A day at the Paralympics at the Olympic Park – Living in an Olympic City (final part)

During the first round of ticket sales I was lucky to have obtained Day Pass tickets for the Paralympics and some Track tickets. I have given the Track tickets to two friends who missed out, and spent Saturday 1 September at the Olympic Park. Unfortunately it was a cloudy day although we had been promised sun.

Travel

I travelled from home via the London Overground (North London Line) to Stratford. As soon as you got off the train there were Transport for London staff waiting to direct us to the exit for the Park. A short walk and we arrived at the airport-type security – except there was no line, the staff were helpful and friendly and it took less than 1 minute. Of course, no full body scanner nonsense, and the soldiers and airmen (we have the Commando’s at our checkpoint) were professional to a tee.

The Park

First thing, it’s huge!

As you arrive from Stratford you first walk past the Aquatic Centre – which is staying after the games, with some modifications. The add-on seating is ugly but the core building will be beautiful when it’s revealed.

Aquatic Centre exterior

Aquatic Centre with Stadium in background

Crossing over a canal (one of two in the park) you are able to see the removeable bits of the Centre more easily:

Removeable seating in white

You also get to see some of the excellent landscaping that has been done – trees, paths, benches etc.

There are areas of tranquility all around, easy to escape the hoardes of people and I am sure they will be a welcome area for the residents when they move in to occupy the converted athletes village and the new homes planned. Over a second bridge and you arrive at the main stadium and The Orbit on the left.

The Orbit

The structure is more impressive in person that it appears from the TV or newspaper pictures. Unfortunately there are only a few days left to visit it until 2013 when the park re-opens for the Orbit will close whilst conversion work on the park occurs.

Walking to the left of the Orbit you come across a huge area for catering.

McDonalds

As many people know they are one of the key sponsors of the event and we located two branches within the park. Although I have say there were a huge range of other outlets – hog roast, Thai, Fish & Chips, Deli’s etc.

Seating Areas and McDonalds branch

BMW Stand

People had told me that the BMW area was quietest and you could understand that as it was furthest from most of the venue. Located over the water, there was a glass cube showroom stuck out over the canal. There was running water cascading down the outside of the structure.

British Airways Park Life

British Airways had sponsored a large outside screen placed on the canal with seating areas either side, allowing people not able to get in to venues to watch key moments. Some lucky people from Flyertalk and BA Executive Club members had invites to the BA hospitality area, although I was not one of them. The area was lovely, more quiet areas as well as lots of excited fans.

Other venues

Around this area were several other venue – basketball, tennis, goalball, as well as lots of planted areas.

View towards Basketball

Copperbox

Velodrome

A number of the venues are temporary, although the Copperbox is permanent.

Other Buildings

It was interesting to see all of the other structures that had been needed to provide facilities to the park operation. You could see temporary walkways, as well as temporary barriers, all of which will make the park open and interesting once they are moved.

On-site Power Station

Power plant area covered in a green wall

Greenwall with press centre in background

Planting and Landscaping

There was a lot of effort put in to keeping the park nice thoughout the whole period. Unexpected walkways led us under bridges and back on the other side. Several of the entrances were closed off but clearly will give access to the area to Cyclists and Pedestrians once the park re-opens. Some examples of the planing are shown below:

Music venue with Velodrome in the background

Getting Around

I have to say that after three hours of walking around the site my feet were aching – it is a very large area – probably a 20 minute walk from the main gate to the Velodrome, but lots of interest along the way.

Organisation

It did feel a little as if the volunteers were ‘Olympic’ed out’ which I can understand, however, if you asked a question you always got a friendly, informative reply. What I think were G4S security staff were mostly standing around as ‘jobs worth’s’ enforcing every little rule even when it didn’t seem necessary or required by circumstance. I am so happy they weren’t allowed to do entrance security in the end. A 330l bottle of Coca-Cola was £2.30.

Summary

A great day out, could have wished for better weather, but great to see the site. I look forward to going back when the building works are done, sometime in 2013.

Arrival

Comments

  1. Thanks for this series, as a ex-London Brit living overseas I have enjoyed your perspective. I was in London in February and paid a visit to the Olympic site under construction, shall be back in November and hope to go again. I think its going to be one of the regrets of my life not to have made it to the Olympics so have appreciated your point of view.

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