Aah, Beijing. Where did I last leave you? Oh, that’s right. In the rain. Let’s continue, shall we?
Thursday night, despite the fact that beach volleyball does even during despite the rain, we opted to stay close to home and have some tasty cajun fries at the newly opened restaurant adjacent to Jessica & Andrew’s apartment, and then go to Q Bar down the street to have TheBestDrinksInTheUniverse™. Apparently, the owners (a husband and wife pair) were known throughout Beiing for their amazing bartending skills, and they opened a bar with one of the best/only patios in the city. Sadly, it was a bit too wet outside to take advantage of it, but we imbibed with Lychee Margaritas that were so good it made me want to lick the glass. (Oh, and you know I did.)
Say what you will about the whole ‘cloud seeding’ controversy, but those Chinese peeps know how to make a gorgeous day. Friday morning was bright & sunny – which is apparently unheard of – and the perfect day to just wander around the Olympic Green after catching 2 badminton semi-final matches. For those of you who think that Badminton is a cop-out sport, YOU. ARE. SO. WRONG. Not only was it super fast-paced, fun to watch, and had the craziest fans, but those gals (and esp. guys) are athletes. With hot bods.
Friday night was, hands down, my favorite (and most fortuitous) night of the whole trip. Andrew, Jessica and I met up with my middle school friend Chris for a scrumptious calorie-filled dinner of meat, meat, and meat (with a side of meat in a hot pot.) We then got passes for the invite-only "Club Bud" party, which was basically this huge wearhouse space turned into a South Beach-esque party replete with a faux ‘pool’ and beach cabanas. You had a choice of Budweiser, Corona, Coke or bottled water, and I know you can easily guess what poison I picked. (Hint: I was bummed they forgot the limes.) Since most of the athletes would get mobbed at public events (uh, duh) they tended to hang at the more exclusive, private ones. And that, my friends, is how I met the Olympic Swimmers. I will not go into detail other than to say the following: Their bodies are even more ripped in person than they look on NBC, and Joe Stump owes me a full night of drinking.
On Saturday morning – bright and early (oy!) – my friend Shaun & I headed back to the Water Cube to catch Phelps’ 100 Butterfly and attempt at his 7th medal. (MANY props to Shaun for the extra pass – also, it’s amazing what an "Olympian" badge will get you. Not only did we go through the fast VIP security line, but also got to cut right to the front. Definitely perks knowing a double gold medalist!) By now, you’ve seen the video, and the 1/100th of a second win. I thought it would be pretty crazy, but was completely and totally unprepared for how emotional I would get over the Gold Medal ceremony. The venue was packed with Chinese fans but everyone was rooting for Phelps that day. Kind of amazing to witness in person.
Later that day, we all headed up to the Tennis Venue and I even got to hang out with my cousin, Adam, who lives in Shanghai and came up for the day to join us! Now, I’ve never seen a tennis match live (and certainly not at this calibre) and while it was amazing (and our seats were front row – HONESTLY, I was blown away) it was also loooonnnnnnggggggggg. Started at 4pm and didn’t end until nearly midnight, after which we got to enjoy Beiing’s finest in public transportation (a bus, a subway, and THEN a taxi. Whee.) Long day, but an awesome way to wrap up a full week of activities.
Headed home Sunday, only to be seated next to the most annoying 7 y/o in the world and once home, realized I wasn’t just tired, but was sick as a dog. (Hi, 103 degree fever.) Thank God for rest, and Cipro, which truly is a magic pill not just for Anthrax, but for Olympics SARS.
All in all, it was the best vacation I’ve ever had, not only because I got to attend these once-in-a-lifetime events (and thanks to Andrew, for free.) I loved loved LOVED getting to hang with my friends, meeting up with ‘friends of friends’ (and new peeps) and basically just experiencing the energy and the vibe that only comes with The Olympics. London 2012 – can’t wait.