By The Associated Press
LONDON (AP) -- Around the 2012 Olympics and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of the games to you:
IT WASN'T TO BE
The excitement near the road course finish line outside the palace fell flat as Great Britain and favorite Mark Cavendish failed to win a medal.
"I was there when he didn't win it!" shouted Richard Jones of London.
He'd been watching the race on television with his wife and another couple when they decided with an hour to go to hustle over to Buckingham Palace for the finish.
"We practically did a triathlon to get here," said Jane Carson of Chester. "And we didn't even get very close -- but neither did Cav."
A rowing regatta isn't the usual place to start a bachelor party.
It worked out just fine for husband-to-be Martin Stanning, though, as he watched sister Heather romp to victory in the women's pair with partner Helen Glover at Dorney Lake -- setting a Olympic best time in the process.
Martin was under orders in the "stag do" -- as it's called in Britain -- from his older brother Alistair, who was organizer-in-chief. His parents were there, too.
Glover and Stanning are big favorites to win the final of the women's pair on Wednesday after going through this season unbeaten. If they win gold, they'll become the first British women to do so.
Although the ExCel venue is well south of the Olympic Park, the venue is shaping up as a surprisingly good place to catch the Olympic spirit.
ExCel is hosting boxing, weightlifting, judo, fencing and table tennis in separate spaces, but the sprawling complex is connected by a central hall that has turned into a pedestrian mall where the combined crowd can mingle amid a large array of dining options.
With thousands of fans pouring off trains Saturday, ExCel had a remarkable vibe as each of its sports except wrestling got under way. The venue's only obvious flaw is a lack of seating in that central hall, where hundreds of people are just sitting on the ground to eat their baked potatoes and curries.
HERE COMES THE SUN
Another day in often-soggy London, another healthy dose of blue skies and bright sunshine. With a cool breeze blowing gently, it's hard to imagine a better start to these games from a weather perspective.
How did we get so lucky? Maybe Sir Paul asked John and George to put in a good word for a little help from above.
There's intrigue at the men's gymnastics.
China, which hasn't lost a major competition since the 2004 Olympics, is already second after a dismal performance this morning.
The U.S. has got through its worst event -- pommel horse -- in decent shape while Japan, runner-up to China at both the Beijing Olympics and the last two world championships, had to count a fall on high bar, one of its better events.
After a sprint finish, Alexander Vinokourov of Kazakhstan wins the Olympic gold medal in the men's cycling road race. Britain's high hopes of a medal have been dashed.
"This is only my second one since 1972, so I am a rookie to opening ceremony, but one word: Proud!" -- "Captain Canada" Ian Millar, 10-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic silver medallist in team show jumping
Putting aside their rivalry here, football players from Brazil, Egypt, Belarus and New Zealand are sharing the same hotel in Manchester and are getting along just fine.
The Brazilian federation has posted photos of the teams playing table tennis together and says players from the four teams have been mingling in activities throughout the hotel. The teams are playing in Group C of the men's Olympic tournament.
Greg Munford, 31, applied for "loads" of tickets but didn't get a single one. "I was gutted," he says.
So he came from his home in the English city of Bath to London's Hyde Park, where thousands of people are sprawled on wood chips (the grass fell victim to a concert series and wet weather) watching five big screens showing everything from handball to cycling.
"If I can't get to the venues this is the second-best place to be," Munford says. "I'm soaking up the spirit." He admits he didn't understand much of the dressage on the screen, but offered: "It all looks very elegant!"
Olympic Park is hustling and bustling. The pathways are filled with foot traffic, the merchandise stores bursting with visitors.
Everyone appears to be getting the lay of the land, and the benches and tables appear to be very popular as folks grab a rest from all the walking.
CHAOS AT THE PALACE
There's chaos outside Buckingham Palace where the men's road course race will zoom by at the finish.
Thousands are surging toward the barricades, as security is imploring people to back up into Green Park or move further down the course.
Nobody wants to move, though, as everyone is eager to see Great Britain possibly win its first medal.
