Our final leg of the 2012 UK tour was a night in Abu Dhabi on our way back to Brisbane Royal. When we first got on the plane the staff handed out the menus for our seven hour flight. We did have to laugh when Penne Arrabbiata was on the menu as it reminded us of one of the funny things on You Tube to see it just follow this link.. The new inflight video systems with a huge option of movies and tv programs on demand made the time “fly” by.
View from our hotel room
Abu Dhabi is the capital and the second largest city of the United Arab Emirates in terms of population and the largest of the seven member emirates of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf from the central western coast. The city proper has a population of 621,000. When yuu fly into Abu Dhab,i the vastness of the desert is overwhelming. On exiting the airport the temperature is extraordinary, with the day time temperature reaching about 45⁰C, with overnight getting down to a low 30⁰C. The desert and the heat gave us some tiny insight into what our soldiers are enduring in Baghdad, just 2000 km north.
Fifty years ago Abu Dhabi was just a small fishing village, now it an amazing rapidly growing cosmopolitan metropolis, built due to the huge deposits of oil. Some of the world’s leading architects have been given an unlimited budget to design and build some of the largest and unique structures. One of the newest countries is keen to attract international sporting events and at the end of this year will host a round of the Formula 1 and the final round of the showjumping Global Champions tour. We went to our new and modern hotel not far from the airport, the number of water features and green park areas are unpredicted in a desert, along with the huge shower head in the hotel room. There are no water restrictions here. Watching a program on Abu Dhabi, we found out the residents use the most water and have the largest carbon output per head of population in the World. Ninety precent of the water use is derived from desalinated water.
We did not have much time for sightseeing and on Sunday morning we caught the plane, for the 13.5 flight to Brisbane. We are not sure if a hack rider from the Royal will one day follow Charlotte Du Jardin and win two gold medals at the Olympics. Many an Australian Olympic showjumper has a run on the EKKA arena, it is to be hoped we will see a future Olympic Champion this year.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Abu Dhabi | 1 Comment »
We are on the final leg of our UK tour, leaving England today with a stopover in Abu Dhabi, then a detour via Brisbane Royal show before returning home. We have had a wonderful time away doing and seeing lots of things, however the thought of going home is always nice.
The Olympic Equestrian events finished yesterday with some outstanding performances in the Freestyle. In Australia we think the standard of equestrian sport is improving, which it is, but when you come to Europe you realise the rest of the World is also improving at a faster rate, keeping its nose always in front. With limited international experience we will constantly be playing a catch up game in Australia.
We finished off our London experience with a trip into on the DLR (Lightrail) and the underground to Westminster Bridge. We have become quite efficient at moving about on the London Transport system which has been excellent, free from locals who heeded warnings and have stayed away during the Games. We had heard of a light show that was projected on the Houses of Parliament building depicting the history of the Olympic Games. With a perfect evening we imagined crowds of people and a bustling atmosphere. The light show was excellent but there were virtually no people about. Following the 15 minute light show we walked down under the London Eye, the enormous ferris wheel and caught a ferry back to Greenwich.
London is looking wonderful but has lacked a festive atmosphere. The 1000’s of volunteers and local people have been fantastic at helping us move about and find our way around this huge city. Visiting the UK, so many things are so familiar you are often taken by surprise, when a squirrel pops out from behind a tree and you realise you are on the other side of the world. We have been able to eat really well at reasonable prices and the whole traveling experience has been relatively easy and enjoyable, despite a lot of rain.
Our next post will be from the United Arab Emirates.
Posted in England, London, London olympics, Olympic Equestrian, Olympic Games | Tagged London Olympics | 3 Comments »
Charlotte Du Jardin
The Olympics equestrian events are coming to a close but the best is left to the end. The last two days of competition have been amazing. People talk about the Olympic experience and the IOC is protecting their product to a point where it is silly. Unlike a major event at home, where the city is decorated with banners and advertising like when the Melbourne Cup or the Grand Final is on, here except at the venues there is nothing. No one is allowed to even mention the word Olympics anywhere other than at the venues or in editorial. As part of our press accreditation we are not allowed to take videos or put anything on Facebook. However, yesterday they eased the Facebook restriction a little as everyone is doing it.
People dedicate their lives and spend a fortune to participate in the Olympics. Unlike most sports
where their time to compete is very limited, here this week we have seen Nick Skelton win a gold medal at 54 and Charlotte Du Jardin win at 27. They both produced outstanding performances in front of a home crowd. Unfortunately most of us will never compete at the Olympics but it is not until you are here and experience the event, you really understand what it is about. It is good to watch it on the television but it is totally different being here.
Here are just two little video clips to give you some idea of what is like.
Posted in England, Equestrian London olympics, London, London olympics, Olympic Equestrian, Olympic Games | 2 Comments »
With Team GB winning so many gold medals the locals have really got behind their team. It is odd that we only like to follow something that is already winning. With the jumping now in full swing the crowds at the equestrian venue are also enthusiastically supporting their countries. Unfortunately due to the restriction of tickets there are not the normal large numbers of Australians but the ones that are heir are doing their best. This morning I captured some of the better supporter outfits.
Posted in England, Equestrian London olympics, London, London olympics, Olympic Equestrian, Olympic Games, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged London Olympic Equestrian, Olympic Games. London Olympics | 1 Comment »
One of the excellent produce stores near the equestrian venue
We have reached the half way point of the Olympic equestrian events. The weather, except for the odd downpour has been really good. The transport system seems to be coping really well, but this week it is straining with the inclusion of the athletics at the main stadium. We have also heard reports the pick pockets are producing a gold medal performance on the trains. Unlike some other large cities you feel very safe around London.
