Greece is a small country but it felt like a giant during Friday's triumphant Opening Ceremonies, not just in the Olympic stadium, but in that mecca of Greek life, the taverna.
Patriotism and pride of possession in the Olympics were in evidence as about 200 people, many of them Greek volunteers and journalists, mingled and drank beer in a taverna on top of the international press building and watched the procession on the big screen TV.
When the Greek flag entered the Olympic stadium and the anthem was played, the Greeks stood and some placed their hands on their hearts. Observers of other nationalities continued to murmur and drink. The bartender whistled sharply for quiet. He ordered his customers, irrespective of nationality, "Up. Everybody up. Up, up." The chatter stopped, and they rose to their feet.
-- Sally Jenkins
At every Olympics there are winners, and then there are those who miss the big sales. Only one shopper could be the first to enter the Olympic Superstore at the Athens Olympic Complex -- why not me? With a mall-loving mother and a dad who'd show up 45 minutes early for a barium enema, I had been training for this event my entire life.
At 8:55 a.m. Friday I slipped through the unguarded entrance and saw before me an untouched sea of orange and blue tchotchkes. Pens that light up like torches, T-shirts still available in all sizes, racks and racks of glittering pins -- "peeeeens," in Oly-speak -- arrayed in a temporary building the size of an airplane hangar nestled between a McDonald's and a Samsung sponsors' facility.
The affable but firm store manager made me wait in the entrance five minutes. At 9 sharp, she announced into a walkie-talkie: "I'm opening the doors. [Pause to open doors.] The doors are open."
A crowd of none joined me as I burst onto the sales floor.
Our Greek sales force failed in only one respect: no shopping baskets. If one wanted to buy more than one could carry -- and who wouldn't? Olympic mascot-dotted aprons -- one had to buy and fill one's own shopping bags (with Olympic mascots frolicking on them). Then one had to empty one's bags for checkout, then fill them again before departing.
Small price to pay for winning a second Olympic event -- first person to exit the Olympic Superstore at the Athens Olympic Complex.
-- Tracee Hamilton
The winner of the Brave but Boorish American of the Day Award goes to the guy with the No. 11 George Hincapie jersey, waving the largest hand-held American flag imaginable as he pedaled his mountain bike at the base of the Acropolis during the cycling road race. A fan of Hincapie, a U.S. cyclist, the man wore a helmet with faux eagle feathers coming out each side. He was heckled but not accosted.
-- Mike Wise
Lost in Translation
When a Maryland tourist asked a Greek woman how to say thank you in her language yesterday, she replied, "Efhareesto." After the American failed to pronounce the phrase correctly, the Athenian, frustrated by her teaching, finally said, "Just remember, efhareesto -- Harriet Beecher Stowe."
-- Mike Wise