This year is the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games and this year the venue is London, England.
This will actually be the third time the games has been held in London. The first time was in 1908, when the games had officially been scheduled for Rome, but with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius this was not a safe venue and London was the reserve choice.
In 1939 London was officially made first choice for the 1944 games, but with the outbreak of war they were postponed until 1948 when 59 nations took part without Germany or Japan.
This year the games will take place in July and August and as well as being heavily focused on London, Britain’s capital city, several events will take place around the UK including soccer in various city venues including Manchester, Newcastle, Cardiff and Glasgow, Scotland.
The attractions of London, for those intending to visit the Olympics, are well documented. Tower Bridge, the Tower of London (home of the Crown Jewels), Buckingham Palace, the Globe Theater, The West End, Soho, Carnaby Street, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, 10 Downing Street, Hyde Park and shopping in Knightsbridge are all extremely popular with tourists. These and others can be found easily in the National Geographic London, England Destination Map.
Getting around is easy, as central London is home to one of the best subway systems in the world. Familiarize yourself with the London Tube Map before you leave. Changing lines is quick and easy and trains are frequent. You can navigate your way from site to site quickly and easily. Daily and Weekly passes can be purchased using automated ticket booths at every station and allow you to purchase unlimited travel in selected or all zones.
Check out Michael Brein’s Guide to London by the Underground – showing you precisely how to reach London’s top 50 attractions using the public transport system.
If you are staying outside of London rail is a great way to go to and from the city and link up with the Tube. Taxi cabs are all part of the London experience and the drivers are known for their incessant chatter which you may or may not be able to understand. All taxi drivers are required to learn ‘the knowledge’ – requiring them to study detailed street maps that enable them to take you almost anywhere from memory – in order to gain their license. However, road travel across London is notoriously slow due to congestion and you may find your journey takes much longer.
Why not learn your own ‘knowledge’ before you travel with this Eurocity map of London and pit your wits against the ‘cabbie’ when it comes to the best route to your destination.
London Buses take advantage of dedicated bus lanes where available and these iconic ‘double deckers’ are a fun way to ride the city. Like many major cities there are also dedicated ‘redbus’ open top buses for tourists that call at the major destinations. A cruise on the River Thames is also a great way to relax as you see the sites, or for a birdseye view try out the London Eye ferris wheel.
Some of these sites can be a short walk from the nearest tube station and London is certainly a maze of main thoroughfares and tiny backstreets. To keep you on the right track (or to find the road less travelled) we recommend the London Popout Map – which is pocket sized, lightweight, fully indexed and updated twice each year. Another popular travel map for London is the ‘Mapout Street Map’ which is also compact for carrying around but features links to websites and podcasts for more up to the minute information.
If you’re not so neat, another great idea is the London Crumpled City guide. It’s effectively printed on a waterproof, tearproof fabric that you can stuff into your pocket and pull out at any time to read. Given the notorious London weather, this just might be a great choice for keeping your hair dry between the station and the Olympic Stadium.
Major venues outside of the capital include Manchester, where Old Trafford, the home of famous soccer team Manchester United will host Olympic Soccer for the first time. Manchester is a major UK city and was a centerpiece for the industrial revolution. Served by the world’s first passenger railway and a network of canals, this city began as a major producer of cotton and grew to be one of the biggest industrialized cities in the world by the mid 1800s as a home to the chemical and dye industry and later services such as banking and insurance. With globalization Manchester has been forced to reinvent itself and is now a modern, vibrant city with a mix of modern and traditional architecture and a renowned cultural scene.
Lonely Planet’s Guide to England will tell you more about the history and culture of London, Manchester, Birmingham and many more exciting and interesting places.
Reach Manchester from London using one of the major UK highways (M6 or M1) or take advantage of direct rail links from London’s Euston station. Manchester is also home to an International airport with direct flights to US Cities including Philadelphia and Atlanta daily.
This Michelin detailed map of Northern England will ensure that you not only reach your Olympic venue safely, but that you don’t miss out some great places on the way such as Liverpool, home of the Beatles, and Chester, an amazingly preserved Roman city.
Heading further north still there are Olympic Soccer venues in Newcastle, on England’s East coast, and Glasgow, Scotland’s second city. Newcastle sits at the eastern end of the Roman’s famous construction, Hadrian’s wall, built to keep the barbarian hordes from raiding Roman encampments further south. Miles of the wall are still standing today and visitor centers and guides can show you how life used to be at the northernmost point of the Empire.
Glasgow is very much a modern city and lies in south west Scotland not too far from the English border. This port city is very much a gateway to the Celtic nation and those who have time in their itinerary should not miss out on a trip further north into the highlands, or East towards the capital city Edinburgh, itself steeped in history. Navigation around Scotland can be slow as major roads will often wind through miles of country to their destination, so be sure to plan your destinations and routes ahead of time.
The Lonely Planet guide to Scotland will give you some inspiration and ideas for places to visit and the places not to miss.
While the Olympics may be the main focus of your visit, don’t miss out on some of the great places to visit during your time in the UK. If you are looking for inspiration, Mapeasy’s Guidemap takes you on a tour of the country beginning in London and transitioning north to some of the most charming places the country has to offer. It’s waterproof (seriously, it rains a lot there) so you can be confident it will still be with you at the end of your trip.
However you take in the games, be sure to plan ahead and Map your Games with Maps.com.