Category Archives: London Olympics
VisitBritain is seeking to capitalise on the success of London 2012 by launching the next stage of its multi-million pound GREAT inbound tourism campaign.
New research released by the national tourism agency shows that in cities with GREAT activity – launched ahead of the London Olympics – 75% of recent travellers would now consider a holiday in Britain.
The image campaign – which is targeting 14 cities in nine countries including Brazil, the US, Germany, India and Australia – is believed to have reached more than 90 million people so far.
The latest phase includes a seven month run of print advertising in National Geographic, advertorials in Time Out and on Yahoo!.
A new TV advert, ‘Memories are GREAT’, including images from the Olympic opening ceremony, is being positioned on leading consumer websites across the world.
A partnership with British Airways will see £5 million being invested in the US, India, China, Japan and the Middle East, encouraging people to visit the UK for Christmas shopping and the January sales.
VisitBritain is working with STA Travel to promote Britain for music, culture and shopping.
A digital campaign is planned with Expedia in France, Germany and Italy, while a shopping campaign with Virgin Australia is also underway, with a mixture of digital, radio, print and trade advertising.
VisitBritain marketing director Laurence Bresh said: “The main event may be over, but the hard work begins now.
“Britain’s image and reputation around the world is riding high; this next stage of our GREAT campaign aims to convert worldwide interest into increased bookings.
“We’ve captured the world’s imagination on TV screens over the last few weeks, and now is the time to inspire them to come to Britain.”
VisitBritain’s four-year £125 million marketing campaign aims to influence an extra 4.6 million people to choose Britain for their next holiday.
If successful, this would would help inject an additional £2.3 billion to the UK economy by the end of 2015.
Best Value Tours – www.SightseeingTours.co.uk
Free London attractions
London is packed with world-famous attractions, from royal palaces and historic landmarks to museums, galleries and street markets. And the great news is loads of them are free. Let’s start with the iconic landmarks. Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye – you can see all of these without spending a penny (but you will have to pay extra if you want to snoop around inside the Abbey, Buckingham Palace or the London Eye).
Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Turner Prize pieces, a dinosaur gallery and life-sized blue whale – they all live in London, and you can see them all for nothing. London is home to over 300 museums and galleries, and many of them offer free admission. Don’t miss the Tate Modern, Tate Britain and theV&A Museum. If you’re with the family, take the kids to the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum for a day packed with giant artefacts and hands-on experiments.
In the mood for a romantic stroll, a run or a picnic in the sun? Head to one of London’s 8 Royal Parks. Beautifully landscaped and completely free, they’re the perfect place to unwind. You’ll probably stumble across some of the city’s best attractions too – Kensington Palace is tucked away in Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace is perched on the edge of Green Park and Greenwich Park is home to the Royal Observatory and the National Maritime Museum.
West End on a shoestring
Travelling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to miss out on London’s world-famous West End theatre scene. If you’re after cheap theatre tickets, head to the official tkts booth in Leicester Square where you’ll find the best seats in theatre at half the normal price. And don’t worry about being palmed off with fakes – tkts is operated by the Society of London Theatre, the industry body that represents London theatres.
If half price theatre tickets are still stretching your budget, we’ll let you in on a little secret. Every night, The Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square offers standing tickets for 10p. But you have to be quick, these are first-come-first-served and there are only 8 of them available each night.
The secret to getting around London on the cheap is to do it like a Londoner. So make sure your first purchase is an Oyster card – it’s the fastest and cheapest way to travel around London by public transport.
If you’re travelling like a Londoner, you won’t need to shell out for an organised bus tour. Hop on the top deck of a London bus for a whistle-stop tour of the city’s sights at a fraction of the price. Here are some of our favourite sightseeing bus routes:
- Number 11 from Fulham to Liverpool Street, taking in the fancy King’s Road and Sloane Square, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral and ending up at the trendy Shoreditch
- Number 24 from the leafy Hampstead Heath to Pimlico, via Camden Town, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and Westminster
- Number 74 from Putney to Baker Street, calling at South Kensington, Knightsbridge, Hyde Park, Marble Arch and Baker Street.
