Saturday, January 4, 2014

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Our trips to London always inevitably involve a bit of hassle. Non-handicap accessible tube stations, which means we carry a double stroller up three flights of stairs, crowded streets, lines, etc. I'm not complaining. We're lucky to have such an amazing city just a train ride away. And it's well worth the effort, each and every time we visit. But there's nothing about going into London that's easy. I suppose that's true of any city, particularly when you have young kids.

So I truly appreciate those moments of relaxed bliss, a chance to carve out some space among the streets and the sights, full of millions of people, when you feel like you have a little corner all to yourself. Exactly what we were treated to when we ventured over to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in mid-December.

We hadn't heard much about what it's like to visit the site of the 2012 Olympic Games (ok, we had heard nothing about visiting, actually), but our curiosity was too great and it was well worth the walk over from our apartment that weekend.

Truthfully, much of the park is still closed for redevelopment. From what we could see of the grounds, it's going to be amazing. And most of the major sporting facilities that were used for the Games are going to be open for public use (gyms, indoor swimming pools, biking, etc.) Meaning you might be able to swim laps where Michael Phelps backstroked to glory.

To our delight, what is currently open includes one of the most creative playgrounds we've ever visited. Called the Tumbling Bay Playground, it has a strong connection to the grounds that surround it, with wooden structures, twisty tree branches, and so much for kids to run on, climb, swing from, pour water on, etc. (It reminded me a bit of the Children's Garden at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis).

In fact, it even inspired my husband and I to go from mere supervisors of our kids, to being kids ourselves. (There's no photographic evidence, but I may have shimmied my way up to the top of a tree house.)

Afterall, it's not often you get to play with the Olympic rings as your backdrop.

If you're planning a visit to the Park or want to know more, I'll be writing about our visit at the Anglotopia website in the next few weeks. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park website also has all the information you need to plan a visit. I should add, the Stratford Tube and Light Rail station, the best way to access the park, is completely handicap accessible. So if you're visiting London with small kids, this is a great spot to get a break from all those pesky stairs!)

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