught the Javelin train in to Stratford. It only took about ten minutes, and because we arrived quite early the train was nearly empty. It was a very smooth process, and we arrived right in the middle of the Olympic Park. It was starting to get busy, with lots of people milling about. We wandered around looking at the lanyards that many people were wearing, unfortunately I'm not very good at celebrity spotting but there were lots of people with the title "Athlete" which was very exciting! We were right opposite the Olympic Village, and we could see all the country flags hanging out of the windows.

We had some tickets to collect, so Ram went and joined the queue at the Box Office. The queue didn't seem too long, although it did take a while to get everything sorted. Then we went into the Westfield Shopping Centre for some dinner. The shops had all closed but the restaurants were just letting the last people in, so we were able to enjoy a relaxed dinner in an emptying restaurant away from the crowds outside.

At 5pm the Olympic Park was opened to the public. We weren't first in the queue and had expected a long wait to get through security, but to our surpise the process was really fast and we didn't have to wait at all. The older gentleman in front of us set off the metal detector as he went through, and proudly produced the reason - a gold Olympic medal from the 1964 Olympics! Of course we were suitably impressed, and he allowed us to have a close look at his medal - and even to touch it!

On the other side the atmosphere was buzzing. There were television crews aplenty, and when Ram recognised a BBC presenter he couldn't resist jumping in front of the camera, an event shortly followed by a phone call from his cousin who had just seen him live on television!

London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony

London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony

We took a slow walk up to the stadium, pausing frequently to take plenty of photos and drink in the atmosphere. The Olympic Park was beautiful and clean, and although busy there was plenty of space to mill around. We had to refill our water bottles so we found the free water fountains, and there were plenty of toilets too which is always appreciated!

London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony

Then it was time to enter the Stadium. Our seats were pretty high up which was a steep climb, but because the area in the centre was so big we still had a good view. The first thing that we noticed when we took our seats was the "paddle" attached to the seat in front with lights on the front of it. Of course there was much speculation about what was going to happen, especially where the cauldron for the Olympic flame would be as there was nothing obvious. The set, with its grassy hills, waterwheel and little cottages looked pretty permanent.

Even though the televised show wasn't due to start for a long time, we were still entertained. Four huge clouds were being marched about, and at intervals different animals were brought out into the fields, alongside actors performing little pieces - moving the animals about, playing cricket and having picnics on the grass. 


London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony

As 8.12pm approached we were able to see the paddles in action as they lit up to form a huge countdown to a flypast by the Red Arrows - we couldn't see them because we were well under the roof, but we heard them! We also received our instructions, as there were lots of things that we had to do to help create the atmosphere. We were all given 3D glasses which let to great excitement, although of course we found out later that there was nothing 3D in the show at all, it was just to make us part of the scenery!

For the beginning of the show the entire audience area was covered with with huge blue sheets, which we had to push up and down from underneath to create the effect of a sea with a tiny island in the middle. Unfortunately it didn't actually make it to the televised show which is a shame as it must have looked really good! Then the show began.

It was truly spectacular. There was so much going on in all directions, it was impossible to take it all in. It was amazing watching the co-ordination going on below, as the countryside set was slowly dismantled and the Industrial Revolution began, complete with rising towers and the forging of a huge ring in the central furnace, which rose up to meet the four other Olympic rings in the roof of the Stadium. Then the journey began through Britain's modern history with a few surprises along the way - I still can't believe that they persuaded the Queen to take part in a James Bond segment!

London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony

The Athletes Parade did take a while, and to be honest if I'd been watching from home this would have been the point at which I went to bed. But actually being there was an amazing experience. Afterwards a group of cyclists circled the stadium with huge glowing doves on their backs - a representation of the doves that were released at the Games in ancient times to signal peace. Then followed the speeches and of course the lighting of the cauldron, which was beautiful and was followed by some spectacular fireworks.

London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony

It finished late, and we were a little concerned about our train back to Ebbsfleet. However it turned out that once we'd walked to the station it was only a very small crowd, and we were on a train back to the car within minutes.

We had a brilliant time and I'm so lucky to have had the opportunity to experience it. The show was absolutely fantastic and it's an occasion that we'll remember for the rest of our lives.

Did you watch the Opening Ceremony? What did you think?

Want to involve your children in the Olympic spirit? Why not make some Olympic Rings or an Olympic Torch!

34 comments:

  1. I thought the ceremony was completely amazing, and that was the view from my sofa; watching it from the stadium must have been a life changing event! It struck just the right note, didn't gloss over our less than wonderful sides as a nation, and was hilarious. Mr Bean, glorious cycling birds, music, music, music and that spectacular cauldron. You really were at the event of the century, you lucky thing!

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    1. We were so lucky to get tickets, it really was a once in a lifetime event! We had speculated beforehand that Mr Bean might be there, he is such a beloved British export!

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  2. Wow what an amazing thing to be able to see. I haven't watched it yet because we were getting off a ferry and driving home at the time, but we saw the "pre-show" stuff whilst we were on the ferry and I am pleased to report that the blue fabric waves were on that bit - and they looked great. I've recorded it and can't wait to watch it all tonight.

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    1. I'm so glad that the waves were seen on TV, it must have looked brilliant and I was disappointed to watch the videod show earlier and it was missed out!

