Five years ago today, the Beijing Olympics kicked off with its opening ceremony at the Bird’s Nest. I watched, mesmerized, half a world away and was glued to my television set throughout those Summer Olympic games. That’s where I fell in love with Michael Phelps and his mom. It was a magical summer.
Naturally, during my last visit to Beijing, I was thrilled to stop by the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube and walk on the same ground where thousands of Olympians had walked. That seemed like enough. But during this trip, my husband thought we ought to take a walk there at night and see the buildings lit up. It seemed like a great idea. And judging by the massive hordes of people jamming the Olympic Green subway station, half of Beijing had the same great idea. It was the only time we were overwhelmed by the crush of people we’d expected to encounter every time we rode the subway.
But it was worth it.
The Olympic Green at night was like a great big impromptu party. There was music, food, and all sorts of vendors selling trinkets and flying kites. They threw spinning light toys into the sky. Children ran and laughed and played. The Bird’s Nest and Water Cube were brilliantly lit, as was the platform structure that had housed the torch.
We strolled along, enjoying the sights and the festival atmosphere, along with people from all over the world who busied themselves posing for pictures in front of the stadium like we did. It was one of the best nights we had in Beijing. So unexpected, and so easy. I’m glad we braved the crowded subway and went.
Sigh… if only Michael Phelps had been there, too.
Are you an Olympics junkie?