OLYMPICS LONDON

THE OLYMPIC PARK
Practicals first...
 
In the Winter-Spring 2013-14 London Walks programme – which kicks in on Nov. 1 and runs April October 30 – the Olympics London walk will take place every* Thursday and every Saturday at 10.45 am*except Dec. 26
 
The meeting place is just outside the exit of West HamTube
 
The "names over the marquee"the guides – are Julianne, Andy, Brian, Judy, Mary, Anne-Marie, Sue, Harry or Chris. Over the marquee because they'll light the place up for you like – well, like an Olympic Torch!
 
And just a reminder, another very good resource for "all the particulars" is the London Walks Calendar.
 
N.B. There are no public "facilities" at or near West HamTube. But tons of them where the walk ends. So perhaps tip a kidney before you get to West HamTube!
 
 
Ok, it isn't a helicopter arrival with 007 and Her Majesty. Comes a close second, though.* Because the wonder of it is still there. There in the spiky white steel stadium. There in the glide and soar of the shiny aluminium Aquatic Centre. There in "the Copper Box." There in the ArcelorMittal Orbit. There in Gold Medal-winning sports info and back stories and whys and wherefores. There in the neighbourhood's pastscapes and futurescapes. There in that astonishing panorama - it's like being out on a tether looking back at the London Milky Way. There where the Olympic Torch entered the home stretch. (The path of the climacteric – and, yes, we'll walk there.) There in the buzz. The buzz that's still there. There in hard-earned, beyond-price local knowledge.** Yeah, you got it. I. Loved. This. Walk. Who wouldn't? It was the Olympics. See. It. In. 2013. While the glow is still there. 
 
*Sports metaphor time: this approach – these vantage points – it's like making your way down to a ringside seat. Stepping into the ring is our tour of the Olympic Park itself.
 
Part way through the walk we take a short journey on the DLR so you'll need an Oyster or 3-Zone Travel Card. We take that DLR journey because it gives us some additional great views of the Olympics site. And because it leaves us off right by the Olympic Village (it swooshes us into the Hi-tech station built specially for the Olympics – the station the athletes, officials and VIPs arrivee at, the station built to take the ultra high speed and appropriately named Javelin trains!). And because it saves us having to make a long dreary walk along a busy, nothing-to-see-but-plenty-of-fumes-to-breathe road. Local knowledge. London Walks knowledge. You can't beat it. It kicked in from the get-go: "no question about it, West Hamis definitely the best place to start the Olympic London walk." As that American tourist said on the walk (you can hear him – and Julianne – here): "if you weren't on a London Walk you wouldn't know..."
 
And while we're at it, a couple of "additional information" tidbits:
 
This one's another one of those London Walks trifectas – or I suppose in this case you could say, Winner's podium, uppermost step. Winner's podium, uppermost step because 1) Julianne, who masterminded this one, is a top flight Blue Badge Guide; 2) she's local; and 3) it's Gold Medal Award-winning London Walks. Enuf said? No? Okay, scroll down – there's lots more about this one further down the page. And for a hear, click here!
 
And the starting block? The meeting point for all of the Olympics London walks is just outside the exit of West HamTube.
 
West HamTube was a "gateway station" to the Olympic Park, so we walk the route that lots of spectators walked this summer.
 
And look, Julianne and co. are not going to be dishing out the sort of information you get on a "Highlights Summary Card". The walk is better than that. A whole lot better.
 
Better because you'll get a feel for the whole neighbourhood – past, present and future. In short, Julianne and Co. "context" matters for you.
 
Stratford and East London have a long, eventful, rich history, a history that ranges back over the centuries (one of Chaucer's pilgrims – the Prioresse – learned her "Frenssh" at Stratford!). We "take you through that history", right down to the present day – and yesterday. Yesterday being what's arguably the most extraordinary industrial history in London. That "past" is still very much there. But of course it's very long in the tooth. Which is one of the reasons the area was chosen for what amounts to London's most spectacular "regeneration" in a very long time.
 
Long in the tooth – but, in places, gob-smacking. I'm thinking in particular of the "Gothic Cathedral". A cathedral not to God, but to the sewage of Londoners. It's worth the trip just to see it!
 
What else? Well, should go without saying – the walk will be a crash course in the history of the Olympics. Especially the London Olympics – 1908, 1948 and now 2012. Yup, the greatest city on earth is the only city that's hosted the Games three times!
 
And howzabout some stats? To wit: 30 new bridges, half a million plants, a new park for London, 1.4m tonnes of contaminated soil cleaned.
 
And: 26 sports Olympics, 9.2m tickets, over 20,000 journalists, 4bn people watching world wide, 14 million meals served.
 
The Olympic Park itself – we get great views of it and its "gem stones" (the stadium, etc.) – runs to 2.5 sq. kms. (Here's a Nov. 2011 "image update" from a New Yorker who  recently went on the walk and took some happy snaps.) N.B. we do not go inside the Olympic Park itself – for security reasons, etc. there is no public access to the Park until August, 2013.
 
Last but not least maybe pack a sandwich and a bottle of water. This isn't "a Starbucks every 50 yards" territory. Which in itself is a recommendation. At least by my (David's) lights!
 
The walk ends at the Olympic Village, right by Stratfordstation.
 
Enjoy!