Thursday, May 31, 2012

So Busy...So Much to Do!

Things have been absolutely crazy lately!  I keep wanting to write on my blog and just don't find the time.  The past few days we have been busy working on trying to get reservations and figure out where we will be and when.  This isn't easy because anytime we have a question, we have to send an email and wait for someone to get back to is so much easier when you can just pick up the phone and call!  While I am getting very excited, my mom is getting more and more stressed.  Something about euros and pounds and remembering which sign is which and then trains and more trains, ferries and is going to be quite the experience!  

We finally managed to get the first leg of our trip all planned out and I am most excited.  We will spend our first day in London taking it easy and then the next day we get on a train to Holyhead which is a port city on the Isle of Anglesey.  My mom is really excited about that part because it is where Prince William is stationed with the Royal Guard and she is all into the royal family since she shares a name with like the most famous Princess ever!  In Holyhead we get on a ferry and take a two hour boat ride to Dublin, Ireland.  This is where I get excited because one of the guys from One Direction is from Ireland!!  For all the adults reading my blog, my mom says it is a teenage girl thing!  I have been so excited over the thought of running into One Direction somewhere, but naturally I had to find out that the whole time I am gone, they are in the US doing concerts!  But I at least still get to see where they are from (and have to get me and my best friend Kealy Ireland sweatshirts to wear).

From Dublin we take a two hour train ride to the opposite side of Ireland (which apparently is not all that big since it is only taking two hours) and arrive in the city of Galway.  Originally we planned to stay in Dublin, but they must have a really big event going on because most of the hotels were booked.  All we could find were hostels with spaces in the coed rooms and my mom said no way was that happening!  In the end though it worked out even better because she found this amazing Bed and Breakfast located on the Galway Bay.  Here is a photo of the bay....

We will spend the evening enjoying Galway and the beautiful bay.  The next day we will be heading to Aillwee Cave and thanks to a suggestion from Ashley at WJHG in Panama City, the Cliffs of Moher.  The pictures I have seen of the Cliffs of Moher are amazing and I can't even imagine how incredible it will feel to stand there and look over the edge.  It is too bad I will not have the torch and uniform because standing on the edge of the cliff holding the torch up would be an awesome picture!!

The next day we head back to Dublin and spend some time exploring before catching a train to the southern part of Ireland.  One might ask why we are spending so much time on the trains....that would be because in Ireland they drive on the wrong side of the road.  My mom was worried she might get confused and cause a major accident and then after she read about how the roads wind and curve and that you have to watch for sheep standing in the middle of them, she decided we'd stick with the trains.  We spend the night there in another beautiful Bed and Breakfast in Rosslare.  We will spend time exploring Rosslare and Wexford some the next day before we head to the port.  This time we will be heading to France on a really big boat.  They call it a ferry still, but I think they must call every boat a ferry because this one looks more like a cruise ship if you ask me!

I have never been on a cruise ship before, so as far as I am concerned, this works for me!  It has two movie theaters and we have a room with beds.  We leave around 3:30pm and get to Cherbourg, France the next day around 11am.  Cherbourg is located in the Normandy region and there I will get to go on a tour and see some of the places I learned about in my world history class this past year.  We will likely spend the night in the Normandy region and then head to Paris, then Brussels and finally arrive in Brugges where we will stay in a real castle!  I know it is a real castle because it even has a moat.  We still have planning to do from that point, so I will save it for another post.  Plus this is the longest post I think I have written and some of you might be getting bored and tired of reading it!

As of right now, I actually have a weekend off and can maybe manage to get some more posts done.....of course tomorrow my schedule could change!  I promised some younger friends of mine that I would tell them about the Olympic mascot and they have been waiting for a long time to hear about him....he is quite the funny dude!  Til next time...thanks for reading!      

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Flame Arrives in London!

