LONDON Flying to London was easy. The rest of it is a little harder.
I arrived Wednesday on the one non-stop flight US Airways offers from Charlotte. It was a great flight. After that, the logistics have been a bit more challenging, although certainly simpler than Beijing in 2008.
So far I’ve taken planes, trains, automobiles, the subway and several double-decker buses. London sprawls so much that you don’t get anywhere too fast. The best bet is to go below ground to use the “tube” (the subway) or above ground to hop on the high-speed “javelin” train, which can get up to 140 mph but the ride is smooth enough that you can balance a cup of coffee on a tray.
I’ve ridden several double-decker buses and have almost gotten run over by several more. You just don’t realize how deeply ingrained it is to step off a sidewalk and look left first, like you do in America. This will get you plowed over in England, where they drive on the left and the double-decker buses always seem to be coming fast from the right.
• Among the Olympians I’ve spotted here before their competition: French basketball player (and former Charlotte Bobcat) Boris Diaw. Diaw, who suddenly became a far better player when he joined the San Antonio Spurs for their playoff run, was walking through a subway station with some of his French teammates. I expected to see him on that scooter he always used to ride around uptown Charlotte, but no. Diaw’s French team debuts Sunday against the U.S. in round-robin play (9:30 a.m. EST), where it likely will be trampled.
• Have you ever seen a flying squirrel? You’re about to see two if you watch NBC’s coverage of the Olympics closely enough.
There are two different U.S. Olympians who have laid claim to the “Flying Squirrel” nickname – women’s gymnast Gabby Douglas (for her leaps) and Greco-Roman wrestler Ellis Coleman (for his signature move). Although Douglas will get far more airtime, Coleman has embraced the nickname so thoroughly that he now has a pet flying squirrel, which he says cost him $500 when he bought it at a mall.
One more question I wish I had thought to ask him: What sort of mall sells flying squirrels anyway?
• Swimmer Michael Phelps, who is 6-foot-4, said he was walking around the Olympic Village and that he saw three female Russian athletes. “They were all taller than me,” Phelps said.
• Please check out CharlotteObserver.com/Olympics for up-to-date Olympic coverage. I will also be frequently tweeting from London @Scott_Fowler and blogging at “Scott Says” online. One warning: don’t follow me on Twitter unless you want to know Olympic results. I won’t hold off on reporting what happened just because something hasn’t already been broadcast later that night on NBC’s prime-time show (which will mostly be on tape delay).