Day Four

Today ended up being a pretty easy day – at least for work.  My painful cough woke me up after only three hours of sleep and was pretty nasty for quite some time.  But I will say that tonight it’s finally starting to feel better.  I guess the antibiotics are working and I’m ready to crash soon!

I had the best meal of the trip so far – went to a place called Wagamama next to the North Greenwich Arena – a Japanese restaurant – with John Leyba.  I had some chicken teriyaki meal that was quite tasty – John said the same about his steak teriyaki.

Today was Women’s gymnastics team finals – just like the Men, the Women led the prelims – so I was hoping that they’d do well.  We had the gymnastic trials in San Jose his past month – that’s the competition where they decide who will go to the Olympics.  I was only able to shoot one day of that but I do really like covering gymnastics.  The last few Olympics I’ve had to cover it from an elevated photo location because the being on the floor was ticketed.  But both Men and Women were not ticketed.  Got down to the floor an hour early and was surprised to see that it was empty:

It did fill up – but no where near what I thought it would.  Typically the Women’s comp is more popular than the men… tonight was the opposite, perhaps a lot of people were at swimming for Phelps.  Typically swimming prelims are in the morning and finals are in the evening.  In Beijing NBC decided they wanted prelims in the evening and have the finals in the morning – so that it would be prime-time for the States.  And I actually liked that – we’d shoot swimming in the morning and then have the evening to shoot whatever we wanted.  We could easily cover three to four events.  But with swimming in the evening now we have to chose what to cover a lot more carefully.  But it did make for super long days because we’d be at swimming super early and have assignments late.  Today gymnastics was at 4:30 – so I got to the arena around 1:30.  There was a morning fencing assignment but Karl was able to do that so I figured I should use the time to rest.  Gymnastics ended around 6:30 – but then there was the medal ceremony and stuff like that that ended up another 30+ minutes.  Most of the other events started around 7:30, there were no late starts like last nights beach volleyball which started late at 11:20 (was supposed to start at 11).  I could have jammed out of there right afterwards but instead decided to edit and then find a decent place for dinner (which we found).  So a short day – like 9 hours – almost normal hours.

There were (and overall there actually are) a handful of US newspaper photographers out here.  Pretty sad – was going through the papers with Brian Peterson (from Minneapolis Star Tribune) – who would normally be here but were not.  Don’t want to out them… but lets just say there were a lot.

Anyway, there were actually fewer photographers than yesterday for the Men’s comp, so it was pretty easy to move around.  The only issue was TV – of course – around the uneven bars I counted 17 television cameras!  That’s pretty insane – that doesn’t count the overhead video cameras either.  Pretty amazing.  But the US started super strong on the vault and never looked back – read the story by Mark Purdy and see pictures by me here:

Women’s Gymnastics Team Finals

Here is Wally Skalij from the LA Times checking out the balance beam shooting spot.  The photo marshal would not allow us to put our hands on the ledge!  (?)  As you can see Wally is breaking the rules:

It was really cool to see them win gold – after the vault it never really seemed like it was close.  And then Russia didn’t do to well on the final event – the floor exercise – so that pretty much clinched things.  But jube – aka jubilation – was difficult not only a ton of TV cameras but also a ton of still cameras (they were “pool” members – which meant they get special access).  I decided to go to a position where most people weren’t and hope I could get something.  I missed the initial reaction to the gymnast finishing because of all of the TV and still cameras but was able to get some reaction once their final score was announced – about five minutes later.  Here is the media work room:

Afterwards heard that Phelps won a couple more medals to make him the most successful medalist in Olympic history – would have been cool to see that but that’s okay – can’t be in two places at once – and I think I shot 8 or 9 of those 19 medals he has won.  Pretty amazing though.

Once we were done transmitting and so forth it was close to 10 – lucky for us the restaurant stays open until 11 so we were able to grab some filling, good food.  I headed back to my room and go in at a respectable time of 11:30.  Hope to be asleep by 1.


Day #3

Got up at 8 – not on purpose but because of my cough (went to bed at 3). I’ve had a cough for a few weeks now and I’m sure that standing in cold rain yesterday didn’t help.  A friend encouraged me to see a Dr.  They have one at the MPC… So walked in and after 10 minutes saw someone from the medical staff.  He said I have a minor chest infection – but I have a history of pneumonia – I’ve had it three times I think.  So he prescribed me some antibiotics.  So hopefully I’ll get better.