We are getting into a system now of getting up, catching the bus, having coffee at the adopted Australian café and then starting the day at the Equestrian venue. Various countries seem to have taken over certain pubs and cafes. The Australian team have taken up residence in a nice pub just a short walk from the athlete and media entrance. Across the road from the pub is an excellent café that specialises in sausages but also coffee. Every morning we are sure to find some Australians having coffee or a sausage bap, the house speciality. They do not do scones.
Supermarket shopping here is dominated by two huge chain stores, Tescos and Sainburys. They have large shops plus mini stores everywhere. Like in Australia there is a push to keep the village atmosphere and we have discovered a really nice group of produce shops near the venue and there seem to be good markets all about the place. If you want, it is easy to eat take away but with a little
The morning coffee stop
more effort you can find really good produce.
The rules restricting the use of Olympic branding have been eased a little. You can now sell cakes with the Olympic rings on them and vendors are allowed to sell hot chips. For the first week they could only sell fish and chips as Games sponsor McDonalds do not sell fish and chips. The press were warned last night that it is breach of our accreditation to use and image or reference to the Games on social media. I have no idea how they are controlling this and people from the grand stands are loading photos via their phone.
The competition so far has been excellent but the show jumping was dramatic yesterday, with the first round of the individual. Today we start the team competition, so we are now about to head off for our morning coffee at catch up on any of the gossip in the café.
Posted in Equestrian London olympics, London, London olympics, Olympic Equestrian, Olympic Games, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged London, London Olympic, London Olympic Equestrian | 1 Comment »
Yesterday we had the day off from competition so we headed into London for the day. London has a wonderful transport system when it is all working. Despite horror stories about the transport system not coping during the Games, so far it is perfect. The Lord Mayor has a recorded message on the trains and buses warning people to try and not to travel on public transport during the Games. Londoners have responded so well those businesses are going broke, as the city seems deserted. The warning messages were stopped today.
Our first stop was Harrods a wonderful upmarket department store was started in 1824. The old building has been renovated in a great way, so modern technology works perfectly in an old setting. We headed up to the pet section where you could by a Chihuahua pup for 2200 ponds or a Rag Doll kitten for 1000 pounds. Once you have your dog then you can bring it back to Harrods to have it groomed. There is also a saddlery section where you can order a custom made saddle.
After Harrods we visited Fortnum and Masons a wonderful store first opened in 1707 and founded as a grocery store. These magnificent old department stores are like works of art with amazing displays.
After lunch we started to walk a number of the famous London streets that appear on the Monopoly board like, Bond St, The Strand, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square. To finish our walking tour of London we had drinks with a friend on The Strand. London is so deserted it is amazing, the papers are full of stories about business including hotels and taxis that have takings down by 60% on last summer.
Today we had the first day of dressage. The weather so far has been fairly good and today started sunny. Then, from down on the arena edge we could hear the crowd laughing and moving about in their seats, but we could not see what was happening. The heavens then opened, and everything was soaked, the rain only lasted about 10 minutes, then the sun came out before another soaking. Followed by sun shine for the rest of the day.
Posted in England, London olympics, Travel | Tagged London | 2 Comments »
Team Silver Medallist, Zara Phillips
Attending an Olympic Games for the two weeks is like visiting another planet, Olympic Land. You find it hard to keep track of what day it is or that anything else is going on in the World other than sport. There is no mention of Julia Gillard, the price of the Australian dollar, not even who has won the football. You just know what time you have to be at the venue on whatever day of the Games. It is easy to keep track of how many medals each country has won, you come home from the event and watch other sports on the TV then you go to bed and it all starts again the next day; it is nice in one way and bizarre in another.
Their is such a build up to an Olympics and so much pressure put on athletes to perform to their best. However, with equestrian sports the horse has no idea that he is going to the Olympics, all he knows is he has been taken to new place and there are lots of noisy people. If he has a sore foot he is not going to cover it up and keep going because it is the Olympic Games. So as we have seen the week proceeding the start of the Games, a slight injury to the horse can result in a lifetime dream turning into a nightmare in a few hours.
No one was under more pressure at these Olympic Games than Zara Phillips. This morning Britain had the chance of a team Olympic Gold medal plus individual medals. The home crowd had nearly filled the 20,000 capacity stadium and LCOG filling some of the empty seats with members of the army and navy. Today the Olympic Family seats were also occupied by the Royal Family. Watching the paparazzi at work was terrible, they never left these poor people alone without a camera facing them for a second. There were a group of photographers with their back to the competition arena facing Kate, William and Harry the whole time they were in the stands. There were members of the public yelling at the photographers to sit down and the photographers yelling at the spectators to sit down, that had stood up so they could see. This young group of Royals seem delightful and looked to be enjoying their time watching their cousin compete but it is amazing they are not all driven crazy.
Unfortunately for Team GB, the Germans were outstanding and held onto their Gold medal. Zara did make a mistake in the first show jumping round but came back out in the second round to post a clear. In the Olympic 3DE the IOC decided after the Barcelona Olympics that an athlete could not win a two medals for the one effort ie for the team and individual. In Sydney their was a separate competition for the individual medals, but in Hong Kong and here the top twenty five riders after the team event come back for another show jumping round to decide the individual medals. This is really tough on these combinations, and once again the Germans were outstanding taking two of the medals.
Tomorrow is a rest day when all the the cross country is removed and the majority of the park given back to the general public. We are heading off for a tour of London.
Posted in England, Equestrian London olympics, Olympic Equestrian, Olympic Games, Travel | Tagged London Olympic 3DE, London Olympics, Olympic Games | 4 Comments »