As you wander around London, you’ll come across bike racks with bikes for hire. These are part of the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme, known as ‘Boris Bikes’ to Londoners (after the mayor, Boris Johnson). They’re easy to use and a great way to see the city without getting on a bus or tube. Simply use your debit or credit card to pay a small access fee for a bike, then take it out for a ride! You’re charged for the time your bike is checked out of the dock, but if you dock your bike at any Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme dock within 30 minutes of the last check out, you won’t be charged a usage fee. Find out more about the scheme and costs at the Barclays Cycle Hire website.
How to eat cheaply
Forget the Michelin starred restaurants – if you’re looking for the best food in London, head to the markets. Portobello Road, Camden, Greenwich, Spitalfields and Brick Lane markets offer a great range of cheap and delicious street food from every corner of the world. A treat for your tastebudsand your wallet.
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat cheaply at night, head to the nearest high street, where you’re sure to find chain restaurants like Pizza Express, Café Rouge, Wagamama, GBK and more, all serving tasty food at very reasonable prices. But don’t overlook the independent local restaurants, many of them run great value meal deals to compete with the bigger chains.
Believe it or not, there are several excellent campsites within striking distance of central London. You can save a huge amount by camping in the capital and it’s more convenient than you might think. Try Abbey Wood campsite in south London near Greenwich, only 35 minutes by train to the centre, or Crystal Palace Caravan Club that’s on a bus route to Oxford Street. Camping is also a great value option if you’re visiting for the London 2012 Olympics.
We cannot know yet what these Olympics will bring us, not in the full sweep of the greatest sports spectacle on earth, but tonight you could feel the weight of all the possibilities
It is always the same when we come to this moment of the Olympic Games, this flaring of hope that something unflawed and unforgettable is in the air and it doesn’t really matter where it finds us, whether it is in some foreign place or, as on a rain-smeared evening such as tonight, in our hearts and our home.
This is the time when the fear and the agonising stops and when the blood races with the anticipation of great deeds. We cannot know yet what these Olympics will bring us, not in the full sweep of the greatest sports spectacle on earth, but here you could feel the weight of all the possibilities — and the yearning of a people, somewhat battered in recent years, let us be honest, that this might just be a time to make another mark.
These, certainly, where the stirrings among the crowd of 62,000 when the Red Arrows pierced the dusk and Bradley Wiggins, Britain’s first winner of the epic Tour de France, stood in front of the Olympic bell in his yellow jersey and raised his arms to the moist and darkening sky.
There was a superb energy in that moment, a rippling of pride, and as Danny Boyle’s £27m Opening Ceremony show began to unfold with beautiful pace and superb imagery, as a pastoral scene turned into a broiling evocation of the Industrial Revolution, it was as though they might be a new and original Olympics.
It is true that there is something of this about all Olympic Games, even one as bad as Atlanta in 1996, when the traditional compliment of the president of the International Olympic Committee that they were great Games was pointedly withdrawn, because in Georgia they did have Muhammad Ali igniting the cauldron after being picked out by a spotlight that made the heart of the world stand still for a moment. Atlanta also had Michael Johnson running in his golden shoes like some ebony Greek god and Carl Lewis winning yet another gold medal.
What the Olympics have, in their formal, cyclical way, is renewal, a wiping-away of the past and a huge investment not so much in the future but the moment. There has been much argument over legacy, of the value of a £9bn-plus investment in circus in these straitened times, but you had to be a brave and resilient polemicist last night to argue this points too strenuously as the excitement began to swell.
This was especially so when it became clear that Boyle, the maker of Slumdog Millionaire, had won his own gold medal on a fraction of the budget that enabled the blockbusting spectacle of Beijing.
The Queen, having consented to a showbiz invitation from James Bond to take a helicopter ride, arrived to thunderous applause, to be greeted by Jacques Rogge, the Olympic president, who had earlier pushed a maybe fragile national pride up another notch by declaring that Britain had virtually invented modern sport.
For the moment, certainly, it had brought a blast of pleasure and exhilaration which you knew would soon enough be powerfully augmented by the arrival of so many icons from the sports fields of the British past.
As the night wore on, speculation on the identity of the man who would ignite London’s Olympic cauldron became ever more intense.
We knew that David Beckham, whose celebrity if not significant connection with the Olympics had been used so freely in the bidding victory over the favourites, Paris, would make some kind of cameo appearance but finally, seven young athletes of the future were put in charge of the flame by Sir Steve Redgrave, who was also joined in the ceremonials by Daley Thompson, double gold winner Dame Kelly Holmes, long jumper Lynn Davies, swimmer Duncan Goodhew, pentathlon winner Mary Peters and sailor Shirley Robertson.