Afterwards headed up to the USOC to pick up a swim ticket for tomorrow and as I was leaving I saw Robert Gauthier in the LA Times office right next door to the USOC – he invited me in – swanky office… look at the nice view they have!:

As I was walking to the bus to head to gymnastics I ran into John Leyba – he had to run into the MPC – when I got to the bus stop I told him he had 25 minutes – and asked him if he could pick me up something to eat – he did – so nice.  Back to getting to events ridiculously early – got there 2 1/2 hours early – but there were already a ton of people there.  Set up computer and figured out where the shooting spots were at (that’s Leyba’s thumb – not mine) – headed out about an hour and 15 minutes ahead of time.  We were early:

Lots of US photographers there today for the Men’s Gymnastics team final.  Arena was packed – so that was cool to see.  But it was painful to watch… it seemed like they started out really flat – maybe nerves – kinda sucks that they were ahead in prelims but then everyone starts at zero for the finals.  Not sure they could have beat China but they could easily have medaled – but a couple dudes kinda screwed up on the first three events and then they kinda gave up… but then the last two events they did awesome and only lost out to a medal by like two points.  Brian Peterson and Smily Pool chatting beforehand:

I’ve only shot gymnastics a few times and every time in the past I shot it from the stands… I think cause it was ticketed – this time it wasn’t so I shot it from the ground.  It’s kinda a little dance because there were four groups competing – two countries per group.  So the US was pair with Russia, China was paired with Japan and the UK was paired with France.  So when they changed apparatuses all of the journalists covering those countries would jockey to new positions in front of the apparatus their country was at.  For the US it was floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and then high bar.  It was a little dicy down there and tomorrow night will be much worse with the Women – but we could move around OK… some areas were a little narrow – following Brian through a narrow area behind one of the shooting areas – he is tall.  :

Like I said, saw lots of US photographers there – it was kinda funny cause I saw Andrew Gombert – from EPA and he said he read my blog!  Hi Andrew – ha!  I think I forgot to mention seeing him and his wife at the Nikon party – well I did.

Nice sky while leaving gymnastics (at the North Greenwich Arena – usually known as the O2):

Needed to head to the Horse Guards Parade complex where beach volleyball is being held.  Left right after gymnastics – since the US didn’t medal I skipped the medal ceremony – grabbed a bus with Wally back to the MPC.  I should have taken the subway.  So I get to the stop where the bus is supposed to pick up and I ask two different “helpers” if I’m at the right place – they say yes just wait.  So I wait – like 30 minutes – no bus.  Then finally some nice guy comes up and says – oh yea that bus stops running once the competition starts!  What?  Really?  Whoever set this bus system up obviously does not know how journalists work.  There were like five matches going on – different countries in each match – the US is in the last one – so most journalists would show up for the country they are covering – not for the hole thing.  oh well  So ended up taking a bus to a stop kinda nearby – and from there a 10 minute walk to the Tube and three stops later got off at Picadelly Circle stop.  From there another 15 minute walk to the gate.

Smiley said he has given up on buses and will just takes the Tube.  I had a good experience yesterday with the buses – but not so much today.

Figured out where I was going via the iPhone… gps is a wonderful thing… I keep getting behind really stinky people and there is no reason for it because it is not hot.  Though sometimes I keep sniffing myself wondering if that is me – but I’m pretty sure it’s not.  It was a nice a cool 60ish degrees today so people shouldn’t be sweating.

Public service announcement:  while I was at the pharmacy I saw an energy bar – thought I’d try it.  It was the most vile, gross thing I have ever, ever tasted in my life – do – not – buy – I took a nibble and the after taste, the horrible after taste, stayed with me for like an hour:

Beach volleyball is really the weirdest venue – people are all dancing and they have music almost constantly blaring.  They have two announcers – apparently one is famous – Jed was telling me – maybe an X-Factor winner (which I have never watched)

 Afterwards Jed Jacobsohn and I walked out (he’s got a blog: ) Got on a Tube – a nice lady with a large group of dudes saw my badge and we chatted about the Olympics for bit – she was from Atlanta – helped me figure out what Tube I was on.

I had to be very conscious of time because the Tube/DLR stops running around 2 am – and I don’t want to be caught out again… I cut it a little close – only two trains left!