It's a shame you can't see the Olympic flame. That was the reaction from visitors to London's Olympic Park and across Twitter on Saturday, as the intricate cauldron and its copper petals remained out of sight in the middle of the stadium.
All recent Olympics have featured a flaming cauldron, visible across the Olympic precinct.
But in London, only spectators lucky enough to have a ticket for events inside the main stadium will actually see it. Other park visitors will only be able to see an image beamed onto big screens.
At a news conference Saturday, cauldron creator Thomas Heatherwick defended the decision, saying organizers had tried to resist the temptation of creating a cauldron that was bigger, fatter or higher than at previous games.
"There was the complete precedent of the 1948 (London) Games of the cauldron set within the stadium... to one side with the spectators and with the technology we now have that didn't exist in 1948 it can be shared with everyone in the Park with screens," Heatherwick said.
The cauldron design was backed by the UK prime minister, but some members of the International Olympic Committee are said to be privately critical of the concept.
-- Sandy Macintyre and Mark Davies
HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE
Seems even the queen can't resist the opportunity to act with Daniel Craig.
The British monarch didn't need much persuading to take part in the brief flick that electrified the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony, says Jackie Brock-Doyle, the spokeswoman for the organizing committee.
"She liked the whole concept Danny brought together," she says -- presumably right down to the detail of having the queen's corgis, Monty, Holly and Willow, similarly take starring roles.
The matter was presented to her majesty by organizing committee chairman Sebastian Coe last year.
British gymnast Louis Smith knows a thing or two about making a statement. The eccentric 23-year-old -- the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist on pommel horse -- is known as much for his well-coiffed hair and elaborate tattoos as his elegant routines.
A couple of days before the biggest -- and perhaps final -- meet of his life, Smith slipped out of the Olympic village to his home in Peterborough to visit his barber.
"I could have used one in the village, but I didn't want to tell him he was doing it wrong," Smith said.
He returned with a distinctive do, with shaved sides and a meticulously groomed flowing flattop.
Smith says the "hip" cut is designed to grab the kind of attention he thinks the sport needs.
AN AMAECHI MOMENT
Strolling through security to enter Olympic Park, former British basketball star John Amaechi says he has been quite pleased with how his home country has opened these games.
The center paired with gymnast Nadia Comaneci to take the torch to the roof of the North Greenwich Arena earlier this month and is eager to see how Britain opens against powerful Russia in its men's basketball opener on Sunday.
"It's been wonderful so far, but the real work hasn't even started," Amaechi says. "That will tell the tale."
I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT ...
Dressed head to toe in the British flag -- or, rather, AS the British flag -- Mick Burn wanted to find a spot along the road course to cheer cyclist Mark Cavendish.
But his outfit was so extreme, the man from Watford in Hertfortshire couldn't make it more than a few feet at a time without being stopped by fans wanting to pose for a picture with him.
"I've been mobbed all day," he says. And he's delighted by that fact.
It took him almost two years and 200 pounds (more than $300) to assemble the outfit, which consisted of everything from "posh golf pants," a waistcoat, his watch, eyeglasses and even his underwear. The toughest item was the sport coat, which cost him 50 pounds (about $75) on eBay.
Burn had thought his niece, rower Lucinda Gooderham, would be competing in these games. She didn't qualify, but he vowed to keep fine-tuning the outfit for Rio.
See a picture of him here.
"Louis Smith as smooth as strawberries and cream on pommel horse. It's like he's in slow motion, control in amazing." -- AP's Will Graves tweets from the gymnastics venue.
A spectacular pommel horse by Britain's Smith capped the day for the British, who finished almost 2.5 points ahead of China with at a total of 272.420. Team finals are Monday.
On a Saturday lunchtime, London's main shopping area, Oxford Street should be packed. Saturday afternoon, it is surprisingly empty of the usual crowd of Londoners and tourists. Were there a lot of late nights last night at opening ceremony parties or are the crowds in different parts of London enjoying the events?
EDITOR'S NOTE: "Eyes on London" shows you the Olympics through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across the 2012 Olympic city and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item, and get even more AP updates from the Games here.