Olympic Etiquette: What You Need to Know

Tomorrow marks the official opening of London 2012, an event much hyped, much panned (by the Brits–they love to be negative), much anticipated. Tomorrow also marks the one-year anniversary of the day we left the States for the UK on board the Queen Mary 2, but more about that another time.

We just so happened to be in London on Tuesday, squeezing in one last trip before traveling through the city becomes impossible. Among other things, we walked across the Millennium Bridge to see the Olympic Rings hanging from Tower Bridge.

Olympic Rings at Tower Bridge

A short time ago I stumbled upon an article from the Associated Press about etiquette for the Olympics; it’s pretty funny, at least I think so, and if you’re planning on being here for the games, or traveling over some day, it’s good stuff to pay attention to.

Some of their tips:

  • Walk on the left, stand on the right. Especially important when you’re on an escalator in the underground.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street. Then look again. We drive on the left here and you don’t want to be the tourist who steps out in front of a bus.
  • Be prepared: It rains a lot here, though the sun has been out all week so far. Carry an umbrella, but don’t forget your sunscreen. If the sun shines, enjoy it. It can be a rare occurrence.
  • Don’t expect American-sized plates of food, or American prices. This is a small island nation, and life here is expensive.

This last bit comes straight from the article, it’s too funny not to have here verbatim:

“YES, THAT MAN REALLY IS THE MAYOR Above all, Britons love an eccentric. That may explain the popularity of London Mayor Boris Johnson, a disheveled, bicycle-riding, Latin-spouting figure with a shock of blond hair who was re-elected to a second four-year term in May.

Johnson’s behavior at Friday’s opening ceremony is one more unpredictable element in an evening of surprises. Bookmaker William Hill is offering odds of 33-1 on the mayor accidentally setting his hair on fire with the Olympic flame.”

And one last thing: it’s useful to remember Brits love sarcasm, and they’re very good at subtlety. So if a native says something to you and you’re not sure whether to be offended or not, take it with a grain of salt and laugh.

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