Gymnastics story by Elliott Almond with my pix

Pano of beach volley ball – I wanted to do one from the top cause you can see cool old buildings in background – but due to the bus mishaps I got there and it was too dark… so just did one from the ground.

There is supposed to be a story with beach volleyball – but I can’t find it… here are a couple of my favorite pix from tonight – actually just one:

Day II addendum

Oh regarding the Women’s Road Race winner… this was the frame I sent in:

And just to provide evidence that I was leaning over a lot to be able to see past the guy leaning over in front of me with his giant yellow poncho – here is the original, uncropped version – shot with a Nikon D4 with a 70-200 f2.8 with a 1.4x converter (so shot at f4) ISO 2000 at 1/1600:

I do enjoy covering cycling because I swear if my Mom was growing up in these times she would be a champion cyclist!

Day II

I think it might be colder than the Vancouver Olympics!

Got six hours of sleep – pretty good – went to women’s road race – cycling in the morning.  Left at about 10, met Elliott in front of our dorms and headed over there together.  We got there via the DLR to the Jubilee line then a walk through the park – Green Park.  Luckily I have my iPhone with gps or we wouldn’t have known where to go 🙂 – because the Olympic “helpers” didn’t know where we were supposed to go either.  Elliott on the Jubilee line:

Today was not a good day for my brain – I typically get to events obscenely early and today was no exception – today I should have been there by 10 at the super latest, two hours before the event – but I got there at 11 – and of course everyone was already out.  The closest best spot was in front of buckingham palace – but I needed an escort.  When i got there they said i was too late.  But I went out anyways – by the time I found everyone they were all camped out in the middle of the course near the start/finish line and there was a small stage set up where each team was being introduced – right as I got there the US team was introduced – lucky timing on my part because we had one racer that was from Gilroy.  There were four of them on the team and even though I didn’t know which one was the one I needed I was able to get a picture of everyone – not good pictures – but something because I knew it’d be insanely difficult to pick out one specific rider in a group of 60+ riders flying down the street.  Neat building on the way:

At 11:30 a photo helper named Alex directed us down the course – literally – at 11:30 – we walked about a 1/4 of a mile down to a small photo position in front of buckingham palace.  Fans cheer us on:

Then it started to rain.  Not too bad but it was kinda chilly.  I started out with a low angle then tried a high one and then settled on the low angle.  The riders went by in a matter of seconds so who know if it was the right choice – clouds were kinda cool so I thought I’d try and get some of them in there.

Afterwards a photo marshal (guy) attempted to take us back to the workroom – but he got lost a few times.  The photo marshals have been interesting, typically they have been younger in the past but most of the photo marshals here have been middle aged – and the majority of the photo marshals, which were very nice and helpful here were middle aged women.  So that’s cool.  Once the race gets going there really is nothing to do until they come back.  So I went and did a panorama.  The media room is so small that every seat was taken, including the one I had put all my stuff on – it had been moved and someone was sitting there.  I found one other seat… at some point I went to the bathroom came back and my chair was gone – what the heck – vultures!  This is why I always lock everything up!

I went back out and got in position to shoot finish line, it had been awhile since I shot a finish line pic – but there weren’t really many options anyways.  I settled on a spot – an hour and half before they were scheduled to show up.  I chatted with Andy (crap forgetting his last name) – from USA Today – perviously with the Dallas Morning News… interesting things are going on there – but too much to get into…

After a while it started to rain, and rain and rain.  Another example of not using my brain – I didn’t check the weather – I knew it was supposed to rain at some point – I didn’t bother to check before I left the room – and it was a cold rain and I didn’t have a jacket, a long sleeve shirt or any protection for the cameras.  Ooops!  Well the Nikon rep Sara will be happy to know that I sheltered the cameras with my body so they did not get wet, but I got soaked.  I wasn’t the only one who didn’t remember to bring anything – but there weren’t many of us.  The leaders came in and a guy in front of me wearing a bright yellow poncho leaned over the railing – I had to lean too and just barely caught the winner crossing the finish line – someone from the Netherlands.  So the US didn’t win there was no point in me staying for the medal ceremony – cause I had to get to swimming.

