It's a Great Big Beautiful World! Let's Discover it Together

Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

Monday, July 30, 2012

2012 Summer Olympics

This past Friday night we watched the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  While many people have posted in various social media forums about how the ceremonies didn't live up to the splendor of Beijing in 2008 - I liked what London put together.  I found it enjoyable, for the most part. True I could have done with a much shorter sequence of teenagers dancing and demonstrating technology - but otherwise I thought they did a really nice job presenting aspects of their national history and such.  I loved seeing the Queen take part in it all, and the fireworks at the end were spectacular.  Including English literature in the "Second Star and On til Morning" sequence was cool - especially considering that three of the literary pieces have all made their way into the Disney pantheon... Peter Pan, 101 Dalmatians, and Mary Poppins.

I love the Olympic games - both summer and winter.  Not being a huge sports person normally - I'm not one to sit and watch sports on television, nor do I participate in sports pools, fantasy leagues or anything like that, and I do not tend to talk about sports very often - so it's just not something that I get into.  Except for the Olympics.  I love watching the various sports and competitions.  I love watching the athleticism of it all; the drama and intrigue of watching the underdogs often out-perform the favorites - "upsetting" who people think will win.  

I've loved the Olympics since I was a little boy.  Every four years we would gather around our television set and watch the various games.  Growing up in Southern California it was exhilarating when in 1984 Los Angeles hosted the summer games, where the many different events took place all across the L.A. basin, including equestrian events taking place at the Santa Anita racetrack, just a few miles from the house I grew up in.  It was awesome.  

Both summer and winter have events that I love to watch... but it was only the winter games that saw one of my heroes actually get to coordinate, plan and produce the Opening & Closing Ceremonies for.  Who was it?  And what year?  Walt Disney.  Yes, Walt Disney.  

Walt Disney was selected as the Pageantry Committee Chairman for the VIII Winter Olympics in 1960, in Squaw Valley, California.  I knew about that as a young person, but never really investigated it all that much.  I've seen concept art from the Disney archives that show the two massive, 24-foot tall snow sculptures and the "Tower of Nations" that Disney Imagineer John Hench designed for Walt in his role as the Chairman.

In doing a bit of research online, I found this information on Wikipedia, as well as other information - but this says it really well.  

Opening ceremonies

A plaque on an official flagpole commissioned by Walt Disney for the 1960 Games
The chairman of the "Pageantry Committee" was Walt Disney, who was responsible for producing both the opening and closing ceremonies.[7] He planned on an opening that would include 5,000 entertainers, the release of 2,000 pigeons, and a military gun salute of eight shots, one for each of the previous Winter Olympic Games.[25][26] The opening ceremonies were held on 18 February 1960 at Blyth Arena in the midst of a blizzard. Heavy snow fell the morning of the 18th and caused traffic problems that delayed the ceremony by an hour. The festivities began with a sustained drum roll as the flags of each participating nation were raised on specially designed flag poles. As the Greek standard bearer led the 30 participating countries in the traditional Parade of Nations the weather broke and the rest of the two-hour ceremony proceeded in sunshine. Vice President Richard Nixon represented the United States government and declared the Games open.[27] The Olympic flame was lit by Kenneth Henry, Olympic champion of the 500 meter speed skating race at the1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo. The Olympic oath was taken by Carol Heiss on behalf of all the athletes. As the national delegations exited the stadium fireworks concluded the ceremonies.[28]

The Olympics have had such an impact on the world... but then - so did Walt Disney.  And every four years... (two years now since they separated the winter and summer Olympics from being held in the same year) you can be sure I'll be sitting in front of my television watching the games and enjoying the art of sport.  

Until next time,

Monday, January 9, 2012

Magical Mondays - River Cruising: The Pros About Going Small

River cruising is a HOT new way to explore, since nothing quite compares with the river. Where else but on the river can you journey into the heart of the world’s greatest cities and towns, and discover the true nature of the land? Comfortable and convenient, river cruises offer a greater variety of destinations than you could encounter any other way. Spend less time getting there and more time being there. Little wonder that river cruising is the fastest-growing segment of the travel industry.  With River Cruising, you get up close and personal on the rivers of Europe, China & Egpyt.

For those only familiar with the rules of big ships, here are three reasons riverboat fanatics come back, time and again, for more.

Forget buffet dining with 2,000 strangers. River cruises average about 200 passengers per boat, so the waitstaff will likely know your name by the end of the first meal (and so will your fellow travelers).

Evening Entertainment
Instead of dance clubs, karaoke, and glitzy Vegas-style reviews, nightlife on river cruises trends toward string quartets, guest lectures on regional history, and staring out at actual scenery, not just a watery horizon.

Extra Costs
The dirty little secrets of ocean cruises? They always charge extra for excursions, and beer and wine costs are on par with pro sports arenas. River cruise lines opt for flat fees up front.

River cruising is such a fast-growing trend that there are twice as many new river ships debuting in 2012 than there are traditional big ships. In fact, Viking River is building 6 new ships to accommodate the demand. I for one thought that this was for the older generation but I was completely wrong in more ways than one. This new way to cruise is for the adventurous. You are docked right into the heart of the city. You walk on cobblestones. You are eating pho, knockwurst and other traditional foods. You are there to really experience the cultures and sounds of the world.  This is for the “Bucket List” crowd. 

If you would like to learn more about river cruising, let me know, and I'd be happy to discuss ships, itineraries and more with you.