Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Olympics begin

I know you've all been patiently waiting for me to finally start blogging about the Olympics. Also known as the highlight of my already fabulous life. So without hesitation I present to you, in blog form, my trip to the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ...

Now, I might be a lucky duck, but I wasn't lucky enough to score tickets to the Opening Ceremonies. Instead I was able to find a sweet spot that was about as close to the Bird's Nest as a person could be without having tickets. The area was packed full of people from all around the world and we arrived just in time to get a spot before they blocked it all off. From this vantage point we were able to see all of the fireworks go off and I have to tell you it was fantastic.

We were standing close to an Olympic countdown sign and everyone was yelling like it was the New Year as we get ready to start the summer Olympics. I was jumping around, screaming and dancing in the street with new friends from around the world and everyone just went nuts when the counter finally said zero and the sky filled with color as the Chinese reminded everyone just who invented fireworks in the first place.

Since we were outside watching the fireworks and having our own party it meant that we didn't get to watch the actual ceremony on TV, but hey I've already got a bootleg DVD of the whole thing to watch whenever I want. We spent most of the rest of the evening cheering with people from around the world. We sang with our amigos from Mexico and danced with our sisters from another mister, the Canadians. We were interviewed by reporters from Italy, France, Australia and China. I was later overwhelmed by e-mails, text messages and phone calls from people in China telling me they had seen me on the Chinese news that night.

After a while we found a tea shop that had opened it's doors for people to come in and watch the opening ceremonies on TV. We bought some of the beer they were selling, made a toast to the games and waited patiently for the American athletes to make their way into the Nest. When they finally showed our team on TV our little group went absolutely nuts and once they flashed Kobe's face on TV the whole place went nuts. One of the reporters we had made friends with earlier in the night was still hanging out with us and we were on his radio station in Italy live, then he bought us a round of beers and we all talked about how excited we were for things to really get started.

We were sitting in the tea shop watching the ceremony as the torch was being lit. Once the flame was ablaze it finally hit me that if we simply peeked outside we would definitely be able to see the torch, so we made a beeline for the door and caught our first glimpse of the flame.

As the hoopla was winding down we realized it was already past midnight and we still needed to meet up with Jon. By the time we were all reunited it was about 2:30 a.m. and none of us had eaten for the whole day so we went to McDonald's and hung out with journalists and fans from around the world, talking about the events of the evening and what we expected to happen over the next few weeks. After a while we headed outside and found some seats to crash in for a while (did I mention we didn't have anywhere to sleep this night?) before getting on the subway at about 4:30 a.m. We made it to our hostel around 5:30, showered, met our new friends who were joining us for the Games and got ready to depart for our first event.

Everyone knows how much I like to party, be loud and cause a scene. You probably also know that I love meeting new people, want to be an awesome journalist and love to travel. All of these elements were melded into one big love blob in Beijing. The Olympics were essentially designed for me. This was only day one and I knew we'd get the party going for real from here on out.

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