The Lions' Pride

Traveling the Road to Rio

Sophia S., Lion's Den Editor

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  • Traveling the Road to Rio

By: Sophia Schreiber

For the first time in Olympic history, South America has finally hosted the Olympic games. The 2016 Olympics took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from August 5 to August 21.

After months of hard work planning, constant phone calls, and tons of emails it finally came the day where all those hours my mom spent booking a dozen flights, too many hotels and lodges to count, and all the activities paid off. My family and I had the amazing opportunity to go on a once in a lifetime trip that will forever be cherished.

My mom planned a three week long trip to Brazil and South Africa where we were taken out of our comfort zone and into a whole different side of the world full of culture, food, and beautiful scenery. So many memories were made on this vacation, especially when we experienced the Rio 2016 Olympics in person. Some of my favorite memories of Rio include: When we got scammed at the opening ceremony. When we watched the torch run. When we saw hundreds of cops everywhere. When we walked through the olympic park, passing every one of the arenas. When we watched the women’s gymnastics. When we watched Katie Ledecky break the record in the 400 free. When we saw China’s women’s diving win. When we were there the day before the diving pool turned green. When we were on worldwide TV in the swimming event and were screaming our lungs out.

While my mom was in the process of the planning, there were countless negative rants about Rio everyday in the news. We read about intense street crime and unsafe water quality. I read about the threat of the zika virus and horrible pollution. We heard about the public anger and political corruption, the many gangs, and the fear that this olympics would fall apart. I also got incredibly worried when I read about the awful sightings of dead bodies and trash in the water, but the biggest thing I feared of was terrorism. The olympics were the most major thing happening at the time, so I believed it was a soft target. All this critical and horrible news made my family and I more discouraged and not as excited to take on this adventure.

We decided to be brave and conquer all of our fears, put all the news into the trash and forget about it, and take on the road to Rio. After a very long flight, we finally made it to Rio de Janeiro! Rio was crowded with people everywhere because of the Olympics. My family and I were surprised to see so many police on every block, each of them holding a huge gun, ready for anything, which made us feel safe. However, we were still cautious of our surroundings. My parents took little cash outside, did not use their credit cards outside Olympic venues, and wore no valuables at all. We also made sure to stay in public and touristy areas. On the first night we arrived, we were lucky enough  to be able to watch the famous torch run. There were hundreds of people crowding onto the streets, hundreds of police in line watching carefully, and a lot of excitement and noise going on.

The next day was the day of the opening ceremony. The official tickets were sold out, so we decided to buy second hand tickets because we were so desperate. At the Maracana stadium, which was where the opening ceremony was held, we managed to get through all the security until the last checkpoint, where they scanned our ticket. The scanner did not go through and the tickets ended up being fake. My heart sank as it was so upsetting and frustrating. Not only were we not able to watch the opening ceremony in person, but we also lost 100s of dollars. We ended up watching it on TV back at our hotel.  

Today was the most exciting day of all. This day was the day we were watching all 3 events we bought tickets for which were gymnastics, swimming, and diving. All the arenas were within walking distance in the Olympic Park. My family and I were among tens of thousands of people inside the park, everyone with excitement in their eyes as we were so eager to watch these events. Walking through the Olympic park, I felt like it was a dream, I could not believe this was reality. As we walked past all the stadiums I noticed each arena had its own unique design and architecture to it. All of them were huge and nicely built inside. It looked as if lots of effort was put into the making of every arena

We made our way to the gymnastics stadium. It was so  relieving to hear the beeping sound of the scanner indicating that our tickets were real after our incident at the opening ceremony. Inside, the arena was filled with people from countries all around the world from China to South Africa to Brazil. We watched the women’s gymnastics. It was so mind-blowing to watch their amazing level of performance. The women were flying in the air doing flips here and there, it was hard to keep up with all the impressive moves. They were all so well-rounded, performing amazingly on all the events: vault, beam, floor exercise, and uneven bars. Each team had its own unique leotard, all so pretty, representing their country and some were even bedazzled.

We then walked to the swimming arena. Like all the other arenas, this one was enormous as well. Our seats were so incredibly close I could not believe my eyes. The water looked so fresh and clean, I wanted to jump in so bad. The swimmers made it seem as if they swam even faster in real life then on TV. My brother and I got the chance to see some of our favorite swimmers. We watched Katie Ledecky break the Olympic record in the 400 free, and the whole crowd was cheering so loud, my ears hurt. I was amazed how this was really happening and how I was witnessing it. I was watching the world’s best swimmers in real life. This just made myself as a swimmer even more motivated and encouraged to dream big. Something I will never forget is when we got on TV during the swimming. My family and I were sitting in our seats watching and cheering on when this cameraman comes right in front of us and starts filming us. We thought it was just for the jumbo screen,which is already so cool,  but when the event ended, our friends back at home texted us a picture of us on the TV! We could not believe we were on worldwide television, as it was definitely not on our expectation list. It was such a coincidence that out of so many people in the same arena as my family and I, we were filmed on TV. I had no way to express my emotions enough, as many people do not get that shocking experience.

Unfortunately, we only had one event left which was diving. My family and I were sad to only have one event left to watch, but we were still greatly lucky to watch 3 different events. We watched the women’s synchronized diving finals, and it was so cool to watch because it was the best of the best. Every team looked so synchronized, it was hard to rank each team. The precision of each of the diving teams created a sense of awe for me. I could not believe how each diving team could be so possibly accurate. We watched the medaling with China coming in gold. The gold medal was so big and beautiful. I knew the olympians standing on the podium were jubilant and had no words to express their feelings. All their hard work from the last 4 years had finally paid off.

My experience of watching the olympics is one I will never forget. I am so grateful to my parents for taking me on this amazing trip and opening my eye to a different side of the world. It was such a fun time and will be forever cherished in my heart. This was a once in a lifetime trip , and I do not think any other trip could be compared to this one.

I think all the negative news and criticism about Rio was completely over exaggerated. The Olympics turned out to be an incredibly fun time, with all the events going smoothly. Also, most importantly, it was safe. My family and I had a great time in Rio and definitely do not regret traveling there. We are looking forward to taking another trip there within the next few years.

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Traveling the Road to Rio