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  3. So great to hear first hand what it was like. What an amazing experience! I loved watching the opening ceremony. It was really something.

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    1. It was amazing, we've just been watching the TV recording from last night, and I think I could watch it over and over again.

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  4. It looked amazing on TV and it must have been a wonderful experience to be there. It needed plenty of stamina though!

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    1. Yes, it was a long night (although short in terms of sleep!)!

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  5. What an amazing experience. It was stunning enough on TV.

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  6. How Exciting! Not being a big sports fan, I didn't think that I would watch much- but I was blown away! We were lucky enough to watch it in 3d and it was FAB. My girl and I did have a snooze half way through the athletes coming in, but I'm sure that we will all remember this for a long time- as I'm sure you will! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I'm not a big sports fan myself, but I'm really getting into the Olympics this summer because my husband has been pushing so hard to get us tickets. It's so exciting to be involved in the atmosphere!

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  7. ooooh, jealous much?! What a fabulous thing to experience!!! I fell asleep at "d" as the countries were coming into the stadium and woke up again at 'z' (I took 2 hayfever tablets yesterday by mistake!!). It was a wonderful show though and magical opening to the games.

    Just to let you know that I have nominated you as 1 of my 11 for the Liebster Award. Ax

    http://all-in-onemum.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/nominated-for-liebster-award-little-ol.html

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    1. I must admit that I used the Athletes Parade for a quick toilet trip (as did most people), I didn't really appreciate how long it was going to take overall until I got back and they had only reached Aruba!

      Thank you for the nomination!

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  8. What a fabulous fabulous experience. You were part of history last night! I watched it from Bavaria, bitterly jealous I wasn't back in London! Even if I couldn't have made the ceremony, I imagine all the parties taking place to watch it together were spectacular! Great write up! :)

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    1. It was amazing, and I definitely would have been watching at home if I'd not been able to go!

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  9. It looked amazing. It was suitably British - bonkers, full of humour and focussed on the people, rather than the spectacle. I am much jealous. We Sky+ the ceremony as it was a bit late for us, and we spun at x6 speed through the athletes' parade. Much easier. The rest of it was compelling though. I especially liked them carrying the flag in with Doreen Lawrence and that Ethiopian marathon runner who's name I can say but not spell, so I won't bother trying. Glad you had a good time, it is indeed a once in a lifetime event.

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    1. See we didn't catch the details like that in the athlete's parade because there was no screen with close ups. We only picked out Bolt because we knew that he was carrying the flag!

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  10. Oh Jennifer you're so lucky and I'm so jealous!!! It looked amazing on TV so it must have been spectacular to actually be there. I thought we did a fantastic job of the ceremony, I especially loved the humour and it made me so proud to be British. I even watched it again with Oliver this morning, he was enthralled with it too and he's only 3 years old! Glad you had such a brilliant time xx

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    1. It was wonderful, my three year old loved watching the show on the television too. We would have liked to have taken him, but not for the full price that his ticket would have cost!

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  11. I bet the atmosphere was absolutely amazing, I was unsure how well it would go when they first mentioned what was going to be included within the show, but thought it was a great show (apart from Paul McCartney it seemed the only bit that didn't go right)! Glad you had fun as it is such a once in a life time event!

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    1. The Paul McCartney bit was a bit slow at the end. We were standing up at the exit at that point to try and beat the queue for the train!

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  12. Oh wow, lucky you! It looked amazing on TV so I can only imagine what it looked like in person. Fantastic to be able to look back in years to come and say ' I was there!'

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    1. We will certainly always remember it, and I know we were very lucky to be there!

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  13. Thank you so much for this post. I watched it on TV but it's lovely to have the view of what it was like from inside the stadium. You were so lucky to get tickets - I applied loads of time and got NONE at all!

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    1. It was all down to my husband, he stalked the ticket site day and night, refreshing the page until the tickets came up. He actually bought the Opening Ceremony ones on the phone while we were waiting for the torch to pass by us!

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  14. Wow! You were actually there!!! Bet that was amazing!!! x

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    1. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience!

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  15. I watched it on TV! It was amazing, I can only imagine how amazing it must've been to actually be there! What an experience!! Amazing photots.
    Thanks for posting :) x

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    1. Thank you, and I'm glad you liked the post!

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  16. You're so lucky to have gone, I won't ask how much you had to pay for your tickets tho' ;-)

    The opening ceremony was simply amazing and made me so proud to be British. We have tickets to the closing ceremony and it it's half as good as Friday's event, we'll count ourselves very lucky indeed

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    1. We had tickets in category C - not the cheapest but nowhere near the most expensive either! We are also lucky enough to be going to the Closing Ceremony, and it should be just as spectacular!

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  17. Wow, you are so lucky. It must have been amazing. Your husband sounds as determined as my brother. Over the last few weeks my bro. has spent hours on-line and has managed to get his hands on loads of tickets. I think he is going to something nearly every day - but even he didn't manage to get tickets to the ceremonies.

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    1. There were still tickets available for some excellent events, but you did have to be determind to get them, and my husband put in some serious hours in front of a screen, night and day. My husband found it addictive though, it was all about upgrading the tickets that he had to better and better events!

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