Stevenson-Flom: Opening ceremony sneak preview

View entering the Olympic Stadium for the Sneak Preview for the Opening Ceremony Rehearsal on Monday, July 23.
View entering the Olympic Stadium for the Sneak Preview for the Opening Ceremony Rehearsal on Monday, July 23.

In spite of that heavy eyed feeling that comes with jet-lag, my first few days in London have been very busy, productive and exciting.

Trying to settle into a place that is not your own always comes with a few challenges. Been there, done that many a times in our 20 years at the beach but normally a quick trip to Stop & Shop produces the items needed to fill in the blanks of whatever it is that is missing. Well, not so much when you are in another country. Now you might think, and I did, that staying in London would provide you with the conveniences of a large city like New York or Boston. But truth be known, while my address says London, I am really in East London. That's, as its turns out, is basically a whole different world.

Finding the way to my rented flat on Sunday morning, after a 6+ hour flight that was 90 minutes late taking off from Boston, I took the Piccadilly Line out of Heathrow, switching to the Jubilee Line into Stafford and then the #276 bus to where I needed to be. All and all, it was about two and a half hours from airport but it's really is only about 10 miles away. The flat is actually located in a suburb of Stratford, called Hackney. As it turns out, you can see the Stadium and the Orbit as clear as day but to get there it is roundabout 25 or so minute commute by bus or as I have just discovered, a 10 minute walk to the Overground Rail and a 5 minute ride in. No brainer you might think, take the train. What needs to be taken into consideration are start and stop times of the train, the delays and the unbelievable crowds commuting. So, commuting to Olympic Park to work is going to be a real challenge. What will happen as we get closer to the Games will be very interesting. I'll keep you posted!

MonDay, MonDay!

This was the day in the planning process that I had given myself to get the lay of the land. The start of exploring and experiencing all that is to be the Olympic Adventure. And there is so much going on. The sheer number of humanity: athletes, coaches, support staff, volunteers, visitors from dozens and dozens of countries as well as spectators and locals is overwhelming. And, everyone is not here yet! It reminded me of my family's Millennium 2000 New Year's Eve Disney Trip. What was I thinking? But there is no looking back. I wouldn't have changed a thing about that trip and I sure am not going down that road with this Adventure. When in London, do as the Londoners, "Stay Calm and Carry On!"

My First Foray to the Stadium!

As luck would have it, I had applied for a lottery ticket to secure a seat at the Opening Ceremonies Rehearsal Event on Monday evening. I received confirmation of attendance via email shortly before leaving Connecticut. I had no idea what a treat I was in store for. We have been sternly and pointedly instructed by Olympic Officials and event coordinators not to spoil the surprise, so details and pictures that I have will wait to be posted until after the Ceremony on Friday night. In fact, there is even a Twitter group, #savethesurprise that was displayed on large screens throughout the evening. What I can share is that the Stadium is magnificent and the Opening Ceremony is breathtaking. There are 70,000 seats in the arena, not one of them with a bad view and most of them were filled for the Rehearsal. I was lucky enough to have a 8th row, 50 yard line one but friends who has seats higher up may just have had a better view! There are a total of 20,000 volunteer performers. While these folks, young and old, have been practicing for 6 months, Monday was the first ever complete run through. The magnitude of this production and attention to every detail is the work of legendary stage and film producer Danny Boyle, of Slum Dog Millionaire fame

I strongly encourage you to tune into NBC on Friday night to see what I did and then look for my posts about the "inside scoop" following close behind. The Opening Ceremony is definitely going to be a very special start to the Games.



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.

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