Incredibly, there are 30 different venues to house all the Olympic venues. Each is tailored to its' specific sport be it fencing, softball, basketball, etc. Contrary to popular belief, they are not all in the Olympic Village. The venues are scattered mostly in the northern outskirts of the city. It can be quite a challenge getting there, as not even the taxi drivers know exactly where they all are. Fortunately, I was able to snag a special Olympic map at the airport that lays out all the locations. By pointing on the map to the taxi drivers, we get there. However, the areas around the venues are large and no vehicles are allowed within 1 KM. In fact, unless you have a ticket, there is no way you can just stroll around a stadium. I've met a number of American volunteers for the games. They are either ushers at the events or are manning the many information booths throughout the city. Most are students with an Asian background who speak Chinese as their second language. These unpaid volunteers apply about a year before the start date and are selected from a pool of thousands. Today I happened to meet one from my old home state of New Jersey, of all places. Another at a basketball venue was from Baltimore. These English speaking volunteers have been great to unravel some of the confusion on how to get to the venues (ie take subway line X to Y, etc.) Despite the difficulty in navigating, these venues are impressive. Seat position, lighting, venue layout has been well thought out. Getting crowds in and out is very smooth. There are very few 'bad' seats. Finally, I've decided that there is some sort of borderline insanity to all these Olympics. A country spends 4 or 5 years and billions of dollars building stadiums and infrastructure all for just 17 days of intense and tightly scheduled games. It will be interesting to see what Beijing will do with all these venues once the Olympics are done. More Olympic Photos
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