The seven young torchbearers then ignited a tiny single flame, triggering the ignition of 204 copper petals carried into the stadium by the athletes. The long stems of the cauldron then gently rose towards each other and converged to form a single “Flame of Unity”.
This was a charge of anticipation which will be increased soon enough with the appearance of the titans of today, the men who bestride modern sport and who will be at centre stage of these Olympics.
Usain Bolt, who assuaged growing concerns about his fitness to run in the great race of these Games, the 100m dash he dominated so sensationally in Beijing four years ago, carried the flag for Jamaica.
Jamaica had Bolt, America had Michael Phelps, the tall American swimmer with the huge wing span, who by Tuesday night might well have the greatest haul of gold medals, 21 of them, in Olympic history.
This is the magnetism of the Olympics – and such is the prize Lord Coe, the winner of two Olympic gold medals at the classic distance of 1,500m in Moscow and Los Angeles, stole from beneath the noses of Paris seven years ago in Singapore. The promise was of an inspiration to the youth of the world, and new generations of young Britons long starved of proper sports facilities, and no doubt there will be many who will seek to hold him to that in the future.
But that is the future, something that seemed quite remote in the brilliance and light which came to a neglected, some would say abandoned, corner of east London last night.
The show we were promised, as always, is one of compelling spectacle – and last night it was easy to feel the thrill that every four years comes to new ground – or in last night’s case revisits old terrain.
We do not know yet how well Great Britain will do, whether the man who carried the flag, Sir Chris Hoy, will build on his three gold medals won in Beijing or whether Wiggins will reproduce the glory he found so recently in France. The roll call of heroes has not yet begun and there can be no certainty that it will include even the men who caught the eye so strongly last night, the prodigious Phelps, the extraordinary Bolt.
There are so many other men and women eager to find their moment this English summer and last night they flooded into the light. They were received with something more than mere respect. They were saluted as those who for the next two weeks will explain why it is that the Olympics simply march on and on.
Full article: JAMES LAWTON http://www.independent.co.uk
Best Value Tours – www.SightseeingTours.co.uk
Tours in the area of the games
London’s professional BLUE BADGE TOURIST GUIDES can take you on a guided tour of the Olympic park area with views of the main sites for the 2012 Games.
Our tours will show you how this former industrial part of London has been transformed into a green corridor, connecting the River Thames and the beautiful new Thames Barrier Park, through the Olympic Park, to another large area of sport, leisure and nature – the Lea Valley.
Construction in the Olympic Park is now complete and ready for the Opening ceremony on 27th July. Various test events have already taken place in the different venues, trees have been planted across the parklands and you will view some of the iconic Olympic buildings from the perimeter of the park (no admission to the interior of the park).
Discover the history of London’s Royal Docks, as you travel to the Boxing, Judo, Weightlifting, Wrestling, Table Tennis and Taekwondo venue. View the North Greenwich Arena, venue for Artistic Gymnastics and Basketball finals.
Cross the River Thames to the Shooting in Woolwich and picture horses jumping in front of the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, set in its splendid Royal Park. Enjoy the panorama from the Old Royal Observatory above.
You can experience any of the above by car, coach, public transport or on foot.
Spend a day or half a day visiting the Olympic venues, or fit an Olympic briefing into your East London or Greenwich sightseeing tours. We can also plan tours with emphasis on particular sports or urban regeneration, and engage specialist guides to provide technical information.
Olympics sponsor British Airways asked the London 2012 hopefuls what they would get up to in a day off from their intensive training.
The London Eye was the most popular tourist attraction, with a quarter of athletes recommending it as their ‘essential London’ tourist visit, closely followed by Buckingham Palace (17 per cent) and the River Thames (5 per cent).
Rower Zac Purchase said he loves to take afternoon tea: ‘It’s such a fantastic British tradition, and what better place than the nation’s capital city to give it a try? Choose a good hotel or restaurant and dress up. Make an occasion of it and you won’t need any more food for days!’
Gymnast Louis Smith said she’s most likely to be found enjoying a concert at the North Greenwich Arena, which is handy as that’s where she will be competing for a medal when it hosts the London 2012 Gymnastics during the Games.
