I live and work in central London, and I'll be (totally) honest here - I'm not overly excited for the Olympics. If you've ever been to London you'll agree with me that it's a beautiful city, it's a pretty awesome place to live and usually, I don't have any complaints.
London is a gorgeous city but it's an old one too and it's definitely the kind of city where an extra 7 Million people walking through the streets will be noticed. That's a lot of extra people. Imagine inviting an extra 50 people into your one-bedroom apartment, and you have the right kind of visual image. Here are some statistics I found, which have worried me even more:
The Olympic Stadium will have a capacity of 80,000 sports fans.
About 7.7 million tickets will be available for the Games.
300 nations will take part in the Olympics, and 147 in the Paralympics.
200km of cable will be used for the underground power lines.
It's not all bad though, I've found that in my "Olympic Panic" I've actually been actively seeking out new and exciting places that won't be flocked with tourists and travellers during the Olympics. I've found myself looking out for small, local places - instead of huge, chain bars and restaurants, and I've found myself looking out for cute local parks - rather than catching the No9 bus to Hyde Park Corner.
So here are my top findings... for all those travellers (who don't want to be a tourist) and all those locals (who don't want to be a crowd).
1. Richmond Park
The perfect alternative to Hyde Park - it's further out of the city (right at the end of the District Line) and it's simply stunning. Wait for a sunny day and then pack a picnic and head on over. Just be careful you don't leave your food unattended - there are deer here, and they're not scared of coming up and saying hello.
2. Fulham Embankment
During the height of the Olympics, the embankment between Victoria and St Pauls is going to be absolutely packed. This is ordinarily one of my favourite places in the city, and somewhere which holds lots of lovely memories - it's not somewhere that is overly fun in a crowd though (anyone who tried to watch the Jubilee celebration will testify to that). Fulham Embankment offers a great alternative because it's far enough out of the centre to shake off the crowds.
3. The Aubin Cinema
Plan on seeing a film during the Olympic season? The cinemas in Leicester Sq are going to be so busy - you might end up sitting on the floor instead of a seat (we've all seen it happen). To prevent the risk - and to have a much more enjoyable experience, check out The Aubin Cinema in edgy-cool Shoreditch. You have to pre-book to get the good seats - but any cinema that had (super comfy, sink-into) sofas, arm chairs and cocktails - is definitely worth the effort.
4. No1 Traveller Airport Lounge
This one is for all those who will be travelling during the Olympics. We've all heard the "airport horror stories" of mile-long queues and crowded departure lounges, but I recently found out there are alternatives to these things. No1 Traveller are a private airport lounge in both Heathrow and Gatwick (with TVs, bars, sofas, restaurant... and video games!) to keep you entertained - and comfortable whilst you wait for your flight. I'm sold on the idea completely - in the Heathrow lounge they even have bedrooms you can take a nap in.
I will still be venturing into the capital though - I love the city to much to abandon it completely (especially in its hour of need...haha) but It's great to know there are some awesome places in the city that won't be attracting the huge crowds. Unless all those crowds read this article... in which case, I'm screwed!