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Billions of Reasons We're Fascinated by the 2012 Summer Olympics

London Olympic Stadium

The Olympics are here! To celebrate, T+L rounds up 22 fascinating facts and figures relating to everything London 2012. Behold our smashing pyramid of zany Olympic numbers.

1 Life-size inflatable replica of Stonehenge erected in London for the Games
4 Skeletons removed from the site under the Zaha Hadid–designed Aquatics Centre
37 Languages that the Bard’s plays will be performed in during the World Shakespeare Festival
71 Age of Japanese equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu, the oldest Olympian competing this summer
150 Bat boxes and artificial otter holts installed in the 500-acre Olympic Park
351 Average rate (in USD) of a hotel room in central London during the games
1,500 Seats in London's temporary McDonald's outpost, which will serve 50,000 Big Macs
4,000 Brand new BMWs ordered to escort dignities and officials to events
10,500 Olympic athletes from 205 participating countries
22,000 Pillows made available in Athletes Village
150,000 Condoms made available in Athletes Village (that's 30 per...couple)
203,000 Pieces of luggage to be handled at Heathrow on August 13, the busiest game day
1,000,000 Pieces of sporting equipment used during the Games
5,000,000 Brits who now regret signing up to receive Games-related emails
10,000,000 Free tickets available across thousands of events in the London 2012 Festival
14,000,000 Meals served during the Games across 40 different London locations
200,000,000 Viewers NBC expects to tune into the broadcasts (not counting Ann Curry)
777,000,000 Cost (in USD) of Olympic security for taxpayers...this covers only the venues
1,000,000,000 Expected visitors to London2012.com
4,000,000,000 Original expected cost (in USD) of the London 2012 Games
14,500,000,000 Current expected cost (in USD) of the London 2012 Games
40,000,000,000 Cost (in USD) of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing—the most expensive to date

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Briana Fasone is a New York City–based freelance writer. You can follow her on Twitter @brifasone.

 

Photo courtesy of London 2012 Organising Committee

Olympic Uniforms: Fashion Designers Go For The Gold at London 2012

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Olympic style has improved exponentially since the days of ankle length tennis skirts, barely there basketball shorts, and that loud, tie-dye Grateful Dead getup from 1992.

Today we're seeing scientific designs in the form of aerodynamic apparel made with performance enhancing fabrics for everything from cycling to the long-jump. And lately, international fashion powerhouses have been collaborating with teams to dress athletes in competition and at rest, while others are stitching Olympic-inspired duds for the less athletically inclined.

The ubiquitous Karl Lagerfeld is hawking a limited edition line for a pop-up shop at Selfridges, the quintessential British department store on Oxford St., while ultra-hip boutique Opening Ceremony has opened one in fashion-conscious Covent Garden, with prêt-à-porter pieces created with the games in mind.

Plenty of London 2012 athletes will be dressed to the nines as well: Team USA will be wearing Ralph Lauren for what will be the third time at the games this year. The garments have already caused quite a stir for being made in China.

The Italians will be the heavyweights of luxury uniform design however. Prada has sponsored the Italian sailing team while Salvatore Ferragamo designed the formal wear for the Republic of San Marino and Ermanno Scervino created a colorful kit for the Republic of Azerbaijan. EA7, Armani’s sportswear line is providing both formal and sporting attire for the entire Italian team, including uniform jackets with the words of "Il Canto degli Italiani," the country's national anthem, embroidered inside the jacket.

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Hosting Team GB will be kitted out in Stella McCartney, who collaborated with Adidas on the project. The event gear features deconstructed Union Jacks and are made with high-tech PowerWEB and ClimaCool fabrics. The final product is rather sleek, which is more than I can say for the approximately 8000 volunteer London ambassadors who will be wearing grotesque pink and mauve tracksuits around town. Eek.

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Hermès is providing a blue riding jacket with red lapels for the French equestrian team, and Japanese athletes will be outfitted in local fabrics by the iconic national department store, Takashimaya. The Jamaican track and field team, led by world record holder Usain Bolt, will be sporting second-skins by Cedella Marley (daughter of Bob) developed in collaboration with Puma, and will likely be on the podium again this year with a slew of medals in tow.
 
Not all the designers will go home winners though (some athletes will look like flight attendants, while other outfits will just leave you scratching your head). But I think I'll leave you with a few surprises for the Opening Ceremony tomorrow. Let the games begin!

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Marguerite A. Suozzi is an assistant research editor at Travel + Leisure.





Photos courtesy of Ralph Lauren; Adidas; Japan Olympic Committee.

Latin Invasion Hits London Restaurant Scene

London: Ceviche

Mexican: the cuisine London could never get right. While the city mastered Emirati, Ethiopian, Polish, Syrian, Lebanese (and how!)—even Argentine steaks—attempts at Mexican fare have historically been less well-received. But that was then. Three years ago, the arrival of Mestizo—followed by the opening of popular burrito bar Chilango—began transforming London into a Mexican food mecca. Now the big guns from across the pond have arrived. Last month, Serge Becker opened hotspot taquería La Bodega Negra in Soho. Not to be outdone, Derek Sanders, the force behind New York City’s haute Mexican diner/speakeasy La Esquina, will soon open his London outpost right around the corner.

And don’t forget Peru! Star Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez, who gained worldwide recognition for Central restaurant in Lima, will open his first London eatery this June. Meanwhile, Ceviche (pictured), which opened in March in Soho, is receiving buzz for its extensive menu and dedicated Pisco Sour bar.

