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Adjacent to Olympic Park is a brand new mega-mall called Westfield Plaza. Located right off of the Tube Station at Stratford and with multiple secured access points into the Stadium, Westfield has something for everyone. Two hundred and fifty stores from very high-end chains, anchored by UK retail giant and major Olympic sponsor, John Lewis, boutiques and specialty stores to lower-price chains familiar in the US market. There are furniture and hardware stores, opticians and pharmacies. There are even two huge grocery stores, bowling lanes, a cinema and while it isn't the likes of Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods, the Plaza even hosts a Casino!
Designed as a outside plaza, you stroll along lovely appointed cobblestone walkways in between the towering buildings. Every turn offers something different. But should you get bored, the plaza leads to a Mall, much larger than West Farms in West Hartford.
And everyone you see is "connected", either talking on a cell phone, taking pictures with uber-expensive cameras or on an iPad. There is a huge Apple Store, 16 phone stores and several cool Charging Station Stores, where you plug in your device inside a locker, close the door and take the key! Internet and phone access here is still a challenge for me. Before coming over, I spent several hours with my AT&T gal, Jenn, setting up long distance calling and texting plans. The texting works great, the phoning, well that's another story. Add that to my flat having no WiFi has caused quite a conundrum. Today, I plan to sort that out at one of the 16 cell/Internet stores because not being connected is totally unacceptable. Interestingly enough, I never realized just how connected I was, until I wasn't!
In the case you are are hungry, Westfield has 70 eateries, gourmet to street type vendors. Coffee shops to a champagne or a martini Bar. The outside Plaza offers indoor and outdoor seating with some lucky establishments having birds-eye views of Olympic Park and all the goings on in it. The Mall, not playing second fiddle to the Plaza, has sit-in and take-away restaurants from practically every country in the world. If your taste buds desire American, Asian, Brazilian, British, Caribbean, Chinese, Ethiopian, French, Greek, Italian, Israeli, Japanese, Lebanese, Mexican, Mongolian, Indian or Scandinavian, you're in luck. If you prefer fast food, McDonald's (a major sponsor for London 2012), Burger King and the likes are there. Cakes, candies, chocolates, cookies, donuts, ice cream, pastries - all accounted for. Basically, if you can think of something to eat, it's probably somewhere at Westfield. And if you are worried about all the calories that can come along with all these wonderful foods, well, I can only imagine that if you started at the entrance of the Plaza and walked end to end, floor to floor, that you could probably burn a lot of them off.
I have visited The Cow, a pub located right at one of the Stadium Gates, for a Pimm's or two. It is THE hangout for Ellie's Elites, the fabulous group of Games Makers I have become friendly with since March. It seems, no matter what time you drop by The Cow, it is full. In fact, most of the time it's overflowing! I have been to Jamie Oliver's, owned by the famous British Food Network Chef, known for his fresh and earthy cooking. I had a "Starter (appetizer, to us) Plank" with a fabulous selection of raw and cooked fishes. Paired with a chilled, crisp white wine, it was lovey to look at and absolutely delicious to eat! When I think of British Cuisine, Fish and Chips come to mind and my experience with them here was just yummy.
I certainly won't be able to eat out every day, the cost would be completely prohibitive but it will be fun to try out a couple more of the great restaurants Westfield has to offer!
Laura Stevenson-Flom is a nationally certified, state-licensed massage therapist with a specialty in sports massage and a private practice in her Colchester home. She will be serving as a volunteer massage therapist at the Summer Olympics, helping assist
athletes from around the world. She's been assigned to Athletes' Village, one of seven Olympic Park venues.
Find more from Laura at www.inbalancect.com/blog