And yet another example of being brainless – I forgot to check to see if I had my swim ticket (we have to get a special ticket which assigns us to a specific photo position) – I realized this when I got to the bus to go back to the MPC that I had left swim ticket in room.  What happened was I went and picked up “welcome kit” which also included a backpack.  Then I went up to get swim ticket from USOC’s Bill Hancock – and put it in the new backpack – I think u can see where this is going.  Yes left this morning and left new backpack in room of course.  Though I the help desk is partly (small part) to blame because it was the fourth of fifth time I stopped by to get my welcome kit that they actually had one available!

Now is where my brain finally kicked in.  After I got on the first bus I figured I had a few options – go back to the USOC and beg for another ticket (super doubtful), go to the venue and see if I could get in (this wouldn’t have worked for sure because they checked my ticket before even entering the aquatics venue, usually credential is enough), ditch swimming altogether, or bite the bullet and just go.  So I figured once I got back to the MPC I could take the bus to the DLR… but when I got the MPC I asked someone if there was a bus to the ExCel building – the first person I asked could barely speak English and said “no” – so luckily I was able to find someone who did and she pointed me to a bus that had just turned on its engine a few hundred feet away, so I ran over and jumped on.  That saved me about 30 minutes then if I had gone back to the DLR.  I was able to catch the DLR at ExCel (there were a ton of people but they were all going the opposite way).  Then three DLR stops back to my room.  I was able to go to the room get the ticket and a few other things and run back to the DLR stop in less than 10 minutes to catch the next DLR back to Stratford International – with one transfer at Canning Town.

Amazingly got to my photo spot at the Aquatics Centre around 6:15.  I had left cycling at 4:00 – so I think that was record time.  Plus the transportation Gods were with me because I never had to wait more than a couple minutes at each transfer!  And the dedicated Olympic lanes worked well.  Shot swimming – US won a few medals including a silver in the Men’s 4x100m freestyle relay with Phelps – the announcer pronounced his name as “Fills.”  Saw Dana Vollmer break a world record (went brainless and shot the wrong lane for most of the race – oops).  Saw Jed Jacobsohn and Kyle Terada in the B section were I was at.  Paul Kitagaki waves to me:

Afterwards edited images and then went for a cheeseburger and beer with John Leyba, unfortunately at 11 pm the only thing open near us was McDonald’s and there is absolutely nothing near my dorm.  Today was only about 14 hours.

Pano from the finish line (would have loved to have riders in it but impossible to have done without another person)

Day 1

Well like I said in the last post – went to bed about 4:30 and got up around 6:45 – left room a little after 7.  It was a bit painful to get up.  I accidentally got on the DLR that I needed to be on – Stratford International – that was a nice surprise.
Today was all about swimming.  It was going to be Natalie Coughlin’s one and only race -the 4×100 Freestyle Relay.  It was possible they wouldn’t make it out of the prelims so I had to go in the morning just in case.  Went straight from Stratford International DLR stop to bus to MPC to changed to another bus to swimming venue – called the Aquatics Centre.  Arrived early cause the morning session is first come first served – so I got a nice spot on platform B – which is close to the finish line:
The prelims too several hours.  Saw Phelps just barely qualify, Coughlin breezed through and Her Majesty the Queen stopped by… Checked out he souvenir shot – the “mega store” and they were already running out of stuff!  Swung by the MPC and after the fifth time I finally got my welcome kit!  Every time I stopped by they had run out!  It’s a nice small backpack.
Afterwards headed to lunch with John, Paul and Rob at the mall (hey that almost sounds like the Beattles – haha) – some place – it was decent – a little pricy.
Then we all walked back to the swimming venue.  I ran into Brian Peterson from the Minneapolis Star Tribune – good to see him.  Super nice guy and great shooter.  Got to chat with him for a while while waiting for swimming to start – that was cool.  Also ran into Sports Illustrated Robert Beck – he’s a funny guy.  Anyway this is gonna be a short post cause I’m mega tired… here are some links (my slideshow from finals are attached to them):
Different Gallery – pictures from the prelims:
Afterward swimming was over we scanned had beer and McDonald’s with Steve, Paul, and John.  Well beer at bar at MPC and we just brought McDonald’s over – which is next to the MPC.  Anyway goodnight!  More later – tomorrow is Women’s cycling and then swimming again!

