Leiden does… London?
You wouldn’t know it from the outside…
… but Leiden Central Station, our local train station, has been transformed over the past few weeks into a veritable Olympics fanzone. The idea, I guess, is that not being fortunate enough to be in London for this two week sporting bonanza, that you are made to feel like you are experiencing a little slice of the London 2012 action in Leiden…
… at least that’s what the signage and atmposphere leads me to believe when I walk in every day! Now, I admit, the Olympics has been snaffling a good proportion of attention in our home for the past couple of weeks. Sometimes I have felt guilty (perhaps not as guilty as some of the British Olympic team though) that this once-every-four-years sporting festivity has been taking my attention from other, more pressing (surely more important) things. I’ve been asking myself why am I watching sports such as BMX, veledrome cycling, synchronised swimming, open water swimming?! But then I go into Leiden station on my way to wherever it is that I am going, and I feel better. Because there, I see that I am not the only person devoting large chunks of their time to watching the Olympics, and I am reminded that there are some people who are even more into London 2012 than me. Like this guy! That’s really getting into the London spirit in Leiden!
Most days, there are large crowds congregated in front of the big screens in Leiden’s “Londen Park”:
When the Dutch win a race, the roar around these screens is intense! I sort of wish I was there when Epke “The Flying Dutchman” won his gold medal. That would have been quite a proud Oranje moment I would imagine.
Whilst I think the umbrellas at the entrance of the station in the colours of the Olympic rings are a clever and eyecatching touch (did you notice them in an earlier photo above?), the topiary in the station seems to me a little over the top. But hey, maybe a little sports-themed topiary doesn’t go amiss? Points for detail…
Possibly my favourite feature of the way that Leiden station is decked out in Olympic glory though is the way that every platform entrance has been given a name. For me, “Heroic Passage” comes second only to the renamed Platform 5, which for the duration of the Olympics has been dubbed “Going for Gold Alley”.
As I charge up those steps with a sense of purpose (if only to catch a train), I think about those athletes going for gold, with a sense of amazement at the feats they push their bodies to, and I feel a little bit sad that the strangeness, intrigue, pain and joy of the Olympics will soon be over. On the upside, that’s a lot of sports-watching hours I am about to get back.
Photos by CIA, Leiden Centraal Station, Leiden, August 2012.