Saturday, 4 August 2012

Olympic Moments

I've got a confession to make.  Before the start of the Olympics I really wasn't bothered.  I still think the torch looks like a cheese grater with a gas lighter in the middle of it.  We went to the local round of the torch relay, and I was distinctly underwhelmed.

However, we had tickets for the football in Cardiff last week, and against my better judgement off we went with Squeaky in tow.  A two year old.  At a football match.  No, lets be accurate, TWO football matches.  We applied for the tickets in the very first ballot, and picked the session on 1 August because there were two men's matches & in my words at the time "with 2 matches, you stand half a chance of one decent team". We were made up when it turned out that the second of our matches was Team GB.  We actually saw Mexico vs Switzerland and Team GB vs Uruguay.

I was still muttering about whether this was really a good idea even on the train to Cardiff.  The "vital information" that London 2012 emailed to me last week said that you absolutely, positively MUST allow at least 2 hours before the ticketed start time to get in.  That might apply to the events in the Olympic Park, but really, for the Millennium Stadium it was overkill of the highest order.  They've hosted things before, there's no distance to trek, an hour would have been too much.

However, getting there two hours in advance meant we had plenty of time to soak up the carnival atmosphere.  I don't know if it was a result of it being the Olympics, or because Mexico were one of the teams playing, but it really was an incredible atmosphere out on the street outside the stadium.  People in Mexican dress, all sorts of other fancy dress costumes, tv and radio reporters talking to people, singing, dancing, crazy people dressed up as comedy referees.  The roads around the stadium were closed off to traffic, with the exception of the team buses, which were lead in by a pair of beautiful police horses.  I could see through the windows of the coaches to the players, but a photo of a bunch of bored footballers with headphones on doesn't make for great blogging moments.

Even the police were happy to pose for photos, and I was quite impressed that Squeaky didn't announce "Me really scared" when we went over to the horses.

Once through baggage checks, and into the stadium, we grabbed a quick (and expensive) drink, and settled down into our seats.  The Millennium Stadium is pretty good, but I've got a few suggestions.  I've been a couple of times before, but I still find it difficult to find my way around as the entrance doors listed on our tickets were not the ones closest to our seats & we had to walk quite a way around.  To be honest they could do with a few (dozen) more bars & food service areas, as the queues were absurd, and a few more toilets for the same reason.  I was also a little unimpressed to find that the baby-change rooms were used by staff to store their belongings, which meant that a room big enough to be used by 4 or 5 parents at the same time, and designated for breastfeeding, could only be used for 1 nappy change, and no breastfeeding facility was available if needed, or at least not in the area we were seated in.

I'm still not a massive football fan, I have to admit, but it is a much better thing to watch in person than on TV.  It's a lot more "real", I don't know, it's hard to describe.  Have a couple more photos...

Mexico (L) vs Switzerland (R)
Team GB (L) vs Uruguay (R)
The atmosphere was very different between the two matches.  There were a lot of empty seats during the first match, and I got the impression that quite a lot of the crowd were people who wouldn't normally go to football.  It was all very calm & polite.  Then on came Team GB.  And in came the football fans who had spent a couple of hours warming up in the way that they do best (there's branches of Wetherspoon's opposite two of the main gates)  The volume went up a hundredfold.  It was still friendly, but not quite the same.  Squeaky had had enough by this point, and fell asleep on me five minutes into the first half, and only woke up when Team GB scored right on half time.  That was my cue to take her home, as the trains run hourly, and I wanted to get her home safely.  SqueakyDaddy stayed for the second half, and the later train was very very full, so I made the right choice.

I'm finally getting into the Olympic spirit (Mo Farah is running as I type this), and I'm really glad I went.  I probably won't go to another football match, and unless Squeaky grows up to be an athlete, I'm not likely to attend another Olympics, but we went, and it was a great experience.

I was not sponsored to attend this event. I paid for my own tickets, and have not been asked to write this.  All opinions are my own.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not really much of a sporty type either, but I always enjoy the Olympics, and boy1 was so transfixed by Beijing on the telly that we promised we'd take him when they came to the UK. Anyway, we went to the basketball on Thursday and had the best time! The park and the atmosphere was amazing, well worth going, even if we did get hit up for all kinds of merchandise as well ;-)

    I do think 2 hours before for the Millennium Stadium sounds a little cautious but sounds like a great time anyway.

    V excited by Jess Ennis this evening!


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