Today was a pretty spectacular day.  In a ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Greece, the Olympic Flame was handed over to the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG).  A British Airways A319 aircraft named The Firefly transported the Olympic Flame to the UK from Greece for the start of the Olympic Torch Relay tomorrow.  

The Flame arrived at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose in Cornwall at approximately 7.25pm London time.  The Olympic Flame was carried by David Beckham who was joined on the flight by young people selected from schools and colleges.

Once in the UK, Beckham lit the first Olympic torch from the Olympic flame that had just arrived from Greece.  

Tomorrow on May 19, a Royal Navy Search and Rescue Squadron will deliver the Flame to Land’s End, where the Olympic Torch Relay will start.  The very first torchbearer to carry the flame will be three-time Olympic gold medalist Ben Ainslie.

54 more days until the day I will be carrying the torch in the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Harder Than I Imagined....

Today I did my first workout to get ready to carry the torch and well....let's just say I am not in near as good of shape as I thought I was.  When I heard I was carrying the torch and people started telling me I needed to work out, I actually laughed thinking this was not that big of a deal and I could easily handle it.  I was apparently wrong and this is going to be much harder than I thought it would be.  

Thanks to Sarah Payne who is the director of the Niceville YMCA, my family was given a free membership to help me prepare to be a torchbearer.  The plan was to find some military members who would help me train, but so far no one has volunteered.  So Sarah came to my rescue and helped show what to do.  We started on the elliptical trainer because it will be most like me jogging with the torch and also works the arms muscles.  You might think it won't be that hard to hold the torch up, but try holding you arm up and you will see your muscles get tired pretty quickly.  Sarah starts me on level 1 and I tried to show off by moving myself up to level 3.  That wasn't the smartest idea because about 30 seconds later I was moving it back to level 1!  My mom and Sarah were very amused by this.  A minute later I ask if I am almost there and my mom and Sarah are trying to convert meters into miles.  When they find the answer, Sarah looks at how far I have gone and tells me I am not even half way yet!  Finally I made it and thought I was going to fall over (I think they made me go further than I really had to just so they could laugh).  

Next we headed over to some of the weight machines to work on my leg and arm muscles.  When you actually learn how to work those machines the correct way, it makes a big difference....and it hurts!  I guess when they say no pain, no gain, they aren't joking!  Thanks to my mom who had to take a picture, you can see what I looked like working out.....

Finally, I finished up on the bike which was probably the easiest part of the whole workout.  I have a little over a month before I leave for London, so I guess I will be heading to the gym 4-5 times a week and working out.  Luckily, Sarah assures me that I will be ready and will jog along smiling and waving while I hold the torch high and proud for my country and the awesome men and women who serve it in the military!  Thanks again Sarah and the YMCA!!  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Where it All Started....

First let me say that I am really sorry I have not been posting.  Last week I was pretty sick with a cold and spent most of the week in bed.  That put me behind on my schoolwork and I have been trying to get everything caught back up.  I hope our family is all over this sick stuff and I can get going on things again!  So let's go way back to the very beginning....the very first Olympic Torch Relay that started an amazing tradition.

The ancient Greeks believed that fire was a gift from the Greek God Prometheus and believed that fire had sacred qualities.  Often flames burned in front of Greek temples.  In ancient Greece, a scared flame burned on the altar of the goddess Hera during the Olympic Games.  Heralds often carried torches as they went from city to city in Greece and announced the Games along with a sacred truce that lasted for the duration of the games.
The first flame appeared in the modern Olympics in Amsterdam in 1928, but the torch relay did not start until the 1936 Olympic Games.  Prior to the 1936 Games in Berlin, about 3,330 runners carried the flame through Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia and finally into Germany.  This marked the start of what is now an Olympic tradition. 
In 2004, the Olympic torch relay started and ended in Greece.  It was the first torch relay to cross through every continent going through 34 cities and 27 countries before returning to Greece.  In more recent years, the focus of the torch relay has been in the country hosting the Olympic Games.  The relay allows for people from all over the world to discover the history and culture of the host country.