Opening Ceremonies

In case you were wondering… here is my room – no AC and no TV!  Two things I cherish in life – haha – but I’m surviving – it really is like a little cruise-ship cabin:
Ah slept in – probably last time… The great thing about staying at UEL is that it is literally right off of the DLR (Dockland Light Rail) line.  It takes about minutes to walk down from my room to the stop.  You can see the stop when you leave UEL – unfortunately I saw the train leave… looked kinda like this (this is the light rail going the opposite direction – but you get the idea):
I figured out that if I exit at the prince regent stop I can catch a dlr right to the entrance of the media check-in – what we had been doing in the past is going taking the dlr to canning town then transferring to the jubilee tube which would take us directly to the Stratford station – but then we’d have another 15 minute walk though a congested mall.  This method – I exited on prince regent – and waited 6 minutes for the Stratford international station DLR – and voila I end up literally in front of the media entrance… from there I have to take a bus to get to the MPC – in total it takes about 50 minutes.
I love public transport – subways in NYC are pretty awesome.  And I like taking a subway for the first time – kinda like a little adventure to try and figure out where to go.  Yesterday was like that – had never been there and was just trying to figure it out.
I’m pretty sure that they – whoever – forgot that opening ceremonies were tonight because there were no buses!  Had to wait for like 10 for one to even show up – by that time the line had doubled.  Went with John Leyba and Paul Kitagaki:
Sitting at the very top in-between section 246-247 – it wasn’t a great view – actually sitting kinda behind to the left of what is considered to be the “front” of the show – I was in section F – which was originally supposed to be ground level but during rehearsals they figured out that that position was blocked – so instead was sent to the very top:
Sat next to a nice hip Frenchman from AFP and Ronald Martinez from Getty – from Texas…
Amazing that seat to my left and right were open AND the row in front of me was nearly empty.  Usually I’m completely squashed in there.  The best thing was that I had a ledge behind me that I could store a bunch of crap on.
Opening was okay it started out really cool – a cool country scene with farm animals and everything – then on to a super cool industrial era type of scene.  Then it became just kinda like a big dance number / usually the stage was pretty empty.
Then of course there is the painful parade of athletes – which took – I think two hours.  This time I was smart brought my laptop and scanned in a bunch of images.  I was completely done by the time they were on the ‘N’ countries.  This is Paul Kitagaki, John Leyba (and his kids) and my Opening Ceremony tickets:
 After it was over i stayed in my seat to edit images – I couldn’t transmit because i had no Internet access.  After a bit we got kicked out cause they had to clean.  The workroom is located downstairs – not the easiest place to get too.
Headed back to MPC – it was at least a 1/4 mile walk to the bus – that was nearly 2:30 am – and that’s when I found out that 2:30 is when the DLR stops running.  The help desk was of little help – basically said that I was on my own.
So by the time we got back to MPC it was about 2:45.  Got in line for a cab around 3:30 – there were about 40 people in front of me but cabs were running pretty quick – got back to hotel a little after 4… Asleep a little after 4:30… Back up at 6:45!


Thanks to Dan Wong for making a home for my panoramas: a pretty decent amount of sleep last night – 7 hours – trying to get as much as I can before the Games actually start.  I decided to head to the gymnastics venue to do a couple of panoramas there and just to check out the venue.  It’s kinda close to the UEL – just take the DLR, Canning Town and transfer to the Jubilee to the Greenwich station.  What?  Translation – from the UEL (University of East London, where I’m staying) – I jumped on the DLR (Docklands Light Rail) to the Canning Town station where I transferred to the tube – the Jubilee line which dropped me off at the North Greenwich station. Gymnastics is being held at the North Greenwich Arena – which is actually the O2 – I guess music/arena venue.  I ran into Peter Reed Miller from Sports Illustrated in the hallway and we talked about the venue for a little bit.  Also saw Chang Lee from the NYT in the media center there.

Afterwards I jumped back on the Jubilee, transferred back at Canning Town and headed to ExCel.  ExCel is an interesting venue (don’t forget to look at the pano’s at the bottom) – basically just a huge, long space, kinda like a convention center broken up into a bunch of rooms on each side of a very long hallway.  But they are having seven events there – judo, taekwondo, wrestling, table tennis, boxing, weight lifting, and fencing.  When you walk into a room all you see is scaffolding – but then there care little entry points into the actual “field of play” as they like to call it.  The smart thing is that when they are done they just tear it down.  Instead of building a huge venue just for fencing – which would most likely not be used again.  Fencing venue:

Before I went in I ate at Fox Bar and Restaurant – it was okay – had some pasta.  They did confiscate my flash light which I forgot I had in my backpack because it also included a laser pointer … Guy was like – you can take it back to your hotel… Uh no.  So I decided to take a break in the fencing venue – which is kept quite dark.  I was seriously considering taking a nap – and was on my way when David Eulitt and Harry Walker from McLatchy walked in… We chatted for a bit.  So weird how you run into people.

