Winston Aldworth 's Opinion

Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

Winston Aldworth: Let the Games begin

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London is fabulous anytime, but the upcoming Olympics is a great time to take a fresh look at the old town. Photo / Thinkstock
London is fabulous anytime, but the upcoming Olympics is a great time to take a fresh look at the old town. Photo / Thinkstock

London loves a grand event - and grand sporting events take pride of place in the city's calendar. Visitors see the best of the old town when Wimbledon is in full swing, FA Cup fever strikes town or when Australia has deigned to let the last test of an Ashes cricket series become the decider.

The 2012 Olympics, starting later this month, will see the city at its finest.

You don't even need to be all that fussed about the sport. The excitement of last year's Rugby World Cup on these shores was felt by more than just rugby fans - when the hospitality industry's cash registers are singing, the whole town joins in the chorus.

London's Wimbledon buzz is best felt miles from the actual tennis, when you're swanning about at strawberries-and-cream picnics in one of the city's many wonderful parks. ("Isn't Fed playing today?" "Dunno. Pass the Pimms.")

As a city that was once the heart of an empire, the old town seems to get a kick out of feeling it's at the centre of things.

This week in Travel, chief sports writer David Leggat offers a list of the most striking venues of the London Games. But a non-sports lover will have a great time during the Olympics. The city always empties over summer, and visitors to the fine galleries and museums (many of which are free to enter) will find that most tourists in the town aren't scrambling to get into the Tate. Pamela Wade directs us to the resurrected Cutty Sark.

Nonetheless, it could be a testing time. By the London Underground's own measurement standard, the service has had only three entirely problem-free weekdays in the past 12 months.

Of course, there are the older hazards of London. In my seven years living there, I was the gormless victim of casual theft so often it came to be regarded as a mere inconvenience - the highlight: a courier stole an iPod he was delivering, then duped a flatmate into signing for it (or maybe it was the flatmate all along... hmm...).

Vomitorium - last word

We won't go into the details of the much-loved Kiwi broadcaster who spent a flight home from India with his trousers tucked into his socks. Instead let's close the discussion of the "flying vomitorium" with a tip from former nurse Lynne Linton for travellers who find themselves seated next to puking passengers.

"My solution from many years of nursing dealing with vomit and other undesirable odours - just breathe through your mouth," says Lynne. "Works a treat ... just as long as you remember!"

- NZ Herald

Winston Aldworth

Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

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