Today has been incredible. I’m really tired but thought I’d better get a few things down before I forget details.
It’s currently about 11pm in London and we’ve been here for about 12 hours. We arrived at Heathrow a little late, around 11am, but made it through Customs fairly quickly and had only a short wait for our luggage. We found our tour operator and driver and were taken to our hotel, the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge. My husband and I tried to figure out how to connect to wifi on our cells phones to avoid those oh-so-nasty roaming charges – we’ll see when we get our next bill if we figured it out.
There was a little confusion upon check-in, but once that was sorted out, we dropped our bags as our room wasn’t ready and managed to score some tickets to beach volleyball in the afternoon. By that point, it was around 1pm, we hadn’t had lunch yet, and we had to figure out how to get to beach volleyball.
After gawking at Big Ben from our hotel hallway – we’re right across Westminster Bridge from Big Ben, and we’re just a 5 minute walk from the London Eye – we headed downstairs, grabbed some caffeinated drinks and sandwiches from the cafe in the hotel, had to track down our checked bags so we could grab an umbrella and jackets, got directions from the concierge desk, and headed out the door shortly before 2pm. The beach volleyball venue was a short walk away, but since we had to stop for multiple photo ops and navigate the fairly heavy foot traffic, it took a little longer than we thought it would. However, we made it through security and headed in before 2:30pm. As we headed to our seats, we realized that we had forgotten to advise VISA that we would be out of the country, so we stopped by the VISA customer service desk, where they lent us a phone so that we could call and make sure our credit cards weren’t cut off.
We were in our seats shortly after 2:30pm and the game between Russia and Switzerland (women) had started. Russia ended up winning, and then we watched Brazil defeat the Czech Republic (still women’s beach volleyball). The next game was between the American men and Latvia, which the U.S. won.
We had a happy hour meet-and-greet event to get to, so we left before the last match and walked back across Westminster Bridge. We stumbled across a Starbucks and connected to the wifi network there and were able to Facetime our kids.
After, we headed to a pub for some beer and tapas and just relaxed for awhile before we headed over to Canada House. The people we’re traveling with thought we’d be able to get access as (extended) family members, and indeed we did. Talk about an exciting experience! Canada House is located in Trafalgar Square and provides support services to the friends and families of Canadian athletes. We grabbed some Molson Canadians and sat down to watch some Olympics coverage. The place was packed and the crowd very loudly cheered on Brent Hayden as he won the bronze medal in the men’s 200m freestyle. Super cool to be at Canada House while that was going on. As we walked out, my husband got his picture taken with judoka Sergio Pessoa, which was pretty cool.
Once we walked back to the hotel, we were able to get into our room and headed to the gym for a quick workout. We’re all cleaned up now and headed to bed. Looking forward to a big London guided tour tomorrow morning!