It has always been Rafael’s and my dream to visit the Olympic Games. Hearing that London is very affordable and less crowded at the end of the 2012 Olympics, we said: Let’s do it! Eighteen hours after the flight booking, we sat in the plane, looking forward to spend the last three days of the event in the host city.
Completely ticketless, we were still able to soak up the great Olympic atmosphere. For example in the House of Switzerland next to London Bridge: We automatically spoke Swiss German with people there, and almost everyone replied in the same language. It felt like home in this big metropolis across the Channel!
Rösti and Raclette at the House of Switzerland
Red everywhere: The walls and even the ground were painted in this color! People in red T-shirts were wandering around. Rafael couldn’t resist and bought a red "Swiss Olympic" T-shirt, showing Wilhelm Tell's apple. Next to the souvenir shop was a climbing wall which brought some Swiss mountain feeling to the flat city of London...
While eating good (but tiny) portions of Rösti and Raclette, we watched the men’s mountain bike race on the big screen. Swiss Nino Schurter was fighting for gold, always among the first three bikers. The excited crowd suffered along with him. Everyone stood up and kept screaming "Do it!" Right before the finish, the Swiss closely lost the gold medal to a Czech guy. The spectators sank back into their chairs, disappointed. At that moment, no one seemed to notice that we had just won the fourth medal at the 2012 Olympics.
Watching the Marathon from Up-Close
Still without tickets – but we didn’t care – we had close access to the Marathon route. Standing beside the Thames River, we watched Viktor Röthlin, the only Swiss in this contest, run past us four times. We were so close that he must have heard us screaming frenetically: "Hopp Schwiiz, hopp Schwiiz!" What an atmosphere! In the end, the Swiss was ranked 11th as one of the best non-African participants.
Even outside the House of Switzerland, the country had a presence. While a Swiss Airlines jet was flying over our heads towards London City airport, we met some other Swiss fans – dressed in red shirts with the white cross, of course! Someone asked whether we wanted some collectable pins showing the Swiss flag, but we had already received some at our "homebase" - the House of Switzerland!
Swiss Rooting for the British
Of course, we also watched some contests with no Swiss athletes participating! At the huge spectators' area at Hyde Park, we submerged into a sea of wild British fans and their Union Jacks. Hysteria broke out when Mo Farah won the 5000 m running competition - anyone hugged anyone else with joy! As we had no Swiss flags, we simply picked up a UK flag we found on the ground and rooted for the British athletes, too!
When the closing ceremony came closer, we ventured back to the House of Switzerland again to watch the last few hours of the 2012 Olympics. For this, the guests were greeted with complimentary Swiss chocolate and Rivella drinks!
The Swiss athletes didn’t show up, as they were attending the closing ceremony at the Olympic stadium instead. But it didn’t matter to us: Ever since our arrival in London, the House of Switzerland had been like a piece of home for us.