London 2012 Olympic Games, and Holland Heineken House

It’s an amazing time to have the opportunity to be in London. Twenty-twelve has been full of excitement so far: the Diamond Jubilee and now the 2012 Olympic Games.
 Tower Bridge with the Olympic Rings

 Another view of the Tower Bridge, from the Tower of London
Penultimate Day of the Torch Relay
Since we moved here in January, we thought it would be tremendously hard to achieve tickets for the games, however, it hasn’t been at all. In fact, there are still tickets available to many events and for sale through the official website and also via the National Olympic Committee houses, such as the Holland Heineken House.
The Holland Heineken House is amazing! We attended the days events there yesterday and I couldn’t have been more impressed. The Dutch are fascinating people, who at the drop of a penny will dress up in orange, head to toe, if necessary, to show their support for their countrymen and patriotism. The Holland Heineken House is the “traditional meeting place for the various echelons of the Dutch sports world during the Olympic Games. It is the official, national house of the Netherlands where NOC*NSF (Netherlands Olympic Committee) is the host and where Heineken facilitates and organises the venue. Holland Heineken House started during Barcelona 1992.” Therefore this year, it celebrates 20 years of existence and support for the Dutch athletes, their families and countrymen.
NOS Live from the Holland Heineken House

At the venue, one can find not only Heineken, but other Dutch companies with booths, engaging the public and selling their merchandise, as well as a restaurant, food and drink kiosks, a music and dance hall, facilities for national television (RTL and NOS) and radio stations, reception rooms for sponsors and athletes, and a plethora of fun! During the day, we could watch the games live on big TV screens, enjoyed the excitement shared by everyone in the venue and even were surprised by the visit of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Crown Princess Maxima, who walked around and greeted the crowd.
Excited crowd, when Prince Willem-Alexander & Maxima arrive at the HHH
I’m not Dutch, but my husband is. And I must say I’m impressed by many things that the Netherlands does, and this is one of them on my long list.
 Holland Heineken House, at Alexandar Palace
Maxima & Willem-Alexander
An athlete signing autographs

Dutch spirit at the Holland Heineken House
Dutch RTL commentator, getting ready for the live show, in which we were lucky enough to participate 
The day before, Saturday, we attended our first Olympic event: Women’s Foil Fencing. We had never watched fencing in person, so it was very interesting and exciting to learn about the sport, its history, and how the competition takes place. From our seats, we were fortunate to view the previous Gold Medal fencer, the Italian Valentina Vezzali, who this year took Bronze.
We were impressed by the participant from Tunisia, Ines Bourbakri, who played a quarterfinal match against V. Vezzali and lost 7 to 8. What a way to show skill and training.
The way that the fencing competition works is three rounds of 3 minutes each, with the participant with the highest score wining, or whoever reaches 15 points first. We watched the first half of the day, which concluded with the quarterfinals.
China vs. Poland
Fencing has been present at the Olympic Games since 1896, the year of the first modern Olympic Games. From the London 2012 website, “Although sword fighting dates back thousands of years, fencing as we now understand it really came of age as a sport in the 19th century. A tense, compelling battle of wits and technique, the sport is one of the few to have featured at every modern Olympic Games”.
In today’s fencing, the participants have suits, helmets, and swords, which are electronically wired, so that it’s easier for the referees to distinguish between foiled and real attacks. The platform upon which they perform is also wired, so that the public can view which player wins a point. It’s a bit annoying to listen to all the beeps going on back and forth during the hours of matches. But it’s also very informative to be able to see what is really going on in front of us.
We had an exhausting, but electrifying (no pun intended ;0) half day at the fencing event!
And on Sunday, the Women’s Cycling competition literally swooshed nearby our house. So, we went to see it and take really quick pictures. The participant from the Netherlands, Marianne Vos, won the Gold Medal for her country. (We later helped celebrate this at our afternoon at the Holland Heineken House.)
 Part of the peloton
The arm of Marianne Vos, who won the Gold Medal
We are fortunate to be able to join in these historical celebrations and look forward to the rest of the Games! There are a number of side events, exhibitions, and festivities taking place as well, all part of London Festival 2012.
If you are in London or are coming to the city for the Games, don’t forget to check out everything the city is offering now!

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