When the Olympic torch landed in the Greenwich neighborhood of London, its fire marked the beginning of non-stop excitement, energy and around-the-clock fun for several weeks. After three months of cold weather and constant rain, us Londoners were suddenly blessed with sunlight and warmth as the torch made its way through each borough of the city. At that moment I felt incredibly blessed by the opportunity to live in a city hosting one of the biggest events in the world.
Every day following was a new surprise. From the BT River of Music stages to the Puma Yard on Brick Lane, London truly came alive in a way that I have not seen in the two years I’ve lived in this city. The sun was shining, people were happy, and it became normal to cross paths with fans representing their country and on the way to their favorite sporting event. Red, white and blue jackets, bright orange Dutch t-shirts, and yellow, black and green Jamaican flags lined the streets, creating a beautiful collage of national and international pride.
Brands like Adidas and Beats by Dre took over Shoreditch, creating a buzz amongst the young and hip. Country houses hosted by National Organizing Committees from some of the top nations in the world created spaces where nationals and their fans could experience the true flavor of their countries. The Jamaica House was the place to be to celebrate the island’s 50th year of independence, while Casa Brasil turned the Somerset House into as ruas de Brasil, giving the world a glimpse of what’s to come in 2016. For me, I was like a kid in a candy store, running around London trying to soak up as much as I could. I even had a chance to catch Lebron James and Kobe Bryant go up against the Spanish and Aussies and elsewhere I found out that Koreans take Archery very seriously. Now I’m obsessed with bows and arrows, who knew!
In the three weeks during the Olympic Games, I was living in a fantasy. Now, is the love part of my love/hate relationship with this city suddenly coming to an end? Will the grey skies and endless weeks of little to no activity suddenly return? Or will London pick up some of this excitement, utilize some of the good that has come from this massive experience and figure out how to make London the city that it really could be. Country houses, parties and sporting events aside, the basic infrastructure of this town has improved across the board. Fears of overcrowded tube stations resulted in an array of staffers on hand, offering advice on best routes and cool maps of the city at every stop. Best of all, the trains, which usually close between 11:30 and midnight, ran as late as 1:30 a.m.!
For three weeks, I fell in love with London and knew there was no other place on earth I’d rather be. What happens to my newfound love next is yet to be seen but I will never forget what I have witnessed, even when things are back to business as usual. Farewell, Olympics, I’m sad to see you go, but we will meet again very soon. Até Brasil!