I have been interested in attending the Olympics as a spectator and/or sports journalist for many years. I came very close to making that happen at the 2010 Winter Games held in Vancouver, British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada - only a few hours' flight from me in Santa Cruz, California. Ultimately, I decided I didn't want to deal with the cold weather and housing logistics by myself so I did not go. But I have many friends who went. I enjoyed reading their updates and resolved to go the next chance I had.
As a freelance sports and travel journalist, I visited Olympic venues in Vancouver, Whistler and Richmond a year prior to the opening of the 2010 Winter Games. I wrote some Olympics preview stories, too. In addition to making me want to learn to curl and ski jump, my trip made me determined to go see an Olympic Games - it's on my bucket list.
Ready, aim, fire! Then, jump on your cross country skis! I got to take a shot at biathlon in British Columbia before the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Whistler and Richmond. Here, an instructor guides me on the basics of shooting.
My 2012 Olympics Tour Group and Guide
After witnessing the many talents and great charisma of Merritt Hopper, an organizer of my Costa Rica running trip with The Coastal Experiences in October 2009, I decided to join him and his crew for the Olympics in 2012. He has rented a youth hostel in London and I have paid a deposit to join his group - (which is now full). I feel lucky to be part of the gang.
Words of Wisdom from Olympics Veteran Merritt Hopper
"I know it's tough to get excited for a big trip like this so far out, but trust me, it's worth this much build up!" wrote Merritt in a recent email. "Our trip to London will mark the first summer Olympics where more than 8 of us will be going on the journey overseas. [For past Olympics group trips] we had 3 in Salt Lake, 4 in Athens, 8 in Torino, 7 in Beijing, 80 in Vancouver and now we're matching that 80 mark in London!"
Merritt Hopper leads the pack of runners during our Costa Rica 2009 running vacation.
Photo Credit: Karen Kefauver
Resources for the 2012 London Olympics - courtesy of Merritt
* www.london2012.com - official site
Start getting the lay of the land. See what venues are hosting what events. The more of a variety you have in terms of venues, the better. The architecture alone is always something special.
* www.cosport.com - If you haven't already registered to get ticket info, DO IT! You could miss the boat on the first phase of ticket sales if you don't. Sign up to receive their newsletter.
* * www.journeytothegames.com - Merritt's site for his 2012 London Olympic group
More Helpful Hints from Merritt
* Will Call vs. Mailing tickets to your home - Will Call is for suckers. Don't do it.
* Airline tickets - If you're planning to use miles, GOOD LUCK! It's doable but you'll need to be on the ball exactly 331 days before your departure and again 331 days before your return. That is the first time airlines allow you to utilize frequent flyer miles. Phones light up at redemption centers when it's 331 days before a global event in a certain city. Mileage will be somewhere between 50,000 and 90,000, so if you're two decades behind the time, it's probably time you got a credit card affiliated with an airline that flies to Europe. You could start building your point base now, get bonus points for signing up for the card, fly with that airline a few times, and potentially hit the required mile number 13 months from now.