They headed off for a meeting and I decided to check out downtown at least for a little bit before a party being held by Nikon.  Jumped back on the DLR to the Canning Town station and then took the Jubille down to the London Bridge station.  Wow it’s busy downtown!  I walked across the London Bridge – realizing what I really wanted to see was the Tower Bridge off in the distance… so after a short jaunt I made it down there.  I got to watch a cruise ship sail (? – float?) under the Tower Bridge – that was pretty neat – it went through backwards.

Some neat building:

Afterwards I walked a ways to the Tube – took a couple of subways to the Goodge station and then a short walk to the building the party was being held at.  Lots of Londoners reading the paper – yea:

Building Nikon party was held in:

I got there a little after 7, didn’t recognize anyone, was there for about 30 minutes and I was thinking of bailing but then started to run into some people I knew – first saw Wally Skalij from the LA Times, then Sara Moosbruger from Nikon, Elsa (from Getty – we went to college together!), Ezra, (Getty), John Leyba (Denver Post), Robert Beck (Sports Illustrated), Kojo Kinno (Becks assistant), David and Harry from earlier, gosh wow, I did see a lot of people I knew, Paul Kitagaki, Scott Mc Kiernan, John Mabanglo, Steve Dykes, Kyle Terada.  Also met a bunch of people – mostly foreigners but – Mike Powell and David Bergman seemed nice.

Why does Nikon throw a party – oh and by the way Canon had one at the same time, some people went to both.  Why do they throw a party?  I’m sure they have specific reasons, but for us, good PR for their product, gather lots of photographers together, and free schwag!  In Vancouver they had a joint Nikon/Canon party at the aquarium, which was amazing – but the schwag was a gigantic bag – and considering everyone had already lugged all of their stuff up in gigantic bags the last thing we needed was another big bag.  I gave that thing away that night.  This time Nikon had a sweet pair of binoculars and some other small stuff!  yea!  A Nikon bigwig address the crowd:

On the way out we ran into Smiley Pool from the Houston Chronicle.  He was heading in after checking out the Canon party – we were thinking of going there but heard they ran out of stuff.  As we were waiting for Smiley, Larry Smith (from EPA) walked out, we were standing in a group and someone, I think Wally, said – “thanks for saying hello” – and he says “oh I know you!” and shook hands, then he pointed towards me “I don’t know you” and then after a moments pause he says “WAIT – I do know you!”  It was pretty funny.  Always nice to be remembered.  Larry is a super nice guy, great shooter and totally reminds me of the dude from the Big Libowski.  A group of us decided to head to dinner and we made our way to Smiley’s hotel… had an interesting pizza:
Around midnight Karl and I headed back – just change from the Tube to the DLR – a nice lady from Kenya helped us navigate our way in-between.  Well next up is opening ceremony – oh boy!

Tower Bridge

Gymnastics venue outside

Gymnastics venue inside I

Gymnastics venue inside II

ExCel inside

ExCel outside

Table Tennis


Apparently one of the buses heading from the MPC (Main Press Center) to the Stratford gate (our main entrance) in the evening (around 7 pm) – got lost – an Italian driver – so what would normally take 15-20 minutes took 45 minutes and they ended up coming back to the MPC – so really ended up taking over an hour!  Yikes… Lots of really pissed off people, English guy sitting across me cursed up storm even when driver slowed down for a turn.  I’m glad I didn’t get on their bus first, that would have been most annoying.  But the busses they use on the Olympic grounds are kinda cute.

Today was pretty uneventful… caught up on sleep and my blog in the morning.  The subway – the Jubilee Line – was ridiculously packed – I barely got on – I can’t imagine how bad it’s going to be once the Olympics actually start… Went to the “World Food Court” – couldn’t decide what to get – ended up thinking a burger was probably the safest.  Well I couldn’t have been more wrong, it was really quite gross.  Tasted like it was hollow or something – just had no substance – I should have just gone to McDonald’s – it would have been about a 1/4 of the price too.  Oh well – at least I’m on an expense account.

