Today was very much a tourist-type day starting with an "English"-style breakfast before a 45-minute rail ride to the center of London.
The chatter among so many locals involved the pageantry and extravagance of the opening ceremony. There are some complaints amongst many that the Olympic caldron is not visible to those outside the stadium. We had a big laugh while watching the BBC broadcast when the U.S. contingent came in -- the broadcasters bragged about the skills of Kobe Bryant. The problem being they were showing LeBron James on the monitors. Guess it shows that basketball is not as popular to some as it to others.
I have been impressed with the security presence throughout London without it being overbearing. Interestingly, the majority of police officers do not carry firearms but are wearing ballistic vests. The exception are the guards on Downing Street -- the Prime Minister's residence -- those officers were sporting high-powered weaponry.
Among our many stops were the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, and Trafalgar Square. At Tower Bridge, our first stop of the day, the first people we spoke with were from Columbus. Laurie, the OSU graduate of our group, gladly jumped in for an O-H-I-O photo op.
We were able to watch the cycling event as they passed through "The Mall" near Kensington Palace. On-lookers were lined about 40 deep to cheer on the competitors. Although I'm not much of a cycling fan you could not help being caught up in the excitement! Though we did not have tickets, we loitered outside the Horse Guards Parade, the site of beach volleyball during the Great Britain's men's match. We learned that organizers imported 2,200 tons of sand from Dorset on the south coast of England.
Jay Gast is a detective for the Toledo Police Department, is active in the Old Newsboys Charity, and is a former standout basketball player for the University of Toledo.