Running into Olympic “royalty” on the streets of London
Running into Olympic “royalty” on the streets of London
Not many people in their lives get to go to the Olympics, whether its because it’s too expensive or if its just too far away in another country. No matter the case, it is truly a once in a lifetime experience. This year I am at the London 2012 Olympics. I’m having that very same experience. The first event we went to was tennis at Wimbledon. As a tennis player I was naturally excited to see this event. I have never before witnessed Top 10 tennis and did not know who I was going to see in this round of the semi finals. It turned out we were on center court and were seeing both men’s and women’s singles. As we entered the complex there was a big green board that posted who was playing on what court. I jumped up and down with excitement because I was not going to see Top 10 tennis, I was going to see Top 5 tennis! The matches were Roger Federer vs. Juan Martin del Potro, Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka and Andy Murray vs. Novak Djokovic. Anyone who follows tennis knows why I was so happy. To see all of them in one day playing at Wimbeldon is amazing.
First, it was Federer and del Potro. Del Potro looked fresh and ready for the match. Federer had fallen behind in the first set. Then, Federer won the second set and eventually won the third. The match took 4 ½ hours! Next, Serena Williams completely walked over the #1 player in the world, Victoria Azarenka in two sets. Last, Andy Murray took on Novak Djokovic, the #1 men’s singles player. Not a very good player on grass, Djokovic fell behind at the crucial moments of each set. The crowd cheered on Andy Murray, the home country favorite. He beat Djokovic in two sets, which made me sad, because I was rooting for Djokovic.
As we walked through Arlanda Airport on the way to our flight to London, we came upon a unique sight right in the middle of the terminal. A fish pedicure! You put your feet into a tank of tiny “Piranha-like” fish who munch on your feet and clean them of all the dry skin and calluses. Eeeewwww! The boys really wanted to try it and, I have to admit, I was curious too. OMG! That tickled so much, I could barely stand it.
The little fish did a good job because our feet felt really smooth afterwards! I don’t think you’d ever find this in the USA. Check it out at www.smilefishspa.com
As you learned from Bob, we drove A LOT in Norway. In fact, the day trip home was one of the longest days of all. We really wanted to head to the coast and see what fjords look like as they recede to the ocean. This part of the fjord is the oldest and the ice has had more time to wear down the landscape. We went from large jagged granite mountains to rolling green hills and finally rounded granite islands bordering the ocean in just under two hours. Bob found a route that would take us through these small islands called the “Atlantic Road”. The view was beautiful and after a quick stop to take pictures and wave at Maine, we headed back on the road towards Kristiansund, then Trondheim, and finally back into Sweden to Are (pronounced Aura). Our destination was a youth hostel in Are where we would spend the night before the next leg of the journey through Sundsval to Stockholm – another 650 km.
I happily enjoyed the scenery on our way to Sweden (the boys slept most of the drive and Bob complained about the tolls) stopping to spend our last Norwegian Kroner before going over the
border and then stopping again to get our passports stamped at the Duty Office. We finally arrived at the Are Youth Hostel around 8pm. It was closed – completely quiet and no one around to speak with. Sigh. It was a Sunday and we had been warned about things shutting down early in Norway, we didn’t think Sweden would have the same customs. So, worried we would be stuck with a $400 plus a night hotel room, we started driving around Are…in the rain. Down the hillside by a lake we could see a large building that said “Holiday Club” across the front with a huge covered waterslide in the
back. Bob said, “We’re going there!” After 9 hours of driving we were desperate that it would be a place to stay. Turns out it was a timeshare property but they rented out rooms to non-members – yeah, we were in luck and only 1300 SKr! And, they had a nice restaurant where we could get quality food. However, Bob’s eye’s lit up when he saw a big sign that said “Sauna World” across a large paneled entryway. But, alas, it was closed – he would have to wait until morning to explore.
After breakfast we quickly packed up our bags and headed down to explore the pool and “SAUNA WORLD”. You have to get a wristband and enter through a turnstile (they take their swimming and sauna-ing very seriously here). You come into a large changing room for men, women and children – this is called the “Mixed” changing area – people in various states of dress roaming around a very large locker room. Europeans have a totally different perspective on privacy and nudity. They are so much more open than us prudish Americans when it comes to their bodies. After changing (in private rooms) we headed into the shower and out into the pool area. This was a huge glassed-in space with 4 pools and 2 hot tubs, dry sauna, an elevated bar/café, and poolside seating area. Stairs took you into a corridor leading to yet another swimming pool outside. And, the icing on the cake was a 3-story waterslide that went from indoors to outdoors and back indoors again. We scored! This place was great! In addition to the amazing pool complex, they had a complete arcade and indoor mini-miniature golf course. Are, we were told, is actually one of the best ski-resort towns in Sweden. You could see from all the family-friendly activities that this was a great place for Swedes and Norwegians to spend their winter or summer holidays.
As we make our way out of the pool after three hours of fun, I head to the shower room to wash up. There is no place to leave your clothes in the shower room which leads into the “Mixed” changing room and I was wondering how I was going to get from that area back to the private changing area without having to put my wet bathing suit back on. There are no doors or curtains on the showers and as I finish washing up and go for my towel across the room, I notice this man and his son standing right outside my shower stall. I took a deep breath, ran to get my towel, wrapped it around myself and walked out into the main room with my head high. You know what they say, ”When in Rome…”
We have found that afternoon ice cream is an important ritual for our boys. They look forward to this, and we have been very consistent about finding them a dairy treat each afternoon. When we arrived in Sweden, we found that 3:00 coffee/tea was quite common. Our boys have their afternoon two scoops in a waffle cone. This might seem indulgent, or fattening, or whatever. Or, you might say, “I wish I could do that, too!” The treat comes in many versions: soft serve with sprinkles, cold stone creamery-creamy, gelato, frozen case prepackaged cones or bars. Sounds tempting, no? All good, as long as you don’t need to worry about your waistline. Our boys sure don’t need to worry about extra calories.
Everything we are doing seems to be unique and new. We have been moving quite a lot. Think about where we are sleeping. At home, boys had the same beds in the same room for a year and a half now. In the last month, they have slept in 7 different beds. Wake up time is variable. Each day we are doing new and different things. No schedules to be beholden to. Ice cream in the afternoon is an anchoring constant (And perhaps the high probability that salmon will be on the menu for a meal).
I am sure that finding more rituals to observe will help us to maintain our balance on this trip. Right now, we have afternoon ice cream.