Helen and I left on Wednesday evening for London for the opening ceremony of the Olympics. We hardly get invited to anything (as Gen Re is a wholesale business we don’t really have suppliers, we just have customers) and so being invited by a client (from the UK) who is a main sponsor of the Olympics is a great honour. I expected the flight to be jam-packed full but it wasn’t. Obviously no one else from SA was invited or they left already. As we came into London the pilot announced that they were expecting Thursday and Friday to be the busiest two days ever in Heathrow’s history and so we should expect delays. Delays to get to land, delays at passport control, delays waiting for your luggage, train delays, road delays – you name it – expect delays.
So with my expectations set for everything to take much longer than usual, we did only 1 hold over Oxam (usual place where most planes waiting to land at Heathrow spend 20 minutes). We landed and went straight into the gate. Door was opened promptly and Helen (after fighting her way to the front) was first off and into the terminal building. I am what is called ‘terminal building’ fit and so there is only one person so far I have traveled with that keeps up with my pace and that is my son (Michael in case Stephen started having illusions about his walking pace). But Helen did well yesterday and we arrived at passport control about 2-3 minutes before the next person from our plane arrived. There were no other people except border officials at passport control. And I have never seen so many border officials as I saw yesterday. Every counter was open and waiting. Obviously we went straight through and as we only had carry on luggage we also went straight out.
Because I travel so frequently on SAA, they pay for a car to take me into London. I almost didn’t book it yesterday because I thought the road into London would be a nightmare because one lane is a dedicated Olympic lane (for officials and athletes only). But I took the chance that because we were landing early it would hopefully not be too bad. We were in the car at about 6:40am and, given that I was expecting terrible traffic, there was hardly any delays and we made it into our flat by 7:30am. I went to work on the tube (as usual) and even if the tube was relatively empty – I could stand without breathing down on someone squashed below me. And just to round off the shock and surprise of no delays and hardly any people on the transport system, the sun was shining and the temperature was already 22 degrees and expected to be 27/28 degrees (which it easily got to).
I (of course) worked for the day while Helen did her usual and shopped. You would swear she hadn’t been in London last week doing shopping the whole week. Some of my staff pitched up at work at about 10am because the Olympic torch passed quite near the office. I figured I would go and see it in the stadium rather. Though later in the day Helen was watching TV and following the torch traversing London though all 33 boroughs of London when she noticed that it was about to arrive at Westminster. So she quickly headed down and watched it pass. Sorry for the poor quality pic but she said it was either watch the torch go by or take a decent photo and she opted for the first. That and the fact that she has a useless camera as it was her iPhone 3 camera (Helen still can’t let go of her outdated iPhone 3).
The excitement and Olympic spirit has definitely swept through London. Much so than last week. Everyone is keen to see the start and excited to get things underway. Though officially the games have already kicked off with the women’s football (hope you got that Rick). Not sure if you heard about the superb organizational start – the South Korean flag was displayed next the players names at the start of the match. Only problem was it was North Korea playing. They walked off the pitch and it took an hour and half to correct the flag and persuade the North Koreans to come and play again. The type of thing that could trigger off a war!
Off to work now but only for half the day as we have to be at the hotel at 1pm this afternoon for the beginning! I promise to take some better photos than the one I posted today.