12 August, 2012

Medals time!

So who won the medals for hospitality during the Olympics?

Well Bronze has to go to Brazil for a good art exhibition and showing how the country has changed.

Silver goes to Switzerland for some great food games and entertainment, with a special mention for making it interactive.

Gold must go to Qatar for being a beacon of hospitality and a real showcase for the country.

But as everyone involved in the Olympics tells us, it's not the winning but the taking part, and I have appreciated all visits to the houses.

Bayt Qatar - One of the London 2012 Olympic Houses

The Qatari House is done out like a desert palace in very good style.  In fact I didn't realise it was open to the public such was the opulent style of the place.

One of the unashamed luxuries of the games with waiters to serve you with drinks (non-alcoholic) and snacks.

Apart from that the house shows how Qatar is building new and sustainable cities whilst retaining its heritage.  There are also heritage objects to hold with a story on the screen.  Although I think people have been putting them back in the wrong drawers.

The lounge was pleasant and the cinema area showed films with a sporting theme, such as 'Bend it like Beckham'.

Would I go back - I went there on the last public day
Five stuffed dates.

Deutsches Haus - One of the London 2012 Olympic houses

It's £5 to get in after 5PM but free before hand although you have to be searched.  Team Germany had a shop and they were selling things 2 for 1 so my badge was £5 for two!  You could also have your picture taken in a beach chair from Mecklenberg/Vorpommern which I think means Pommerania.  And besides the food and beer in a German Bier Keller that was it.

The verdict
Would I go Back? I think I've done all it has to offer.
Five pretzels

11 August, 2012

Bow floating market

Very arty and food orientated although a floating bookshop, hat shop and dress shop stretched their owners imaginations on the names.  Chapeau bateau was good.
From Travels around London

Lights of London - Illuminations of London's bridges and landmarks.

My first blogmeet, and what a meet.  The General Electric Co, EDF Energy and the Greater London Authority have teamed up to illuminate some the Bridge House Trust bridges and Waterloo and Milennium footbridges.  There is also a son et lumiere projected onto Parliament.  It's called Dazzle bridge

The meetup consisted of a boat trip to see these lights, although a bit past my bedtime.  Tower Bridge begins its routine at 2200 and is a beautiful light display that really shows off the building at it's very best.  The picture does not begin to capture it (and no tripod so lots of wobble).   Tower Bridge and Waterloo Bridges are the only bridges that have a routine.  The other bridges are simply lit up but they look very pretty.

Next up was London Bridge with an orange illumination.  Southwark bridge made good use of its cast iron work and was lit with a purpley light 
Waterloo Bridge had a laser light show with straight and swirly things.  Just by chance the musical accompaniment on our boat was 'Over there' (the GoCompare song) and going by the Festival site with this year's festival of the world gave a bit of 1950s atmosphere.

The grand finale was the son et lumiere projected onto the river side of the Palace of Westminster.  This celebrated the Olympics and Britain's sporting achievements in the games.  The show lasted for 15 minutes and was a great show of all the London Olympics from 1908, 1948 and 2012.

All in all a fantastic display. And a really great blogmeet.

The Victoria Park live site for watching the olympics.

A BT sponsored site for watching the Olympics with other attractions, the live site was not exactly jam packed, more like the park on a summer day.  Which made it better.  I was irked by the security checks - no firearms allowed, since when have they been allowed anyway? - but the place was OK with a zip wire ride (minus dangling mayor) and big screens a plenty.

Most of the attractions were more for children than adults but the queues were not too long.

One of the BT hot air baloons was also in attendance.

09 August, 2012

Ekhaya South Africa's London Home - One of the London 2012 Olympic Houses

South Africa's Home from home in London had a performance space and crafts exhibition.  That was about it really.

The verdict
Would I be back - not much time left I'm afraid
Five African dancers

Diamond geezer has also been to the houses

Club France - One of the London 2012 Olympic Houses

The French Olympic House is situated in Old Billingsgate Market and after a queue of 50 minutes I was told I couldn't come in unless I had photo ID

Would I be back? NON
five gallic shrugs

04 August, 2012

The Slovak Meeting point - One of the London 2012 Olympic Houses

It's just a pub really.  A few nods to Slovakia.

Will I be back? It's just a pub so probably not
Five foaming tankards.

Monaco House - One of the London 2012 Olympic Houses

The Monaco house showed off a collection of Olympic Torches from the first to the latest and so was very interesting.  No hospitality just torches.  Here is Sydney's

Will I go back When you've seen it you've seen it.
Five Olympic Torches

The Czech House - One of the London 2012 Olympic Houses

The Czech Olympic House has this very striking sculpture outside.