As you can see they still aren’t 100% finished with everything – here some workers finish up some stuff outside of the Aquatics Centre:

Headed out to check out the different venues and did some 360 degree panoramas (see links below!) of the swimming venue (inside and out), basketball (inside and out), velodrome and the bmx (outside), and the Olympic Park.  The Olympic Park is pretty massive takes forever – I think it took like 30 minutes to walk from the Velodrome to the Aquatics Centre.  They opened the grounds to some fans today so there were a of people milling about.

Only person I ran into today was John Leyba from Denver at the Aquatics Centre.  Other than that I was just wandering.  Stopped and had tapas for dinner – it was pretty good.  So either I took the subway home really late, or really early because it was empty at 10 p.m.  It’s 2 a.m. now and I just finished scanning – er – editing the panoramas… Tomorrow probably more of the same.  I think there is some photo meeting in the afternoon and perhaps a party that Nikon is throwing in the evening.

360 Panoramas:

Inside the Aquatics Centre

Inside the Aquatics Center Part B

Outside of the Aquatics Center

Outside of the Basketball Arena

Outside of the Basketball Arena Part B

Inside the Basketball Arena

Inside the Basketball Arena Part B

Olympic Park

In-between the Velodrome and BMX Track

In-between the Velodrome and BMX Track Part B

Outside of the Velodrome

Travels – Part B

… after arriving at Paddington the volunteer that showed me the nice luggage cart directed us through Paddington station – Elliott and Karl had to take three different subways a few days before to get to UEL (University of East London where we are staying) – so I was planning on doing that even with all my gear.. but she directed us towards some old mail tunnel in the building which fed us out to some loading dock under the building.  From there there were a bunch  of cabs there they were being used as shuttles.  Like I said in the pervious post I hadn’t researched as much as I should how i was going to get all of my stuff from Heathrow to UEL and was even thinking of cabbing it the whole way – that would have been super expensive – like $150 us… So instead I paid $0 (you’re welcome faceless bean counters!).  For the Olympics we were given a free Oyster card – basically a card to ride all of the subways and buses.  Anyway, long story short, I got in a cab just like this one:

it took about an hour to drive from Padding Station to UEL – had to drop off some guy I shared the cab with but it was considered a shuttle so it was free.  Luckily Linda K, our telecoms guru, provisioned my iPhone for data so I could figure out where I was during the trip – I also downloaded the subway – or Tube rather – map-ap.  I was struck at how short London was – I mean buildings – there aren’t that many tall buildings, well at least the route we took.

After I got to the UEL nobody really knew where I was supposed to go.  A nice lady directed me to an office in a building at UEL… and I waited, and waited, and waited, for an hour for someone to help me.  It was a little frustrating to be steps from my hotel room and not be able to get inside.  I was hoping to take a quick nap and shower but that wasn’t going to happen… well I did take a quick shower but not a quick nap.

Here’s the building we’re staying at and check out the video Elliott did of the rooms – reminds me of being on a cruise ship – except smaller!: I have a nice view of the water and London City Airport.  Planes start to take off at 6:30 am.  But actually that doesn’t bother me at all since I live kinda close to the San Jose airport so I’m used to hearing plane noise.

Needed food and needed to meet Elliott and Karl to go and buy some local phones for talking.  I’ll talk about the logistics in another post – but long story short – this Olympics is going to be logistically very difficult.  We are intermingling with the public A LOT.  Which I don’t like, especially when carrying around expensive gear, kinda freaks me out.  It takes two subways to get to the main Olympic complex and then after that we have to wade through the largest mall in Europe to get to yet another bus that will take us to the MPC (Main Press Center) or Olympic Stadium, etc…  ridiculously busy mall traffic – 4 p.m. on a Monday!:

One of my favorite foods is Mediterranean food, especially gyros, so I figured since we were half-way to Greece the gyros must be good in London, even the mall, looked decent… ended up being the worst gyro I ever had – it was so gross.  And I was starving and I couldn’t finish it… Met Elliott and Karl and we walked over to get some local cellphones.  Also picked up a towel (the one towel we are given feels like sandpaper) and soap.  For Linda:  Elliott watches guy writing hand-written receipt for phones and sim cards – haha:

Afterwards we walked back through the mall to get to a bus which would take us to the MPC (Main Press Center) – there I ran in to a few familiar faces – funny enough Elliott and I were riding the elevator up and the door opened and my friend Jed Jacobsohn, a great bay area sports photographer, was standing outside waiting to get in!  We were heading up to the USOC (US Olympic Committee) office and he was heading up to the New York Times office (for whom he is working the Olympics for).  Also ran into Julie Jacobson (yes spellings are correct), from AP, Ronald Martinez (Getty), legendary Terry Schmidt (UPI), Stephanie Mullen (AP) and John Leyba (Denver Post).  While I was there I got my Olympic photo vest (required to wear), internet access ($250 US for the whole time), locker, and a few other things.

