Frank and I finally had time to sit down to a nice dinner last night (barely) and got seated at a table before 10 p.m. at a restaurant in the Plaka section, which is renowned for its good food, shopping and crowds.
The food was certainly tasty, but as seems to be the case here, it was served in Greek time: after waiting an hour, we got our appetizers; after waiting another 45 minutes, we got our dinners. Mine arrived first and after about five minutes, I had to eat it or it would have gotten cold. Frank's dinner arrived by the time I was almost finished. The waiter was not very good, but the food was, at least what I ate. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped and had ice cream, which is one of the few moments we've had to actually sit back and relax.
At dinner, a Greek-American girl approached us and asked us if we were American. Frank, a German national, said he wasn't, but I was. It's amazing how fast Frank disappeared to the girl. She said she was just dying to speak to an American because she was tired of speaking Greek. Frank marveled at how friendly Americans are to each other overseas.
I walked through the National Garden again this morning, and the Zappeion Press Center for non-accredited media. They have internet connections there, not just phone lines. Accredited media has internet access only at the Main Press Center, and the phone system set up at the road cycling press area worked iffy at best on Saturday. I got knocked off it three times while trying to send one e-mail.
The Greeks have what we would call a flea market of tents set up near Zappeion with some nice Greek pottery, Greek national clothing, religious items and jewelry. My kalimehra (good morning) greeting must be getting good. A few Greeks responded to me in Greek, and when I said I only speak English, they said I pronounced it so well they thought I was Greek. Ah, Americaniki!
All shops are normally closed on Sundays in Greece, but today, many were open, at least the smaller cafes, kiosks and such. One merchant told me a special law was enacted for the merchants to be open on Sundays through Sept. 4.
Today was also the Feast of the Virgin Mary, and Frank headed out to the Cathedral of Athens to check it out. We were told there would be a religious procession, but it was actually downplayed, according to Frank. I slept in, so I missed the 6:30 a.m. mass.
I was advised by one of our hotel people to say Chronia Polla, which means "happy name day" to anyone named Mary or Panayiotis (which I assumes means Mary in Greek), not that I'm running up to women and asking their names. I don't think my wife would approve.
Oh, this is also the anniversary of the day I first met my wife, and if I am not mistaken, the first time I have been apart from here on this day in the 28 years we've been together, so it is a very special day indeed..
After the women's road race, I had to trek about 1.5 miles to the U.S. tent. The New Zealanders, which featured Joanne Kiesanowski, who often rode at the velodrome a few years back. Jo-Jo as we call her, finished a respectable 17th, right behind Dede Demet-Barry of the U.S. Now it's time to put my newspaper report together. Opa!
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.