Photo courtesy of Ceviche

London Pop-Up Offers Stylish Olympic Spectating

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For months T+L has been counting down to this summer in London, a city already pulsating with game-changing events and pioneering cultural festivals. Now, we’re adding another spot to your London itinerary: The Fringe 2012, a new pop-up members club that will offer ticket-holders some respite from all the Olympic buzz. Just a hundred yards from Olympic Stadium, The Fringe is housed in a converted Victorian stable house at Swan Wharf and will provide some of London’s finest food and drink (with Sweet&Chilli bringing their unique brand of creative cocktails to the experience). Olympic fans shouldn’t fret about missing any of the actionlarge LCD screens will broadcast all the main events.

The Fringe 2012 will officially pop-up on July 20th, a week before the Opening Ceremony, and operate through the Olympic and Paralympic Games until September 9th. Individual tickets start at $112 per day.

2012-hs-briana-fasone.jpg Briana Fasone is a digital editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure. You can follow her on Twitter @brifasone.



Photo courtesy of Nylon Communications Limited.

Crowdsourcing: What to Do When You're Near the Ritz London

Ritz London

We asked true travel pros what to do near The Ritz London, Piccadilly's grande dame for over a century. Want to share your expertise? Join our community on Facebook at facebook.com/travelandleisure and at Twitter @TravlandLeisure.

Zara Home’s (129 Regent St.) pretty and affordable bed linens are a must-buy. I’m anxiously hoping they’ll open in the U.S.” —Carolyn Ernst, via Facebook

“You’ll find free choral recitals (and an amazing flea market on Tuesdays) at St. James’s Church (197 Piccadilly).” —Sunshine Flint, via Facebook

The Only Running Footman, near Berkeley Square, is my favorite pub for people-watching—it’s packed with locals after work.” —Georgia Aarons, via Facebook

“I recommend the Wolseley for great cream teas, and the deck chairs in Green Park on a sunny day.” —Zoe Bramley, via Facebook

“Check out Paxton & Whitfield (93 Jermyn St.); they’ve sold crave-worthy cheeses since 1742.” —@tammypeters

Fakhreldine (85 Piccadilly) is the place for high-end Lebanese food and an iconic park view.” —Julie Brennan, via Facebook

Photo courtesy of The Ritz London

Last Dash to London! Essential Booking Tips for the Olympic-Bound

201205-b-london-cityscape95605583jpgLast Saturday, the Olympic Torch relay set off in Great Britain and began a 70-day journey through the United Kingdom that will end on July 27 at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games. The countdown has begun.

Set on making it across the pond this summer? It’s not too late—but you must act now! To inspire you procrastinators to begin booking, we present our last-minute get-to-London guide.

The good news: flights to the city’s hub airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, London City) are still available. Right now, a search of round-trip fares from major U.S. cities range from $1,100 to $1,500. Departing from Chicago, you’ll fork over about $1,200 for a round-trip economy ticket on Virgin Atlantic Airways (a seat in the carrier’s newly revamped Upper Class cabin will cost you $2,800).

These fares are steep—and getting steeper—but they aren’t higher than this time last year. “I don’t think airlines are price gauging,” says George Hobica, founder of AirfareWatchdog.com, a site that monitors ticket prices. “It’s still the summer season and we’re seeing reasonable fares for this time of year.”

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Close Your Eyes and Think of England: Royal-Themed B&B in London

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A nice lady in the northwest London suburb of Wembley has created a guestroom for a very particular traveler: one who cannot get enough of the royal family, even in this Windsor-giddy period between Kate and Will's wedding and the Queen's Jubilee.

The Sandringham Suite, a visual explosion of Union Jacks and Diana portraits, is available to rent for rates from $121 per night from rental site Wimdu.com. If sleeping amidst more than 10,000 artifacts is not enough, you can supplement the experience by renting a corgi for the day.

Via the Daily Mail.

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Image courtesy of Wimdu.

 

World's Top Restaurant Noma to Launch Summer London Pop-Up

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Can't get a reservation at Noma until 2020? This summer, you have two other ways to work up an appetite for chef Rene Redzepi's wildly inventive New Nordic cooking, which just topped the Restaurant magazine's World's 50 Best Restaurants list for a third consecutive year. On July 1-2, the second annual MAD Symposium (Copenhagen, $350) addresses "Appetite" as its theme; along with Redzepi, expect tasteful thinking from other culinary wild men like Wylie Dufresne, Fergus Henderson and Ferran Adria. Then Redzepi moves his team to London for "A Taste of Noma" pop-up at Claridge's Hotel in Mayfair. (Five courses, $320, July 28-Aug. 6). To pre-register for reservations, click here now. First come, first serve!

Shane MitchellShane Mitchell is Travel + Leisure's special correspondent.


Photo (top) by Ditte Isager

London's Iconic Buses are Back!

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BBC Travel
  |  London's iconic double-decker buses have gotten an update that looks uncannily like the past.

Seven buses with an open hop-on hop-off platform at the rear hit downtown streets on 20 February, running on route 38, between Victoria Station and Hackney, an east London neighbourhood.

Between the 1950s and 2000s, royal red double deckers sported distinctive open platforms in the rear. But in 2005, authorities took that Routemaster model out of service, replacing it with versions that only have an entrance at the front.

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(Photo courtesy of Transport for London.)

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