LONDON (AP) — From chiming Big Ben to the London Eye. From Lord Nelson's statue to Buckingham Palace. Every view from the Olympic beach volleyball stadium is London in all its majesty.

The players knew they would be competing in the showcase venue of these Summer Games, And now that they've finally seen it in person, almost every one of them is in awe heading into Saturday's opening matches of pool play.

Defending gold medalist American Todd Rogers calls the beach volleyball players the "spoiled children" of the Olympics because they have it that good. During training Friday, a squirrel carrying a nut in its mouth scurried through the sand on one practice court.

A lush, picturesque park surrounds Horse Guards Parade, and to this day only Queen Elizabeth II herself can enter through one nearby gate. Not enough grandeur for you? Also right outside is Westminster Abbey.