Video: My personal Beijing 2008 Olympic Games compilation
Pic: Olympic Torch Relay London 2012 arrives at City Hall (Jul 2012)
Pic: Bart Lapers at Athens 2004 Olympic Games (Aug 2004)
Flashback to August 29, 2004. The picture above was shot a few hours before the Athens 2004 Closing Ceremony. I had been volunteering at the Olympic Aquatic Centre for two weeks which allowed me to witness the World’s Top Athletes in action joined by Kings, Queens, Celebrities and World Leaders. My first and most memorable Olympic Games.
Pic: Bart Lapers at Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Bird’s Nest (Aug 2008)
In 2008, we were back at the Olympic Games, this time as spectator at Beijing 2008. Arrived in Beijing without a single ticket for any event at the Games, but thanks to the Belgian Embassy and the Belgian Olympic Committee I managed to buy a huge stack of tickets at face value. It even allowed me to invite some of my friends living in Beijing to attend the Games, as I had bought several pairs of tickets.
With the Rio2016 Games on my bucket list, I couldn’t skip the London 2012 Olympic Games. London being a less ‘exotic’ location for a Belgian, still I need to admit the Brits impressed me with their Games. Everyone was convinced the Opening Ceremony was not going to match the Beijing one, still Danny Boyle his team impressed the World with a very British London 2012 Opening Ceremony
Pic: Olympic Torch Relay London 2012 at Tower Bridge (Jul 2012)
Also the Belgians impressed, not with their Olympic performances, but with the BOIC Belgium House
located at the Middle Temple
Pic: London 2012 Belgium House at The Temple (Jul 2012)
Pic: Welcome at Belgium House London 2012 Olympic Games (Jul 2012)
Pic: Wall of Fame at Belgium House – Fred Deburghgraeve (Jul 2012)
Pic: Wall of Fame at Belgium House London 2012 – Tia Hellebaut (Jul 2012)
Pic: London 2012 Belgium House ‘Zuipkaart’ Drinks Vouchers (Jul 2012)
As the only tickets left for the Opening Ceremony were around £2000 (!) the Belgium House had to be the best alternative to watch the ceremony. In 2008, I witnessed the Beijing 2008 Opening Ceremony at the Belgian Embassy in Beijing, who had organized a nice event with Belgian beer & snacks. The London 2012 Belgium House website and twitter account mentioned “July 27: Open as of 4pm to the general public”. Different story at the entrance of the Belgian House, “Sorry Sir, tonight is invitation only, maybe you can try the Brazilian House”. WTF! I teamed up with four ‘Topsport’ students who had just graduated from VUB
and who were also refused entrance to the venue. After a short brainstorming session and some text messages, we managed to get hold of the phone number of the Belgian Olympic Committee Marketing Director. After a friendly call, 200 extra ‘non’ invitees were allowed entrance to the Middle Temple!
Pic: The Inner Temple Belgium House London 2012 Opening Ceremony
Video: Atmosphere at Belgium House during London 2012 Opening Ceremony
Pic: London 2012 Men’s Road Cycling Race at The Mall (Jul 2012)
On the first day of the Games (Saturday, Jul 28) I was present at The Mall hoping a Belgian would finish first in the Men’s Road Cycling Race event. Unfortunately doping sinner Alexander Vinokourov ‘won’ the race.
Later that afternoon, I visited the London 2012 Olympic Park. A huge area with numerous friendly volunteers making sure everything ran smoothly in a relaxed and enthusiastic atmosphere. The park didn’t feel artificial as it had many grass fields, trees and colorful flowers along the paths connecting the different venues.
Pic: London 2012 Olympic Park – Olympic Stadium and Orbit (Jul 2012)
Pic: London 2012 Olympic Stadium (Jul 2012)
Pic: London 2012 Olympic Stadium Close-Up (Jul 2012)
Pic: Elite Hospitality – Prestige at the Olympic Park London 2012 (Jul 2012)
Pic: London 2012 Olympic Park Basketball Arena (Jul 2012)
Pic: London 2012 Olympic Park Info Sign and Zeppelin (Jul 2012)
Pic: Handball at Copper Box London 2012 Olympic Park (Jul 2012)
Pic: London 2012 Olympic Park Riverbank Arena Hockey (Jul 2012)
Pic: Me and Coca-Cola ‘Move to the Beat’ Olympic Park Promo Team (Jul 2012)
Pic: Sunset at London 2012 Olympic Stadium (Jul 2012)
My visit to the London 2012 Olympic Games was a short one (3 nights) but gave me a good impression of both infrastructure and atmosphere at the Games. The Brits did an excellent job and I have a tremendous amount of respect for all volunteers working day and night with such enthusiasm and persistence to make the London 2012 Olympic Games a success. See you in Rio de Janeiro for the next Summer Olympics Rio2016
Pic: Casa Brasil at London 2012 Olympic Games (Jul 2012)
Pic: Bart Lapers at Casa Brasil Countdown Rio 2016 – London 2012 (Jul 2012)
Video: Bart Lapers Hang Gliding in Rio de Janeiro (Apr, 2009)
Posted in destinations, London 2012
Tagged athens 2004, athletes, beijing 2008, belgium house, casa brasil, london 2012, olympic games, olympic park, olympics, opening ceremony, opening weekend, pictures, rio 2016, video
Pic: Bart at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games (Aug 2008)
My interest for next year’s Olympic Games was low. Earlier this year, I didn’t managed to grab any London 2012 tickets in the disastrous Belgian London 2012 ticket sale nor did I have any luck with the international London 2012 ticket lottery. End of June, Eurostar announced they were selling 2012 return tickets Brussels – London at 99 euro each to celebrate the start of the London 2012 train ticket sale. Why not visit the City for the Opening Weekend of the Games to enjoy the atmosphere, I thought. I booked the ticket and challenged myself to find a reasonable priced hotel room for July 27 – July 29, 2012. “Impossible” is what most people said. If I failed, I could still CouchSurf or bail for 99 euro.
