While the first part of my Olympic weekend might have been a slow burner, I was very excited at the prospect of visiting the Olympic park. Can it really feel like the Olympics unless you've been inside the athletics stadium?
We arrived early at the Olympic park fearing that the travel might be a lot more painful than it actually was. Getting out of Stratford station was a little crowded, but just like at the Excel centre the security checks were a breeze.
We had an hour or so before we needed to take our seats in the main stadium and decided to check out part of the Olympic park. We found our way off the main pedestrian super highway which links up all the venues and down onto one the canal side paths. The smaller riverside paths were the best bit of the parklands for me. Away from the bustling crowds they allowed you to relax, check out the plants and some of the art installations.
We also found our way over to the Copper Box which I was keen to check out. It wasn't quite as impressive as I thought it might be. The copper is in the intermediate stage where it is no longer shiny, but hasn't yet turned green. There was a large sign outside of the 'box' telling you to run and I couldn't resist the photo opportunity (see below)
The Olympic flame
We then headed into the Olympic stadium. Yeah! Seated high up at one end we had fantastic views of the whole track and field. The atmosphere in the stadium can only be described as electric. Everyone was there to have a great time and that really came across.
As we had morning tickets we only saw heats: men's discus, women's 100m hurdles, women's shot put, men's 800m and women's 1500m. There was a Team GB competitor in every event and the crowd went absolutely bonkers cheering them on. Lawrence Okoye made it into the discuss final with one of his last throws and the place erupted. Okoye was bouncing round the track so excited to have qualified. It made you very proud to be British.
In some of the women's 1500m heats there was a runner who came home ~10 seconds after everyone else and the crowd gave them a huge cheer. it was almost trying to lift them over the line as if we thought they weren't going to make it. Even though they still ran a time the rest of us couldn't even dream of!
Our time in the stadium was over all too quickly. Athletics was the ticket I'd really wanted and it lived up to expectations.
Well it says run. Outside the Copper Box
We had a couple of hours free before we needed to enter the swimming pool for the synchronised swimming so decided to head to the far side of the park as I wanted to walk past the velodrome. By this time the Olympic Park was totally packed with all of the morning and afternoon visitors there trying to soak up the atmosphere.
We took the pedestrian super highway across to the velodrome and then managed to find a path down to the canal side for the walk back to the swimming pool. Just as in the morning it was very refreshing to be down by the water.
Although I did enjoy the Olympic parklands they were a bit smaller than I expected. I'd heard so much about them being enormous and I was expecting something more on the scale of Sydney's Olympic park. I wasn't at the Sydney Olympics, but did visit Homebush a few times while I was in Australia, and the parklands there are much larger. I think I'd let my imagination get a bit carried away with how big they might be!
The Royal Barge
In the afternoon we were had tickets for the pairs sycnronised swimming. The first thing I noticed as I entered the pool was the stifling heat and humidity, it really was quite oppressive. Luckily after a while they opened some windows behind us and things cooled down a bit.
The pairs sychronised swimming was better than the fencing, but not as exciting as the athletics. There were twenty four nations competing in the heats to make the final and we left with quite a few others after the British pair came on nineteenth.
Getting back to Stratford station was a scrum, but we miraculously had an empty DLR train home.