And you can even buy a model of it in the Olympic shop for £99 which is quite good value I thought.  The Czech House has some good artworks in it and photographs from young Czechs.  you can also watch the games and play some xbox games, I played bowling and it was very good once you got the hang of it although not specifically Czech.  You could drink Czech beer but food was rather more English Corporate than reflecting the ethnic make up.  I did try a Bohemian wafer which was very nice but they didn't offer me any of the liqueur.  Oh dear.  There were good displays about Czech design - some lovely items and some not so good.  One of the better ones was from a propeller factory

Speaking of not so good the Czech tourist board took my photo and insisted I wear a lions head!  Hmm.  Oh well, can't win them all.

The Ipads were all in Czech so not so good there.

Will I be back?  It's a long way for not very much.
Five Press up busses

03 August, 2012

Casa Brazil - One of the London 2012 Olympic Houses

The Brazil Olympic House is inside Somerset House and has the courtyard as well. There is an excellent display featuring artworks and technology from Brazil inviting you to think again about Brazil.   The Courtyard has a stage and they have live music nightly. . Of course Brazil is home to the Rio De Janeiro Olympics in 2016 and they have the logo on display. I don't want to make comparisons but the logo is supposed to be three dimensional so it can be handled and have a human touch. Judge for yourself.

The Verdict
Would I go again? Yes
Five Rio 2016 logos

South Pacific - One of the London 2012 Olympic Houses

Take me to a tropical island - in the middle of St Katherine's dock.  The information board said you would get a friendly welcome in the South Pacific but not at St Katherine's dock I'm afraid.  This islaand is only for the elite.  The gate keeper told me it was never open to the public.

The Verdict
Would I go again? You ain't been invited sunshine.
Five snarling door guardians

Casa Italia - One of the London 2012 Olympic Houses

The Italian house is in the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre and takes up most of the space.

There are lots of things in Italian to look at including a stand for Gazetto Della Sport and Samsung.  There is also a rather good exhibition of art inspired by the olympics, including ceramics inspired by the 1960 Rome Games, Rings and Rectangles by Stefano Nicolini and Prolessi by Antonio Tamburro.  The Collezione Farnesina Design were exhibiting their innovations in heating and refrigeration - a radiator like a shower hose (nice) and a revolving ice cream display (nicer) as well as other beautifully designed items, including a table top made from road sweepings.  Would that Britain could innovate like that!

Every Italian boy likes to see his Mama now and then and the Italian team are no different.  In one part of the hall was an exhibition of pictures of Team Italia's Mamas - a lovely reminder of home.

Outside were many fiats looking stylish...

The verdict
Would I go again? You Betcha!
Five team Italia Mamas

02 August, 2012

House of Denmark - One of the London 2012 Olympic Houses

The House of Denmark is at St Katherine's Dock and shows off Danish Design in a little pavillion, Danish meat products (free - but long queues) and some historic exhibits of Denmark like a viking longship.  The place was buzzing and lively with some displays of typical Danish products and some that you wouldn't have thought of, like jewellery, and the team's uniforms.

The Verdict
Would I go back  Yes for the longship
Five (hundred) Lego Bricks

House of Belgium - one of the London 2012 Olympic Houses

The Belgian House is in the Middle Temple hall and is a rare chance to get inside this Meadieval survival for 6.25.  There is also the Cyclists Paradise outside which is free and you can take several courses through different regions of Belgium.

What is nice about the Belgian house is you can use the Middle Temple Garden (although paying customers only) which is not something you get to do every day.  I watched the olympics on a big screen in Dutch while enjoying a Hoegarden (4 tokens, £5), and bought a pin badge of the Belgium team (bargain at £1.50)

The verdict:
Would I come back - not much reason to alas
5 Belgian beers (hic)

House of Austria - one of the London 2012 Olympic Houses

The Austrian House is located in the wonderful Trinity House on Tower Hill.  There was a lot of tourism stuff and a bread exhibition with different breads to taste, including a sports active bread that the person on duty assured me had lots of grains to ensure a good output.  "It won't make you better at sport" she said, but I know that nothing will anyway.

The food was nice - saurkraut and a big sausage served with bread by pleasant catering staff in lederhosen and red gingham shirts. V nice.  Also beer by the pint, half pint and 1l stein (£5 deposit)

The verdict:
Would I come back? Yes (and I did for a beer in the evening - although alas not out of a stein)
 5 Sports Active Loaves