The bus was big, cool, comfortable, cushy. A groggy journalist -- still with chlorine in his head from a week at the aquatic center, also known as "hanging poolside" -- might have even dozed off on the journey from Athens into the Attica hills. Maybe.
So when the bus stopped, it seemed time to get off, to get to the starting line, to watch the female marathoners take off from the ancient spot. So we got off.
Then we got back on. Then we drove a block. Then we got back off. Then we got back on.
You get the idea.
These Olympics, by and large, have been devoid of the logistical nightmares so many naysayers predicted in the years, months, weeks, hours and seconds leading up to Opening Ceremonies -- which, to the best of my recollection, took place sometime in the 1970s.
Then came Sunday. It basically went like this:
Finally find starting line. Walk to entrance. Go down the street, to the right, to the right again. Follow those instructions. Talk to police officer with giant gun, who says to keep walking. Seems like the smart thing to do.
Meet larger police officers with larger guns. No, no, they say. Go back to the original entrance. It is nearly 100 degrees. They have guns. You don't. You walk.
Finally gain entrance to the ancient starting line, which is, naturally, covered in concrete. The starting gun goes off, the women scamper away. Time to find the bus back.
"Bus back?" the woman said. "Let me check." She says 7 p.m. Interesting. That might -- might -- get us to the stadium in time for the finish. She checks again. Ah, yes. Not 7, but 10.
The journalists begin fighting with the volunteers. A bus appears. All is well.
Until it fails to go to the stadium in Athens. No, we say, meekly. This is not right. Please -- pretty please -- drive to the stadium so we can cover the finish.
The bus starts again -- and heads toward the airport. Perhaps we will fly to the stadium.
No, it turns around, back into town, back on the street -- the glorious, gold-paved street -- that leads to the finish line. There is much rejoicing.
Until we reach two police squadrons, along with metal fences, blocking the route. Officials get off the bus to speak with the nice policemen. More large guns. Yelling ensues. Fingers point.
Ten minutes pass.
The Red Sea parts. The policemen open the gate. The bus drives freely on the marathon course, and the fans along the route -- perhaps thinking it is a bus race -- cheer wildly. You feel it is appropriate.
The finish is moving, what with Deena Kastor taking the bronze for the United States. What a story.
Time to get on another bus, to go back to the press center, to write!
Then came the traffic jam.
But that's another tale (involving, if you're interested, several British journalists yelling, "Just drive, man!"). End result: You write the story, longhand, in a small notebook, waiting in Athens traffic, on the bus.
The beer, upon completion, was one of the top 10 in history.
-- Barry Svrluga
You Say Toe-mah-toe . . .
At least until the end of the Games, U.S. sprinter Muna Lee will be called "Myuna Lee" by the English-speaking public address announcer at the Olympic Stadium. The announcer made the mistake Monday morning of pronouncing her name properly -- "Moona Lee" -- as he rattled off the runners in the 200-meter heats.
According to highly placed track sources, the Greek announcer seated next to the English-speaking announcer was aghast. He waved his hands and pointed emphatically to a body part.
He later explained that the proper English pronunciation of Lee's first name closely resembles a very bad Greek word.
-- Amy Shipley