A collection of bungalows provide a stunning view of the calm, aqua water of the Mediterranean softly lapping at the sand of the Pilot Beach Resort in Georgioupolis, Greece.
Just behind it are the foothills of the rugged Lefka Ori, or White Mountains. Winding roads lead to quaint villages and the caves where, legend has it, the Greek gods were born.
"It's beautiful. This is great," marathoner Jen Rhines said. "It's even better than I think we imagined."
The U.S. track and field team began arriving yesterday on the sun-baked island of Crete for a mix of relaxation and training before heading to the Olympics. About half of the 531 American athletes have made the trip to Greece so far.
On Crete, security is tight, of course, but it's not obtrusive.
Plainclothes Greek police officers were stationed outside a section of the resort on Crete's Northern Coast. One officer, who wore swimming trunks and carried a handgun beneath his short-sleeved shirt, said there were many more police officers in the area -- they just weren't that easy to spot.
Mike Conley, executive director of elite athlete programs for USA Track & Field, chose the location and said about 100 of the 115 members of the U.S. track team will spend time there.
Also arriving yesterday was the U.S. women's soccer team, fresh from a 3-1 victory over China in East Hartford, Conn., on Sunday.
"It's overwhelming," said forward Abby Wambach, in her first Olympics. "It feels good to finally be here and feel what it's like. We have so many different things and visions in our mind, but nothing compares to the reality of being here."
Costs Could Hurt Greece
Greece's costs for the Olympics will top $7.2 billion, the nation's deputy finance minister said yesterday.
Petros Doukas told the private Flash radio station that the growing costs could put the country in violation of European Union fiscal rules. He said Greece's 2004 deficit could exceed 4 percent of gross domestic product, and the E.U. sets a ceiling of 3 percent. Violations could lead to a downgrading of the country's financial rating. . . .
Third-ranked Guillermo Coria of Argentina will skip the Olympics because of a right shoulder injury. Argentina hasn't won an Olympic gold medal in 52 years, and Coria had long said winning a medal in Athens was a dream of his. Mariano Zabaleta, ranked 31st, could replace him. . . .
Former major leaguers Rob Ducey and Paul Spoljaric helped Canada beat Greece, 5-3, yesterday in an exhibition at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. . . .
The Romanian Olympic Committee expelled hurdler Carmen Zamfir from the Athens team after she tested positive for a banned substance. Zamfir, who flunked a drug test at a recent competition in Thessaloniki, Greece, was suspended for two years.