Afterwards Karl and I decided to walk over to the Olympic Stadium, not an easy feat – but we did it… took about 15-20 minutes.  I did a few 360 panoramas:

Afterwards I walked back to the mall and Karl went to the MPC – I relaxed at the mall for about an hour and waited for them for dinner.  We went to the World Food Court in the mall and I had some pretty darn good Indian food – but I was starving so maybe it wasn’t so good… but I thought it was:

Finally headed back to the room – took a few subways and we were back… I had to do a little bit of work, about an hour or so, but after 31 hours I passed out around 12:30, but then woke up at 2:30, then passed out, and then woke up at 5:30… and finally fell asleep until 9.  Gonna take it quite a bit easier today… hopefully check out a few venues and do some more panorama’s.

Travels – Part A

So this is going to be a long post cause the day, er few days, were super long – I was up 31 hours – with a small restless one hour nap on the flight over.  Flight was about 9 1/2 hours, direct from SFO – but had to take a shuttle from my house.

The shuttle driver showed up 20 minutes early so luckily I had pretty much everything packed up kinda had to jam a little bit – I have three check-ons and when he found out he said I’d have to pay for the third, $5, that was fine… I went back and got the third bag that was sitting on my porch.  If you know me then you know that sometimes I get kinda paranoid about forgetting things – cause I do forget things periodically… so I asked the driver “I gave you the third bag right?” and he says – “oh yea”.   Then we make one stop at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Laboratory to pick up a passenger and the driver gets out to load the dudes bag and says to me “Hey there are only two bags back here?”  So of course I start to freak out and I say “seriously” and start thinking about how I’m gonna get back down to San Jose, blah blah and then he goes “just kidding man.”  hilarious.  He pronounced Michael Phelps name Fills… He’s like “Fills is going to be at the Olympics again right?”  haha nice guy though.

I was all freaked out about my carry-on because on all of my previous international flights they have weighed the carry-on and the airline I was taking Virgin Atlantic had super strict weight – 13lbs!  Considering my Think Tank Rollar bag which I would normal take on as a carry-on weighs about 9.5 lbs then that didn’t leave me much weight.  So I took my TT backpack and stuffed it with stuff, and stuffed my pockets with stuff so that the backpack weighed 13 lbs.  I wanted to carry on at least two camera bodies and a few lenses in case a bag got lost.  Anyways, long story short, they didn’t weigh it at all… oh well!

I watched three movies on the way there 21 Jump St (that’s the only time I slept – about an hour during that movie), Tower Heist and Hunger Games.  They were all alright.  Also watched a two Showtime TV shows and the Office.

I sat in an aisle seat next to a very chatty guy from Wales… he turned 21 years-old on July 4th, had spent the last three weeks touring the US by car.  A kinda stocky guy, amateur rugby player, with a super raspy voice… his favorite city in the US – St. Louis – favorite spot – Niagara Falls.

After arriving in Heathrow took a long walk to baggage – and then I got my credential laminated.  We were given our credential a while ago but it was a piece of paper – so once we got to the airport we had to officially check in – didn’t take more than a few minutes, then went through customs, which was easy – they had an Olympics line.  Along the way there were a ton of volunteers to help direct and answer questions.  After grabbing my gear I made it to the Heathrow Express – which is connected to the airport.  It was a decent jaunt over but worth it.  I hadn’t been very good about doing research on how to get from the airport to the place I’m staying.  Luckily Elliott Almond (the Olympics reporter) and Karl Mondon (video/photographer) filled me in on how to get to UEL (University of East London) where we are all staying.

Very nice subway – we arrived in Paddington Station – super cool building – I think Harry Potter, among other movies, was filmed there?

Once there a nice volunteer directed me towards some Olympic luggage carts.  Since I had three rolling bags and a backpack it had been a little bit of a pain…

That was the easy part… on to part B…