Today, just two months after I booked my train ticket, I can report success. I booked a room for the London 2012 Opening Weekend! And for the first week of the Games too! Eight nights at luxurious hotels in London City Centre… Best Of All, It’s FREE!*
Pic: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Bird’s Nest (Aug 2008)
The InterContinental Hotel Group (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, …) loads it’s hotel inventory 50 weeks in advance. This happens every Sunday morning at 7AM (CET) Rooms are released per week, from Sunday until Saturday. Two weeks ago, IHG did something unexpected. They released reward rooms for the Opening Night of the London 2012 Olympic Games. And on Sunday August 14th, they loaded rooms for the whole first week of the London 2012 Games. Finally, this weekend (Aug 21) the second week of the Olympics was loaded. I didn’t really expected this. PriorityClub had always been very generous with reward rooms, but during the Olympics? The 5* InterContinental hotels in London were not available, but the 4* Indigo boutique hotels , some 4* Crowne Plaza’s and most Holidays Inn’s in the heart of London were available for both paid and reward bookings. The “best available” rates were highly inflated, somewhere between £400 to £800 per night. With 180.000 points in my PriorityClub account, I booked 7 nights (July 27-Aug3) at the Indigo brand at 25000 points per night. Two nights at Indigo London – Tower Hill and 5 nights at Indigo London – Paddington Those 7 nights would have cost me around 5000 euro booked on the best available rate.
On Aug 21st, I had again 16000 points in my account thanks to my stay at InterContinental Bangkok and Holiday Inn Pataya earlier that week. Unfortunately no rooms were available anymore for Aug 3-4, so I booked an 8th night (15.000 points + $60) for Aug 4-5 at Holiday Inn Express London – Swiss Cottage. So that leaves me with one night open on Aug 3-4, 2012. HI Swiss Cottage has availability, but only on paid rates with the cheapest being around 400 pounds for just one night! I rather have a £400 party that night! You’re all invited!
What’s in it for you? If you don’t have a PriorityClub account yet, I suggest you create one now. Sign-up for all available bonuses. Stay a few times at IHG hotels. Soon, you’ll find yourself in a free hotel room at a World Event!
PS: Follow me on twitter to get instant updates on great travel deals.
* Booked with PriorityClub points. 70.000 points were bought (out of 200.000 points required for this booking) 60.000 via the Discover America promo (253 euro) 10.000 via the points + cash option ($60 = 42 euro). Total cash: 295 euro.
Update 1 (24/08/11)
Last night I checked the Reward Night availability again for Aug 3, 2012 in London. I noticed Holiday Inn Express London – Swiss Cottage showed available nights at 25K points. As I had only 2500 points left in my account, I had no other option than to buy (expensive) points via the PriorityClub website. I bought 13K points for 162.50 USD and then selected the Points + Cash (60 USD) option to book the HI Express Swiss Cottage. In total I paid 222.50 USD (155 euro) for my Olympic night on Aug 3, 2012. Total cash: 450 euro.
Update 2 (18/09/11)
This morning, Hotel Indigo London Paddington loaded award night availability for almost every day of the London 2012 Olympics. Consequently, I canceled my Holiday Inn Express London – Swiss Cottage booking for the second weekend of the Games. Canceling the 2 nights at HI Express resulted in a 50K points refund. For my new booking at Indigo London Paddington I used points+cash (15K + $60 per night). At the end of the transaction I spent $120 (90€) and recovered 20K points. Thus, I paid $120 for 20K points which are now in my Priority Club account. This keeps my total for 9 nights at the London 2012 Olympics on 450 euro.
Posted in Hotels, London 2012
Tagged free, hotel, ihg, indigo, london, london 2012, olympic games, olympics, points, priority club