A brand new postcode had to be created for Stratford's Olympic Park. It's that big. Covering two and a half square kilometres of East London, the Olympic Park has been several years and many, many millions of pounds in the making. Whilst Olympic and Paralympic events are taking place not only in several locations across London but across many other parts of the UK, the Olympic Park is the focus of the action. The site contains eight different purpose-built sporting venues, from Zaha Hadid's Aquatics Centre to the swooping, Pringle-shaped velodrome, and the peculiarly shrink-wrapped basketball arena to the enormous main Olympic Stadium, last seen as the backdrop for Danny Boyle's phenomenal opening ceremony. It also contains the Orbit; a...well I'm not quite sure what it is...a scalable sculpture, a pointless folly, an expensive exercise in self-glorification undertaken by its designers?
to thousands of pounds a seat, there is a cheaper option to soak up a little Olympic spirit. For a mere ten pounds you can buy a ticket for access to the Olympic Park in Stratford, to potter round the place, sink a celebratory drink or two, and marvel at the extraordinary new architecture, even if you aren't allowed to take a peek inside.
|The ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture|
|Visitors at 'Park Live', sitting on all the pretty, painstakingly-planted flowers|
The Olympic Park is a surprisingly beautiful and green place. The River Lea flows slowly through the middle of the site, wide, grey and patrolled by an emblazoned 'Rescue Team' in a life-boat should anyone attempt any impromptu water-sports. In the middle of the river, towards the top of the park, is mounted a pair of vast screens, courtesy of some (one imagines) pretty sizable sponsorship from British Airways. Here, at 'Park Live', those visitors without tickets to the venue events, or even those in possession of such tickets but with a break in their schedule, sit on two high grassy banks before these enormous television screens, watching the goings-on in park venues like the Copper Box or the Aquatics Centre, or even further afield out in Greenwich and across town in Earls Court. Even three days in however the glorious banks of wildflowers planted around this area were looking a little squashed, as demand outweighed allocated lawn space. Beer-sellers with cool-bags move between reclining groups, proffering the omni-present Heineken (spot the Olympic sponsor). The whole thing has something of a relaxed, festival-ish atmosphere.