Cal’s trip to London |

Cal’s trip to London

Mike Vidakovich
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Mike Vidakovich

A little over seven years ago, when the city of London was awarded the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Glenwood Springs’ Calvin Amichaux had a notion that he may try to go.

The final decision to make the hop across the Atlantic didn’t come until he purchased a plane ticket just three weeks before the start of the games.

“I knew I had free lodging in London, so I said, ‘What the heck?'” stated Amichaux.

When his Eagle-Dallas-London itinerary was complete, the 55-year-old Amichaux found himself in a London suburb called Chiswick, staying with cousins, and ready to embark on the sights and sounds of a new country and the Olympic Games.

Unfortunately, tickets to many of the events Amichaux had hoped to see turned out to be almost impossible to come by. There were no walkup sales at any of the Olympic venues, so Amichaux spent much of his time on foot, getting up close and personal with the city of London and its people.

“It was incredible to be there and walk the streets,” Amichaux said, with more than a hint of awe in his voice. “The size of the buildings and all of the block that went into building them is unbelievable. They were huge.”

Amichaux also marveled at the many people on bicycles, risking life and limb by braving the streets, which were crowded with frenzied motorists.

“All the traffic and the bicyclists were crazy. None of them were wearing helmets. I saw one guy get hit, but it’s actually faster to get around on a bike than by car,” said Amichaux.

During his stay, Amichaux was able to visit the London Towers, Parliament and the Winston Churchill War Museum.

“The war museum covered every war the British were involved in dating back to 1900. I spent five hours in there, but it was so interesting, I could have spent the entire day,” he said.

Amichaux also made a trek to Wales, where he stayed a couple of nights in local cottages and got to visit the famous Conwy Castle, which was built in the year 1287. The town of Conwy, and the castle, along with the medieval town walls which surround the borough, were conceived and built in just over four years.

“The castle and the wall around the entire town of Conwy were amazing to see,” said Amichaux.

Amichaux’s most inspiring experience in London came by chance as he was aboard a cruise boat on the Thames River going one way, when a rowing boat carrying the Olympic torch passed by going the other way toward Olympic Park.

Trying to get into Olympic Park to see the track, swimming and gymnastics venues was not in the cards for Amichaux. Advance ticket purchases, mostly via the Internet, was required to gain entrance to all events at the games.

“You needed a ticket just to get into the park,” said Amichaux. “Security was pretty tight with the British troops being there.”

Amichaux did manage to see a morning session of the beach volleyball, which was located right in front of the Buckingham Palace. His cousin had purchased the tickets through his workplace in London.

With the help of a ticket scalper, Amichaux was also able to see two early round indoor volleyball matches, one of which featured the United States women and Brazil at the famed Earl’s Court Arena. Both teams would later go on to play in the gold-medal game, with Brazil emerging as the victor.

Though he didn’t get into as many events as he would have liked, Amichaux said just being in London, surrounded by the games, was inspiring.

“Just being in the town, and around all the people was fun – the Polish, Brazilians and the people from Denmark really caught my attention. They were the loudest and had the most fun,” said Amichaux.

Sounds like Amichaux had quite a bit of fun also.

Mike Vidakovich is a freelance writer for the Post Independent.

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