Beijing 2008 Olympic Park
The Olympic Park is nearly deserted on the Sunday, about 2-1/2 weeks from the start of the Summer Games.
One exception is the cleaning & setup crews. Here, a shift of workers heads for an Olympic bus to take them to their next assignnment.
The National Stadium, or Bird's Nest, dominates the Olympic Park. This view looks beyond it to the south, towards downtown Beijing.
Nearby is the National Aquatics Center, which is covered in these synthetic bubbles. This will be the site for Olympic swimming & diving competition.
The National Indoor Stadium is next door to the Aquatics Center. This will be home to Gymnastics.
In contrast to the Indoor Stadium's concave rooftop, below is the Fencing Hall of the National Convention Hall, with its concave roofline.
This building sits adjacent to the National Stadium. It's the Beijing Olympic Tower, and has several levels of TV studio space available for hire. Stairs run up the 2 sides, and on the thrid side is an elevator.
But the big attarction here is the Bird's Nest, as you can see from this picture taken on an overpass of the 4th Ring road at dusk recently.
I'm even getting into the act.
Here's my first look inside the big stadium.
What you notice right away is the SIZE of the place. It seats 91,000, and is about 210 feet high. This is my view from the floor of the stadium, where they appeared to be rehearsing the staging for the ceremonies.
That's a giant lantern in the center, which rises up through a retractable opening in the floor.
Now you see it..
and now you don't!
Stairs like these take you to the upper levels of the stadium. Once inside you lose the sense of that nest-like architecture that's so characteristic of the stadium from outside.
Entering the 2nd level, up those steps at left, below
is the TV commentary location. TV-types from around the world will announce their coverage of the ceremonies, as well as all of the Athletics events from these seats.
I think it's a good guess that there will be some kind of aerial acrobatics during ceremonies, looking up at all the cabling that runs across the top of the stadium.
Here's a guy down on the floor who's motoring around on one of those Segway personal transporation devices.
At some point in the early afternoon, a constant parade of young women began filing into the stadium, apparently for more rehearsals.
AT the same time they were testing the sound system, and I was treated to Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' several times, along with Blood, Sweat & Tears, The Beatles, Paul Simon, Chicago, Aerosmith, and other American artists.
Another test of the retractable door and levitating lamp, while the little buildings are rolled off the field.
Below, a look at the relief pictures that are on the base of each of these buildings.
Then the rains came. It rained hard for about 20 minutes, and like the grounds crew at an American stadium, the grounds crew here sprang into action, spreading tarps over the center of the surface.
The architecture of the stadium kept all of the seats dry, until the wind picked up, and people header for higher ground.
There's that unique building again, just a couple long blocks from here at the stadium.
Earlier, I saw these guys rapelling down the side of that building cleaning the windows.
Finally, I couldn't help but notice this traffic sign as I waited to cross the road on my way back to the hotel:
Smiling Beijing Traffic Police.
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