The recent buzz about the London 2012 Olympics has led me to remember the last 2008 Olympics held in Beijing, China. Because attending an Olympic event was something on the Hubby’s and my bucket lists, we decided to round up the kids and hop on a plane bound for Beijing that August. We were looking forward to experiencing the Olympics firsthand and were eagerly anticipating the rush of excitement that comes hand in hand with every Olympic tournament, as countries from all over the world come together to vie for the top spots in all sorts of sporting events.
This is what greeted us as we arrived at the Beijing airport. Everything was spic and span! Gleaming floors, beautiful interiors, interesting lights- the airport imparted a really good impression on us tourists. Clearly, the Chinese had made some major strides in order to ensure that all their facilities were world-class.
A high-tech feedback form. At immigration, you click on the sad or happy face depending on whether you were pleased with their service or not 🙂
Even the train station at the airport sported gleaming floors and an ultra-clean environment.
We were booked at the newly constructed Westin Beijing Chaoyang hotel and because we were so starved from our flight, we just decided to have our late night dinner at the hotel’s highly rated Italian restaurant, Prego, to try their authentic and regional, home-style Italian dishes.
The next day, a Chinese friend treated us to a delicious authentic Chinese meal. Of course, Peking Duck (which got its name because Beijing used to be called Peking) was the absolute highlight.
So crispy and delicious!
We capped off the meal with some yummy desserts- fresh fruits, tiramisu and ice cream – Chinese style!
Olympic fever was everywhere! The city was filled with places bearing those telling colored circles that represent the Olympics.
Giant TV screens showing live-feeds of sporting events were a highlight in some parts of the city.
The Hubby and I chose the events we’d watch based on our daily schedules as we had decided to squeeze in a few tours into our trip as well. As we visited the several Olympic venues, we realized that China really did prepare for their turn at hosting the Olympics. They had several stadiums erected and even created an Olympic village, a complex of high-rise apartments where athletes and their coaches resided. All these buildings were massive, modern, and architecturally magnificent!
The venues for the Olympic activities were spread all across the city; it wasn’t easy to get from one place to another.
We headed to an outdoor stadium to attend our first Olympic event.
It was a Dragon Boat Race!
The Aquatics center, also known as the Water Cube, was where all the water sports events were held. This is where Michael Phelps reigned supreme and bagged 8 gold medals! As the buzz about this water warrior spread, audiences flocked to the Water Cube, making it the most jam-packed, most popular and most expensive Olympics venue.
Even the outside of the Water Cube had fountains and water-themed spectacles.
The Beijing National Stadium, or more fondly called the Bird’s Nest, was the iconic building identified with the 2008 Olympics.
The building was designed by the Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, in collaboration with a leading Chinese Artist, Ai Weiwei.
The building’s intricate design up close.
The inside of the stadium contained a grass field as well as a track oval for track and field events.
The Hubby and I watched several competitions at this venue, including a women’s race.
The runners up close.
A jumping competition. I was so impressed by how far the athletes could leap!
A pole vault contest.
Such great form!
Cheerleaders pumped up the crowd.
I spotted the Philippine flag hanging alongside other flags.
The next day, the Hubby and I returned to the Bird’s Nest to watch a football match.
The players in action.
The winning team – Argentina.
The awarding ceremony, where medals were handed over to the champs. It was interesting to watch, as these ladies were all made to look the same and act in synch.
The list of winners.
Next, the Hubby and I watched a women’s volleyball game at the Indoor Stadium.
The winners : Brazil.
The team stands proud.
Another awarding ceremony with identically dressed ladies conferring the medals.
That wraps up our Olympic experience! It felt great to be up close to the action, right smack in the middle of things. The Hubby and I were happy that we each got to cross off one more activity on our individual bucket lists.
I hope these photos have gotten you pumped up in anticipation of the 2012 Olympics! Let’s all keep our fingers crossed and pray that our fellow Filipino athletes bring home the bacon!