Preview: London 2012
Q: Which of the following comments was made by an actual London resident regarding the upcoming Games?
1) Be a bloody stinkin' hellhole, won't it?
2) I won't see any of the Games; I'll be working at Harrod's. Harrod's is not allowing any employee to have time off during the Games.
3) Olympics? Um. Well--that'll be nice. Won't it?
4) The Olympics? Is that this year?
The answer is 5. All of the above.
I just got back from a trip to England that was part fun, part research for the family travel agency business (www.bradleygolftravel.com), and part research for my current novel. I actually didn't go near Greenwich Park since I figure that I'll be spending 4 days of my life there in only 4 short months. I did do a pretty comprehensive tour of non-Olympic London, and I'll tell you, non-Olympic London is most of it right now. The sites are ready, the plans are in place, but the atmosphere is--well, missing. Aside from a very few adverts, and a tiny stack of children's sized Olympic t-shirts on sale at one gift shop, you'd never know the Olympics were on their way. But I learned a lot on my trip. Here are my travel tips for London 2012.
1) If you're just now thinking you might like to go, HURRY! Many of the options for lodging and tickets are becoming scarce.
2) Wear your walking shoes. You'll have to take public transportation to the Games, as they cleverly (and deliberately) designed all the venues without any parking within 6 miles; if you were insane enough to think you'd just take a cab, think again. They're blocking off half the street lanes of a very congested city for travel for the athletes and officials alone. You're going to be on the Tube with 50,000 of your best friends. If you're smart, you'll get off the stop before them and walk the rest of the way. Otherwise it's 50,000 people all trying to climb the same set of stairs.
3) Unless this is your once-in-a-lifetime trip to England, and you've always dreamed of seeing Westminister Abbey or the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, skip them. If you really must go, get up early and get in line at the Abbey half an hour before opening. All the tourists are herded along the same route, and space is really tight in some of the chapels. Some people walk fast, but others will stand around forever listening to all the options on their audio guide. The farther along in the day, the more it becomes a human traffic jam. In the case of the Changing of the Guard, get a breakfast picnic, find a spot on the Victoria Memorial facing the Palace, and camp out before 9am. Bring a book to pass the time. The guards change at 11:30. Warning: it's not a cool as you think. They pretty much just exchange one troop of guards for another.
4) For all other attractions, do some research. Some allow you to buy tickets online and save yourself the queue. The London Eye allows you to make exact-time reservations online. If the attraction is physically small (Churchill's War Rooms) get there early in the day; if it's huge (Tate Museum) you've got more leeway. And skip Madame Tussaud's. What a waste of time.
Questions? Let the experienced warriors at Bradley Golf Travel find you the answers. Cheers!
guest blogger: Kim Bradley