And so it ends! Last night here in London, the 2012 Olympics officially came to a close. We would’ve loved an all-access pass into the Athlete’s Village to see and experience what really goes down once the flame has been put out (ah yes, all the stories of wild abandon and reckless celebration by the bevies of perfectly-chiseled bodies), but unfortunately, we weren’t that lucky. And although our coverage is technically over, I still do have lots of stories to share from behind the scenes.
Some days ago, I met up with James Younghusband, also a familiar face on AKTV, and with our two young Pinoy swimmers Jessie Lacuna and Jasmine Alkhaldi, cameras in tow, of course. Jessie and Jasmine, although they had been in London for training camp since June, had barely seen the sights of the city, being shacked up in the Village, busy with training.
Most people know that James was born and raised in England, in a town called Ashford out in Middlesex. We managed to cajole him into showing the two swimmers (and well, me) around town a bit. What ensued was a day of the great sights of London, little tidbits of history and information (thank you James, for half-listening to your teacher on your elementary field trips), some fish and chips and local beer brew (the beer was for me), and a whole lotta Kodak-an.
In other words, DAY OFF!!! Yeah, man! It was actually the first time I was able to walk around the usual tourist spots, instead of wistfully staring at them from a moving bus taking us to and from the Olympic Park.
London does not disappoint the overeager, wide-eyed tourist. It’s a place meant for postcards, with such a richness of history that is so well-preserved, that anywhere you aim your camera, you’re bound to capture a shot na pang-profile picture talaga. Here are some of those snaps from our “day off:”
We managed to catch the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, hence the crowds swarming the place. It takes place at 11:30am daily from May to July, and on alternate days from August to March. And it’s definitely quite a spectacle, almost half an hour long, with a parade and a marching band made up of the famously red-clad guards. James shared that the last time he had been around Buckingham Palace was on a school trip when he must’ve been around seven years old. They waited for hours to see the queen, and when she finally came out, he caught her…hand, doing the royal wave.
I stood on my tippy-toes, but still couldn’t manage to poke my head through the crowds. Oh well. A smile of resignation and amusement at self.
James posing in front of Westminster Abbey. He shared that growing up, they barely came into London, and he kept joking that by now, the AKTV and TV5 probably knew London better than he did!
Yehesss…pa-cute self portrait.
That’s me posing at the other side of the Abbey. The tourist crowds were in full swing, and even more so with the Olympics in town. Many locals I asked told me that the tourist traffic was much heavier, and you could see it from the groups of people pooled around the famous sights in central London.
Yup, a sign of the Olympics: all the flags of all the participating countries together. Hey there, Big Ben. Or should I say…Elizabeth Tower? If you look closely, you can see a Pinoy couple having their pictures taken in front of the Philippine flag ☺
James and I shooting spiels. The poor guy was scrambling for facts on the history of London. Can’t blame him, how many people do you know who paid attention in grade two history? ;)
James, Jasmine and Jessie (wow, all J’s!) posing in front of Big Ben with Dyana of AKTV and Ramir, our cameraman.
We were lucky enough to have lunch on the Tattershall Castle, a restaurant/pub/club on a boat that was docked at Embankment, on the River Thames. The boat used to be an old shipping vessel, very historical indeed.
Our view during lunch: the London Eye. You can ride and it enjoy spectacular views of the whole city.
Over a lunch of fish and chips! You guys have nothing to worry about, our athletes are incredibly disciplined. I was the only one who ordered the pub’s beer brew.
Posing at Trafalgar Square, which is sort the center of the city’s activities, with important political and cultural events taking place here.
Piccadilly Circus, what has now become London’s answer to New York’s Times Square. It’s uncanny: the stratospheric buildings, the human traffic moving at a steady pace, the giant screens flashing costly advertisements.
Street entertainment at Piccadilly Circus. And if you’re wondering, yes, he did limbo rock his way out of that successfully.
My “day off” pic at the fountain in the middle of Piccadilly Circus! ;)