Heptathlete Jessica Ennis meanwhile admits to being a shopaholic and likes to hit the shops on Oxford Street.
Unsurprisingly, triathlete Helen Jenkins recommends walking everywhere and picks St Paul’s Cathedral as a must-see along with Hyde Park, which will host the London 2012 triathlon course.
Rower Mark Hunter suggests a trip down the River Thames, while sailor Ben Ainslie’s continues the nautical theme by picking Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square as his favourite landmark.
Wheelchair racer Shelly Woods’ favourite place – The Mall and Buckingham Palace – also has a clear sporting link; it’s here that Shelly will be competing in the marathon later this summer. With years of training and preparation for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, it’s no surprise that our athletes’ top advice for visitors is to ‘plan your visit’ and ‘walk everywhere’.
And their advice for avoiding tube chaos? Make like Bradley Wiggins and get on your (Boris) bike.
Full aricle: http://www.eturbonews.com/26595/insider-top-tips-visiting-london
BestValueTours = www.SightseeingTours.co.uk
Buckingham Palace, London, England
Buckingham Palace is not only a London landmark but the official London residence of the British monarch. Nineteen state rooms in the palace are open for public viewing each summer, from late July through early October, with complimentary audio tours. Visitors to the palace should be sure to keep their eyes peeled; Her Majesty has been spotted strolling through the gardens with her Corgi dogs and is known to enjoy a sneaky peek at visitors admiring her home.
Windsor Castle, Windsor, England
Just a quick jaunt by train from London, Windsor Castle is one of the Queen’s official residences and where she spends most weekends. Open year-round, visitors have been known to spot the Queen through the windows overlooking her garden. Locals have also said they often see Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh departing down the long driveway in Windsor Great Park. Your chances go up if you visit around Easter, when she takes up residence for a month.
The chances of spotting the Queen in Wales are on the rise with Prince William, her grandson, living in Anglesey to work as a search and rescue helicopter pilot. Prince William is said to be enjoying his time there, taking in the beautiful Welsh scenery as he flies over Snowdonia National Park. He’s also been sampling the local cuisine – including an Anglesey burger van, ‘The Flaming Grill,’ that he loved so much he gave them the Royal Seal of Approval.
Balmoral Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
One of the Royals’ favourite summertime retreats is Balmoral, set amongst the magnificent scenery of Royal Deeside. Here you might spot the Queen as your neighbour – as you can take up residence on the same property where the Queen stays by renting a lovely cottage on the Balmoral estate. The grounds, gardens and exhibitions are open to the public from April 1 through July 31.
Queen’s Birthday Celebrations, London, England
Trooping the Colour is an annual event to mark the Queen’s official birthday. Held every June in central London, Trooping the Colour is the biggest royal event of the year with Her Majesty the Queen always in attendance. Tickets for the parade are in short supply but if you don’t manage to snag one for yourself, just stand along The Mall, which runs from Buckingham Palace to Admiralty Arch for a great chance of spotting the Queen.
Royal Ascot, Ascot, Berkshire, England
Attend the horse races at Royal Ascot and there is always a good chance of spotting the Queen and Prince Phillip in a horse drawn carriage during the Royal procession. Dating back to 1711, these prestigious races are held annually in the third week of June. Her Majesty is known to take a keen interest in the historic Royal Ascot races and she has owned 20 winners over the years.
Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland
Positioned at the end of Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace is used by the Queen for one week at the beginning of each summer when she carries out a range of official engagements and ceremonies. Steeped in history and perhaps best known as the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, Holyrood Palace adds to the historic atmosphere of the Royal Mile. Her Majesty has often been spotted leaving Holyrood in her car – chauffeur driven, of course.
Chelsea Flower Show, London, England
As Patron of the Royal Horticultural Society, the Queen regularly attends the opening of the Chelsea Flower Show. This event is a regular fixture in the Royal calendar and Her Majesty is often accompanied by other Royals. If you are in Britain in late May, this is a great opportunity to possibly catch a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth II. And a top opportunity to see some of the world’s most innovative gardens.
Braemar Highland Gathering, Scotland
The patron of Scotland’s best-known Highland Games is none other than Queen Elizabeth II herself and this celebration of traditional Scottish sport and culture is almost always attended by members of the Royal Family. The Gathering is always held on the first Saturday in September and is the place to see tossing the caber, Scottish country dancing, pipe bands and more.
