The Olympics kicks off on July 27 and the world's biggest sporting extravaganza will see the best of athletes compete for their ultimate high -- a gold medal for their country. India too is sending a considerably large contingent this time around in the hope of bettering their Beijing haul. And while Mary Kom, Sushil Kumar, Abhinav Bindra and Vijender Singh take on the London games, you could cheer them on from the sidelines. Here's how.
Getting a customised package would be your best bet, if you want to avoid the hassles of planning. Thomas Cook Sport, official sponsors of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, offers 'Short Breaks'. For those low on cash, choose an event you want to see and opt for this package. Starting at Rs. 10,999 (per person on twin sharing basis), it's ideal for the value-conscious fan and includes a one night accommodation with breakfast in a budget hotel, an official ticket, and a London travel card for the day of the event.
SOTC Sports too is offering customised packages starting at Rs. 39,000. "Sports enthusiasts, high net-worth individuals and corporate clients are showing interest. Demand is higher for the opening ceremony, hockey and athletic events," says SD Nandakumar of Kuoni India.
If you'd like to get a feel of the place, soak in the athletic atmosphere and attend multiple events on a shoestring budget, as exploring London on your own is an option. Log on to london2012.com and check out the schedule for the events and venues. Choose the games you would like to catch and purchase tickets on www.olympic.ind.in.
Now, figure out your accommodation. While The Hilton or Meridien may offer five-star facilities, they are unlikely to fit into most budgets. Instead, opt for websites like rentduringthegames.com or rentatthegames.com or londonrentmyhouse.com. You might snag a deal worth every pound. Incidentally, most places on rent are close to the venues, so you save on commute and could run into Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt on the way. Double the fun!
Once you are there and comfortable, it would be wise to invest in a London Travel Card or an Oyster transit pass. It gives you access to London's underground trains, buses, trams and overland trains within the city. You also enjoy savings -- a standard Â£2.30 (Rs. 203.48) bus ride will only cost you Â£1.35 (Rs. 119.44) on an Oyster pass. You could also avail of the Games Travelcard for free travel on public transport on the day of your event.
Or, consider getting around the city by hopping on a Boris Bike. This cycle hire scheme allows anyone with a credit card to rent a bicycle from its 400 docking stations.
And if visiting the Big Ben or London Eye is on the agenda, londonpass.com deserves a mention.
You could also choose a pass that fits the duration of your trip and visit the Westminster Abbey, and 54 other spots for free. And for those looking for the offbeat, you must visit britainshop.com. From the Harry Potter Walking Tour to private viewings of Stonehenge, the website offers tourists a glimpse of the unusual at reasonable costs.
Instead of wasting hours buying merchandise or souvenirs at a Games venue, just visit shop.london2012.com. On their virtual racks is an edition of autographed Olympic prints celebrating unforgettable moments in history. You could also pick up memorabilia, mini- mascots, stamps, coins and figurines around the Olympic theme. Similar souvenirs are also available on visitbritainshop.com, the official shop of the British Shop Authority.
Things to remember
Check the London 2012 website for information before you travel.The transport system and venue will be busy, so leave plenty of time for travel and be prepared to wait. You'll need to go through airport-style security, so make sure you've read the list of items that aren't allowed inside the venue at london2012.com/security.You can pay by Visa or cash (Â£) only at the venues.Some venues are outdoors and with limited shelter, so check the weather forecast and come prepared. Got a smartphone? Switch on Wi-Fi and visit london2012.com to find things to do after your event.Indian food is not hard to find in Britain. So, don't worry about your palate.Flash photography is banned at several events as it distracts the athletes. Mobile phones should be switched off or set to silent.If you failed to score tickets to the 2012 Games, fret not. There will be a number of events that'll be free to watch along the streets of London, including road cycling, triathlon, marathon and race walking.