So on the evening before the opening ceremonies, I decided to go for a walk and see the Bird's Nest and Water Cube for myself. I hadn't had a chance to see either up close yet, but felt like I knew them intimately from all the media coverage. They're about a 10 minute walk from our hotel, which is inside the high-security Olympics compound. We're separated from actual Beijing by a dense array of high fences, roadblocks, and checkpoints. Only those with proper accreditation can get within a mile of anything Olympics-related, and it means that at night, it's surprisingly--almost hauntingly--quiet in the vast empty space between the glowing Aquatic Center and National Stadium.
I took a couple snippy snaps of the two buildings with my cruddy point-and-shoot, impressed by the austerity and silence of this space that 24 hours from now will be at the center of attention for literally BILLIONS of people around the world. I was about to walk back to the hotel when I heard the static-click of a giant speaker system coming alive. And then, magically, a sound-check unlike anything I've ever heard. My point-and-shoot video doesn't do it justice, but believe me when I say that Freddie Mercury sounds indescribably fantastic pumped through the speaker system of an empty 91,000-person stadium.