Madame Tussauds, London, England
If all else fails there is always one place you are guaranteed to meet the Queen – and even shake her hand! Madame Tussauds is a top London visitor attraction and just a stone’s throw away from Regent’s Park and the bright lights of the West End. Her Majesty can be spotted there, or at least a waxwork version of her, along with the likes of Prince Charles and his two sons William and Harry. It might not be the real deal but it could be the closest you’ll get so don’t forget your camera!
Best Value Tours – www.SightseeingTours.co.uk
Here’s some friendly advice for tourists and Olympic visitors to try and make the transport experience as easy as possible.
- Get an Oyster card – if you’re travelling a lot it’s far cheaper. Or get a one day, or weekly, Travelcard which gives you unlimited travel for particular zones if you are making lots of journeys.
- Avoid cash fares at all costs. You’ll find a breakdown of fares here.
- Do let people off trains before you get on.
- Do stand on the right on escalators – if you don’t, Londoners love saying “excuse me” to people in the way on the left.
- Get a map. The Tube map is not representative of actual distances. Sometimes it’s much easier and much more pleasant to walk. For example Embankment is 200m from Charing Cross.
- By all means try and talk to people in the carriage or on the bus – if they ignore you they’re not being rude, that’s the London norm.
- If the weather is hot and you get the Tube, be prepared for sauna conditions on some lines like the Victoria and the Northern. The top deck of some buses can also get very toasty.
- Do get your Oyster Card ready before you approach the gates – do not do it once you are blocking the gate.
- Be aware you don’t have to press the door “open” button on the Tube: if you do, it’s a clear sign you’re new to town. However on overland trains you do have to press the “open” button on the doors – and no, I don’t know why there’s this difference.
- Even if there are no gates on, for example, the Docklands Light Railway, always touch out with your Oyster Card – sometimes you need to look carefully to find the yellow circular readers. If you don’t it will charge you a full fare – about £7.
- Don’t be afraid to ask directions. Helping lost tourists is a badge of honour for some Londoners (I’m not vouching for the directions though). Or ask the Tube / bus staff – normally they are pretty nice.
- If you are lucky enough to have tickets for the Games then you will need to leave plenty of time to get there. The Get Ahead of the Games website shows you what it will be like.
- If you use a night bus, be prepared for anything
Best Value Tours – www.SightseeingTours.co.uk
London’s Olympic History
History of the Olympic Games in London
The London 2012 Olympic Games (the games of the XXX Olympiad) will mark the third time London has hosted the Modern Olympics.
London hosted the Olympic Games previously in 1908 and 1948. The upcoming games will make London the only city in the world to have hosted the Games three times.
Olympic Games: London 1908
In 1908, the Olympic Games were originally due to be held in Rome. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1906 meant Italy had to pull out, and London stepped into the breach.
Olympic Games: London 1948
London was chosen to host the 1944 Games, which were postponed because of the Second World War and became the 1948 Olympics. The 1948 Games are notable for the fact they were the first to be broadcast on home television.
Building a Legacy for London’s Sporting Future
Since London won its bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics in 2005, a flurry of planning and building activity has occurred.
Most of this is centred on the East London site at Stratford that has become Olympic Park – where the bulk of Olympic sporting events will be held – and the Olympic Village, where athletes and officials will live for the duration of the Games.
The Olympic Park will boast a range of new, purpose-built sporting venues, many of which will remain for use by the community long after the Games have finished.
Famous Names: Wimbledon, Wembley and Lord’s
London has a proud sporting history and is renowned for its world-class stadiums, many of which will be used for the 2012 Olympics.
Olympic Tennis will be played at Wimbledon, Football will happen at the newly renovated Wembley Stadium (and other stadia around the UK), and Olympic Archery will be held at the iconic Lord’s Cricket Ground.
In addition, a range of historic locations and buildings will be modified for various sporting events. For example, Horse Guards Parade area near Trafalgar Square will import a load of sand and be turned into a Central London “beach” for the Olympic Beach Volleyball.
It’s just the sort of irreverent yet delightful twist you’d expect from an Olympic Games in London, and is an exciting hint of what’s in store during the 2012 Games!
More Essential Information about London 2012 – http://www.visitlondon.com
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BestValueTours – www.SightseeingTours.co.uk