Before the start of modern day Olympic Games, the Olympic flame is lit in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece.  The flame is lit using a curved mirror and the rays of the sun.  Runners then carry the torch from Olympia to Athens.  In a ceremony at the ancient Panathenaiko stadium in Athens, the flame is handed over to the host city who then delivers the flame to the site of the Games.  Once at the site of the Games, the torch is used to light a cauldron during the opening ceremony of the games and that remains lit until it is extinguished in the closing ceremony.

The torch relays that have brought the flame from Olympia to the Olympic host city has become one of the most symbolic events associated with the Olympic Games.  It is a celebration of the Games that builds excitement leading up to the start of the Games.  The flame represents purity.  Just like the heralds who proclaimed the sacred Olympic truce, the runners who carry the Olympic flame carry a message of peace, unity and friendship on their journey with the torch.

On May 10, 2012, a ceremony will be held at the Temple of Hera in Ancient Olympia, where the Flame will be lit using the sun's rays.  It will then begin its journey across Greece, travelling to the island of Crete before going to Piraeus, Thessalonica, Xanthi and Larissa among many other communities.  The Flame will arrive in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens – site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 – on May 17, 2012, where the Flame will be given to the London 2012 delegation.  The flame will then depart by plane to a Royal Navy air station in Cornwall before starting its 70-day journey around the UK from Land's End on May 18, 2012.  Since the Olympic flame is classified as a symbolic flame, the Civil Aviation Authority has granted permission for the flame to be carried on board the aircraft.  The flame will travel in a ceremonial lantern that can burn safely for up to 30 hours.  British Airways will carry the Olympic Flame on board a gold-liveried aircraft, flight “BA2012.” 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Calling All Teachers....

There are several reasons why I started this blog. First, because my mom said I needed to practice my writing skills. No really, she says that later in life I will really appreciate having this detailed diary so to say about this incredible experience. Like most of the time with moms, she’s probably right. I also wanted to share this experience with as many people as possible. Being selected to carry the Olympic torch is truly a once in a lifetime, one in a million opportunity. I had this really awesome principal in elementary school, Mr. Chambers, and the word he would use is PHENOMENAL! I don’t want to sound like I am bragging, but I want people to feel like they too are part of this experience. 

After I started Hero Hugs, I saw another opportunity and purpose for the organization besides just thanking the men and women proudly serving our country. I got other kids involved. Hero Hugs has taught kids valuable business skills that we don’t usually learn in the classroom and best of all we are getting kids involved in community service and letting them see how great it feels to give back to others. Kids see that even though we are kids, we still can move mountains and make a difference in the world. I have learned so many really cool things since this journey started and I want to share it with other kids. 

My goal is to get a lot of kids and classrooms involved in the blog. I think this is a great classroom activity that students will be excited about and learn some pretty awesome things in the process. Prior to finding out I would be a torch bearer, I will admit that I didn’t know too much about the Olympics other than they started in Greece. But now I know the Olympics is this spectacular world event filled with history and tradition. I hope the blog will be a fun learning experience for kids from all over the country and that they will be just as excited about the Olympics this summer as I am. 

I will be spending three weeks total in Europe. For a little over two weeks, I will travel all over Europe and then wrap up my trip with events around carrying the torch. I welcome kids and classrooms to make comments and ask questions on the blog, email them to me at, or mail them the old fashioned way to Hero Hugs – Bailey Reese, PO Box 27, Niceville, FL 32588. I will do my best to give shout outs to some of the kids and classes who write and answer as many questions as I can. As we move forward, I thought it would be cool to share some of the details of things I will do in Europe. I have found some pretty unique and interesting things to do (just wait until you get to hear the story about French fries) and thought it would be so neat to let students do research and offer suggestions of things I should add to the list. This would be a great way for kids to learn about other countries and what their cultures have to offer. Then they can keep watching the blog during the summer when school lets out and see if any of the places they found and suggested end up on the blog (and I promise I do plan to visit some of their suggestions). During my World History class I got a lot more excited about learning when I realized I would soon get to see some of these landmark locations. So maybe my experience will help get other kids excited and they will learn about them too! 

