What I learned in London--during the 2012 Olympics

Lessons learned during London's 2012 Olympics were varied and scattershot.  But as always, educational.

  • Two young men in red flag Canadian tee shirts were pushing a bin full to bursting with packaged snack foods. They stopped at the pedestrian crossing light. Chatting them up, we learned these are the party nibbles for the Canadian athletes. "They wouldn't touch them before the Olympics, not till after."

Note to self:  junk foods are called junk foods for a reason.

  • At the Swiss House--an open-house to the public to brand the Swiss nation--it is exclusively Lindt chocolates.  As the Swiss Chocolate Chef noted, "Not that Cadbury rubbish." Or Hershey? I teased, to which the chocolate chef grimaced.

Note to self: continue buying Lindt at Dominicks. Good for the heart. Good for the soul.

  • The Freedom of walking about in public on the south bank of the Thames, with a beer in a plastic cup bought at a Farmers Market. Perfectly legal. Now that is a freedom I can support. Handguns kill--but are legal in USA, more and more in public. Open carry of a beer doesn't kill--but is illegal. What a weird culture.
  • While in the VISA VIP Lounge--along with many under-aged Americans who snuck into the open beer and wine bar using Mom's credit car-- my family cheered for local GB girl--Victoria Pendleton. We were the only one in the room cheering. "Is that your relative?" inquired one young American woman curiously? Only in the sense we are all a part of the the family of humanity.
  • Rallying around the Union Jack, "just not done" according to one gentleman I spoke with.  Part of the British, don't make a nuisance of oneself mentality--that extended to cheering, politely for both sides of any sporting event I attended. With lower case, "whoo-hoo."
  • How to keep the Handyman happy, "builder's tea". One bag, hot water and milk of course. The only question, how many sugars? Handymen and builders and workers about the house expect this offering. Does this create a more civilized culture?
  • Why does the "tap water" in the UK taste like water? Throughout the USA, including Lake Michigan's neighboring Chicago, it always tastes like a Clorox bottle was dropped into the system. Do I need a reverse-osmosis like I had in Mexico City to get clean, tasty water?
  • Does the endemic switch on the electrical outlets in the UK encourage energy sensitivity? Everywhere in this gray sky land--solar panels are to be found. In word and financial deed--the Conservative government has encouraged their proliferation. This despite solar panels limitations. Then again, conservative Germany is doing the same thing in the knowledge that we must conserve the Earth to preserve humanity.
  • How clueless can one, or two, be? In the lower depths of VISA VIP Lounge, it was reported that an American couple got off a cruise ship in the UK. They were shocked, SHOCKED to find no room at the inn, or any hotel either-- given they didn't know there was an Olympics in London this year.

Note: Keeping apprised of the local news matters. Like the day in Ecuador when the President was kidnapped by the Air Force.

  • Mass transit works, most of the time.
  • Brits have teeth to smile with. Groupon proves they even go in for whitening just like Americans nowadays.
  • Beer tastes better from the tap in the UK. Here's hoping that Chicago's South Loop will too.
  • Last--but not least--maybe The Queen IS the head of The Church. How else to explain the brilliant sunshine that appeared just in the nick of time for the 2012 Olympics during this record soggy summer in the UK. For locals and frequent UK visitors, it was 17 days of sunshine. To the Americans in the VISA VIP Lounge it was all about rain, as the overheard conversations all noted how much it rains in the UK.

 

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    Candace Drimmer

    I was an accidental expatriate; love and marriage led me to it. One day I was a bandy-legged kid sitting atop my dogwood tree looking out of my small backyard world in 1950s New Jersey, wanting to move somewhere--anywhere, different. Next thing I knew my father had accepted a job in Houston TX. I was ecstatic, it was a foreign land in 1961 America. After high school graduation, my parents’ gave me a matched set of fawn-colored hardsided American Tourister luggage. Taking the hint, I went to college; well four colleges in five years--it was the 60s after all. Meeting a young hirsute anti-war, soon-to-be-Peace Corps volunteer, I fell in love. After finishing up college coursework for my degree, but before I even walking a graduation stage, I grabbed the paper airline ticket my boyfriend had sent me, my brand-new passport, and was off to the airport and Lima, Peru.

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