At 3.45am, we walk over to Syntagma to catch the media coach down to Olympia. This was not provided free and was actually quite expensive. Their luxury coach was far from being luxury and we did feel sorry for some of the media, many of whom were big guys with big equipment. The 5hr journey down to Olympia cannot have been easy. Most of the journalists were from the Main Press Centre and it was full.
We arrive in Olympia at 9am and the route was quite different towards the end. Olympia had gone through some dramatic changes in recent months. Andy was last here in June 2003. Upon arriving, we discover that departure is not until 8pm – we had been told it was 1pm, after the shot put finished. This spoils our plan to be back in Athens for the Cultural Olympiad event tonight at 9pm, so new plans were necessary. The tour guide assures us she will find out about other possibilities, so we watch the event and relax a little. It is amazing how they have transformed the walk from Olympia down to the stadium, though there are nearly no water kiosks and certainly no food anywhere.
At around 1230pm, we rush to the restaurant to see if we can grab a bite before learning that we need to take the 1pm train back to Olympia to ensure we make it there for the evening. Shame, since it would have been good to talk more with the journalists, one of whom said that being in Olympia is the highlight of his career. So much for being cynical about the sports media journalist. Here we were in the heart of where sport began and it actually managed to touch someone in a very important way. How reassuring.
The train back to Athens was not much fun. First leg was packed in like chickens. The second leg began in a nice first class carriage, until we were moved and had to walk through a ‘raining’ carriage – air conditioning leaking into the train – and into our less air-conditioned, but dry carriage. It took around 6.5 hours to get back and we were exhausted by the end of it. Still, just enough time to get cleaned up for the Cultural Olympiad function.