It is one hour before the start of the Opening Ceremonies and I am here with my hosts Tom, Yolanda and their friend Ron waiting to watch on TV the big opening on BBC. I did want to recap the last few days of my journey for my non-FB followers (those on FB will be given a review from what I have been posting on my Diane Ratnik - Volleyball Facebook page).
So back to Monday night leaving TO for Heathrow. Ironically I was stuck on the tarmac for 1hr due to the lighting storm in TO. I thought this was my transition for the London rain. 7.5hrs later landing in beautiful sunny and hot London on Tuesday morning. I was prepared for the horror stories of the long waits going thru customs, possibly 1-3hrs. To my surprise, we got our bags right away and essentially walked right up to the first available officer, no wait at all. I hoped on the tube and took the hour long train ride to Cockfoster's Station to meet up with my host family. Again, no horror story on the tube, no crowds at all.
I met my host family a wonderful couple living in London for the past 20 years but originally from Etobicoke & Guelph. I have settled in comfortably with them and made myself at home!! I had my first 'tea' as we spent the afternoon getting acquainted along with another volunteer Jenn (my sightseeing buddy).
WED July 25: Day 1 in London - i traveled on my own towards Trafalgar Square (TS)and the site of Canada Olympic House (COH). After the longest escalator ride of my life, I popped out at Leicester Square one of the theater districts of London. i had been here almost 30 years ago, but seeing it now, older & wiser, this city is spectacular!! Walking thru TS looking for COH, I was greeted with blue skies and the glorious red maple leaf flag atop the beautiful Canada House. I met up with Jenn and we did some bag-stuffing for a couple of hours with some other volunteers. Since this would be the first day we could do some sightseeing we bought a double decker bus tour pass and hopped on to our first bus. We actually enjoyed our tour guide and stayed on the same bus for 2.5hrs!!!! Wow London is fantastic and so much to see and take in...it is overwhelming. Will definitely need to come back and do some more intricate tours. We also traveled on a boat cruise on the Thames River, so cool.
THURS July 26 Day 2 in London - Today was our orientation meeting from 12-3pm when all the volunteers gathered to get briefed on the protocol and duties that we will need to perform in COH. The lunch was fabulous and later in the evening I was introduced to the Executive Chef, who is from the Chateau Frontenac!!!
After tea in the 'Crypt' Museum, my hosts and I headed over thru TS to 10 Downing Street to see the Torch relay run by. We 'qued' with the rest of the massive crowd on White Hall street just steps from the beautiful Horse Guard Parade Venue were beach volleyball is to be played, to see the spectacle go by. Olympic fever is starting to grip the Londoners and I didn't find any naysayers around.
In the evening I was able to put on my 'non-competing' Olympian attire and attend the HBC/Media Reception, the first official function at COH. It was great to see many ole friends from volleyball there as they are in various functions with COC. Not being in the 'big arena' for a decade, i felt right at home and didn't miss a beat!!
L-R: Sylvie Bigras, Mary Henderson
Day 3 - Fri July 27 - First day of volunteer duty!! What a first big day it was as this was the official opening of COH. I was greeting guests at the main door as they came to attend the reception hosted by the GG of Canada with special guests Michelle Jean and the Canadian Tenors. Unfortunately I am not able to use my camera while on-duty so will have to have pics in my mind's eye. On my post as the guests were leaving, I was privy to an impromptu Happy Birthday sung to a guest by the tenors in the grand foyer, so cool. Ended early today and on the tube ride did my first official trade in the huge industry of 'pin trading' - got a rare pin already. Headed back 'home' to watch the closing ceremonies on the comfort of the couch.