The days seem longer, the efforts later and the rewards unknown so far. I'm sending all these stories back to The Morning Call and have no idea how they look. Frank, our photographer who is a German national, has asked me to stop using him in my blog, so I will, but for the sake of my wife, if I say I went to dinner with someone, someone is a nudge, nudge, wink, wink meaning Frank, not Anna Maria, the girl who served me my first ouzo.
The men's and women's cycling road races were pretty intense days on Saturday and Sunday. Lots of walking. Lots of heat. Lots of water. Lots and lots of bottle water. Maybe 15 Euros worth, the currency of the European Union. When my wife Lois and I were in Europe two years ago, we were getting 1.22 Euros for a U.S. dollar. Before somebody and I left from the Newark Airport for Greece, we got 140 Euros for $200 U.S.
I stopped at lucafe on the way back to the hotel, where the owner, Achilles, greeted me warmly and thanked me for mentioning his establishment and his Anna Maria in this on-line diary. I like that the owner greets you and makes sure you're taken care of. It's a nice touch of warmth a long way from home.
Before the road race, I walked in the City Center and talked with some of the small news kiosk owners and workers. They are always closed on Sundays, and open only for the Olympics. Some of them didn't seem too happy about having to be open. Some of them don't think there is enough foot traffic in the way of people buying things.
Even Achilles said that while business is better than normal at lucafe for an August, it is not what organizers of the 2004 Olympics yet.
Went to Helliniko Fencing Hall today, which is adjoined to the arena where the U.S. men's basketball team lost on Sunday night to Puerto Rico. Helliniko is the site of the old airport. The Indoor Arena (where the basketball and fencing finals are played) is the airport's old terminal, and the fencing hall is an old hangar. It's also the complex where the baseball, softball, field hockey and canoe/kayak are being staged. Took a cab there and drove along the Aegean Sea, which looked awesome. Deep blue from my vantage point, and people were swimming. Note to self: Self. Must swim there.
Slept in until 7:30 a.m. (didn't hear the alarm go off), but still got to Helliniko by 8:30. Jed Dupree, the foil specialist who graduated from Moravian Academy, competed in the very first round of bouts and lost in the one-and-done competition. He was devastated and didn't want to talk. I spoke with his mom and dad before the event, and afterward spoke with some teammates and the team manager, but am still waiting to hear from Jed.
Also attended a press conference with the U.S. men's freestyle wrestlers. Ran into Alan Robinson of the Associated Press, who writes out of Pittsburgh. Alan is the man responsible for making sure the tournament results of the PIAA Wrestling and Track Championships were pushed through by the A.P., which saves countless reporters a huge headache during high school sports seasons.
Been having a hard time falling asleep at night, probably because I end up eating so late. Didn't get back from dinner until 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, which is about an hour or so earlier than the previous two nights.
Starting to feel the wear a little, although today was the most physically inactive I've been. According to my pedometer, I've walked at least 10 miles a day. Today I'm only at 3.5.
Morning Call Sports Reporter Gary Blockus is on assignment in Athens, Greece for the 2004 Summer Olympics. Gary will be providing updated reports from the Games as well as the various sights and sounds from Athens.