So today I am asking everyone to please share this blog with teachers and parents. I can’t wait to see where the first class to join will be from!

Where I Carry the Torch

Where do I start? There is so much information I want to share because so much has been going on for the past several months that I couldn’t share. In addition to the release of the people who would carry the torch, LOCOG (The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games) also released the street by street map of where exactly the torch would travel. Prior to this weekend, all I knew was that I would carry the torch between the cities of Oxford and Reading. Now I know the exact place I will carry the torch and it is so exciting! 

I was told I would carry the torch in Bisham (pronounced Biss-um) which is a village that sits on the Thames River. I went and looked it up online and found out that it is a very small village with a population of less than 1200 people. As the day went on though, I found out that this was indeed a very special location. As information released from London, I discovered that along the entire torch route, there are places noted as landmark locations. It turns out that my location was actually called Bisham Abbey and it was one of the landmark locations. One of the other landmark locations was Stonehenge, so this made me curious as to what made Bisham so special. What I learned was really fascinating! 

Bisham Abbey is a manor house that was built around 1260 for the Knights Templar. The Knights Templar was a very powerful order of knights during the Middle Ages. In 1307, King Edward II took over the manor. Our President has Camp David to get away and spend quiet time with his family; well, in the early 1300’s Queen Elizabeth of Scots, her husband Robert the Bruce and her stepdaughter Princess Marjorie had the Bisham Abbey manor. Then in 1540, King Henry the VIII had the manor and gave it to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, as part of their divorce settlement. Anne ended up swapping the house with Sir Philip Hoby and members of the Hoby family lived there until 1768. 

I started thinking…..and this is the part I really hate to have to admit……you know all that stuff that they teach us in school that we think is boring and always ask why we need to learn that….now I know. I took World History this year and I remembered King Henry VIII was the one who had lots of wives because he needed an heir to the throne. When the Pope denied him a divorce from his first wife, King Henry VIII left the Catholic Church and formed the Church of England. In all he married six times and had two children, King Edward VI and Elizabeth I. After his death, his only son inherited the throne, but died soon after. Eventually his daughter from his second marriage, Elizabeth I, became Queen of England. So Queen Elizabeth stayed at Bisham Abbey as a young girl! They say that even once the Hoby family moved into the home, Queen Elizabeth I frequently visited. Who would have ever guessed that something I learned in school this year would make my torch journey so much more exciting! So the next time you are sitting and class wondering why you need to learn this – remember that you never know when it might become something significant!

If you want to see the detailed torch route and the torch bearers for that route, visit

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Finally! The Big Announcement

Welcome to my journey to the Olympics!  Today has been an amazing day!  For the past 6 months, I have had a secret and today I finally got to tell the world.  I have been selected to carry the torch in the 2012 Olympics!  Where are the 2012 Olympics you London!!  

During the past months I have found out all kinds of exciting things about the Olympics and the torch relay.  I never thought about it or paid much attention and now I am finding out that it is this really fascinating event.  I always thought the people who carried the torch were celebrities and athletes and had no idea that this is a way for everyday people like myself to be a part of this world event.  Over the next few months I will share with you the things I find out and discover on my journey.

I am probably more excited than words can such an honor to be able to represent my country in this event.  Even more of an honor is knowing that when I carry the torch, it will be for and because of the men and women who proudly serve our country.  Without their service and sacrifice, Hero Hugs would have never been, so I owe this experience all to them!    

So today I share my amazing news and start this blog, my journey to the Olympics.  Over the next few months I will share with you all the exciting things I am learning as I take off on the experience of a lifetime.