*New* Olympic blog post as written in October!
1. Museum of Tomorrow: Friday the 19th kicked off with meeting a volunteer pal at the beautifully stunning Museum of Tomorrow, a brand-new futuristic museum that Dilma Rousseff opened last December in Rio. This place was legitimately one of the best museums I’ve been to in the entire world. The overall exterior and interior design and exhibits were impressive – I’ve really never seen another structure like it! The only way to buy tickets online which made sense because they are in such high demand!
2. Olympic Boulevard: We quickly checked out Olympic Boulevard prior to Opening Ceremony but most of it wasn’t open. Hence, we went back towards the end of the Games to see what we’d been missing. Big TV screens for event watching were everywhere as were food trucks with super long lines. The only thing without a line was the extraordinarily overpriced Ben and Jerry’s one! The Nissan area featured a bungee jump while SKOL beer had a DJ booth, dancing area, and pseudo-hot air balloon in front of a stage. The main Coca-cola and NBA houses were along the boulevard though we didn’t go in because the lines were unbelievably long. Bad crowd control did not help the situation and my friend and I almost lost each other a few times in the crowds. Our favorite aspect of the boulevard were these huge colorful murals all painted by one guy. They really demonstrated the diversity and interdependency of our global societu today!
3. 30th Birthday: My birthday started out early with me moving out of Pousada Marambaia and into an Airbnb in Flamengo. The room and the apartment were perfect for me and one of my kind hosts showed me around the neighborhood and beaches before I set out on my own. Then, I hit up on the Holland Heineken House to soak of the cool vibes, pool, Dutch sports, and chill atmosphere. I definitely enjoyed drinking Heinekens poolside and swimming in the pool in front of the big screen TV there. Met some very friendly folks there and we all watched the Brazil-Germany gold medal soccer match. As Neymar shot the final penalty past the German keeper, Neuer, everyone went wild. I loved the celebration!
4. Last Day of the Olympics: I still can’t believe how fast the 16 days of the Olympics flew by! We all worked 1-6pm at boxing which included running media for all gold medal bouts. The highlight for me was watching the USA’s Clarissa Shields win her second gold medal in boxing. Once I helped escort an NPR interviewer out, I met Clarissa while taking her to the press conference. She was exceedingly nice and articulate! It was also super fun being able to finally go inside the boxing ring! All of my fellow volunteers and I took forever saying “see you later” and though Closing Ceremony tickets were released for $30, I was tired, facing a long trek home in nasty weather, and thus chose to pick up some Brazilian snacks to watch it at my Airbnb. I had a great evening watching it with my Brazilian Airbnb hosts and hearing their perspectives on the spectacle and the Brazilian broadcast!
5. Airbnb Event: After talking with some Sao Paulo Airbnb employees at the Airbnb House the previous week, I was invited back to the house for a press meet and greet event. A few other Airbnb guests and hosts were invited as well to talk about our experiences and Airbnb’s role in the Olympic Games. At first, the Head of Airbnb Brazil gave a presentation about Airbnb in general, Brazil, and Rio, which was quite interesting. The best part was that my very first Airbnb host in Rio was invited back as well because he is one of the first Airbnb hosts in all of Brazil and very active in the Airbnb community – seriously, he’s a rockstar! I loved reuniting and catching up with him. The event overall was full of great conversation and delicious Brazilian tapas. We were all given an Airbnb bag of goodies but for me, it was sincerely fascinating listening to how Airbnb helped support the Olympic effort.
6. Boxing Press Volunteer/Staff Team BBQ: Our team was made up of volunteers and staff members from about 20 countries and our Brazilian middle managers kindly organized a BBQ for us in the former Pan American Games Village. The Brazilians were responsible for the food and the rest of us brought the drinks. The turnout was great and Tiago blew us all away with his grilling expertise. So much food! The biggest surprise came when my immediate supervisor brought out a chocolate birthday cake and everyone started singing. I couldn’t believe it and it was a perfect way to end my time with this crew at the Games. We were all so lucky to have a supportive team around us – not all volunteer groups were like that!
7. Last Days in Brazil: Although I went to Rio back in 2007 and visited the main tourist sites, I was itching to return to some of them and Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer statue were a few. I was lucky enough to go with a few fellow boxing and basketball volunteers. We made it to Sugarloaf on a cloudy day but at the perfect time in order to take in amazing views of Rio in daylight and at night. Simply spectacular. We additionally went to Jardim Botanico, Rio’s beautiful botanical gardens. Didn’t think I would have enough time to go but really glad I did! I spent my last morning in Rio going up to the Christ the Redeemer statue. While there were a lot of people, we avoided the five hour lines we’d heard about during the Olympics. The weather could not have been better and I thought it was Rio’s special way of saying goodbye to all of us. I finally returned to my Airbnb, called an Uber to the airport, and was wished farewell by the caring elderly parents of my Airbnb host. Until next time, Rio!
This marks my last Rio Olympics blog post. I hope you enjoyed taking the journey with me from afar. I am grateful to have experienced the Rio Games safely and positively with wonderful people. I have many other complicated thoughts and feelings about Rio and the Olympics that cannot be expressed here. If you’d like to chat with me more about them, feel free to shoot me a message!